BACK FROM THE DEAD

> ONE OF AUS­TRALIA’S MOST FA­MOUS PANEL VANS IS SET TO RE­CEIVE A WELL-DE­SERVED RESTORA­TION

Street Machine - - News Front -

WHEN Pat Fay passed away in late 2013, he left a void in the Aussie cus­tom car scene. For gen­er­a­tions of car nuts, the re­as­sur­ing sight of Pat’s car­a­van at Street

Ma­chine Sum­mer­nats – ply­ing his spare parts wares – was a con­stant. Pat Fay Spares was an in­no­va­tive busi­ness that helped pave the way for the in­dus­try that was to come, but Pat re­mains most fa­mous for his Humpy Mekka FJ Holden van.

Bought from a fu­neral di­rec­tor for $450, the FJ be­came one of the most fa­mous panel vans of all time and – as Chic Henry says – helped bridge the gap between the early-holden and nascent street ma­chine scenes.

The FJ evolved from a typ­i­cal early-70s cus­tom into a full-blown show van that went on to claim some­thing in the or­der of 1500 tro­phies! The car’s most mem­o­rable fea­ture was the Frank Lee mu­rals, de­pict­ing scenes of vam­pires in­spired by the Ham­mer films.

Pat con­stantly up­dated the car over the years to stay ahead of the game, and at the time of his pass­ing, the van was in the care of renowned car builder Rowan Wil­son for some ex­ten­sive work. And there it has stayed, hid­den from pub­lic view – un­til now.

Sum­mer­nats leg­end Peter Fitzpa­trick was good mates with Pat and has been pon­der­ing the fate of the FJ for a long time. “It is an icon of our scene and it needs to be res­cued,” he says. Peter ap­proached Pat’s widow Carol and of­fered to spear­head a cam­paign to re­store the FJ back to its for­mer glory. Own­er­ship will re­main with Carol and the in­ten­tion is to take the car to Sum­mer­nats, Mo­torex and other shows, be­fore of­fer­ing it for dis­play to mu­se­ums.

Like any work of art, the ques­tion of how far to go with the restora­tion is a thorny one. The orig­i­nal paint was misted over with pur­ple at some stage dur­ing the car’s evo­lu­tion, the ex­ten­sive chrome­work has de­cayed and mu­rals from the fire­wall for­ward are gone.

“We’ve had a lot of peo­ple stick their hands up to help al­ready, in­clud­ing the Can­berra In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy and Wayne Har­ri­son,” Peter says. “Wayne ba­si­cally learned his craft from Frank Lee and is con­fi­dent he can do the old mas­ter jus­tice.”

There should be a crowd-fund­ing cam­paign up and run­ning to as­sist in the restora­tion by the time you read this – do a search for Pat Fay on which­car.com.au/street­ma­chine.

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