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Family shares love affair with Toyota Levin

Posted: 4pm 06 Nov 2019

Jeff Kilbride and wife Donna met behind the wheel of a rally car and it was love at first rev.

Their four children are now all involved in rallying so it's safe to say the thrill-seeking gene runs in the family.

Jeff now drives the "giant killer", a 1996 Toyota Levin, in a driver-navigator team with his daughter Holly.

“I bought the car in 2013 and built it into a rally car, which took around two years to finish,” he says.

“It is a unique car, which isn’t necessarily common in Australian rallying. It is a giant killer so to speak of a car, it enables me to be competitive.”

The 4AGE 20 valve engine two-wheel drive, front-wheel-drive rally car is the Japanese version of the Toyota Corolla.

The father daughter duo races the Levin all over the state as part of the Queensland Rally Championships, where it is a "one-of-a-kind".

He maintains the car himself to save money as motorsport is an expensive hobby.

“I would one day like to add a bigger engine to the car,” he says.

“I maintain the car myself as it helps to lower the cost in a high-cost sport.”

However, the financial drain of the hobby is far outweighed by the opportunity it has given Jeff to bond with his children.

“I met my wife Donna in rallying when she was initially navigating for other drivers, then she went on to begin navigating for me and not long after we got married.

“We won the Australian class P1 Rally Championship two years in a row in a Suzuki Swift GTI.

“All my children have been raised in motorsport and now all compete themselves one way or another. The whole family gets to spend time together.”

Jeff has been hooked on motorsports ever since he started rallying at the age of 16. The Toyota Levin will always have a special place in his shed, despite being one of many race cars to his name.

“In terms of race cars, I own two, the Levin and a 1974 Mitsubishi Galant which the kids have all learnt to race and drive in.

“The Galant was actually my first-ever rally car that I learnt to drive and race in when I was 16, so it will always be a personal favourite.”

Jeff and his family's pursuit of rallying glory is what drives them to compete and do well.

“It is always enjoyable when things go smoothly and we’re able to be competitive.

“Breaking down is never a fun experience for us, but it is a part of rallying. Some things are out of your control when racing and it’s always a bit of an unknown whether something could fail, or you could make a mistake.”

More than 60 years ago the Brisbane Sporting Car Club was started and Jeff and his family are now all members.

The club has a large array of members who compete in the rallies that are part of the Queensland Rally Championship, many of which are organised by the club.

“Our main role within the car club is as competitors but whenever we aren’t competing in an event, we always offer our help to ensure events have enough help and run smoothly.”

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