Meet the owner

March 09, 2018

Rob Watson's 1930 A-model Ford Roadster Utility.


Rob Watson has built a hot rod from virtually the ground up so it may come as a surprise to learn his background is actually in motorbikes.

His brother brought a BSA Bantam home one day with all the electrics missing.

‘‘Then I brought one and that was a goer,’’ Rob said.

Rob was 11 and his brother was 10 and the pair loved tinkering with the bikes.

‘‘For some reason I just knew how to fix them and it snowballed from there,’’ Rob said.

And snowball it did. An engine reconditioner by trade, Rob has never had to apply for a job.

His reputation always led to bike owners seeking him out to repair their machines.

‘‘I was just a kid and I was being asked to fix racing bikes,’’ he said.

He and his brother set up a motorcycle dealership and Rob still has an impressive collection of rare BSA Bantam motorbikes today.

As far as cars go, he is a great believer in Australia-built models.

His first car was an EH Holden utility at age 17 and the Aussie flavour continues today.


Rob’s 1930 A-model Ford Roadster Utility is one of only 87 that were built in Australia.

‘‘It was built in Geelong,’’ Rob said.

Rob found the car in a dilapidated state 10 years ago and has practically rebuilt it from scratch, often making the parts himself.

The car was originally a timber frame but is now all steel framing with redgum interior trimming.

The rebuild took five years to complete.

Rob said the body configuration style of the car was totally standard for the era.

Rob has installed a 1970s model 302 Windsor engine under the bonnet, a five-speed manual gearbox, a nine-inch diff and four-wheel-disc brakes all round.

‘‘All the interior is changed from the original,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s fitted with a 1949 Ford dashboard fascia.

‘‘The guards are all original and so are the headlights. They are the original stainless steel, they just had a few dents in them.

‘‘It’s got a 1932 grill on it. If you put a ’32 grill on the Model A’s the bonnets don’t fit any more but I cut and trimmed it to make it fit.’’

Parts such as panels on the bottom of the car, the seats, steering wheel and cutting and welding the fuel tank at the front of the car to fit the dashboard in were all carried out in his shed.

He even made his own circuit board box for the taco and speedo which he got out of a 1980 Falcon.

‘‘It’s all time consuming but you can do it,’’ Rob said.

He found some running boards in Castlemaine to add on as well.

One of the few touches to the car which involved other hands was the leather upholstery for the seats which were carried out in Bendigo.

He likes to run the car standard and estimates it has a 300 horsepower capacity and a top speed of 180kmh.



Rob found the car at the 2008 Bendigo Swap Meet.

‘‘It was sitting on a trailer and it was totally dilapidated,’’ he said.

‘‘I was always going to build a hot rod.

‘‘I was at a Show n Shine in Cohuna and I saw one and said ‘I’m going to build one of these things one day’,’’ Rob said.

By the end of the year, he was at Bendigo and he had his car.

‘‘A ute is what I wanted,’’ Rob said.

The 1930 A-model utility was primarily a farm vehicle so it is no surprise Rob’s vehicle hailed from Horsham in the Mallee before eventually finding its way to Coburg.

‘‘The owner was going to restore it himself but found it was going to be too much work so decided to put it up for sale,’’ Rob said.

It was a quick sale too. Rob entered the swap meet at 6am on the first selling day and the A-model was sitting right there on the trailer.

After negotiating the price, Rob even borrowed the trailer the car was sitting on to ferry it away.



‘‘Just the uniqueness of it,’’ Rob said.

‘‘It’s a very unusual vehicle. I knew it was a rare car as soon as I saw it.

‘‘I’ve been going to swap meets for years and years and had never seen one.

‘‘There’s only a few around that have been restored to their natural state.



There’s no such thing as a perfect car, according to Rob.

‘‘It’s individual taste,’’ he said.

‘‘I’m into old style motoring. I’m not into the latest technical stuff.

‘‘I like Mustangs but I’d never buy one because everyone else buys one.’’

The old adage of ‘they don’t make them like they used to’ seems to apply to Rob.

With his background in motorbikes, he was asked to fix a ‘plastic motorbike’ two years ago but problems with the fuel tank splitting caused more headaches than it was worth.

‘‘I’ll never do another one,’’ he said, preferring to stick with the classics.


The rare 1930 A-model Ford Roadster Utility will be on display at the Rich River Rod and Custom Club’s Family Day on Sunday, March 18 at Moama’s Jack Eddy Oval

Rob will also have three or four of his classic BSA Bantam bikes on show.

The day is the culmination of the club’s Rod Run which has attracted 170 entries so far from 40 different car clubs. Sunday’s family day runs from 10am through to 1.30pm and is a major fundraiser for the Rich River Rod and Custom Club with the bulk of the proceeds going to local charities and school scholarships.

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