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ACE Holden restoration project on Bumper to Bumper on Channel 31


When Holden introduced the HQ Sandman panel van in 1974 it became an instant classic. One of the first cars to combine a commercial vehicle with lifestyle aspirations, it immediately conjured images of Aussie surf culture and the freedom of the wide open road.That unique combination saw the car immortalised in popular culture and quickly gain iconic status in the Holden lineup.

So when Rusty Purchase was looking for the ideal vehicle to capture the essence of classic Aussie car culture and help promote his classic car television series Bumper 2 Bumper, it was the Sandman that topped the list. “I wanted a promotional vehicle to take to car shows and I thought the best possible thing would be to have a panel van. And if I have a panel van, it should be a Sandman because it is an iconic Aussie car,” Purchase says.Already the proud owner of an original 1973 HQ GTS Monaro coupe and an HJ ute, Purchase is a committed Holden fan and set about trying to find the ideal vehicle. While original HQ Sandmans are very rare and valuable, he settled on the idea of building a replica and found a perfect candidate in a 1971 HQ panel van.

“The car was still going but it was a standard 1971 HQ Belmont with a 202 motor and a Celica five-speed gearbox. It was very ordinary inside but body wise, it had good potential to turn it into a Sandman,” he says.

More than just a personal project however, the restoration of the car was a perfect subject for his show so he partnered with the Melbourne-based Kangan Institute’s Automotive Centre of Excellence to give the students an opportunity to gain experience and put their skills to the test.

The students did most of the body restoration over a two-year period, replacing panels where possible, repairing rust and repainting the entire car and Purchase says he was “over the moon” with the job they did.

“I feel privileged and proud to own the car and the guys really put their skills and expertise in and produced a fantastic job.”Purchase says the chrome yellow paint remained faithful to the original HQ Sandman but for mechanical components, he was prepared look beyond the original specifications as the vehicle was intended to be a daily driver and not a Concours show car.

“Whilst it’s a replica it’s not an exact copy of a Sandman and I had a 350 crate motor put in with a Turbo 350 automatic transmission,” he says.After picking up the finished car recently, he says he couldn’t be happier.

“I got in the car and had a grin from ear to ear. The performance of the car, handling and the note of the exhaust system was just fantastic. It has this old school burble so you really know you are driving a V8.”

While clearly happy with the Sandman, his passion for classic Holden muscle cars is far from satiated with a new project waiting in the wings.

“I have just done a swap of my 2003 CV8 Monaro that I had for about eight years for an original 1976 LX Torana SS hatchback that needs a total restoration. It’s got a good body and soul to start with and it’s one of the most iconic Aussie muscle cars.”

Purchase has just finished his seventh series of Bumper 2 Bumper that has been screening on community television but from next March, the new series will be shown on Foxtel nationally.

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Article reproduced with kind permission from Rusty Purchase at Channel 31 Community Television programme "Bumper to Bumper', and General Motors Holden Customer Care - article published at this address  - 4/2/2016.