IT WAS UNCLE Phil who led us down this road. Famous for being the world’s fussiest man, he was grizzling about the handling in his stunning Torana A9X tribute. Typically for him, we’re talking about an ubertidy car – even dust wasn’t game to land on it.
Anyway, something wasn’t quite right. It drove okay, but it wasn’t as sharp as it should be. He’d heard good things about a mob in Melbourne called Hakon, run by Reade Clouston. With a background in the trade, particularly on the steering and suspension side of things Reade decided to branch out on his own.
“The goal was to create something that was a little different,” he explains, “not your average churn and burn workshop.” If there was a target group, it was people who were dedicated car nuts – rather than someone for whom the car was a grudge purchase and just a means of getting from home to the salt mine and back.
Over time, Reade has built up an eclectic clientele, ranging from classic car folk who want their Mustang or whatever to point properly, through to drivers of modern performance gear and track toys.
He reckons it’s often drivers of older machinery who get the most out of what he does. “I really enjoy watching when someone gets something out of what we do and realises that they don’t have to put up with poor handling just because it’s an old car.
“Often it’s just a decent wheel alignment and eliminating some play out of the steering. That can drastically change how a car drives.” Reade adds that a key element to this is having the correct alignment specs. His belief is that workshops often don’t have them, or properly understand what’s required.
Next on the list of favourite jobs is playing with track cars. Reade explains that their method is to set up the car with a known baseline and then fine-tune the car according to the driver’s feedback. “A lot of people think there’s a set magic formula,” he says, “But that’s not the case. You need to take the driving style into account and adjust it from there.”
The crew also takes on a variety of modification and one-off fabrication work, such as a recent coil-over conversion for a Mustang Eleanor replica.
And Uncle Phil’s Torana? It turns out a lower arm bush in the front end was trying to escape. Apparently that’s common, as the steel brackets holding them can stretch over time. Hakon eventually replaced the bush and dialled in the alignment – problem solved. Phil is once again a happy man, so we can all relax…
Tel (03) 9305 1448
Location 15 Fleet St, Somerton Melbourne VIC 3062