DREAM SHED —

RE­TIRE­MENT RE­TREAT

NZV8 - - CONTENTS - WORDS AND PHO­TOS: TODD WYLIE

Years of hard work, prepa­ra­tion, and plan­ning have worked out well for Martin and Tina. The hard graft in ear­lier years saw them able not only to de­sign their own house but also to build it, and, hid­den away in­side that house, is one hell of a shed — the ideal place for Martin to live out his re­tire­ment years. The plan to in­te­grate the shed into the house, by hid­ing it in plain sight, came about af­ter a trip to Chris Horn­blow’s very dif­fer­ently styled but sim­i­lar combo — the big dif­fer­ence be­ing that Martin’s shed hides un­der the house rather than be­hind it. A plumber / drain layer by trade, and a hands-on guy by na­ture, Martin didn’t want to sit back and have some­one de­sign and build the place for him; in­stead, Martin per­formed most of the build him­self, with help from fel­low Gold Coast Rod and Cus­tom Club mem­ber Clive Mur­ray, who owns a ’39 Ford coupe, and Chris Longstaff, who owns a ’57 Oldsmo­bile — two bril­liant and like-minded builders. The beauty of this ar­range­ment was that Martin knew how the prop­erty would be used and could en­sure that every last de­tail was thought out — not just in the plan­ning but right down to the fin­ish­ing touches. From the thou­sands of me­tres of red beech milled in Hok­i­tika and painstak­ingly laid through­out, with a dance floor down­stairs, to the rough-sawn macro­carpa tim­ber that lines the walls of the guest area, Martin was re­spon­si­ble for every screw and nail. The plan for the guest area, which fea­tures two self­con­tained rooms, is that one day it will be­come the ideal hot-rod homes­tay, the per­fect way to house fel­low rod­ders while they’re on tour. Al­though that is some­thing that’s yet to re­ally swing into ac­tion, we have no doubt that, with Martin and Tina’s hos­pi­tal­ity, it will be­come a great suc­cess. For now, hav­ing sold his busi­ness and re­tired, Martin’s spend­ing his days tin­ker­ing away in the shed on his ’57 Ford Fair­lane Vic­to­ria two-door hard­top. Hav­ing owned the car since 2002, he’s lost count of how many hours have gone into it, and there’s a few more to go yet. How­ever, at the time of pur­chase all those years ago, the price was right — even if plenty of rust was in­cluded.

Once the body­work was sorted, Martin men­tioned to panel beater and friend Paul Knight that he wouldn’t mind low­er­ing it a bit, and that’s when things al­most got out of con­trol. At that point in time, airbag sus­pen­sion was just be­gin­ning to be­come pop­u­lar, and, be­fore long, the car was sent to the now-de­funct Ed Ju­nior Kus­tom Rides and Clas­sics to be bagged and have other mod­i­fi­ca­tions taken care of. Since then, al­most ev­ery­thing on the car has changed, in­clud­ing, re­cently, some of the airbag setup, thanks to lo­cal guru Mark Bouzaid. Al­though progress on the build has been slower than Martin would have liked, he’s en­joy­ing learn­ing things along the way — the most re­cent project be­ing to sort out air con­di­tion­ing from scratch. The en­gine bay is now a work of art, with cus­tom in­ner guards and a smooth fire­wall giv­ing a clin­i­cal look, and all of the brak­ing com­po­nen­try hid­den un­der the dash out of sight.

Hav­ing been in rod­ding all his life, play­ing with cars is noth­ing new for Martin, al­though the level of build on the ’57 is truly some­thing else. At the other end of the tech­nol­ogy scale is Martin’s 1934 Ford, a car he pur­chased as a rusty shell from John Stephens (RIP) in 1978 for $600. The car is now a per­fect time cap­sule of the era, wear­ing its orig­i­nal paint­work, which Martin and his broth­erin-law, Paul McMil­lan, (RIP), ap­plied them­selves. All of Martin’s six kids have grown up in the car, so it’s far too much of a mem­ber of the fam­ily to get rid of now, even if it’s not been on the road for years. Martin did get close to sell­ing it once, but for­tu­nately pulled out of the deal at the last minute. With its Gra­ham Berry roof chop and blown small block Chev up front, this car is the full pack­age, so much so that it ran 11.6-sec­ond passes back in 1989. Sadly, it blew a head gas­ket, and, while it was in bits, the su­per­charger was stolen off it. It never hit the track again, al­though the blower was later re­cov­ered by the po­lice. The car is so orig­i­nal that the spare-wheel nuts hang­ing around the steer­ing col­umn have been there since the 1980s, and the rear guard fea­tures dam­age from a brush with the drums at the Levin street drags in the mid 1990s! Martin’s a Ford man through and through, and he and Tina did own an­other ’57, pur­chased from the car’s orig­i­nal owner in Raetihi. Af­ter 30 years of own­er­ship, they sold it in 2008. Clearly, there’s a bit of a theme with the pair’s cars, as there’s also now a ’57 Ranchero in the shed that Martin is cur­rently us­ing as his daily-driver. The car orig­i­nally had a 390 in it, but that was pulled

THE ’34 RAN 11.6-SEC­OND PASSES BACK IN 1989

— as was the power steer­ing — and a 312 from the Fair­lane dropped in in­stead. In 1979, Martin at­tended a Gold Coast Rod and Cus­tom Club meet­ing, at which no one put up their hand to be sec­re­tary, so Martin thought he’d do his bit. Lit­tle did he know that he’d fill the role for 14 years. Then, from 1998 to 2006, and again from 2008 till the present, he moved on to be­come the pres­i­dent — a role that he en­joys in a club that he loves. In 2007, Martin was made a life mem­ber of the club — some­thing that came as a to­tal sur­prise, and that he tells us is a huge hon­our. Capped at 30 mem­bers, the club has a laid-back at­ti­tude — al­though it has been re­spon­si­ble for run­ning and co-run­ning many suc­cess­ful events, such as the 1989 Street Rod Na­tion­als, which it ran in con­junc­tion with all the other NZHRA zone­seven clubs. While Martin’s kids aren’t as into the car scene as he is, four of them have used club cars for their wed­dings, with two of them us­ing the shed as the wed­ding venue — and, on vis­it­ing it, we can un­der­stand why. Each and every wall has a story to tell, with the many pieces of art­work that Martin’s col­lected along the way adorn­ing the spa­ces. These in­clude lam­i­nated posters from the var­i­ous events he’s at­tended and pho­tos of cars, both owned and ad­mired. Among the posters are var­i­ous pics of the al­tered be­long­ing to good friend and leg­endary drag racer Robin Silk. Hav­ing friends such as Robin has come in handy for Martin, with Robin be­ing re­spon­si­ble for build­ing the en­gine in the Fair­lane — an en­gine that Martin’s cur­rently con­sid­er­ing up­dat­ing with fuel in­jec­tion. While that’ll mean yet more work to be done to the car, Martin’s happy to just keep pick­ing away at it in his own time, en­joy­ing the build process and the new skills it brings. He’s stated that once it’s com­pleted, he’ll be done with build­ing cars, but we’re not quite so sure that this life-long rod­der and tin­kerer could give up hang­ing out in the shed quite that eas­ily!

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