ACT News

Pouring money and love into a car: The $500,000 ute comes out at Summernats

Mick Lear reckons he has spent $500,000 on his pristine 1953 Ford Mainline ute and is the first to admit he will never get that money back.

"You do it for the pleasure it gives you," the Brisbane-based transport company owner said. "It's never about the money."

Mick Lear, of Brisbane, with his 1953 Ford Mainline.
Mick Lear, of Brisbane, with his 1953 Ford Mainline.  Photo: Jeffrey Chan

The 44-year-old said that while the classic "single spinner" ute had been fitted with a side-valve Ford V8 when it was delivered to its first owner, the Gympie Post Master, in 1953, a lot had changed since then.

"This car has got a lot of history," he said. "It was bought in Brisbane and then used to deliver the mail in and around Gympie. The original owner kept it until he retired and it was bought from him in 1994."

The body was straight and, because of where it had spent its life, the car was not destroyed by rust.

Mr Lear has lavished thousands of hours and even more money on transforming it into a pristine show and go car with a glowing tangerine paint job.

"I haven't had the chance to do a burnout in it yet," he said. "The car was only just finished on Boxing Day. I wanted something I could drive to church on Sundays (part of the original brief for the first Australian Ford ute) and use at shows and for display."

Under the bonnet lurks a monster motor that would have cost more to build than many luxury sedans.

George Grivas's golf cart-based "woody" pickup.
George Grivas's golf cart-based "woody" pickup. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

"It's a 351 that has been bored out to a 390," Mr Lear said. "We estimate the power at between 780 and 850 horsepower, it has a 671 blower, a C4 gearbox and a nine-inch Ford diff."

The back tyres are monsters, 15-inch by 20-inch donuts designed to plant the power firmly to the road.

"I have got no idea what they cost," he said. "It doesn't matter, they are worth it."

George Grivas's golf cart-based "woody" pickup represented the other end of the spectrum in the cars picked to contest the "supreme entrant" competition at Summernats on Sunday.

The 40-year-old construction worker from St Mary's has been working on the Suzuki-powered machine for more than a year.

"George is absolutely obsessed with cars," his wife, Josephine Grivas, said. "He lives and breathes them; he grew up with people who were the same and learnt from them; he is a passionate perfectionist."

The couple's children, Kosta aged two-and-a-half and Ria, 1, love the diminutive machine that combines Ford styling with a Chevy badge.  The creation was one of the surprise hits of the show.

"It was the guys on the centre stage (the organisers) who told me to enter it in this section," he said. "It was a huge compliment."