QUEENSLAND was declared a separate state from NSW in 1859. In the years immediately following, the state’s fledgling government almost went broke, until 1867, when a bloke called James Nash discovered a heap of gold in a creek 160 clicks north of Brisbane. That started a massive prospectors’ rush and built a mushrooming tent town, originally named Nashville in honour of James (who managed to extract £7000 worth of gold before retiring rich). But the following year, more sober citizens changed the name to Gympie, a corruption of the Aboriginal word ‘gimpi’ for a local tree with stinging leaves. Although the gold finds mostly petered out in 1925, several individual prospectors still dig the old workings.
But if you drive perhaps 15 minutes south of Gympie along the Bruce Highway, stark against a foreground of classic hot rods, old trucks and bright-painted beach buggies stands a huge two-storey house.
A large multi-bay garage alongside contains stuff like flathead Ford engines, ate rs ’s nt d d at t d d g e s t old fuel bowsers, a VW flat-four-powered speedway midget, machine tools and an olive green Mustang.
This is the working base for Hell Town Hot Rods.
Adam Martin and partner Teana bought this 1984-built classic establishment in April last year, and moved in with their extensive car, truck and bike collection. This has overflowed into the open garage forecourt, although customers’ cars are kept sheltered from Queensland’s wet-season rains. The entire split-level ground-floor space of the massive house is now a showcase for old restored motorbikes and a Golden Fleece fuel bowser. ed stang. ods dway tang.
Teana and Adam live upstairs and rattle around in the four-bedroom, triplelounge accommodation, which Teana somehow keeps spotless, as well as handling all the paperwork involved with their automotive restoration business, and running the onsite cafe. This caters for the many visits from car enthusiast groups and classic motorcycle clubs – so many that Teana has help-out girls on standby, while Adam is flat-out with his full-time restoration work.
He’s been involved with this custom car and classic rebuild game for the past 25 years, but has never advertised his talents, relying on the wordof- mouth telegraph to bring in paying customers, who are usually delighted to find an artisan working magic with metal.
Adam is booked solid for the next 12 months, and has just about finished a complete restoration on a 1969 Boss Mustang. A rare Perentti, based on a 350 Chev-powered HQ Holden chassis and topped with a sensational fibreglass coupe body, has almost everything controlled by 12V electricity.
That’s been taxing Adam’s talents for the past six months, ever since this unique car arrived from Rockhampton. He’s also just finished a Ford XB GT two-door coupe, and more stuff is yet to happen on a 1954 DeSoto sedan, which is now lower and sleeker with a three-inch roof chop. He successfully ‘two-doored’ the steel body to convert the car into a classic lowrider.
Out in the garage sits a genuine manual Ford pp g p y, electricity Superbird, sharing space with a trio of flathead Ford engines on building stands, one of Henry’s cast-iron wonders reworked as a 1948 firebreathing stroker.
Adam must like flathead Fords, for out front is a chopped and channelled ’32 three-window coupe, the sidevalve engine topped by a massive GM 6/71 blower, which he says is a bit sick now – all those road kays have reduced the supercharger’s output to a miserable 7psi.
There is an originalbodied Morris bakers’ van from Gympie, showing its nose at a garage door. Massively reworked with Jaguar front and rear end units, the van’s motive grunt now comes from a 351 Ford Windsor. Adam is sentimental about that truck, as in earlier years, another one of those was his daily transport.
The business has a sideline in building up VW-powered Manx beach buggies under the Martin brand, and another interest in a re-barrelled g bodied Gympie originaland originaland stroked, wide-wheeled VW-based NSW speedway midget. Adam says it won a lot of races during its competition career, and is just about finished in bright red and black.
Adam’s go-get-’em road truck is a 1954 Austin A40 ute, which sits beside the highway and always fires into 1.2-litre life when asked. The bones of a 1930s flathead Ford powertrain and chassis rests outside the front door of the showroom, while a complete three-window chopped Ford replica body in white is parked on the tray of a surface-rusted vintage truck, which Adam had been chasing for a couple of years.
For a man who prefers to do everything involved in custom restorations, there is an immense workload ahead of him, with customers demanding attention from all over Queensland, but his work is always immaculate. “At least I know where he always is!”
Teana says with a grin. s