Teen keeps old Bed­fords truck­ing on

The Napier Mail - - FRONT PAGE - CHERYL NOR­RIE

On week­ends and hol­i­days 16-year-old So­phie Ham­mond swaps her school uni­form for a pair of over­alls, and heads out to con­tinue work on Alice, the 1950s Bed­ford K truck she is restor­ing.

She’s well aware it’s not a typ­i­cal hobby for a teenage girl.

‘‘Peo­ple do think it’s a bit strange,’’ she says. ‘‘ My close friends are re­ally sup­port­ive.

‘‘They don’t re­ally get it, but they still think it’s pretty cool.’’

So­phie, who is in year 12 at Sa­cred Heart Col­lege in Napier, fits in her truck re­pair work in be­tween study­ing for her six school sub­jects of English, paint­ing, physics, bi­ol­ogy, maths and re­li­gion.

She was drawn into ve­hi­cle restora­tion by her father Neil’s en­thu­si­asm for old cars.

‘‘Dad was al­ways do­ing things on old cars, Austins mainly and he’d drag us along to swap meets and things.

‘‘I re­ally wasn’t in­ter­ested in it at the start but af­ter a while I just de­cided that I was a bit more in­ter­ested and wanted to learn how it all worked.’’

So­phie was first at­tracted to the time­less looks of the Volk­swa­gen Kombi, but then the clas­sic lines of the Bed­ford truck, and their cheaper price tag, be­gan to ap­peal.

She has pur­chased what amounts to two and a half trucks from her sav­ings.

‘‘Buy­ing the truck is usu­ally the cheap­est part. It cost about $150 for my first two and then my parts truck was $250.’’

With the fam­ily liv­ing on a coun­try prop­erty in Riss­ing­ton in ru­ral Hawke’s Bay, there’s been plenty of space for her col­lec­tion of vin­tage Bed­fords.

The K model Bed­ford which was orig­i­nally in­tended as a parts truck, has be­come her main project af­ter it was found to be in bet­ter shape than the KM model she first planned to re­store.

For a girl who ad­mits to know­ing lit­tle to noth­ing about ve­hi­cles when she started, it’s been quite a journey.

She now hopes to study air­craft en­gi­neer­ing once she leaves school.

As well as help from Dad Neil, she’s had sup­port from the Vin­tage Austin Reg­is­ter and Vin­tage Car Clubs, whose mem­bers have been tick­led pink to find a young per­son in­ter­ested in restor­ing old ve­hi­cles.

‘‘They are re­ally sup­port­ive and re­ally help­ful with ev­ery­thing that I am do­ing,’’ So­phie says.

FAIRFAX NZ

So­phie Ham­mond is en­joy­ing her restora­tion project, a 1950s Bed­ford K truck called Alice.

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