Foundation member – Bendigo Sandhurst Holden Club
It all began in late 1949 or early 1950 when my father had some spare time while having work done on his 27 Chevrolet Ute. He decided to have a test ride in the new G.M product, the first to come to Bendigo.
He remarked how well it flew up all Bendigo’s hills with “power to spare”, but it was not until March 1956 that I sat in the back seat of the new car. The cost ₤1073-18 /- ($2147.80) on the road, after a 7 month waiting time.
After about 7 years I learnt to manage the controls and gained a driver’s Licence. Late in 1964 Dad updated to an EH Holden wagon, this was when I bought the FJ special sedan, with 39,000 miles on the Speedo.
I drove it until the motor would go no further (132,000 miles). I then installed a second hand Repco gold star motor. About a year later I saw a notice in the local paper “Persons interested in forming an early Holden Club to ring Leighton Rawling’s Hallam St. Bendigo”. I thought gee just the place to part with my aging FJ! But not so, I found out that what I had was becoming rare and I became more attached. So I became a foundation member of a club, which soon became Australia wide.
As time went by I found that rust was at work in a number of places and the paint was becoming wrinkled. In June 1978, after many hints and winning the 1977 Beater (wooden spoon) award, I with the help of fellow club member Russell Williams, started to strip off all body panels to do a respray and rust repair job. One thing led to another and before long everything was removed from the body leaving it to be easily moved and rolled over by two people. All parts were cleaned, repaired and painted then reassembled, together with new rubber and body channel for all windows and doors. As with most big restoration projects time was running out for the Nationals in Tumut, (just after Christmas). Three of us wrestled with the bonnet to get it to fit until 4am Christmas Eve. What a challenge to take it for its first run in 6 months, then home for some sleep and up again for a wheel alignment at 9am. Boxing Day morning, without door trims and a few other minor things we headed off to Tumut and out first Nationals. The car’s performance was faultless.
During the years from new the car took on many roles on the farm, pulling a heavy trailer, at times with a variety of farm animals, along with sand, cement, feed for hens and other stuff. Later in my ownership loads included fire wood,
soil and furniture; at times I removed the back seat to gain more room for cargo.
After restoration all this changed, the car was now something to be admired and respected, although this did not stop it being used regularly. As our 3 children arrived and grew up the pusher, pram and all the other things that were needed were crammed into the FJ when we attended many club outings, State Titles, National events both in Vic and interstate.
Another pleasant duty was using it as a wedding car for our nieces and nephews, who were eager to use it on their special day.
It was now 25 years from its 1st restoration, the paint work was failing and some rust was becoming apparent, so the whole job started all over again. This time mid 2004 saw things in full swing and again time ran out with a couple of
small jobs being completed Boxing day at the Nationals at Loxton in South Australia. Some highlights with the car have been my first ride home when it was new; taking my wife to be out in the FJ for the first time. Travelling to Tasmania for the Nationals (Twice). Winning my first trophy after restoring the car in 1978 and winning the G.M.H. sponsors trophy at the all Holden Day in 2002.
When Doug joined the club, I didn’t get very involved at first, because we had young children. However, I still went on as many runs as we could manage. For quite a while I didn’t realize just how much the car meant to Doug, myself and
the rest of the family, who admire and respect it.
I remember some of the earlier runs were cricket matches against our Melbourne chapter at Torquay. These were good days with keen batting and fielding displays; also younger members were able to play on the beach.
A family fun day held at Pederson’s farm (one our members) at Kamarooka, was a great day with lots of activities; like catching raw eggs, water balloon throwing, car pulling and many more. It was a great day with a large attendance.
There were the processions, Easter Monday and Dalia & Arts. A lot of people supported the cars and looked forward to seeing them come down the street. When watching those processions you could hear the crowd’s comments, (look at that old car isn’t it great etc).
During our time in the club we have been to many National and State titles. When the kids were young, the car seats in the back would have their teddy bears on them for the judging. Other runs and holidays have been very enjoyable and it was good to know that this old car would get you there and back. One of the longest trips would probably be the Toowoomba Easter Nationals. In the early days with a larger membership we had a lot of runs (with Santa attending at Christmas). Many of these runs finished at different locations all around Victoria. To name just a few places we have visited on club runs are Wangaratta, Deniliquin, Vaughan Springs, a lot of Melbourne suburbs, Kyneton, Hanging Rock, Boort, Swan Hill and many more.
One of the low lights is when it’s time for the National or State Titles and a lot of cleaning is needed, so it’s all hands on deck. The highlight is when you see it shiny and clean, and it’s judged well in the event.
Doug and Dianne pose for a shoot at the 2007 State Titles, held at Bendigo. They had just won the best improved Stock section. Well deserved to, after so many years of devotion to both the club and the car.
Article courtesy of the Bendigo Sandhurst Holden Club Newsletter June/July 2009 .