I’D HAD A set of Holden 3.3litre Blue mo­tor ex­trac­tors for sale on a few Face­book pages and a bloke named Brod made an en­quiry. Un­for­tu­nately for Brod I’d sold them (I for­got to take-down the ad) but we got into a bit of an on-line chat about our cars.

It turns out that Brod had just bought a VH Com­modore SL to re­store.

With all the Brocks in col­lec­tions and the prices of any other up­per-spec Com­modore now be­yond the reach of many en­thu­si­asts (top-spec V8 SL/Es are now $25K-plus) the more mod­est model Com­modores such as Brod’s SL (and of course same-era Fal­con GLs and S-packs) are be­ing snapped up by peo­ple – like me – who want to cruise and en­joy their own lit­tle piece of Aussie iconic-ness.

Any­how, the pics Brod shared with me showed a car with the bumpers and pan­els straight. All its bits were there, ex­cept for one door han­dle and the side rub strips. To be beau­ti­ful again, this hum­ble SL needed fresh metal­lic brown paint and Brod told me of his plans to have a lo­cal ‘old feller’ (I as­sume a re­tired paint ‘n’ panel man) per­form what many car nuts call a ‘closed door re­spray’.

This is an ef­fec­tive and pop­u­lar way to get an older car look­ing good again with­out too much ex­pense. The car is par­tially dis­as­sem­bled; some com­po­nents masked and fresh colour ap­plied just to the ex­te­rior, leav­ing ar­eas such as the door jambs, in the boot and un­der the bonnet – where chances are the paint is still in good con­di­tion – orig­i­nal. The re­sult is a good-look­ing car with­out a com­plete labour-in­ten­sive, ex­pen­sive, in­te­rior-and-screens-out dis­as­sem­bly.

Brod wrote that his plans were to leave the car with Ol’ Mate and he’d do the work in his spare time. “Take ya time, old fella!” Brod wrote to me about the hand­shake deal he’d done.

Alarms be­gan ring­ing in my head. As a long-time en­thu­si­ast, I’ve heard hor­ror sto­ries about ‘take-ya-time’ re­sprays and restora­tions even by busi­nesses. The work of­ten be­gins with a f lurr y of ac­tiv­ity as the car is dis­as­sem­bled. The keen owner, who has droppedin for a look af­ter a week or three, leaves with a beam­ing smile, happy that progress is be­ing made.

But over the next few months, the car drops down the shop’s pri­or­ity list as more – and more lu­cra­tive – crash work comes in. The project is pushed into a work bay and stuff stacked on top. The owner be­comes pro­gres­sively more frus­trated as pro­gres­sively less work ap­pears to be done. Even­tu­ally af­ter a year or two the heart­bro­ken owner gets the shits and ar­rives with a trailer to col­lect his un­fin­ished project, only to find it rust­ing in the shop back­yard with half the pan­els and rare parts miss­ing. I’ve even heard of whole cars dis­ap­pear­ing… Of course, there is also the sit­u­a­tion where the owner has let the shop down, too, through lack of con­tact or – more likely – lack of cash.

I sug­gested to Brod that he re­move items such as the grille, bumpers and lights him­self – and care­fully bag and store them at home. At least they won’t be lost; he can save a few bucks and have a bit of on-the-tools fun.

Brod did write that he’d pro­vided only half the agreed $2500 fee – to al­low the pain­ter to buy ma­te­ri­als - and men­tioned he’d col­lect the car af­ter six months if it wasn’t com­pleted by then. Good call, and I hope Brod will be cruis­ing his SL next sum­mer.

SADLY, this was a panel beater’s idea of how to store John Tsat­sakis’ XC Fair­mont Hard­top, fea­tured back in is­sue #352

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