Readers' COVID-19 isolation builds - part one

Sure, we're in lockdown, but on the upside, it gives us plenty of time to lavish some love on our car projects. Here are some SM readers doing just that


The suspension of car shows and race meetings due to COVID-19 has had a big effect on activity around the car scene, and some street machiners are using the enforced home time as a chance to get stuck into their projects – much like the Swedes do during their long, cold winters.

Of course, with the ranks of the Aussie unemployed set to reach 1.4 million by mid-year, many of you reading this may have larger concerns. Just hanging on to project cars – and having somewhere to store them – will be an issue for many. If you’re in that situation, we feel for you. All we can hope for is that the upswing at the end of this thing comes quickly, so as many folks can get back to work as possible.

Still, Australia seems to be faring a lot better than many other countries, and fortunately many SM readers are able to get stuck into their projects under lockdown. Here’s a selection of Aussie builds that have been submitted on our socials – plus a Kiwi and a mini-truck from the USA for good measure. No matter what your circumstances are, we hope you find them as inspiring as we do.

1929 Ford Tudor
Edward Whadcoat

“THIS is my Ford tudor build, ‘Nellebell’. The name comes from some faded paint written on one of the doors. I started it eight years ago when I bought the 1928 Oldsmobile frame and ’29 tudor body, followed by the running gear from a wrecked 300C SRT8 from the States: a 6.1-litre Gen 3 Hemi and matching five-speed auto.

1929 Ford Tudor project front

An Eaton nine-inch diff with Strange internals rounds out the driveline. It runs a Ford drop-axle front with Wilwood disc brakes, and 11-inch Ford Torino drums out back. The frame has been modified with a Ford front crossmember. Body mods include a 1938 Oldsmobile grille, handmade nosecone, modified front cowl and a three-inch chop.

1929 Ford Tudor rear

The interior incorporates a full hidden rollcage, custom flip-forward seats, and a Packard Clipper dash and steering wheel. There’s still heaps to do, including a foldback roof from a Mercedes 4WD and new custom quarters to make. I’ve done everything with simple tools.”

EH Holden panel van
Graham Miller

Holden EH van

“I BOUGHT the panel van as rusty roller from the Gold Coast in 2016 and immediately planned a rebuild. I took it to my workshop and fully abrasive-blasted and epoxy-primed it. I had big plans of getting straight into it, but then I went to Summernats and saw all the blown cars there, so I got a bit distracted.

Holden EH van cargo

The panel van went on the back-burner and I decided to build a blown engine for my EH sedan instead. But once I heard about Rockynats, I decided to go hard and get the van built in time for that. I wanted it to be a bit different, so I went with an injected SBC as I’ve always liked the look of the trumpets. As for body fab, I thought I’d tub the arse-end using a set of Mr Mudguard guards, totally cutting out the original ones, so it can fit 22x12-inch wheels under it.

Holden EH van engine bay

It has a Rod-Tech Deluxe front end and runs Gazzard Brothers springs and traction bars. I custom-built a new nine-inch diff running 31-spline axles and a Strange centre. It is currently at the auto electricians getting a full rewire, and after that it will be off to my trimmer to get a complete black-leather interior. Can’t wait to finish it!”

The Merculiner
‘Methanol’ Mike Bowden

Merculiner project

“THE YEAR is late 1939. Ford has released a new model: the Mercury. Keen to capture the popularity of the new model, Ford releases a new concept design of the new 1940 Mercury: ‘The Merculiner’.

Merculiner project

New features include a lower roofline, lower ride height, a powerful new OHV engine and luxury interior refinements for the gentleman of the new decade. My plan for this car is to make it a factory concept as if it rolled off the line in 1940. Is it restored? Is it a hot rod? You decide.

Merculiner project

It runs a 352 Ford FE big-block, cast-iron FMX Cruise-O-Matic, L300 front end and a VK Commodore disc-brake rear end. It has a 1940 Ford tudor body, three-inch chop, reprofiled roof skin, reverse-rake channel (two inches at the cowl and three inches at the rear panel), ’40 Merc grille and hood bulges welded into the Ford hood – so far!”

1963 Ford XK Falcon wagon
Scott Moss

Ford XK Wagon

“I SAVED this XK a few years ago and I’ve been working on it ever since. It’s undergone a complete drivetrain swap from a 144 with a dirty two-speed to a mild 302. It was driven for about a year before I recently decided to completely change the look with a new body colour, interior and candy roof.

Ford XK wagon roof

Now it is having even more surgery, with a complete suspension change including a big-notch four-link and airbags, as well as a little engine work to go with it.”

1959 Chevrolet wagon
Hayden Oliver

1959 Chevrolet wagon project

“I IMPORTED the Chev from California 18 months ago as a running, driving original car. A couple of months later I airbagged it all ’round with an AccuAir touchpad system and e-Level. I also put a set of 15x7 reverse-offset Supremes on it at the same time.

1959 Chevrolet wagon project

I did plan on putting an LS in it, but I saved some cash and gathered a few parts I needed first, before pulling the old six-cylinder Blue Flame over Christmas 2019. I decided to do all the suspension bushes and steering ball joints, and painted the arms in POR-15 Chassis Black, including the diff and the front of the chassis. The L98 motor and the factory TR6060 trans come from a 2010 SS Commodore ute with only 90 kays on the clock.

1959 Chevrolet wagon project

I used Tuff Mounts adapter plates and Tuff Mounts Pro engine mounts. The sump is a Holley 302-3 item designed for retrofitting these motors. The Rod Shop supplied me with a high-mount alternator bracket to clear my steering box.

1959 Chevrolet wagon project

Some of the dress-up add-ons include the Holley rocker covers that hide the coils inside, and the Holley Sniper EFI rails. I’ve also upgraded the brake system to boosted discs. I’ve done all this in my own shed.” Show images: Riley Willering

V-Twin scooter & quad
David Munce

scooter project

“THIS little scooter runs a 615cc V-Twin normally used on a sawmill or concrete saw. Over the lockdown I’ve ripped the engine down and ported the heads and inlet manifold. It runs a 1.75-inch SU carby off an old Triumph car I used to own, and normally runs on E85.

scooter project

I originally built it when I had a really bad back injury, where I literally just used everything I had in the garage and built the frame from three Kmart kids’ scooters and some unknown forks I bought off Facebook. Lockdown gave me time to sort all the bugs and make it work! It’s quite the handful, and sounds amazing out of the equal-length headers – it either wants to wheelstand or launch!

quad project

The quad is an even more mental build that I started during lockdown, running an even bigger Honda Twin with a turbo off a Merc van.”

Check out more lockdown project cars:

Iso builds - part two 

Iso builds - part three

Iso builds - part four


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