1963 Holden EH Ute - Reader Resto

By: Peter Witheyman with Guy Allen

Presented by

holden eh resto 3 holden eh resto 3
holden eh resto side holden eh resto side
holden eh resto 2 holden eh resto 2
holden eh resto 1 holden eh resto 1
holden eh resto front holden eh resto front
holden eh resto rear 2 holden eh resto rear 2
holden eh resto tray 2 holden eh resto tray 2
holden eh resto wheel holden eh resto wheel
holden eh resto tray holden eh resto tray
holden eh resto grille holden eh resto grille
holden eh resto headlight holden eh resto headlight
holden eh resto horn holden eh resto horn
holden eh resto dash holden eh resto dash
holden eh resto engine bay holden eh resto engine bay
holden eh resto 12 holden eh resto 12
holden eh resto 5 holden eh resto 5
holden eh resto 13 holden eh resto 13
holden eh resto engine bay 2 holden eh resto engine bay 2
holden eh resto 6 holden eh resto 6
holden eh resto 7 holden eh resto 7
holden eh resto 8 holden eh resto 8
holden eh resto 9 holden eh resto 9
holden eh resto 10 holden eh resto 10
holden eh resto 11 holden eh resto 11
holden eh resto owner holden eh resto owner

Peter Witheyman's still not quite sure about how and why he got started on the EH Holden ute resto - but we're just pleased he did

 

1963 Holden EH ute

My ute is an early EH, built in 1963, that I managed to find out west several years ago. Holden by this time offered a big range, with several sedans, a wagon, a van and a utility. You could get a 149 or 179ci six, with manual three-speed (no synchro on first) or the three-speed Hydra-Matic auto.

Exactly how this came about is uncertain. I guess I was working with a guy who was into Holdens at the time and I was into old cars to some extent but never really had the time, money or inclination to do anything. For some reason working with him got me looking for an EH ute, one of the cars I always liked or wanted. I must have got one of the last of the good cars ever sold out of the paper version of the Trading Post.

| Read next: Holden EH panel van reader resto

holden-eh-resto-2.jpgThe retro 'distressed' sign-writing was a topic for debate

I’ve had it six or seven years. It came from Dirranbandi (western Queensland) and spent its whole life there. It had only two owners before I got it. The first only drove it 10,000 miles – I have a feeling it may have been the Dirranbandi dealer’s car. And then the bloke after that passed away and his daughters sold it to me.

It was in pretty good shape for the age of the car – minimal rust and it was drivable. I test-drove it and it was still registered at the time. It was certainly a find.

The body was pretty good. There was a bit of rust in the bottom of the doors and the front guards. We did the floor pans in the end and a little bit in the back of the tray. Really it wasn’t too bad all. My mate Perry is a panel beater who welded in the floors and did much of the other bodywork. We took the trouble to strip it down and put it all back together.

| Read next: 1963 Holden EH Standard reader resto

holden-eh-resto-rear-2.jpg

We had it off the road for about 18 months, so it was a fairly quick project. The final exterior paint was done in a panel shop, though Perry tackled some of the detail work such as inside the doors and engine bay.

It’s been retrimmed. I had the kits made up by a mob in Adelaide called Winner Products and asked a local trimmer to fit them for me.

The engine was changed over long before I bought it. It would have had a 149 initially. There’s some paperwork with the car that records it happening – I think it was an Opel change-over unit upgraded to 179. We ended up giving it a light rebuild, as there was rust in one of the bores, so that was resleeved. We left it very standard as I wanted something that was reasonably faithful to the original.

| Read next: 1963 Holden EH S4

holden-eh-resto-tray-2.jpg

I think we succeeded as it’s pretty amazing to drive and brings back a lot of memories. I learned to drive in non-synchro cars and it brings back all those feelings from whenever it was.

Once you get them rolling they feel as though they will go forever. I reckon on a long trip it would be me rather than the car that would be the problem, with the heat or the cold, as it hasn’t got all the mod cons. It’s still pretty amazing to drive.

holden-eh-resto-13.jpgIf you were looking for a project, this would be impossible to rsist. It was still registered, running and in good shape for its age

The signwriting on the side advertises my business and I managed to find a local semi-retired signwriter who used to have a business out at Dalby. His name’s Peter and he now lives in Toowoomba. He did a great job and enjoyed it. I hung around while he did it. There was a bit of debate over how it should look, as I really wanted that old faded effect where he felt that – since the ute looked to shiny – the signwriting should look like new. But I stuck to my guns and we kept it that way. He wasn’t too keen on putting the website on the side, either, but apparently the customer won.

holden-eh-resto-engine-bay-2.jpgThe 179 was a change-over engine that needed a bit of work

It looks like I’ve been bitten by the restoration bug as I now have an HQ ute underway. I was finding it hard to get motivated to go to work, so I started another expensive project! That is more of a restomod and I’m hoping to kick the habit after this one. Wish me luck.

THE RESTORATION

Tray traumas

holden-eh-resto-6.jpgActually, this one is pretty good, but the crew took the opportunity to refurbish it properly.

Water trap

holden-eh-resto-7.jpgThere are a few on your average ute, including the channels under the tailgate.

Pretty neat

holden-eh-resto-8.jpgOkay, there’s a bit of moisture damage, but the interior was very good given its age. It was retrimmed.

Barrel roll

holden-eh-resto-9.jpgIt must have been tempting to give this thing a quick patch and spray. Note how solid it is.

Prime time

holden-eh-resto-10.jpgOh dear, we have a few stages to go before we can break open the primer.

Stray hoses

holden-eh-resto-11.jpgIt doesn’t look too bad under here, but the assorted lines could do with a freshen-up.

 

holden-eh-resto-owner.jpg

1963 Holden EH ute

ENGINE 2.9lt inline six (originally 2.4lt)
POWER & TORQUE 86kW @4000rpm,  273Nm @1600rpm
TOP SPEED 140km/h
TRANSMISSION Three-speed manual
SUSPENSION Coil front, leaf rear hydraulic drums

 

Sign up to our free weekly newsletter for more unique car reviews and features plus see the latest unique and classic cars for sale.

Subscribe to Unique Cars magazine
- Print edition
- Digital edition