Originally written by DENIS BELDEN
WHEN Robert Crutch goes for a drive, heads turn.
It is not every day that you see a perfectly restored 1947 Ford Anglia panel van cruising the streets, so when Robert and his car are out and about they draw plenty of attention.
Robert’s pride and joy will be one of the many magnificent vehicles on display at tomorrow morning’s Show’n'Shine, an annual event hosted by the South Coast Drag Racing Association.
Always a car enthusiast, Robert took seven years to complete the project, transforming the Anglia from little more than a shell to its present mint condition.
“I bought it in October 1993 from a guy in Hamilton who is also a member of the South Coast Drag club,” Robert said.
“It needed a lot of work. It had grass growing through the roof, it had no floor pan, but the body shell was reasonable and there was very little rust.
“We put it on a trailer and put it straight into the shed and started working on it.”
Seven years later Robert unveiled his beast at the October 2000 Mt Gambier Show, the first of many competitions he has since attended.
It was a long and expensive process – panel beating and painting in Mt Gambier, transformation to LPG in Portland, a motor built in Melton and chassis work in Hamilton.
“I spread the work around and got the best people possible to do the work.
“It is something I always wanted to do and I wanted to do it properly. I have put as much work into it as I can to present it the best possible way and give people some enjoyment.”
One of the most pleasing things for Robert is that the car has turned out very much as he had planned nine years ago.
“I started with a vision of what I wanted to achieve. Along the way I had plenty of people making suggestions about what I could or should do, but I’m proud that I stuck to my original plan.
“There are always better things that you can do, but basically I wanted to build it so I can drive it. I didn’t want a car that would sit in the shed all the time.”
Robert has been to many car shows during the past couple of years, and is proud to say that he has driven to all of them.
“Since it has been finished I have never put it on a trailer, I’ve always driven to where I’m competing.
“I’ve driven it to Adelaide, Melbourne, Wodonga and other places to show it off.
“It is Street Rod registered, which means I can drive it to any show in Victoria, but I need a permit when I go interstate.
“Some people build them and only bring them out once or twice a year, but I’ve done 6000 kilometres in the last two years.”
Any thoughts of selling the Anglia and starting all over again on another project are quickly dismissed.
“This is my one and only. I’ve spent too much time, effort and money to sell it.
“Everything I ever wanted in a Street Rod I have put into that car.”
Robert said his joy came not only from the restoration process, but from the reaction he receives when his car is on show.
“The look on people’s faces, especially kids, brings me the enjoyment. It is great to show people what can be done from a vehicle that was just a body shell to bringing it up to its current condition.
“I like to think that it gives younger people some inspiration to get into the sport.
“It doesn’t cost as much as people say. It is up to you what you want to spend, you can do it on a budget or you can spend big dollars.”
Anyone interested in seeing Robert’s Anglia can do so at tomorrow’s Show’n'Shine.
The cars will be on display on the foreshore area near the Portland Angling Club from 11am to 3pm.
Between 60-80 cars from South Coast association members as well as entries from Geelong, Melbourne, Mt Gambier and Hamilton will be on show.
The association will also be holding a band at the Royal Hotel tomorrow night to wind up the day’s events. All are welcome to attend.