DREAM SHED —
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!