Trevor Read

Trevor Read

MEMBER: Trevor Read

My first involve­ment with FX/FJ’s was in 1970. I was board­ing in Hamil­ton after start­ing my first job and the neigh­bour 2 doors up from where I board­ed had an FJ Sedan which he let myself and the landlady’s son dri­ve round on his big block.

The fol­low­ing year the 2 of us raced FJ’s at the Hamil­ton Speed­way. I look back now at the num­ber of FX and/or FJ’s that were raced at that time, smashed and tak­en to the tip.

I was trans­ferred to War­rnam­bool with my work in 1972, and there was a guy who drove around War­rnam­bool in a choco­late brown met­al flake FJ Ute. It was then, the best look­ing car I had seen, and from that moment I always want­ed one.

In 1979 when I first start­ed going out with San­dra, I went out to her Parent’s farm in Trafal­gar. As we drove up the dri­ve­way there was an FJ Ute parked out the front of the house. After meet­ing Sandra’s Dad I asked him whether he want­ed to sell the FJ. To my dis­be­lief, he said that he had sold it “yes­ter­day” and it was being picked up “today”.

Mar­riage, kids and work trans­fers all over Vic­to­ria put fur­ther thoughts of FJ’s out of my mind until 1989 when the oppor­tu­ni­ty came up to buy an FX Ute in Kil­syth for $2,950. To an untrained eye it looked a mil­lion dol­lars, but the paint­work cov­ered a lot of hid­den problems.
On the plus side how­ev­er there was noth­ing miss­ing. Anoth­er big plus was that the motor in the ute (No. 106782) matched the ID Plate in the pas­sen­ger side door pillar.

The Ute is Body No. 160621 and was built in June 1953.

As a late built FX it has the FJ sus­pen­sion (FJ Shock­ers and wider leaf springs.)
All rust was repaired by local pan­el beat­ers and my neigh­bour who was into Hot Rods, con­vinced me that I could restore the ute myself, includ­ing paint­ing it. In his words “you can’t stuff up Acrylic paint. If you make a mis­take, rub it back and do it again. By the time you have rubbed back 20 mis­takes you’ll have a rough idea of what to do”

And so the long task of restora­tion commenced.

Paint and engine was done by myself, and ton­neau cov­er and uphol­stery was done by my Hot Rod neigh­bour, I joined the EMHC in 1989 and went to my first State Titles in Shep­par­ton to see what was in front of me restora­tion wise. That was an eye opener !!!

I fin­ished (are they ever fin­ished?) the ute some­time in 1990, and my first run was in Sep­tem­ber of that year to Gum­buya Park. I remem­ber it as if it was yes­ter­day – I think Adri­an Under­hill and I had the only stock­ies at that stage. Pri­or to leav­ing the Sandown Park Hotel, it was planned that we all trav­el in con­voy to Gum­buya Park. I think that Adri­an and I were the only ones in con­voy after the first set of lights. The hot­ties were nowhere to be seen !!

I took it to my first Nation­als in Bac­chus Marsh in Decem­ber 1990. I was that con­vinced that my restora­tion work was not as good as it could have been, I got San­dra to fol­low me to Bac­chus Marsh in her car just in case I conked out. It didn’t miss a beat.

Since 1990, with the excep­tion of 1992 and 1994 due to work com­mit­ments, I have been to every Nation­als. Not always with my ute as utes are not fam­i­ly friend­ly, so I used the Nation­als as a fam­i­ly get­away. The ute has been to 7 Nation­als since 2000.

Some of its high­lights over the years are…..
1990 – Appeared (very briefly) in the Aus­tralian movie Spotswood with the fol­low­ing actors whose careers have sky­rock­et­ed since appear­ing with my ute – Antho­ny Hop­kins, Rus­sel Crowe, Toni Col­lette & Ben Mendelsohn.
1994 – Top Street Cus­tom at the War­rnam­bool State Titles
1996 – Best Ute at the Bun­doo­ra State Titles
1999 – 2nd. place Ute/Pickup at the Vic­to­ri­an Hot Rod Show

In the year 2000, the tired old orig­i­nal motor was in need of some TLC. I decid­ed to retain the match­ing block and sourced a lat­er mod­el block (Engine No. B239568).

The motor was upgrad­ed – bored out with a mild cam and steel gears. The head was sent away to be slight­ly port­ed and pol­ished, with 186 valves and dual valve springs. It was assem­bled with twin car­bies, extrac­tors, 12 volt elec­tron­ic igni­tion and a Aussie Desert Cool­er radiator.

Also in 2000, the chrome grille was an issue. It was pit­ted and need­ed re-chroming. I was advised to pull the old grille apart and get it re-chromed as indi­vid­ual parts, as the chrome would be bet­ter. This I did, but need­ed anoth­er grille in the ute whilst the oth­er got re-chromed etc. My spare grille was in worse shape than the orig­i­nal, so a tem­po­rary filler primer and green paint job until the orig­i­nal was fin­ished was the plan.

In 2020 the orig­i­nal grille is still in indi­vid­ual parts and the green grille still has pride of place on the ute.

There are only a hand­ful of the same FX/FJ’s that have been on at least 1 run a year since they first joined the Club – I’m proud that mine is in that group, how­ev­er retire­ment to San Remo and the now COVID-19 may ruin my future record.

My son Aaron has an FJ Sedan that I bought him for his 17th. Birth­day. It’s cur­rent­ly run­ning a Lexus Quad Cam V8 which makes my ute seem quite infe­ri­or. 4 kids sees his time at a pre­mi­um, how­ev­er he has dri­ven it to 5 of the last 6 Nationals.

I hope that he gets as much enjoy­ment out of the EMHC as I have, and that the mates he makes are as long term as mine are.