This pristine 1956 FJ Holden is the pride and joy of Two Wells car enthusiast Robert Arbon.
With fond memories of trips around town with his late grandfather, Alan Stringer, as a young boy, Robert says he had a connection with the car right from the beginning.
As he got older and started working on cars for fun, Alan entrusted Robert to service the beloved FJ, where dreams of one day owning this beauty first took hold.
A few decades later and with his grandfather no longer able to drive, Robert bought the FJ.
Alan was a longtime employee of General Motors Holden at Woodville and had bought the car straight off the line when it was released in 1956.
As fate would have it, the FJ came full circle in 2017 when it was one of 14 Holden vehicles to feature as part of an assembled display and tribute inside the iconic Holden factory at Elizabeth, two weeks prior to it’s closure.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
When the FJ’s registration expired in 1974, Robert was at a stage in his life where car restoration was not a top priority, and the vehicle sadly sat in a shed for the next 35 years, untouched but not forgotten, and like a long dormant butterfly, waiting for its moment to shine.
In the early 2000’s, after an epic rebuild of an LC GTR Torana (which he still owns), Robert pulled the FJ from the shed and stripped it down for a complete restoration.
“The FJ had covered 103,381 miles from new,” he said.
“The only issues were a slight dent in the left hand guard, and about five gallons of mud under the body.
“I now know that I should have knocked out all of the offending mud before storing, as this caused significant rust, even just standing in a dry shed.”
While he did much of the work himself, the car’s body shell was sent to a panel beater and spray painter for a complete paint job inside and out, as well as rust repairs.
And apart from the interior door trims, all of the upholstery was refurbished, and the front and rear bumpers, plus the centre grill bar, rechromed. “Except for these pieces, the remainder of the outside trim is original,” Robert said.
“It was disappointing to find that some of the new rubber kits I had purchased were oddly shaped.
“So, with a little bit of inventing on my part, the rubbers were finally fitted.
“During this time I proceeded to rebuild the mechanics, the engine, the suspension, and to fit a new wiring loom.”
It was a long and fiddly renovation but in 2011, the vehicle passed inspection and was once again roadworthy.
Since that auspicious day, Robert and his wife, Anne, have taken the FJ out and about on a regular basis.
The car always draws a crowd, with Robert saying the sight of it brings back fond memories for many people who remember their father, parents, uncle or grandfather driving a similar vehicle.
The FJ is a regular participant in events around the district, including the popular Two Wells Christmas Street parade, and has twice taken part in the Bay to Birdwood classic car event.
The car has also participated in the ‘Kernewek Lowender’ event staged in the ‘Copper Triangle’ area of the state on the Yorke Peninsula.
An electrical fitter by trade, Robert is a member of the Gawler Veteran, Vintage and Classic Vehicle Club and has been for some years.
He is a car guy through and through.
It is a passion he hopes to pass on to his son Hayden, who will one day acquire the much-loved Holden.
“I’ve loved cars all my life, Robert said.
“I’m disappointed that there will be no more Holdens.
“It is very rewarding to see the vehicle in its present restored form (and) I am pleased that my son also will value the ‘family heirloom’, the FJ Holden, well into the future.”
The FJ certainly is a talking piece wherever it goes.
Make sure to give Robert and Anne a beep when you see them out cruising in their much-loved Holden.