BACK FROM THE DEAD

ONE OF AUSTRALIA’S MOST FAMOUS PANEL VANS IS SET TO RECEIVE A WELL-DESERVED RESTORATION

WHEN Pat Fay passed away in late 2013, he left a void in the Aussie custom car scene. For generations of car nuts, the sight of Pat’s caravan at Street Machine Summernats – plying his spare parts wares – was a constant. Pat Fay Spares was an innovative business that helped pave the way for the industry that was to come, but Pat remains most famous for his Humpy Mekka FJ Holden van.

Bought from a funeral director for $450, the FJ became one of the most famous panel vans of all time and – as Chic Henry says – helped bridge the gap between the early-Holden and nascent street machine scenes.

The FJ evolved from a typical early-70s custom into a full-blown show van that went on to claim something in the order of 1500 trophies! The car’s most memorable feature was the Frank Lee murals, depicting scenes of vampires inspired by the Hammer films.

Pat constantly updated the car over the years to stay ahead of the game, and at the time of his passing, the van was in the care of renowned car builder Rowan Wilson for some extensive work. And there it has stayed, hidden from public view – until now.

Summernats legend Peter Fitzpatrick was good mates with Pat and has been pondering the fate of the FJ for a long time. “It is an icon of our scene and it needs to be rescued, he says. Peter approached Pat’s widow Carol and offered to spearhead a campaign to restore the FJ back to its former glory. Ownership will remain with Carol and the intention is to take the car to Summernats, MotorEx and other shows, before offering it for display to museums.

Like any work of art, the question of how far to go with the restoration is a thorny one. The original paint was misted over with purple at some stage during the car’s evolution, the extensive chromework has decayed and murals from the firewall forward are gone.

“We’ve had a lot of people stick their hands up to help already, including the Canberra Institute of Technology and Wayne Harrison, Peter says. “Wayne basically learned his craft from Frank Lee and is confident he can do the old master justice.

There should be a crowd-funding campaign up and running to assist in the restoration by on the whichcar.com.au/streetmachine. time you read this – do a search for s Pat Fay on whichcar.com.au/streetmachine.

HOT GOSSIP

RED CENTRE MIATA

RED CentreNATS is one of the coolest events on our calendar, but last year things didn’t go according to plan for us.

We had an absolute blast in our Carnage project MX5.7, which we purpose-built for the event. We cruised the wheels off it on the streets of Alice Springs, complete with tubs, ’cage, no rego, and turbos mounted aloft. We attacked the tarmac motorkhana and held our own against some stiff competition, before heading out to Alice Springs Inland Dragway to reel off some passes. Sadly, the results were a little lacklustre.

We’ve had 12 months to iron the bugs out of the car, and the goal is to return to Alice, finish what we started and fetch a single-digit pass out of MX5.7. If you’re yet to head inland for Red CentreNATS, it really is a must-do event, so come and join us! Head to redcentrenats.com.au for all the info you need.

ON TOUR

CONGRATS to Aussies Grant Hodgson and Greg ‘Beach’ Ball, who completed the Hot Rod Power Tour in the US in their antipodean rides in June. Grant has done the event twice before in his blown XC Falcon, but this time he and his nephew Gordon added a trip to Canada into the mix, making for around 8000 miles on the road! And Beach? He confused the Yanks in his suicide-door VY Commodore ute and has put the car in storage for another trip next year.

NEXT!

IN THE October issue, we check out Gazzanats Darwin, Powercruise USA and chat with Aussie speed demon Rosco McGlashan (below). Plus the usual contingent of killer feature cars and lots more! On sale 20 September. And in the meantime, check out whichcar.com.au/ streetmachine for regular updates.