Rob’s iconic Holden FX Ute has been on his mind since he was five.
With the windows down on a quiet Queensland back road. One arm on the bench seat, the other holding the wheel. Purring along with a softly menacing hiss of induction noise, sun beaming off incandescent orange paint, family by his side, a blue sky and nowhere to be but right there. Classics looks, with creature comforts and modern horsepower. Built to be driven, Rob’s Holden is a do-it-all cruiser tied to his family’s and Australia’s motoring history.
Raised in NSW, Rob’s family made it destination Queensland for their family holidays. Piling in the family hauler and setting a course north, much of his youth was spent looking out the rear windows for any distraction from the long drive.
A famous low-brow landmark, just after the border to the Sunshine State started Rob on his journey to the car he drives today. A pink FX Holden sedan, jammed intentionally on the veranda of a Coolangatta motor wrecker’s facade, was a regular sight to tourists and locals headed north on Queensland’s Pacific Motorway. Seeing it year after year struck a chord with Rob, the way things do when you’ve been sitting in the back of a hot car for nine hours. The iconic first ever Holden had burned its way into Rob’s ‘must own’ list.
Although, his uncle’s red Ford GTHO Phase III is responsible for getting the octane into Rob’s blood. “Every Easter and every Christmas he would take us out and the seats would always be oiled up to condition the leather. You would slide from one side to the other. When we were kids, we thought it was the funniest thing,” said Rob. Playing corners in the back seat of his uncle’s roaring Ford as an infant is a feeling that never left. His parents fed the fire with Matchbox cars, and when Rob hit his late teens, he was horsepower hungry, filling his motoring resume through his 20’s with hopped-up classics.
“I crashed a few of them. I had an old 48 Holden sedan, I was tuning the stereo thinking I was all that, and I rolled it. But once I got a taste of horsepower I kept going, and I am still chasing it.”
Motoring enthusiasts often define themselves by drawing lines – you are Ford or Holden, muscle or import, show or race. You pick your niche, and you stick to it. When it comes to cars, Rob is an open book. His FX ute crosses boundaries. A historically significant chassis, with a turbocharged strip dominator between the struts. Cruising comfort inside, a real street machine on the outside. At the service station or the racetrack, Rob’s FX is a conversation starter.
“I really like all the early Holdens, but I’ve owned Fords and loved then, I’m definitely not Holden or Ford. I love them all. I take my hat off to anyone that’s got a nice car.”
Built in two years to ferry Rob and his bride-to-be to their wedding, the orange FX UTE is finished to an immaculate show car level. It is far from a trailer queen, hiding from stone chips in a garage.
A concreter by trade, Rob’s FX sees the street at least three times week. It is no stranger to the job site. The tray carries tools and whatever needs moving.
“I just can’t see the point of building them if you don’t go and drive them,” said Rob.
“The car has been built for ten years and mate we’ve driven everywhere. The only time we don’t drive it is if we break it.”
Ensuring looks aren’t the only thing this piece of Australiana does well, it has been built with a stroked 4.2 litre Commodore V6 force fed by a 35R Garrett turbo. It’s good for around 400kW and an 11.2-second quarter mile at 190 mp/h.
The best part of Rob’s FX isn’t its past or even the landmark moments in his life. It’s the future.
“My favourite thing about the ute is probably the way the kids look at it. I just love it.”
“I have built a lot of cars, but this one was to tick something off my bucket list. I have wanted this car since I was a kid and seeing my own kids get such a kick out of it, being able to show their mates clips of it online, it’s a great feeling.”
Building an LC Torana for his nine-year-old son, and with his 11-year-old daughter calling dibs on the family 300C waggon, Rob is doing his fair share to ensure there is a generation of car enthusiasts after him.
With a track focussed FX in the build (a windowless panel van), destined for eight-second passes, the orange ute will stay the cruiser, with plenty of miles and memories left to be enjoyed on the ute’s comfy bench seat.