Revcounter 377: Out of control project cars

By: Guy Allen, Unique Cars magazine, Photography by: Andrew Britten, Guy Allen

Presented by

hz kingswood interior special16 Holden HZ Kingswood hz kingswood interior special16
holden hz kingswood 1611 Holden HZ Kingswood holden hz kingswood 1611

When resto-maths goes badly wrong

Revcounter 377: Out of control project cars
All done from hand-stitched Latvian mink udders...

(Unique Cars mag editorial)

Did you ever wander up to a car at a show, maybe talk to the owner, and marvel at just how much time and money they blew on their pet project? Sure you have. We all have.

The owner, who sometimes quickly checks their partner isn't within earshot, starts on the sad story. "All I wanted to do was clean up a rust spot near the A-pillar," they confess. Your storyteller looks a little bashful as they describe how that minor annoyance led to an entire wing being taken off, then next thing you know they're up to their armpits in panels while the gutted remains of what was once a fully-functional automobile is hanging on a rotisserie.

Of course by the time they've scuttled down that rather expensive rabbit hole, there's only one way out: spending more money. According to the logic of the now hooked and filleted restorer, it would be a shame to make the body shiny and have a crap-looking engine bay, so you might as well clean that up, too. Oh, and since we're in there, it would be a crime not to rebuild the engine. And wasn't that an incipient whine coming from the transmission?

Most of us enjoy a good story along these lines, for a couple of reasons. For a start, we're delighted it's them and not us in this weird psychological and financial pickle. And, it's great fun watching other people emptying their wallets, particularly when it's on something that's pretty much impossible to justify.

No matter how clever you reckon you are when you're walking away from those people, perhaps feeling a little smug that you haven't fallen into the same emotional trap, I'm here to say don't.

You see spouse Ms M Senior and I have just collected the mighty Kingswood - a family heirloom weve owned since 1982  from Chris at Blackmans Leather in Geelong.

Let's roll back some months. I've known Chris since he did Project HG for former Unique Cars mag Ed Greg Leech several years ago. He's utterly charming and damned good at what he does. So who else do you go to when the family truckster is in need of its second retrim? (33 years is a long time to own and drive a car, and the stock vinyl with cloth insets doesn't last forever under hard use.)

In a sudden rush of blood to the wallet, we declared that we wanted it done in leather. Having owned a couple of other cars decked out in hollowed-out cow, you soon realise it's hardy and feels a whole lot better.

So, how hard can it be? Chris began by suggesting a couple of upgrades, which we agreed to. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Of course, as the project swept along, he spotted other little things that needed doing - he's a perfectionist - and we kept saying yes.

Many months and $*** (actual cost is deleted in the interests of protecting the more delicate readers) later, it's done. And it's spectacular. As flash as the proverbial rat with a gold tooth.

When someone has actually asked me the real time and expense, and I've told them, their response is filled with expletives and an enquiry over whether or not it was trimmed with hand-sewn Latvian Mink udders.

With the application of yards of hand-stitched mink (there's a lot real estate inside a Kingswood) plus several barrels of high-end sound-proofing, the old dear has transformed from a tired but honest transport to a really comfortable and quiet cruiser. It's much nicer to live in than my house, and we're seriously considering moving in full time. Cost? What cost? Who cares?

The only problem is I've seen this little spot of rust near the A-pillar that needs fixing...

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