WALKING into Kevin Woolard's Ewingsdale Lion's Den is like stepping back in time and entering a 1958 Holden Dealership.
That was exactly what he wanted to create when he converted a three-bay shed on his property in 2004. Based on National Automotive Service Company guidelines from the era on how to set up a dealership and spare parts department, Mr Woolard used the counter, shelves and signs from Burnett Motors along with other memorabilia and reproduction items to create his den. Lion's Den is a reference to the Holden logo of a lion and a stone.
Pride of place on the showroom floor goes to five concourse-condition FC Holdens that have won four Holden Nationals Grand Champion Stock titles between them.
Mr Woolard's love of FC Holdens began while he was at Armidale Teachers College and went to RA Jakes Holden on the day the model was launched in May 1958.
After teaching until he was 34, he left the blackboard to run the family pig and cattle farm near Byron Bay. Running 6000 pigs and 150 cattle was a full time job until his interest in cars turned into a life changing moment that became his and wife Margaret's escape from farm life.
"I made a commitment to build a car to enter the Holden Nationals every two years," he said.
"For us it was a way we could get away and see some of the country and catch up with friends."
Collecting memorabilia began in the late 1980s and soon turned into scouring farms around the state, searching for rare rusty relics he could transform, through thousands of hours of hard work into show cars.
"The problem with these old cars is that so many of them are sitting out in paddocks on farms out west and I go and strip them out for parts but these days the metal recyclers are beating me to it."
Combining his interest in cars with the social aspect of being a member and past president of North Coast Street Machines has left him with many memories.
He is humble about his success on the car scene.
"I enjoy the satisfaction of completing the project and the challenge of doing it.
"I have tracked down some of the original owners of the cars and have taken the cars to show them and they have been amazed."
"I have enjoyed some wonderful moments."
Two vehicles closest to his heart are an FC ute and an FC sedan he calls Miss Mullum, originally sold to a teacher at Mullumbimby in 1959. The ute, the most customised of his FCs, is a far cry from its role as a kennel.
Now it sports a flip front, custom paint and interior and a supercharged V6 Commodore motor and running gear.
Mr Woolard said what could be his last project had just begun.
"I am currently restoring an FE ute for the next nationals in Hobart in 2014."