Ovens & Murray Advertiser - North East Regional Extra

Street machine dreams

- By BELINDA HARRISON

LIKE so many excellent (and yes, sometimes ill-conceived) decisions, the idea to work together to re-build a ‘65 XP Ford Falcon ute was forged around the fire on a Friday night over a few cans.

In a pre-COVID world five and half years ago Ian (Pa) Dowell, wife Louise, son Troy, daughter in law Kylie and grandchild­ren Josh, Chloe and Tamzyn (Bub) were enjoying each other’s company.

They were sharing food, drinks and laughs and the idea was pitched to ‘finally do something’ with the car that had been sitting in Pa’s shed for the last seven years.

Mechanics by trade, Troy and Josh were always tinkering away in the shed on one project or another with Ian helping out and Troy’s ‘bible’ - a copy of Street Machine magazine - never far from reach.

“Over the years, I’ve got a lot of ideas from that mag,” Troy said.

“The three of us built Josh’s race car and he was featured with it in Street Machine, which was pretty cool.”

“I’ve always loved cars, especially Fords,” Josh (20) said.

“I started racing with the North East Car Club when I was 12 and my dream car was an AU Falcon, which I purchased when I was 15.

“It was a wreck, but the apprentice panel beaters at TAFE repaired the body and Dad, Chloe and I got started on it as our new project.

“I have learnt heaps from watching YouTube clips and there have been a lot of trials and changes I’ve made to the car over time because of what I’ve learnt, which have always given me a successful outcome.”

Chloe (19) is currently studying to become an Allied Health assistant but loves being out in the shed getting her hands dirty.

“I love spending time helping Dad, playing ‘mechanics’ and learning how to look after my car so I don’t have to rely on others - and it gets me out of doing chores in the house,” she laughed.

Bub (16) prefers cows to cars and spends time looking after Cocoa, Oreo, Milkshake, Stormy and Yoghurt in the paddocks.

Her newest ‘baby’ is Esmeralda and with help from Kylie, is hand rearing the orphaned calf.

“Esmeralda seriously thinks she’s a dog,” Bub said.

“She loves playing chasey and giving cuddles and kisses.

“She’s very cheeky but so adorable.

“We even took her for a walk on a lead along the side of the road (we live out of town) with our dog the other day, she loved it.”

With Ian living only 10 minutes away, the weekend ritual was for he, Troy and the kids to get together and work on the ute and they were hoping to have it finished in around two or three years.

“Unfortunat­ely, Troy had a serious car accident a couple of years ago.

“He was in hospital for three months and had trouble walking for six months,” Kylie said.

“While that slowed things down with the ute, it wasn’t the highest priority for us - getting Troy well and moving again was.”

“I’m now able to get back and do some stuff, but it’s a very slow process as some days I can only work on it for an hour, whereas other days I can tinker for hours,” Troy added.

COVID lockdowns and restrictio­ns have also hampered progress with Ian, like the rest of us, unable to visit the family even though they live so close.

“Troy and Ian have always been very close, in fact he was Troy’s best man at our wedding 22 years ago so not being able to get together every weekend has been hard for all of us,” Kylie said.

“It really has,” Troy agreed. “Your best man is meant to be your best friend and I didn’t even hesitate in choosing Dad.”

At the moment the ute is at (local auto body repair shop) Custom Creations in Wangaratta being prepared to be painted and the family hopes that we will be out of lockdown by the time they get it back.

“We’d just also like to thank Matt at Rat Race Garage and Tim at North East Dyno Tuning for their help along the way, it’s greatly appreciate­d,” Troy said.

“The ute has been part of Troy’s physiother­apy since the crash and has been a huge help with his mental health,” Kylie said.

“The boys have designed, made and built a lot of things together including a bird aviary the size of a carport, a set of monkey bars, a two storey cubby house, a huge shed and even the house we live in.

“The time they spend together building cars and whatever is great bonding time.

“There’s always heaps of laughter, tears, learning, teaching and of course a few cans to keep them hydrated so I hope they can get back to doing that again soon.”

 ?? PHOTO: Kieren Tilly ?? ◆ FAMILY TIME: Ian and Troy (back) with Chloe and Josh (front) love to tinker about in the shed together.
PHOTO: Kieren Tilly ◆ FAMILY TIME: Ian and Troy (back) with Chloe and Josh (front) love to tinker about in the shed together.
 ??  ?? ◆ NOT QUITE READY YET: The ‘65 XP Ford Falcon ute is coming along since this photo was taken.
◆ NOT QUITE READY YET: The ‘65 XP Ford Falcon ute is coming along since this photo was taken.

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