For me it all started one Sunday afternoon in February 2006 when standing in the backyard checking out one of our truck club members latest acquisition, an ex Queensland road train International Transtar prime mover, with itís huge V8 Detriot diesel and 15 speed Roadranger gearbox, driving back to the tandem rear axles in the extra long wheelbase American chassis.
He said what do you think. I said I would prefer to be liable for something a little smaller, older and simpler to work on, like an Austin A30 van. He said ĎI have one hidden in a shed.í
Two weeks later we were in my truck heading to Orbost to bring the van back to its new home in Heatherton. My memories of A30ís had faded over the last 30 years (my first car was a Volkswagen) so the first sighting was a bit of a shock. Sitting under the carport of the old house in the back streets of Orbost with its faded grey paint, red oxide primer patches and many little dints it looked more like an abandoned kitten than an A30.
With its new battery the engine fired up and I drove the van onto the trailer, gently tied it down and of to Melbourne we went. (Now that I have driven the van on the open road I realize what a shock it must have been for it, hanging onto the trailer behind the truck at 100kph plus would have been quite an experience for the little car.)
I am lucky that I live on a five acre farm that has a dirt track so I could drive the A30 around to get the mechanicals working ok.
I replaced all the rubber components in the suspension and fitted new king pins and shockers which fixed up the front end wobbles on the bumpy dirt track down the back. The engine ran fine, just a couple of oil leaks fixed, and a new exhaust and some new engine mounts. I found the diff made noise over 60kmp and was replaced. The gear box has not been touched as yet.
The bodywork was the most expensive and took the most time. Seats, floor covering and all trim was replaced, not to original as I have used cloth seat coverings, modern car carpet and modified the Countryman seat style conversion rear seats. I also changed the sliding windows to fixed rubber mounted side windows to make it look more like a commercial van. (this fits with the Historical Commercial Vehicle Clubs trucks)..
All body panels and glass were removed and repaired or replaced, some minor rust in the body was fixed and then repainted with all new rubbers fitted.
At this stage some eight months after starting the restoration I could not wait any long and after a bit of trouble with the young bloke doing the roadworthy understanding the A30ís technology finally got MYA30 registered.
Since then I have been using the van as my main form of transport clocking up 2000km in the first month, sorting out a few minor bugs but nothing that has stopped me so far.
The van fits neatly into my fleet of vehicle between my scooter and my trucks and will be used as much as the other vehicles. I will use it at all our truck shows as it is a true British commercial vehicle, not quite as big as the Fodens and AECís but just as unique and attracts just as much interest. (More amongst the general public as it brings back their memories of 30, 40 or 50 years ago).
Almost every day using the van I get passers by waving or shouting comments, all good ones luckily. I do find with the original engine it is a bit slow at the traffic like starts, although it cruises good at 80kph, its pretty busy at 90kph which is much more compatible with today's highway speeds. (May have to slip in a 948cc engine with a higher speed diff.)
I am looking forward to my first big trip which is planed to go up to Bundaberg, a 6000km return trip, carrying my camping gear and keeping to the back roads.
The A30 has turned out very much like that stray kitten, within less than 12 months it has wriggled itself into prime position in the fleet, it is using up all my money and most of my time, and was my introduction to the A30 Club, which is using up the rest of my time. Luckily time is to be used and spending it with MYA30 is a very pleasant way of using it, I hope we can grow old together.