Holden FX Restoration
Holden FX Classic Car story from the Owner.
FX now known as OLDLJ.
OLDLJ has now been in the Richards family for 50 of her 62 years, having rolled off the line in February 1952. She first came into the family in 1964 or 65, when my oldest brother in law, Jim Richards, was about 10. The story, as told over a couple of XXXX with Jim at Christmas, is as follows. Jim’s father, Leslie (Jack) Richards owned a transport company amongst other interests in the Queensland country town of Miles. It is now the center of the QldCSG gas rush, but was then a small country town at the crossroads of the Warrego and Liechardt highways. The FX broke down somewhere between Miles and Roma, and Jack was asked to use one of his trucks to bring it back into town, and he kept it at the Richards’ Golden Fleece Garage while waiting to hear back from its owner. When the owner eventually got back to Jack, it was to say he couldn’t afford to fix the FX, or the towing fee, and that Jack was welcome to keep it. Jack was a handy mechanic, and soon had the stripped Bakelite gears
replaced with new metal ones, and it became an occasional around town car.
By 1969 the car needed a paint job, which was completed in the original paint at Miles Smash Repairs, on the main street. For many years it was driven around town, featured in town parades for the Wildflower Festival, and ferried my wife, Sally, Jim’s youngest sister and her other siblings, proudly around on the front bench seat with their dad. In the mid-70’s she began to misfire on one cylinder, and in the great country tradition, was parked in the shed until time and resources would allow her to be fixed. But Jack’s ventures expanded to growing wildflowers, establishing the local concrete business, mining bentonite, and continuing with the transport business. This also drew in his sons, Jim and Bill, so there was no time to tinker with the FX. When I was lucky enough to meet Sally and her wonderful family in the late 1980’s the FX was still ensconced in the shed, under a thin protective layer of cement and bentonite dust.
And there it sat for a further 20 years until we eventually had a conversation about how it needed to be restored, or it would soon be lost forever. Jack’s wife Carmel, Jim and Bill then gave Sally and I permission to take the FX and have her restored. This we did around 2001. While no constraints were imposed, it was clear that we should try to keep the car as original as possible given its near-original condition (additions it has had since we got her are the tow bar and the chrome “taxi bar” for the back passengers to hold onto). A work colleague of mine, Don Anderson, is a Holden aficionado and provided me with some great guidance through the process, and also introduced me to Bill Eldridge, who restored her for us. Bill had worked on the original cars at Holden’s Fisherman’s Bend facility, so was the perfect the man for the job and his fastidious attention to detail remains evident throughout.
The FX was completely stripped back to bare metal, some rust in the sills was addressed, and the motor, including that misfiring cylinder, was completely overhauled. In all cases original spares were used, and the front grill was sent to Qld for re-chroming as that is where one of the original factory jigs ended up. New rubbers were poured in the original mould, and through some valiant searching of the internet, an original valve radio procured. The 6 volt system remains, but now powers indicators that have been attached using existing holes in the bumper bars. Once the FX was roadworthy again we called her OLDLJ, after the late Leslie Jack Richards who had enjoyed her so much. We drive her as a Sunday driver, and once in a while on longer jaunts into the countryside. The three on the tree is a joy to drive, and often people ask to stick their heads in the car to let the smell take them back to their childhood, or to when they drove their first car. Sally and I now have children,
and in a concession to them we have sash seat belts in the front, and anchor points for their car seats in the back. They love their trips in OLDLJ, and their is never a question of them needing to be entertained when we take them for a spin in it.
Ironically, the heritage status of our house stopped us putting up a carport to protect OLDLJ and over time the new paint job came under increasing pressure. And then last year I reversed into her, putting a very noticeable dent into the back panel, and it was time to get her resprayed. That is when Paul of PJ’s Panels got involved and completed the most recent rejuvenation of OLDLJ, which now looks as good as ever.
As we are in Melbourne, OLDLJ eagerly awaits the time when Jim and Bill can manage to get away from Central Queensland for long enough to take her for a jaunt on the Great Ocean Road. In the meantime, she does the odd school run along Punt Road, gets me to work in the city once in a while, and when the weather is fine takes us to Half Moon Bay for Sunday fish and chips. And we haven’t given up our attempts to get Council to approve a carport.