Since Keith’s teens he’s always had projects to work on, and sure enough he turned this passion into becoming an Industrial arts teacher. Now that he’s retired, these projects have only grown, as he breaths new life into old machines.
Growing up around the bush, there was always something for Keith and his mate’s to get up to be in the ‘60’s. “I always had some projects to work on with my mates, there were plenty of cars and bikes to find as well as plenty of bush tracks to explore”. This natural love for working with his hands and creating would lead him down the path to become an Industrial Arts teacher, spending years at various TAFE colleges all the while accumulating more and more skills, which he could then pass on to future generations whilst also applying to his own projects at home.
When you first arrive at Keith’s place, you’ll immediately notice the stripped back 1960 Fiat 500 Model N that is propped up on a workbench, with it’s bright red bonnet sticking out like dog’s bollocks. Tools orbit around this machine as Keith gets to work restoring this small Italian car to a new glory, replacing and fabricating parts where he needs, and order others online that cannot be made.
“The first Fiat I got was an attempt to involve my youngest son and his mate in a restoration project. That didn’t work out, but these little fiats are good to restore, light weight, small and plenty of new parts available.
The first car was a serious rust bucket and a steep learning curve. The second car, although rusty, is potentially a better car. I have tried to do all aspects of the restoration work, mechanical, panel work, rust repair, trim work and painting.”
A similar Fiat 500 is tucked away behind this work in progress, this one much more complete however. This little blue machine is the same year and model as the one sitting outside, however with a transformable convertible top. The terrific blue interior, completed by Keith as well, is a crisp reminder of ‘60’s style and sunshine. “Bikes and scooters are nice to paint, and I did paint the blue Fiat 500 completely; but would never attempt that again, it’s simply too hard. I’m better off paying someone.”
A man of many skills must, in turn, work on many styles of vehicles. His first Harley, this 1925 Harley-Davidson JD 1200cc coil ignition with sidecar is pure 1920’s style. “There’s plenty of specialist suppliers for these early Harley’s, but they can be very challenging with broken frames, forks, crankcases and just generally worn out – but I do really love the style of these early American bikes”. The transition from the early ‘20’s models of Harley’s can be see in the tank as the more traditional look of Motorcycles we know of today is taking shape, in contrast to the 1921 Harley-Davidson that Keith also owns.
“This 1921 Harley-Davidson F 1000cc magneto ignition started life as a basket case. This is a loop frame model that didn’t change much between 1917 and 1924, so I liked the idea of a bike that had hints of WWI in it’s style, with many of those bikes ending up in Europe with the American troops towards the end of the war.”
It’s not just Italian cars that Keith’s keen on restoring, as a couple of Lambretta’s sit nearby the Harley’s. The 1955 F Model 125cc 3 speed with open frame is a fantastic representation of a restoration, and showcases 1950’s scooter style. Remnants of more open and raw style from the previous decades are present, while the more curved and stylized trend of the ‘50’s and ‘60’s can be seen to have its beginnings. Next to it sits a white and red 1957 Lambretta LD 125cc with dual seat. The fairings, curves and shape of the well known retro look has taken form now in this machine’s design, a great example of what 2 years can do in the industry when compared to the previous 1955 model.