READER RESTO

WHO KNEW SOME EH PANEL VANS WERE FIT­TED WITH BARN DOORS?

Unique Cars - - CONTENTS -

Agood mate of mine, Frank Lem­mens, is a ver y ex­pe­ri­enced panel beater, spray painter and a ll-round car guru. He had this EH panel van in his work­shop, which he had started work­ing on be­fore the owner be­came se­ri­ously ill. The car sat for about 10 years at Frank’s place and, in March 2017, the owner, who had f in­ally re­cov­ered from his ill­ness, came in and said he could no longer con­tinue wit h t he project. He de­cided to sell t he ve­hi­cle, and I bought it. In t he early 90s a friend and I re­stored a 1951 Chevro­let, and I still own t his ve­hi­cle which I’ve since re­built again, t his time prop­erly, and to suit my per­for­mance and com­fort re­quire­ments.

Ini­tia lly I didn’t k now a ll t hat much about t he EH. Be­cause it had barn doors I im­me­di­ately thought ‘div v y van’ and de­cided to re­store it as a po­lice car (you k now, light blue paint, big blue light, siren on t he bon­net etc). But when I was given t he keys to t he car I was a lso given a shoe­box f ull of doc­u­men­ta­tion, and this prov ided f ull prove­nance on the ve­hi­cle. I now have the glove box folder with owner man­ual, ser v ice book, Nasco ac­ces­sories brochure, and run­ning-in in­struc­tion sheet. I a lso was given t he EH Holden sa les brochure, EH com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles brochure, Holden en­gines

“IT WAS IDEN­TI­FIED AS ONE OF TWO VANS OR­DERED FOR LI­BRARY WORK”

brochure, Hy­dra­matic trans­mis­sion brochure and a lso the orig­i­nal mo­tor man­ual. The box held an ex­ten­sive col­lec­tion of re­ceipts cov­er­ing most of t he out lays on t he car over t he years.

One of t he v isi­tors to Frank’s work­shop was a mem­ber of the EH Holden Club of Vic and he iden­tif ied t he car as be­ing one of t wo vans t hat were or­dered for li­brar y work. Ap­par­ently, t hese ve­hi­cles were prett y much t he stuff of legends, and neit her had been spot­ted for a ver y long time. A look t hrough the doc­u­men­ta­tion found a li­cence to carr y com­mer­cial goods t hat iden­tif ied t he orig­i­nal owner as a li­brar­ian, and t his con­firmed t hat stor y.

The body tag shows t hat t he car is a fac­tor y au­to­matic ve­hi­cle, and any auto EH panel van is ul­tra rare. An­other doc­u­ment I have shows the car was or­dered with slid­ing cargo area win­dows, and with op­tional wind­screen wash­ers, interior rear-v iew mirror, weather shield and par­cel tray. The owner a lso or­dered a mo­tor man­ual and a spare fan belt. The tota l purchase price was £1280. There is no men­tion on that doc­u­ment of the barn doors, but t here is a lso no in­voice for a con­ver­sion a long t he way so I be­lieve t hey were in­sta lled as part of t he orig­i­nal scope of sup­ply. It is a lso worth men­tion­ing t hat t he EH com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles, the utes and panel vans, were a l l f it­ted wit h EJ ta i l lig hts, so it is com­mon for peo­ple to mista ke these for EJ’s.

The car was de­liv­ered on t he July 31,

1964, and was bought from Swing­bridge Mo­tors in Footscray. The ser v ice book and doc­u­men­ta­tion show the dis­played mileage of 66,018 when I bought the car to be gen­uine.

Af­ter eva luat ing a ll of t his ex­tra in­for­ma­tion I rea lised t he car was too rare to change f urt her away from it’s orig­i­nal con­fig ura­tion, and de­cided to get on with the restora­tion la rgely ta k ing it back to fac­tor y specif icat ions.

Frank was oc­ca­siona lly work­ing on t he f loor r ust re­pairs over t he f irst few months. Be­ing t he fac­tor y au­to­matic, t he trans­mis­sion hump is larger, but t he only re­pair sec­tions avail­able are for man­ual, so he had quite a bit of work to get t hem to f it, but he did a great job.

From there it was prett y much the t wo of us work­ing f ull time on t he car. We stripped t he car back to a bare shell, and t hen turned it on its side to make t he un­der­side brand new. The bra ke and f uel lines, petrol tank and rear springs were f it­ted be­fore turn­ing t he ve­hi­cle back up­right, and af ter t hat t he rear end was com­pleted be­fore drop­ping it back on the rear wheels.

We re­in­sta lled the K frame and then the front end. When work­ing on the front end we found out why the car had been ta ken off the road. A lower wish­bone was badly bent, and one of the wheels was a lso badly dam­aged. To­rana disc stubs had been in­sta lled on the k in­g­pin front end, and we left t hem t here as bet­ter bra kes are a lways good. There is a remote booster on t he front bra kes.

The 179 and Hy­dra­matic had been re­placed with a 202 and Tri­matic. Hy­dra­mat­ics were prett y no­to­ri­ous and t he car’s ser v ice records show repeated prob­lems with the trans­mis­sion. With t hat in mind we left t he up­dated driv­e­train in, but dressed t he mo­tor up as a 179.

When the trans­mis­sion change was made t hey had in­sta lled a f loor shif t and bucket seats, which we changed back to col­umn shift and a bench. This was not easy as the gear or­der is dif­fer­ent bet ween the Hy­dra­matic and Tri­matic, and the steer­ing col­umn had been re­placed with a man­ual col­umn, so we had to find a re­place­ment auto col­umn and f itt ings too.

Among the many cost sav ings in the com­mer­cial range was the ab­sence of a door lock in t he driver’s door. You have to un­lock t he pas­sen­ger door and slide across. I won­der how easy this was with buck­ets and a f loor shif t? Maybe t hey just didn’t lock it?

The shell was painted in t he fac­tor y colour, Win­do­rah Beige, and for au­then­ticit y we did t his in acr ylic.

We f it­ted out t he en­gine bay, hav ing to find a wind­screen washer and pump as the orig­i­nal one had been re­placed with a later model Holden unit. The bra ke mas­ter cylin­der is still t he old steel one, and sur v ivors of t hese are quite ra re.

“WE STRIPPED IT TO A BARE SHELL TURN­ING IT ON ITS SIDE”

From there the other hanging pan­els were pre­pared and in­sta lled, mostly one at a time. The interior was painted in t he cor­rect colours for t he front f loor, dash and t he colourf leck for t he cargo area. The orig­i­nal cargo area tim­ber f loor was re­painted and put back in, still show­ing some scars from years of use.

The slid­ing win­dows were long gone, so we had to get them re-made to the orig­i­nal di­men­sions. All the win­dows were f it­ted and the doors k it­ted out. The bumpers were re-chromed and in­sta lled and we f it­ted light truck t y res, which match t he orig­i­nal specif ica­tions, on re­painted rims.

In­side the dash was put back to­gether and t he wiring re­paired where re­quired. We f it­ted a ver y good re­pro­duc­tion hood lin­ing and new car­pet. We a lso f it­ted re­pro­duc­tion door trims and seat cov­ers which were made to t he orig­i­nal pat­terns in t he gen­uine Ele­phant Grey.

We did a front-end a lign­ment, then greased un­der the car and it was ready.

The com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles were low spec, and this car has no bumper over­rid­ers or mudf laps. In­side t here are blank­ing plates where t he op­tiona l cig­a­rette lighter and ra­dio would have gone. The car has never had a ra­dio in­sta l led in it.

We are ver y proud of the qualit y we achieved on t his restora­tion, par­tic­ula rly as we man­aged to do this en­tirely in Frank’s work­shop and with just the t wo of us work­ing on it. From t he time I bought it t he car didn’t leave t he work­shop un­til it was tested for road­wor­thi­ness, but we did ta ke it to Unique Ex haust as soon as it was on the road to get t he ex haust f it­ted cor­rect ly.

Is it for sa le ? Well, ever y t hing is for sa le at t he right price, but I wouldn’t sell t his car for a fair price, it would need to be a ver y high of fer to get my in­ter­est !

ABOVE Adding to the van’s prove­nance –the orig­i­nal ser­vice book. And the max­i­mum load in hun­dred­weights. Re­mem­ber them?

TOP The site had to be cleared be­fore work could be­gin.

LEFT With the body al­ready stripped we were ready for the project to get underway..

ABOVE A proud Ken Col­lishaw and his beau­ti­fully pre­sented li­brary spec EH panel van.

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