Hard work turns junk into gold
A decomposing wreck - transformed - is now a working-horse for its proud Timaru owner.
The vehicle, a 1970 Morris Minor ute, had been dumped in a paddock in Bulls and was destined for the scrap heap. That was in 1994, when 14-year-old Matthew Milne and his dad, Dennis, were looking for a restoration project.
"We were basically told there was a vehicle there. We were told 'if you don't take it this weekend, it's going to the dump'. There was a lot of rust in the floor and chassis. We don't know how long it had been sitting in the paddock for," Matthew says.
Inspecting the extent of the damage never put the duo off.
"I thought it would be really good to have as a project."
On closer inspection they discovered the ute, which had 53,000 miles on the clock, had been under-sealed with a type of tar spray.
"It's horrible stuff because sometimes it lifts and gets water in behind it," Matthew says.
The Milnes got to work, stripping the whole body and chassis back to bare metal. They also took the engine out, which, to their surprise, they managed to get going.
"... it smoked a wee bit. It had been sitting there for however many years, but still fired and ran with very little attention."
However, they decided not to restore the car with the same engine because they had "better left-overs" from previous Morris Minor restoration projects, Matthew says.
He says modern adjustments were made to the ute, including the addition of a five-speed gear box from a 1983 Toyota Corolla. It also has a brake-booster from a Hillman Hunter.
The car has not been restored back to its original colour of 'Persian blue', mainly because it would be difficult to see on the road. Instead the Milnes opted for 'off-white', a colour they had left over from a previous project.
The ute kept them busy over four years but was worth every minute.
"It first went on the road in 1999. At the same time I started university and it became my every-day transport for the next four years, in which time I clocked up 30,000 miles in it."
It also became a delivery truck.
"My parents had a feijoa orchard and I used to carry feijoas to the market in it. It's been a work-horse for me."
Matthew has travelled 40,000 miles since restoring the ute, but admits it is starting to need more attention due to leaking around the windows.
Selling it on is not an option, well not yet, anyway, he says.
"It's actually a very useful vehicle ... I think I'm too attached to it to part with it at the moment. I'll hang onto it for a long time," Matthew said.
- The Timaru Herald