Where others see a write-off, vintage car lover Bill Bunt sees a diamond in the rough.
Bill and his wife Beverley call this 1927 Chevrolet ‘Strawberry’ as it was once used to cart strawberries to market. The previous owner had a strawberry farm behind the Vale Hotel back in the day.
With a father who drove trucks between Torrens Creek and Aramac, delivering mail, picking up wool and transporting livestock, it’s only natural Bill Bunt developed an affinity for motoring.
“I grew up in, under and around trucks,” says Bill, who is a member of the Townsville Veteran, Vintage & Historic Motor Club and Military and Historic Vehicle Club Townsville. “I was always reading something to do with cars, trucks or machinery of some kind and when a friend of my father’s gave me a 1914 Hupmobile to restore I was hooked.”
If Bill looks familiar, perhaps you spotted him behind the wheel of a 1943 ex-Army Ford jeep in the Anzac Day parade.
“I bought it from a fellow in Cairns many years ago, who told me it came off a cattle station up near Coen,” Bill says. “It’d been in saltwater creeks that had eaten the panels out and needed a total restoration, so I got on the phone to Marathon Spares in Tamworth who are excellent for parts.”
Bill, who lives in Belgian Gardens, has more collectible cars than there are days of the week and bought the old Philips Motors workshop in Wulguru to house and work on his vehicles.
“I really can’t name a favourite as the others would get jealous,” Bill says, “but the car I prefer to drive on long trips is our 1948 Austin Sheerline, which is very reliable and comfortable.
“I think the best road trip was in 2002 when my wife Beverly and I took the Sheerline to Ballarat to attend an Austins Over Australia event. There were over 400 Austins lined up around Lake Wendouree and we won the best car of the show.”
This RMB Riley 1950s sedan was bought at Pambula Beach on the southern border of New South Wales and Victoria. Bill and Beverly will be driving it down to Rockhampton this month for a catch-up with the Riley Club from Brisbane.
Bill’s favourite era is the 50s up to 1965 as this was the period he was a motor mechanic enjoying a daily diet of cars, cars and more cars.
“There’s always a thrill in discovering a barn gem to restore,” Bill says. “I don’t know why because it means a hell of a lot of work! I try to present the restoration as near as possible to the original, not including colour. I prefer to make the car interesting with modern colours, not the dull finishes of the past. I also convert all electrical systems to 12V and install blinkers for safety.”
“It’s always a thrill discovering a barn gem to restore.”
While Bill doesn’t go as far as considering his cars ‘part of the family’ he admits Beverly does have names for them all.
“Beverley likes to come along for the ride when we have outings, even though the ride is a bit rough sometimes,” Bill laughs. “She’s very good at finding information and parts, which is a great help.”
Bill and Bev, who are now in their 80s, have enjoyed rallies in the southern states in the past and have made some wonderful friends through these connections. They’re planning on attending a Riley rally in Rockhampton this month, the Charters Towers swap meet and possibly more events at Capella and Biloela.