Wayne Williams – car whisperer

Not everyone’s classic car is in driveable condition.

We estimate the number of classics being restored is about equal to the number that are actually being driven on our roads.

And so it is with Wayne Williams.

He was determined to save four rare American automobiles, all at once.

The only way he could do so was to acquire them in an “as is” condition and slowly move forward with their restoration.

He works on each when time, resources, work space and parts availability permits.

In his shed and on his driveway are a 1973 Rambler Hornet, 1960  right-hand drive DeSoto four-door hardtop, 1956 Packard 400 coupe and a 1962 Dodge Custom 880 coupe.

The Hornet and the Dodge are driveable, but not registered. The Packard and De Soto require significant attention to just about everything.

But Wayne is not fazed by the tasks ahead, or the logistics of moving big cars around a small working area.

On the contrary, he is energised by the ultimate outcome.

“I want to save these cars,” he says with a passion.

The Hornet was Wayne’s daily driver for a decade until another road user decided to smash into it’s right front mudguard.

Like all of these incidents, the smash revealed other areas of the Hornet needing repair.

The car was taken off the road while the long process of repairing it began.

“My wife loves this car,” he says, “and we will never sell it.”

Wayne’s 1962 Dodge Custom 880 coupe is one of only 1761 two-door hardtops built that year.

He bought it a couple of years ago in the USA and had it shipped to Australia.

Still wearing its original maroon paint, it has aged reasonably well.

The interior is pure early 1960s space age Americana.

“It is so rare to see one of them these days,” he says.

Similarly rare is his Packard.

Once a super-luxury brand, Packard disappeared in the USA in 1958 after an ill-judged takeover of Studebaker.

Wayne’s 1956 Packard coupe competed with Cadillac and Lincoln, and boasted the biggest capacity V8 of any American production car that year.

At 374 cubic inches (6.1 litres) the engine cranked out 290bhp (216kW) and, wait for it — 405 lbs ft (549Nm) of torque.

The evidence of opulence and prestige is clearly visible inside the car.

The push button automatic transmission selector is a marvel to behold.

“There is a lot of work to do on it,” Wayne admits.

The 1960 DeSoto Diplomat four-door hardtop is a Detroit-built, factory right-hand drive unit that spent a considerable amount of time in Malaysia and Singapore before it found its way to Australia.

The car was painted black when Wayne bought it, but he found out subsequently that it was originally painted two–tone light and dark green.

Since then he’s striped it back and re-sprayed it in a gleaming gold.

It may be a while before Wayne completes all of his restoration projects.

But that’s okay.

So much of the enjoyment of restoring classic cars is the process itself.

David Burrell is the editor of

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