Lifetime of show and shine

By Liam Nash

“I’m keeping this one, because who would have thought a XY phase three GT would have gone for a million dollars,” Katandra West local Andrew Kennett said.

Andrew was, of course, mentioning his own Ford in reference to legendary Australian fast bowler Jeff Thomson’s candy red GTHO Phase III Ford Falcon, which went under the hammer for seven figures in 2018.

Such a number may perplex even the keenest of classic appreciators, but this is a reality which Andrew stepped into long ago, having witnessed his nephew letting go of a similar model for a cool $800000.

Car nuts Andrew and wife Wendy have spent the past 10 years traversing the landscape to attend various motor festivals, the Met Galas of the backyard automobile industry.

Instead of the world’s peerless convening in outrageously grandiose get-ups for a storied affair, Andrew’s crowd is suited to a more mechanical, albeit similarly gaudy, kaleidoscope of colour.

Patina hues, gleaming chrome and lavish tints are the name of the game, and for the Kennetts, there is no such thing as an answering machine when a car meet comes a calling.

“I grew up working on my own vehicles; I have always had cars — just played with them,” Andrew said when citing his first interests in old-school rides.

“We got involved with car clubs about 10 years ago.

“We bought a ‘56 Chevy Bel-Air which needed a lot of work, then a Valiant, and it has sort of grown from there having the classic cars.”

Inspired by the charm of clubs in surrounding areas, Andrew and Wendy decided to start the Shepparton Region Auto Club three-and-a-half years ago.

“I’m president and my wife is secretary, and good friends we knew took on the other committee roles — we wanted to do the club our way,” Andrew said.

“We’ve grown it into 130 members with 80 cars throughout but about 58 of them are club registered.

“We are more of a social club than a car club. We have members in the club who don’t own a classic, they just come along in their road cars for the fun side of it.

“We already had good friends, but we have made a lot more through this club.”

Currently occupying the Kennett garage is an ultra-rare, Bahama-yellow 1977 Dodge Demon. Andrew reckons it's one of about 10 currently housed in Australia.

Seeing it parked on the side of the road while on an entirely different automobile-based mission, Andrew’s interest was piqued.

“We had a ‘69 Valiant Regal and happened to be driving through Elmore,” he said.

“I wanted to pick up some parts for the Valiant and saw the Dodge parked out the front — I had never seen one before, so it caught my eye.

“I just had to have it, both of us loved it.

“It is a car that not every man and dog has, not like Mustangs.”

Parked alongside the Demon is a searing red manual 1998 XR8 AU Ford Falcon, which also comes with a unique story to match its yellow counterpart.

Andrew’s first venture to the United States meant returning with a 1977 Ford LTD, which was promptly swapped for a Mazda Bravo.

The Bravo keys were traded for those belonging to a Ford XR8 BA ute, which was then exchanged for a Ford Fairlane, and finally Andrew handed over $2500 cash along with the Fairlane for his current set of wheels.

“Technically I paid $9500 for it, but by doing the bargaining system and playing and swapping it owes me $3000,” Andrew said.

“I’d want $15000 for it as it stands.”

The Kennetts will take their two prized vehicles to Swanpool Motor Festival on Sunday, February 2, where a host of stunning classics will be on display, as well as an array of live entertainment and stalls.

“You see a lot of different cars that you wouldn’t at the local shows, it is something good to look forward to,” Wendy said.

“We are out there to support all the local groups that do get together and that is one main thing that we do — hopefully a few of our members will support them again this year.

“It’s about people with the same interests getting together and having a good time.”