An Ul­s­teroid

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An Austin Spe­cial is slowly tak­ing shape in Auck­land at Fa­gan and Han­nay, thanks to an ef­fort to teach hands-on skills to Vin­tage Austin Reg­is­ter (VAR) club mem­bers.

Some VAR stal­warts re­al­ized that fewer and fewer folk have the skills needed to make a Spe­cial, or, in­deed, to work on their own cars. So they set up a reg­u­lar Satur­day work­shop to teach those skills via build­ing a com­plete car — tap­ping into mem­ber knowl­edge, as needed, along the way.

The work takes place fort­nightly. VAR’S Richard Bamp­ton said, “It started with a work­shop with Joss [Camp­bell] to go through ba­sic sheet-metal tech­niques — fold­ing, shrink­ing, curves, swag­ing, that sort of stuff.” But par­tic­i­pants wanted an­other work­shop, to watch Joss make some­thing. “Watch­ing grass grow is more ex­cit­ing,” he said, “so I thought, why don’t we just build a car?”

They picked an Ul­ster replica — “An ‘Ul­s­teroid’,” Joss quipped — as it’s fairly sim­ple. So far, the group has made the main floor­pan and tun­nel, the fire­wall pan­els with rel­e­vant swag­ing and fold­ing, and the main side pan­els. They’re now go­ing back through to see if there’s any­thing they could im­prove on, since they’ve had more prac­tice, be­fore start­ing to build the ply­wood buck for the body skin.

In the mean­time, the work­shop is also avail­able for peo­ple to bring their projects to and get ad­vice, and, al­ready, reg­u­lar par­tic­i­pants have built project-spe­cific tools, re­place­ment bat­tery boxes, and more on-site, with all the ma­te­ri­als and plenty of ex­pert ad­vice on hand.

Joss said, “Be­cause Fa­gan and Han­nay is a met­al­work shop through the week, all the equip­ment is handy, and, as I’m based here, I can en­sure any metal or sup­plies we’ll need will be on hand.”

Par­tic­i­pants — there are about eight reg­u­lars, while oth­ers join from time to time, from as far afield as Whangarei — do­nate $10 per day they take part, which pays for the ma­te­ri­als: a sheet of steel is $80, the alu­minium equiv­a­lent $100, and it’ll take three for the skin and two for the floor. “So far, the books have bal­anced,” Richard says, “Mind you, I haven’t had a hol­i­day yet …”

They hope the project pays for it­self. “If we have to spend money on the me­chan­i­cals, we’ll take that call and when the car’s com­plete we’ll sell it, to pay that off and raise money for the club.” Richard said.

The group al­ready has me­chan­i­cal ex­pert Ian Wil­liams ready to take over the work­shop when the time comes.

Any re­grets so far? “That more peo­ple aren’t tak­ing ad­van­tage of the sort of equip­ment few folk have in their garage, and the abil­ity to learn this stuff,” Richard said.

Those in­ter­ested in learn­ing how to make a Spe­cial can call Ian on 09 442 1261. Look out for fu­ture up­dates here!

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