"The 3 things I wanted at 16: a tan, a boyfriend, a panel van"

When I was 16, I wanted three things.

I wanted to be brown. I wanted those long, golden, summer-kissed limbs that all the boys liked. Freckled, pale skin seemed no impediment to this fantasy actually coming true. I slathered myself in baby oil and lay in the beating sun of north-west NSW, believing I would one day baste to a Fawcett-esque tan, slip into a string bikini and, quite frankly, set all those tough boys back on their arses with disbelief and desire.

Because I also wanted a tough boy.

I wanted a boyfriend who spoke infrequently, wore his hair too long and cupped his smoke moodily before punching out a smoke ring or two. A bloke who kind of, ummm, rutted a pinball machine when he played it. I wanted a ferrety, skinny fella, Bon Scott-like, who would tattoo me with a proprietal love bite, a bloke who loved me so much he would suck me on the neck, like something out of a trailer trash version of True Blood, until the blood vessels popped. I wanted to feign self-conscious horror at the result and wear a scarf in 40 degree heat, lifting it only to show my envious 16-year-old friends. It was the humblebrag of the 70s.

And I wanted a panel van.

The Holden Sandman.

More accurately, I wanted a ferret-like fella with a panel van. A Holden panel van because, if you wanted to be anyone in my town, you knew Ford stood for Fix Or Repair Daily. Preferably a Holden Sandman, that we could hoon around in (avoiding the streets where our parents might see us), squealing as we were flung around seatbelt-free doing circle work and dropping the clutch.

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A Sandman with sexy 70s artwork on the side, a booby, goddess-like girl with streaming blonde locks, probably descended from Vikings, as so many women are in north west NSW, and witty stickers saying things like “Once a king, always a king, Once a knight is enough’, or “If it’s rockin’, don’t bother knockin’’.

The back of the panel van in the 1981 classic Puberty Blues


This year, EXCITEMENT!!! My dream could be realized!!! Not the love bite. Not the tan. But Holden announced they were BRINGING BACK THE SANDMAN!!!!


A vision flashed before me: 50-something me and my 50-something beau, a Chiko roll and a Fanta, slipping off the double-pluggers and indulging in a roll of different kind in the van’s carpet-lined rear.

Something by the Steve Miller Band on the cassette player Pandora. Maybe a love bite in the offing, if he could keep his dentures in. Strangely, my hair longer and blonder and my boobs more pert and a Viking bloodline. Not a wobble of cellulite or bad back in sight. (Because shut up. This is my fantasy.)

So imagine how appalled I was to see this touted as a Sandman.

It will cost upward of $40,000. Holden describes it as “a niche vehicle, reflective of Australia’s irreverent culture”.

Holden, you have broken my heart, and, given the low cabin profile, very possibly my back.

The 2015 Sandman.

This is not a Sandman. This is a Commodore station wagon. You know it, I know it and I know you’ve been open about it BUT STILL! This is the last refuge of nuclear families with 2.something children and a Labrador.

There is nothing Viking woman or ferrett fella about this vehicle. This car is safe and sensible. Noone will ever play chicken in this car. Noone will drink Fanta because it will contain too much deadly sugar and might stain the seats. Noone will even forget to put on their seatbelt.

The stickers on the back will be those stick-figure families – anorexic, sure, but very jolly hockey sticks nonetheless.

So take this, Holden: I will not be buying your faux Sandman. The offer of optional orange shagpile seat covers won’t get me over the line. The rug in the back looks like it’s there for the dog, not for doggie style.

I might be alone among my particular demographic but I can't take this lying down.

Even though I really want to.