This is Brian. Brian was the second (possibly third) ever crane operator in Brisbane City back in the day. Towards the end of his working-career he was employed at Brisbane Hospital as the “gopher” - and thoroughly enjoyed it. Now retired, he tells me he spends time speaking to people, new and old, in between fishing, working on cars - both his own and friends' - buying cars (when he really shouldn’t) and spending time with his wife and grandkids.
I met Brian parked outside Supercheap Auto. I was taking photographs of his glossy red ’64 Spitfire when he came outside. We met with a handshake and a smile. Questions and answers back and forth about engines, paintwork, gearboxes and clutches quickly ensued. When I told him I enjoyed shooting cars and their stories, he said to me, “come have a look at these photos”. He gestures out of the sun into the shade to see his phone-screen. He shows me a photograph of another Spitfire, in white, and an early Ford Model T. He asks what I’m doing right now and I end up following him out of the car park and down a few streets to his home.
The white Spitfire is a ’63 model and has undergone a full home-done-paintjob - and a very good one if I’m honest. Some of the floor is missing (I could see the gearbox) but it was a work in progress and soon to be complete. It sounded and smelled just right.
That Ford Model T. That’s a 1927 Model T. But not only a 1927, it also has a 1928 rear end complete with Rumbleseats - from factory. The story with acquiring this was quite something else. Brian had restored a 1956 Morris Minor Ute, from pile of rust and parts to a pristine example. However, he didn’t like it… didn’t enjoy driving it. He had it up for sale when a man down in Victoria contacted him asking if he’d be interested in swapping for a Ford Model T. He jumped at the chance and had the Morris sent down on a trailer with the Ford coming back to Brisbane in return.
In the corner lies a sweet little early 80s Kawasaki GT550 - bought and restored a little, now ready for sale. Starts on the button and with not a spit of colour coming out of that exhaust. All over his garage are items of interest - with or without wheels. From oil cans, to model planes, photographs from past projects and period horse & cart lanterns he’s managed to collect over the years.
Brian paused for a second as he looked for a key, only realising he didn’t need one and ushers me through the house and around the back. Under a side-awning lies a rare little beast. A 1954 Morris Z Ute. Otherwise known as the Morris 8 in the United Kingdom. The only difference being that this Coupe Utility variant was produced and built in Australia using imported chassis and locally built engines. I would be interested to see if any of these made their way to the European market conversely.
We wrapped up the afternoon talking about how great it is people can meet and share stories based simply on the love of cars. It doesn’t end at cars. And it doesn’t end at things with wheels. It’s just shared interests for like-minded people with hobbies, being unable to sit still and lot of learning. And beer.