I always had fond memories of the old Panelvan my Dad bought when I was four. He used it as a fill in work vehicle when his tonner was off the road. It's motor was a bit worn and the crushed velvet interior and mirror tiles had really seen better days. Dad ended up keeping it as a runabout for camping weekends and holidays. Somehow it stuck in my head and I decided that's what I wanted when I got my licence.
When I turned 16, my Dad and I started searching, and after months and months with many disappointments - in March 2002 we found a HZ Panelvan on a small farm on the outskirts of Cranbourne. We got it for $600. It was windowless which I wanted desperately and we thought it was good value at the time, compared to what we had been looking at. So the next day with a spare set of wheels and a battery we just managed to drive it home with its damaged 3 speed box and very tired 202.
What followed over the next three years has been a replacement with new, of nearly everything along with some parts from a statesman SLE purchased along the way. The biggest problem has been a major under-estimating of how much time and especially money goes into something like this - but whose complaining - the car runs & sounds like a dream and now that I am finally able to drive again I am more than happy and looking forward to my first cruise.
Now for the nuts and bolts. The engine is a P plate legal 253 that I have had balanced with ACL race pistons, an Auscam camshaft and some headwork, done by the 308 shop. It has a four barrel carburetor and pacemaker extractors with 2 1/4 twin system. I've mated this to a Trimatic box with a 2500 stall from Daniel at Wholesale Automatics who assures me is indestructible. I'm hoping he is right.
I purchased a VS diff along with the disk brakes - they have the same wheelbase as the HZ and I got new bearings put through the diff from Barry at Trans Diff. The discs are terrific - they are mated with a WB master cylinder and booster and this seems to keep the balance between back and front brakes just right. I just had to be prepared for a couple of days making brackets and new lines up for the handbrake.
For the front suspension I purchased new lowered springs and also 2" lowered stub axles from Castlemaine Rod Shop so I could retain suspension travel. The back is down with lowering blocks at the moment but I plan to have the springs reset soon. Gords at Fernglen Panels topped all this off with a beautiful coat of Blueprint blue. It was so good I had to put new chrome-work right around to show it off!!
The wheels are Cheviot Centrelines, soon to be polished. I've been able to insure the car with Shannons with full comprehensive. Thank you Dave for all your help.
Now the outside is done I am finishing the inside. I have started fitting out the interior of the back with a partition, esky, subwoofer boxes and bed, ready for upholstery in the next few weeks. At last itís almost finished and I feel I really am a member of Eastside Cruisers because that's what I've got, a fair dinkum cruiser. I am looking forward to having some good times with the club where getting there is going to be more than half the fun.