Mike Brewer: ‘I needed a te­tanus jab just to look at it!’

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - THIS WEEK -

It is not of­ten that I get close to giv­ing up on a car, but hav­ing trawled the in­ter­net for years, try­ing to find a suit­able Dat­sun 510, I was get­ting close. So, when I spoke to a farmer who said he had a run­ning, driv­ing two-door, I jumped on a plane.

When I got there I al­most wished I hadn’t both­ered. This car was hideous – I needed a te­tanus jab just to look around it! It looked like it had been hand-painted blind­folded with a broom.

There was no in­te­rior to speak of, and the ex­te­rior had mis­matched wings and a rotten back end.

How­ever, there was some­thing im­mensely charm­ing about how it drove – it’s the clos­est you’ll ever get to an Es­cort MkI. Hon­estly, if you could blind­fold me and stick me be­hind the wheel, I couldn’t tell the dif­fer­ence.

The re­veal was a true OMG mo­ment – what a trans­for­ma­tion. Talk about knock­ing it out of the park. How was this the same car? Not only was it stun­ning but for the joyride Ant took me to the place where this car landed in 1972 – Long Beach Har­bour. I think this car looked and per­formed bet­ter that day than it did 45 years ago.

This has to be one of our best builds ever and it just shows that no mat­ter how bad a car is at the be­gin­ning, there is al­ways a di­a­mond in the rough. The first ques­tion I asked when I saw the car was: ‘Has Brewer gone mad?’ I’ve taken on some chal­lenges in my time, but I think Mike was ask­ing for a mir­a­cle on this one; this lit­tle car was hideous. Be­fore I could even think about the paint job, I had to crack open my an­gle grinder and hit the weld­ing torch to rebuild the back end.

This car was go­ing to look worse be­fore it was ever go­ing to get bet­ter. It was that mo­ment that all home me­chan­ics face – it would have been quite easy to put my hands up and walk away – and I know many peo­ple who would have done just that. So I rolled up my sleeves, and stripped it in prep for a new paint job. On the way, I had to re­place the gearbox and sort out the way it drove with a myr­iad lit­tle jobs.

Not many peo­ple know that I can paint – some­thing I’ve done at home in my garage be­fore. To keep costs down and to please Mike, I de­cided to paint the Dat­sun my­self.

I chose a pe­riod blue from back in the day, that I knew would also give a mod­ern twist for Mike to cap­ture the grow­ing mar­ket for these cars – a retro car with some mod­ern el­e­ments – and I ac­cented the paint work with grey trim rather than chrome. I think Mike was pleased!

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