A FRESH START

> A PCYC PROJECT TO REBUILD AN OLD HOLDEN AS WELL AS SOME YOUNG LIVES

STORY & PHOTOS BEN HOSKING

REGIONAL Australia may offer more natural beauty than the average urban landscape, but regional areas also tend to suffer from greater youth unemployment and a lack of opportunities.

As a result, young people can fall into bad situations involving drug abuse and crime.

Project Rebuild was launched in 2014 by Senior Constable Matt Ellis and the Cessnock PCYC Youth Command as a way to affect positive change among young offenders and youth at risk. It began with a number of local kids being involved in the rebuilding of the PCYC centre itself, with some of the participants ending up with building apprenticeships.

The initiative’s latest project has seen five local boys aged 15-17 restoring a 1979 HZ ute. Now, after 18 months’ work, the ute is finished and the group of young men involved have been exposed to various facets of the motor industry and learned valuable new hands-on skills.

Supported by a long list of sponsors including Rare Spares, Rocket Industries, Repco, Eastside Kustoms, Coalfields Classic Vehicle Restoration, MOB Engines, Muscle Car Parts and many other local businesses, the project started with the donation of the HZ ute by Cessnock City Motor Group. Barely more than a rolling shell with a tired red six up front, the Holden had no front sheet metal, interior or swinging panels, and needed a lot of work.

Senior Constable Ellis says that now the ute is finished – complete with fresh HQ front end, bright Lettuce Alone green paint and stout 308ci V8/TH400 combo – it will be displayed in the Cessnock City Motor Group showroom before being auctioned off by Shannons at the NSW Hot Rod & Custom Auto Expo at Rosehill Racecourse in May 2018.

Proceeds from the sale of the ute will go back into the Cessnock PCYC kitty to fund future Project Rebuild schemes to help the next generation of youth at risk.