It’s a haul lotta love

A rusty old Chev gets new life as a unique trans­porter

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Working Wheels - JAMES STAN­FORD james.stan­ford@cars­guide.com.au

LET me in­tro­duce you to Aus­tralia’s coolest car trans­porter: It’s a cus­tom 1936 Chevro­let truck with a chopped roof that has been trans­formed into a truly unique hauler.

The amaz­ing ma­chine be­longs to Syd­ney’s Mitch Rein­ders, who wanted to cus­tomise a truck af­ter play­ing with cars for many years.

He had al­ways had a thing for ’ 36 Chevs, so it didn’t take long for him to de­cide to buy a rusty old ver­sion that had been used as a Vic­to­rian bush­fire tanker way back in time.

Rein­ders started off with the idea of turn­ing it into a cus­tom pick-up truck. But that idea was quickly aban­doned.

‘‘ I re­alised it would be a waste of money be­cause I wouldn’t be able to use it for any­thing,’’ he says. In­stead, Rein­ders, who makes dis­play stands for ex­hi­bi­tions, de­cided to build the Chev as a flat-bed truck to carry all his gear.

And from that it de­vel­oped into mak­ing a trans­porter which could be used to carry gear and cars.

Three years later, his dream is on the road and is an im­mac­u­late com­bi­na­tion of gleam­ing chrome and glowing yel­low paint. He says: ‘‘ Greg ‘ Beach’ Ball did most of the metal work and I think I drove him mad be­cause I kept chang­ing my mind. I did all the panel beat­ing and rust cut­ting and a mate made the tilt tray.’’

Rein­ders did the paint him­self, sav­ing about $15,000.

The cus­tom rig is 9m long but uses the orig­i­nal chas­sis rails. The tray body adds about a me­tre to the rear and it has a lazy rear axle— that is, one that doesn’t drive.

Just like a hot-rod, the spe­cial Chev takes com­po­nents from sev­eral dif­fer­ent cars and has a Mit­subishi L300 front end, HQHolden hubs and disc brakes from a Ley­land P76.

Not that it was ex­actly straight­for­ward. Rein­ders says he ended up buy­ing two of ev­ery­thing be­cause noth­ing fit­ted the first time.

The en­gine is a fresh 454 cu­bic inch (7.4-litre) crate spe­cial, a Chevro­let of course, with a spe­cial camshaft for more torque rather than a lot of peaky power.

Rein­ders bought a freeflow­ing man­i­fold kit from the US which came as a box of el­bows and straight sec­tions to be welded to­gether.

He was as­sured it would fit, but as soon as Rein­ders opened the box he knew it would take many hours of cus­tom labour to get it to work.

The trans­mis­sion is a heavy­duty Turbo TH400 au­to­matic with a gear-shifter that sticks out through the dash­board in a stun­ning cus­tom in­te­rior.

‘‘ It doesn’t need to be on the floor be­cause it is only con­trolled by a wire so I thought I would do some­thing dif­fer­ent with it,’’ Rein­ders says.

The 5.8m tray tilts, the end can be raised by 1.5m with a hy­draulic sys­tem, and there is also a winch. Rein­ders in­stalled some stain­less steel tanks be­hind the cabin which look like small fuel tanks but are ac­tu­ally con­tain­ers used to carry ropes and tie-downs.

And the whole thing sits on airbag sus­pen­sion at the rear for a nice com­fort­able ride.

The Chev makeover did not ini­tially in­clude power steer­ing but Rein­ders said he went out for a drive, got to the first cor­ner and had a huge panic:

‘‘ I re­alised it was go­ing to need power steer­ing straight away.’’

He has al­ready towed some cars but is yet to see whether his new ma­chine will work in all the ways he needs to take his ex­hi­bi­tion dis­play sets.

In the mean­time, he isjust en­joy­ing driv­ing a unique beast that is al­ways at­tract­ing plenty of at­ten­tion wher­ever he takes it.

‘‘ I get 15 min­utes of fame ev­ery time I drive it,’’ he says.

‘‘ The re­ac­tion is in­cred­i­ble. Peo­ple stop, they fol­low me and hang out of their car win­dows with their cam­eras.’’ ’

Pic­ture: Tracee Lea

Eye­catcher: Mitch Rein­ders’ 1936 Chevro­let trans­porter gets as much at­ten­tion or more as the cars it hauls

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