Me and my mo­tor

with John Hansford

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - CARSGUIDE -

THIS is a rare piece of Aus­tralian motoring his­tory.

Me­chanic Jon Hansford, 49, has built this 1957 KM200 kit car from the shell to en­sure that the coun­try’s motoring her­itage doesn’t ‘‘rot away in some shed or back yard’’.

KM stands for Keith Mor­ri­son, who made th­ese kit cars in the mid to late 1950s in a Syd­ney garage.

Only 27 were made and only about 10 still ex­ist. Hansford’s is the only road-reg­is­tered model in Aus­tralia.

‘‘I be­lieve this car to be an im­por­tant part of Aus­tralia’s his­tory in the man­u­fac­ture of cars,’’ Hansford says.

‘‘I found out dur­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion about this car that the chas­sis and body were both made by Keith Mor­ri­son. All bodies were made by him, but some chas­sis were made by Nota and a lot were home­made by the peo­ple who bought the bodies. That makes this com­bi­na­tion very rare.’’

The KM200 kit cost £266 in the 1950s. Hansford bought it in 2007 for $1000 as a bare body and chas­sis.

‘‘That is how it was for its en­tire life,’’ he said.

‘‘It never had a dash­board, en­gine or even holes drilled for head­lights.

‘‘I’ve spent about $7000 and about 15 months part-time on it, so I would never sell it.’’

Hansford has done all the build­ing work in­clud­ing fab­ri­cat­ing many of the parts such as the sus­pen­sion, seats and floor.

‘‘The idea of a kit car back then was a cheap way to have a mo­tor car,’’ he says. ‘‘You had to use parts that you had ly­ing around, so I’ve stuck to the same spirit and used what I had. ‘‘The Dat­sun en­gine and rear axle were in my work­shop.

‘‘Even the Bri­tish racing green paint was given to me by a friend who paints trucks and had it left over.’’

The KM200, which looks like a D-Type Jaguar and is in­spired by a Bri­tish ‘‘Fal­con’’ kit car, con­sists of a fi­bre­glass body and a steel box chas­sis.

Hansford’s model is pow­ered by a 1970s A12 Dat­sun 1200cc en­gine and four-speed gear­box from a 120Y, a Mor­ris Mi­nor tor­sion bar front sus­pen­sion and a Sprite MK1 steer­ing rack.

The Austin A40 Fa­rina rear hous­ing is mod­i­fied to ac­cept trail­ing arms and a 4.22 Sprite dif­fer­en­tial cen­tre.

The rear shocks are coil overs and there are no sway bars on the sus­pen­sion. Ac­cord­ing to

it stops and goes Hansford, ‘‘OK’’.

‘‘I’ve no idea what the top speed is, but it will sit com­fort­ably on 90km/h. Any­thing over that gets a bit scary,’’ he says.

The idea of build­ing the KM200 came over a beer af­ter Hansford had com­pleted his third restora­tion of an old ‘‘Wal­lace and Gromit’’ Austin A30.

‘‘I was hav­ing a beer with a mate and I was won­der­ing what I would do next, and he had this (the KM200) in his back yard and he said ‘what about that?’ ’’

The idea turned into a night­mare, with the fi­bre­glass body full of ‘‘can­cer’’.

Hansford has reg­is­tered the fin­ished prod­uct for club use only.

‘‘I’m a mem­ber of the Para­mount Small Bore Ri­fle Club which also has a car club,’’ he says. ‘‘I take it to shows and we do rides once or twice a year.

‘‘It’s quite im­prac­ti­cal as a daily driver with no roof and wind­screen. You have to wear a hel­met and gog­gles like on a mo­tor­cy­cle.

‘‘It weighs only 540kg so it shakes around a fair bit and you have no crash pro­tec­tion.

‘‘You also have to be care­ful not to down­shift too quick as it locks the back wheels as there is no weight in the back.

‘‘But apart from that it drives a treat.

‘‘It’s pretty noisy but a lot of fun.’’

Mark Hinch­liffe

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