BEHIND every big-name car, there’s often a talented machinist, detailer or fabricator who shies away from the limelight – someone who is always there to help get projects over the line, just to see their mates succeed and for the love of their craft. For many people in Western Sydney, Alan McDonald was that guy.
From a tiny, ramshackle old shed in his backyard in Blacktown, Al plied his trade machining custom parts for some of Australia’s all-time greatest show cars. We’re talking Laurie Seguna’s insane MR SIK Gemini, Damien Lowe’s transcontinental CHU88Y Commodore, and Ed Brodie’s legendary ‘MR HJ’ Holden, just to name a few.
Profoundly talented, deeply humble, and admired by all who knew him, Al passed away in June. We asked some of his good friends and customers to share their thoughts on a bloke who was an unsung hero of the Sydney car scene.
I MET Al 15 years ago and instantly had him make custom parts for my car. He knew exactly what I wanted and what finish was required to make show car parts.
Al was always so accommodating; he was there for us 24/7. He did so much for us and hardly asked for anything in return.
Everything I threw at him he made with no problem at all – he was a genius with anything he touched.
If it wasn’t for Al, our cars wouldn’t have made events and definitely wouldn’t be finished to the level of detail they are. “Just get Al to fix it” was a pretty common phrase!
A part of the team is gone, and building cars will never be the same again. They say everyone is replaceable – everyone except Al. d w s e r . h h t t y y g y e
I WAS a close friend of Al’s for 28 years. He was a gentle man and well-liked by many. Al was an old-school tool-maker – no CNC equipment, just an old lathe and mill in an old single garage.
He was a true craftsman, so skilled when it came to machining and manufacturing. He had such a talent.
During the time Al and I worked together, crafting many race engine components and modifying and machining custom one-off alloy components (as used on my cars), he proved his natural skill set and sheer talent. Of all of the machinists I have worked with in my career, Al would be one of, if not the best that I have seen.
I will dearly miss my friend Al, and I thank him for the skills I learned from him. I thank him for his mateship. His legacy will not be forgotten.
MACCA – what a gun and what a legend!
He could make anything you wanted out of a block of aluminium. He didn’t have much fancy machinery to work with in his little shed, but even so, he could do so much!
He was a very gifted man with an amazing imagination. My HT wouldn’t be what it is without him.
He will be missed in the street machine world!
Rest in peace, Macca.
BASICALLY Al was a hidden treasure. Much like a secret fishing spot, only a few of us knew of him, and that’s the way he liked it.
The man was a genius, and he lived a simple life. His ability to craft these one-off billet parts with such primitive machinery was a testament to his talents. Every item he made for my Statesman was bang-on first go.
I’d ring him and tell him what I needed made, and he’d say: “Yeah man, no worries! Come around now. Get me a couple of longnecks on ya way!” Sure as shit he’d be in his tiny shed milling something away with an open longneck of Tooheys Old and a three-quarter-smoked rollie in his mouth.
My car was only ever meant to be a tidy-up, but one thing’s for sure: The response I’ve had with the car, making Top 60 at the ’Nats and Meguiar’s Superstars at MotorEx 2008, is all due to the finishing touches that were made by Al.
THE thought of Al not being with us breaks my heart. For the past 20 years he’s been a great mate and a major influence in the build of my car. He was a rare and very gifted person when it came to machining anything. There are loads of billet goodies that came out of his shed that blew me away.
He did a ton of billet parts for my car, but he also built the diff, shortened the axles, de-burred my whole engine and driveline, and did a heap of polishing work. There were plenty of polished Allen-head bolts I needed but couldn’t buy; Al would machine them from scratch. He even made my tie-rod ends and the stainless-steel pistons for my brake calipers. He was an absolute perfectionist and nothing was ever a problem for him. He could make anything, and really enjoyed the engineering aspect of what he did.
I’ll always appreciate the great memories and all the things he taught me, and now that he’s gone, my car is even more special to me. He was a true champion, and his passing is a big loss.
It’s not easy to find someone who has that much passion and pride in what they do.
Rest in peace, mate.