FAMILY PROJECT: David Dawson said the Holden HR Special holds fond memories from his childhood, and this connection drew him to the 1966 wagon he purchased 11 years ago and lovingly refurbished.
FAMILY PROJECT: David Dawson said the Holden HR Special holds fond memories from his childhood, and this connection drew him to the 1966 wagon he purchased 11 years ago and lovingly refurbished. Dominic Elsome

Dawson's project car a family affair

MORE than a decade of work has gone into David Dawson's pride and joy, but the results are worth it.

His 1966 Holden HR Special Wagon strikes a figure with its classic green and white paint job, but he doesn't own the vehicle to leave it in the garage and look pretty.

"I wasn't after a show car, I just like to drive it and enjoy it,” Mr Dawson said.

The '66 HR has a special place in his heart, and is what drew him to the car.

"My dad had one, so when we were growing up we had this type of wagon - only in blue,” he explained.

"They say everyone has a connection with their childhood - that's my connection and that's why I ended up choosing that car.

"There's good memories - all the kids piling in and I've got three boys and we all get in and go for a drive, it's pretty cool.”

Mr Dawson purchased the HR 11 years ago in a rough condition, describing the body as "Swiss cheese” due to rust.

During the years he's lovingly restored the car into the stunner it is today.

"Heaps of work - I ended up researching and then just trial and error,” he said.

"My boy's were helping me - they'd get out the tools and scrape and grind and stuff.

"Everyone got involved, it was a bit of a family thing.”

The restoration work included a mechanical overhaul, extensive body work and complete respray, but Mr Dawson was determined to do it himself and the results speak for themselves.

"It does take up a lot of your time but I wasn't in a rush, and that's why I enjoyed it,” he said.

"I've just lowered the suspension on it, other than that everything is original.

"(It has the ) original engine, the gear-box is the old 'three-on-the-tree', and it's got all the bench seats.”

He said the most challenging part of the project had been sourcing parts for the restoration, with some taking more than five years of searching to uncover.

"I used to hit every swap meet, every weekend finding new parts for it,” he said.

"Finding parts for these old things, it's crazy difficult.”

But the hard work has certainly paid off, with the car being the Sunday cruiser for trips with his sons.

"Everything has been rebuilt so it actually drives really well compared to a lot of old cars I've had,” he said.

"I'd thought it would be scary but it's actually really good, its really fun to drive.

"With three gears, along the highway it's a little bit slower but other than that, cruising around town it's pretty cool - good vibe.”

While it certainly isn't an everyday car, when it comes to a lazy weekend drive, Mr Dawson knows what he'd pick between the HR and his modern everyday car.

"This is a lot more enjoyable on the weekends, just cruising,” he said.

Now the restoration is complete, Mr Dawson does have some future plans for the HR.

He said he was considering sanding back some of the fresh paint job to give the classic a weathered, vintage look.

And most of all, he's considering replacing the current factory engine with something more "exciting”.

But for now, after 11 years of work, he's happy to enjoy the fruits of his labour on a lazy Sunday drive.


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