'Big Red' a hot-looking ute
SUNSHINE Coast Antique Car Club member Robert Mitchell talks about his passion for motor vehicles in this week's My Ride.
1. Are you a vintage/veteran or latest model lover?
I like all makes and models of old cars and I like to tinker.
2. What was your first car or motorbike?
It was a 1934 Pontiac four-door sedan with a straight 8 side valve engine.
3. How much did it cost? I bought it for 45 pounds from an auto wrecker in Richmond, Victoria.
4. What is your fondest memory of a car or drive you took in it?
I wouldn't say it was my fondest memory but driving it from Richmond to where I lived in Oakleigh was the scariest thing.
The brakes weren't working, it only had top and reverse gear and the starter motor wouldn't work so I would have to crank it up if it stalled.
5. What is your current vehicle?
I have a 1954 Ford Mainline ute with a V8 side valve original engine. It was the last of the side valves before Ford went to overhead valve configuration in 1955.
6. What do you love about it?
The Ford side valve V8, as nothing else sounds like a Ford side valve engine.
7. How long have you had the car and where was it sourced?
I bought it in February 2017. It was originally from Castlemaine in Victoria. However, I bought it from Gladstone where all the body work had been done by a Ford enthusiast who needed more space.
8. Tell us about what's under the metal and are there any modifications?
I have restored the drive train with new parts and I like to keep the cars I have restored original. The only modifications I have done was to fit a drop-in electronic ignition, an electric fuel pump and a larger brake booster, which is great for driving in modern traffic.
9. What makes your car so special?
The fact that it's a side valve V8 and the engine block is a race engine but has no external modifications like extractors, four-barrel carbs etc (built by Phil Mower, of Yandina, who specialises in just building engines mainly for hotrodders).
10. How often do you drive your car?
Any time I want to give it a road test. However, I won;t take it out when the roads are wet as I haven't changed to radial tyres yet.
11. Mostly pleasure and personal use or business?
I like to use my car as "a driver”, not a showroom car ('though she would fit in).
12. Does it have a name? How have you personalised it: for example, Personalised Plates, fluffy dice?
Her name is "Big Red” and she has an original radio (that doesn't work). I would like to get a "hula girl” to mount on the dashboard some time.
13. Do you work on your own car or get it maintained at a garage/by the manufacturer/specialists?
I did most of the work myself while I had the use of a car hoist and now it's just maintenance.
14. What will your next car/bike be?
Given that I turn 79 in March, I will not be restoring another car and "Big Red” may have to go due to floor space.
15. If you could buy any vehicle in the world, what would it be?
I have always liked Cadillacs, especially the ones made in the '80s, which were more compact.