At many points in our life we’re inevitably confronted with a situation where the question needs to be asked: do I stick to my guns, or take a risk and try something new?
Maybe you’re a photographer considering switching to video, or a rotary specialist about to dive into a piston engine build. For the two gents behind Fuel Tank and Return of the Cafe Racers/Tank Moto, it was the leap of transforming their respective print and digital creations into a physical event.
I’ve been a regular reader of Fuel Magazine since picking up Issue 18 – The Japan Issue – a few years back. The mix of great photography, storytelling and quality paper stock has always made flicking through the pages of custom builds an experience to be relished.
Within Australia, Melbourne is renowned for its love of culture and events, and the converted space amongst the shipbuilding warehouses of Williamstown seemed like a winner for the show called SIX ONE.
I couldn’t wait to see how Luke and Geoff would bring it all to life, so I rose early to catch the bump-in process and spend some time with the owners before the doors opened to the public.
The diversity of the cars and bikes rolling into the backlot shouldn’t have surprised me – Fuel has never been about sticking to a specific genre or style.
I’m instantly drawn to the handsome lines on this race-bred Alfa 105 GTA, as I’m sure any man or woman with a pulse would be.
On the other hand, lowriders have never been my thing, and I’ve rarely come across them at the shows or events I usually attend. But the attention to detail and style oozing out of this Coupe de Ville was captivating.
It was great to see long-time friend of Speedhunters Nigel Petrie of Engineered to Slide bring in his drift car.
It’s cool on its own, but becomes infinitely cooler once the matching BMW R nine T takes its place next to it.
Project NSX also made its Australian debut of sorts; the car was registered just in time to drive down to the Seaworks Maritime Precinct. I’d become strangely obsessed with polishing the car prior to its first real show, but I think it scrubbed up OK for a project car that’s driven so often.
But SIX ONE isn’t all about glossy expensive paint jobs (or over-the-top wraps for that matter), just an appreciation for the custom automobile and motorbike, whatever form that may take.
Blissfully for myself and the other camera-toting attendees, the natural morning sun penetrated into the warehouse and provided a great, balanced light for photography. As many of you would know, shooting indoor car shows is usually a frustrating dance of dodging spotlights and deep shadows, so this was a very welcome change.
We’ll take a closer look at five of my favourite builds from the show in another story, but I’d like you to enjoy this story as I did the actual event.
Take your time to wander through the cars and bikes, appreciating the differences and details that makes each one unique and worthy of its place here at SIX ONE.
Luke and Geoff collected a few words from each of the owners for the event, which I’ve republished below.
Born out of a love/hate relationship of 12 years. What started as an unrealistically low-budget idea of a 19-year-old slowly became what you see in front of you today – a shiny, overpowered handful. The aim being to create something period-correct in exterior and interior appearance, but with a modern, significantly more powerful heart. The end result – an infinite number of hours in the garage, 250rwkW and me stubbornly proving everyone wrong who said I would never get it done.
Mat Egan’s Customline has been chopped and channeled with a Mercury front. Mat bought and painted the car whilst living in the USA and cruised it as his daily, hitting all the major shows from coast to coast before bringing it here to Australia.
Australia’s fastest hot rod, holding five Australian land speed records (four of them at over 200mph). Chevy 572ci big block crate motor producing 730hp. Built in six weeks in 2000, raced at every Australian Speed Week since, and twice at Bonneville.
Lowered suspension. 2.4L Bernie Bergmann engine. Porsche 968 Club Sport seats. The car was rebuilt in Melbourne by Marc Banks.
Blown small block Chevy. Tri-Power via Stromberg 97s. Chopped and channeled over a Ford chassis.
Bagged. Body-dropped. Supercharged and injected V8.
The Devaux Coupe and Spyder on display were designed as an homage to classic French and European cars of the late 1930s such as Bugatti, Delahaye, Talbot-Lago and Delage.
The bespoke nature of the cars meant that only a small number were built (seven in all.) The cars were designed and built in Melbourne in the early 2000s.
Volkswagen Beetle which has been customised to look tough. Clean, great stance on air suspension. Little touches to this vehicle that makes it different to others.
Model A Ford chassis. Airbag suspension. Four-inch roof chop. Channeled four inches. 1959 Chevy dash. 1957 Mark II Zephyr engine with hand-made manifolds.
Running a rare FWB 1,460cc Coventry Climax engine. The car spent many years in a box on a shelf and was rebuilt in 2004 by Don Biggar. It weighs just over 450kg with an output of 110bhp.
Once owned by Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, the roof chop was started by Dick Dean at Billy’s request. Shipped to Melbourne in 1991 and worked on by Colin Jacka. LS7 454ci big block built by George Haddad. Interior by Garry Blackman.
HQ Holden Monaro. Custom green paint with green stripes. Big block Chev engine. Powerglide transmission. Full chassis. Full roll cage. Tubbed with a 4-link rear end. Custom cream leather interior. Many more modified parts.
Team Swinburne compete within the Formula SAE competition. We are a university team who build, design, market and race an opened wheel race car.
I found myself having the same conversation with several of the builders – the coming wave of electric-powered builds. Surprisingly, all of the guys were keen to embrace this next challenge, despite my protestations of a lack of charisma and ugly componentry.
The event made me realise how surprisingly rare it is to see custom bikes and cars displayed under the same roof, which strange when you consider just how much the two have in common, not least a shared appreciation for speed and style.
Coming from a car guy, I reckon we have a lot to learn from these bike builders too. The creativity of some of these builds, especially the freedom to merge different aesthetics and the attention to the tiniest details.
Boldly Avante-garde the purpose-built Moto CX500 features a host of modern electronics, carbon composite tail section and a drastically lightened subframe.
Ducati Panigale. Bought new especially for build. Run in the first weekend, track day the second, pulled apart with 2,000km on the clock.
It’s a TT racer-style bike, made to look like a 1920s factory build.
It has an early Knucklehead frame with all old swap meet parts. Aged paint by myself. Open primary. Early Sportster tank. Wassell ribbed fender. Bates solo seat. Early pan shaved wide glide. Long upsweep fishtails pipes and tall ape bars. It’s a tuff old chopper that’s weathered real nice.
‘Super Hooligan’ keeps the dirt bike theme but highlights unique and well crafted features such as exhaust, fabrication, paint/pinstriping and mild engine work brilliantly finished. This build by Jamie Portelli from Fabtech Creations tells the story of when passion and purpose synchronise. The results speak for themselves.
Full of handcrafted components and textured metal highlights, this one-of-a-kind machine has chopper roots, with aggressive styling cues from the European streetfighter scene. A true genre disruptor.
Bored to 1,000cc and loaded with performance parts. The bike was built in seven months and was unveiled at Mooneyes in Japan. Almost every part on the bike was made from scratch or highly modified.
This is a modernised 1950s Vincent pushrod engine using redesigned 4-valve TPV top ends, Pazon electronic ignition, electronic fuel injection and engine management. A TPV-designed CNC-milled alloy frame and modern upside-down forks provide superior handling. Styling is deliberately retro and designed to showcase what is possibly the most beautiful motorcycle engine ever made.
Carbon fibre and fibreglass rear section, heavily modified with lots of hot bits, goes like a sneeze.
This sidecar made its debut at the Victorian Historic Titles 2017 and took the historic racing scene by storm with a first time out pole position. The bike was built from ground up by Tim Loone and is ridden by his wife Michelle. The Norton’s bodywork was designed to allow quick access the motor between races and so that the riders could easily move around the bike.
Aero was inspired by aircraft design, vintage land speed cars (Auto Union), Art Deco and mid-century design.
In hindsight, the formula that made SIX ONE so enjoyable is simple: It’s a well curated show with a healthy mix of cars and bikes from different genres. Best of all, the vehicles are given the appropriate space to allow show-goers to get close and enjoy in a great venue.
After all the stress of planning and executing and event, there’s probably one question that an event organiser hates to hear: When’s the next one? But Luke and Geoff, forgive me – please give us an answer!