LEG­END: BEN JUDD

We sneak up on the winner of the 2018 Valvoline Street Ma­chine Of The Year award and sur­prise him with the tro­phy

Street Machine - - Contents -

SINCE Rob God­frey and TOYTON won Street Ma­chine Of The Year in 2008, it has been cus­tom­ary to sneak up on the winner and sur­prise them with the tro­phy. So when the votes had been tal­lied and Ben Judd’s gor­geous EH wagon had been de­clared the most pop­u­lar street ma­chine of 2018, we needed to come up with a way to stitch him up good and proper, so we reached out to paint-and-panel mae­stros Glenn and Ja­son Coburn at Exclusive Cus­toms in Syd­ney’s south to help us out.

Ben is the pro­pri­etor of Judd’s Auto Re­pairs, and his brother Simon (who was in­stru­men­tal in the build of the EH) owns Elite Cus­tom In­te­ri­ors. The Coburns rea­soned that if they in­vited the Judds to their work­shop one Fri­day to dis­cuss work­ing to­gether on an­other EH build with a high-pro­file client, they wouldn’t see it com­ing. And, if the weather was good, they might even turn up in the wagon.

The stars aligned, and Ben and Simon ar­rived at Exclusive Cus­toms in the EH af­ter what was es­sen­tially its maiden voy­age. We waited for them to get set­tled in be­fore sur­pris­ing them with the tro­phy. You’d go a long way to find a hum­bler and more ap­pre­cia­tive winner. A quick phone call was placed to the re­main­ing Judd brother, Nick (who blew off work), and so be­gan an af­ter­noon of beers, pizza and cel­e­bra­tion.

WE BUILT THE CAR TO­GETHER IN DAD’S GARAGE OVER 12 YEARS, AND DUR­ING THAT TIME BOTH NICK AND SIMON’S SKILLS PRO­GRESSED MAS­SIVELY

Con­grats, Ben. You are the proud owner of the 2018 Valvoline Street Ma­chine Of The Year!

Thanks – it’s very sur­real! You got me good this morn­ing; you caught me way off guard and it was a big sur­prise.

What were your pre­dic­tions on how SMOTY would pan out?

I hon­estly thought John Saad’s XY or one of the big­ger cars with the big­ger mo­tors would win it, be­cause V8s are king. Even to make the 16 was a mas­sive deal for me; I didn’t think I had a big chance of win­ning, but I qui­etly hoped I might.

It’s a land­mark year for SMOTY be­cause the pool of 16 fi­nal­ists was de­cided by pop­u­lar vote. It’s the most demo­cratic process we’ve ever had for de­ter­min­ing the winner.

That feels re­ally good. You think about all the peo­ple who voted for the car to make the 16 and then to come out on top of some re­ally good cars, it’s great. I’d put SMOTY up there as the big­gest award in Aus­tralia, per­son­ally.

The EH is a pretty sig­nif­i­cant car to your fam­ily, isn’t it?

Mum bought the car in ’78 and we got fer­ried to school in it. Then it sat down the side of the house for years unloved and un­reg­is­tered and col­lect­ing rust. When I got close to learner’s li­cence age, Dad wanted to scrap it and Mum and I wanted to save it, so Dad let me take it down to work and fix it up and it was ba­si­cally my first car.

You and your brothers teamed up to work on the car, too, so that fam­ily con­nec­tion con­tin­ued through the build.

Big time. I’m the el­dest out of the three of us, and go­ing back to the early days when we first did the car we did Simon’s school for­mal in it and drove Nick to footy games and school and stuff like that. We built the car to­gether in Dad’s garage over 12 years, and dur­ing that time both Nick and Simon’s skills pro­gressed mas­sively, and Simon started trim­ming some big cars around the scene. It was great to do this with them, and to­day this isn’t just about me, it’s about them as well. It’s as much their car as mine in a way.

You’ve been pretty fo­cussed on the show side of things since the car de­buted at Mo­torex last year, but to­day you got to put some kays on it. What was that like?

Bril­liant! Cruis­ing down the high­way do­ing 100 kays an hour, it drove straight and felt nice and did ev­ery­thing pretty

well. It was great just re­lax­ing and en­joy­ing it and not be­ing stressed about it for once.

The names on that tro­phy read like a who’s who of our sport. How does it feel that yours is about to be etched into it along­side guys like Gary My­ers, Peter Fitz­patrick and Howard Astill?

So sur­real. I think when I see my name on the tro­phy and it goes to the next per­son and I can see it for years to come that it will re­ally start to sink in. It’s crazy.

Aside from the pres­tige as­so­ci­ated with SMOTY, there’s also a big old cheque for $20,000 from our mates at Valvoline. How will you spend that?

Thanks to Valvoline for putting that up; it’s a big lump of cash and it’s cool for them to do that. We are build­ing an HK GTS at the mo­ment and it does need some love and some money. The mis­sus wants a hol­i­day and the boys want to build a car, so I’ll prob­a­bly split it be­tween the two.

Last year we had you along at the Valvoline SMOTY VIP party at Sum­mer­nats and you had a great night. This time you’ll be the guest of hon­our!

It’ll be a bit weird! I’ve been to the party a cou­ple of times and you see all the big names from within the scene and it’s a pretty awe­some night. This time we’ll have to get up on stage and do that side of it and that will be pretty full-on. But I’m look­ing for­ward to it! It should be fun.

What was your first thought when you saw that tro­phy to­day and you re­alised why you’d been brought here?

I saw you walk down the stairs and I saw the tro­phy and thought: ‘That can’t be for me.’ Then it hit me and I was blown away. Then it sunk in that the story Glenn had told me to

get me here was a stitch-up, and why it was so im­por­tant to him that I was bring­ing the car. I thought about what it might be like to win SMOTY, but I tried not to do that too much, be­cause I didn’t want to feel let down when the winner was an­nounced. But I se­cretly hoped to win it, as I’m sure ev­ery­one did, and the fact that I’ve done that is still sink­ing in. Any­one you need to thank? Heaps of peo­ple! The big­gest one is Street

Ma­chine and Valvoline. With­out you guys tak­ing an in­ter­est in the car, Craig Parker do­ing a great story and Chris Thoro­good’s un­be­liev­able photography, peo­ple wouldn’t have seen the car to be­gin with. Then there’s all the boys who helped on the car over the years: the boys at Exclusive Cus­toms, Simon for the work he did on the in­te­rior, and my mates who helped us with the thrash be­fore Mo­torex last year. Also, my wife for putting up with it, and all the peo­ple who took the time out to vote for the car. It’s a bit of an ef­fort and you don’t want to bug peo­ple to do it too much. So, I def­i­nitely need to thank ev­ery­one who liked the car and voted for it. It’s a pretty amaz­ing feel­ing!

CRUIS­ING DOWN THE HIGH­WAY AT 100 KAYS AN HOUR, IT DROVE STRAIGHT AND FELT NICE. IT WAS GREAT JUST RE­LAX­ING AND EN­JOY­ING IT FOR ONCE

MAIN: The Judd boys en­joy­ing the spoils of SMOTY vic­tory! Nick, Ben and Simon (l-r) worked to­gether on the EH, and Ben reck­ons the win is about his brothers as much as it is him01: Glenn and Ja­son Coburn (left) of Exclusive Cus­toms looked af­ter the body and paint on the EH, and con­cocted an elab­o­rate ruse to get the Judd boys to their work­shop for the sur­prise tro­phy pre­sen­ta­tion. Thanks for your help, lads!02: If drink­ing beer from your shoe is a shoey, then I guess that makes this a trumpy! Vic­tory never tasted so sweet03: Ben wasted lit­tle time in tak­ing the hal­lowed SMOTY per­pet­ual tro­phy for a tough lap in the wagon. What an oc­ca­sion to take the car on its first proper drive 02 03 01 05

VIC­TORY LAP: As you’d ex­pect of a car with such a per­fect stance, the wagon cuts a mean fig­ure out on the road. Ben’s wife Mel and daugh­ter Olivia joined in the Smoty-win­ning cel­e­bra­tions. Both were suit­ably stoked!

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