WALKING into Harvey Miles’s shed for the first time, I’m immediately offered a seat at the bar and a cold ale. But it’s hard to sit still; there’s so much to see, and I want to see it.
Harvey cracks open a beer and hands it to me; he notices my blink of surprise when he pours himself a Pinot Noir. “I used to smoke 70 cigarettes a day,” he explains without me even asking. “Gave ’em up and suddenly – boom! – I was allergic to beer! So here’s me with a glass of wine!” he laughs.
It’s clear that although the gaspers are now long gone, grape juice isn’t Harvey’s only poison; the shed is awash with 1960s memorabilia, from Eskys to signs, kettles to telephones, and anything else you care to name. I note with some irony that beer bottles and tobacco tins also prominently feature!
To business, and bottoms-up; we clink our drinks and I catch a glimpse of that handsome, robust EH shape sat just beside my knee.
Further inspection reveals Harvey’s bespoke bar has six beautiful 1:18-scale Holdens on display, set in a row behind glass. With their bonnets up and doors open, it’s like Harvey has established a small, 1960s country dealership exclusively for brush-tailed bettongs.
In fact, EJs and EHs of all sizes dominate the room – emblazoned on biscuit tins, playing cards, paintings, posters and portraits. It’s fair to say that Harvey’s obsessed.
“I started out with a Ford Customline, but got into more complications than I thought trying to fix it,” he recalls. “Then I wrecked an EJ, then an EH, then suddenly I had 40 of the things!”
Wanting to know more than just how they looked pulled apart, Harvey sought to learn all he could about his two favourite Holden models, amassing examples of all the literature Holden produced during the lifespan of the EJ and EH. We rifle through boxes containing brochures, service bulletins and even issues of the GM-H employees’ internal magazine, People.
Having wrecked around 300 of the buggers, Harvey admits to not coming across any unusual EJ/EH examples until he chanced upon the gaudy pink number now sitting stripped and painted on his hoist.
“When I bought it, I found the ID plate said ‘Special Order’ and the paint code was all noughts,” he says. “I had it 16 years before I got drunk one night and decided to find the first owner. I rang just about every person in Adelaide until I got onto a fella.”
That conversation yielded a treasure trove of info. The car had been built for one of the plant managers, an American who had owned a pink Cadillac back in the States. “GM-H recognises it as a one-of-one,” Harvey says.
“The dash is Roebuck Pearl, but it’s pink in places you’d never respray.” The bloke Harvey spoke to also explained that a wobbly power steering kit was fitted at the factory. “Only about 120 cars got the kit; it constantly leaks; it’s a piece of shit,” Harvey laughs. “But I have to keep it on there; you wouldn’t go change it!”
It’s taken another 16 years for Harvey to get activated and start a resto on it, but to be fair, he’s been busy with his other big project.
His Winton Red/Fowlers Ivory EH sits centrestage and oozes the class of an authentic resto, but it’s so much more.
“I entered it in Summernats 30 and had seven judges going all over it,” Harvey says.
Then he dropped a bombshell on them; for you see, this is no ordinary EH Holden. This is a rare S4, Holden’s first homologation special and the germination point for every GTS and GTR you’ve seen since.
“Spencer Martin and Brian Muir raced an EH S4 at Bathurst in 1963 and dropped a tailshaft mid-race,” Harvey explains. “My car
was at Bathurst that year; it was owned by Bob Atkins, the crew chief for the Scuderia Veloce race team, so they pulled the driveshaft out of mine and kept on racing!”
With a heritage like that, the Summernats judges suggested Harvey’s EH compete in the Muscle Car category, but warned that he’d be up against GTRs, HOs and the like. “I didn’t care; I’ll take ’em on!” he laughs. And take them on he did, walking away with Top Factory Production Muscle Car and a berth in the Top 60 Elite.
It’s clear that despite his Customline-centric beginnings, Harvey bleeds the red of a true Holden legend. He grabs me another beer from his Frigidaire refrigerator – built by Holden, no less – and we spend the rest of the evening discussing all things EH, all things 60s and all things cool, with Harvey’s dog watching our every move. I realise I’ve forgotten to ask the dog’s name.
“General!” Harvey answers with a hearty laugh and another trademark grin.
Of course it is! s
HARVEY’S relationship with his rare S4 started only five years ago, when he bought the rig off eBay. “I didn’t want another car; I was working on my pink EH, after all, but once I discovered this had every nut, bolt and piece of documentation intact, I had to go for it,” he says.
Built in August 1963, Harvey’s EH 225 179MS4, to use its full title, was the 65th example built and has all the things on it that make it a track-attack weapon – which in 1963 wasn’t much!
The 179 HP red motor was mated to a beefed-up three-speed manual for the first time, having previously been available with the auto only.
A larger tailshaft, nodular iron diff centre and sintered brake linings completed the mechanical package.
Underneath, Holden fitted a larger fuel tank and, believe it or not, an expanded tool kit – smart given that Armstrong 500 rules required running repairs and even tyre changes to be conducted with the factory-supplied tools!
Although the Armstrong 500 required 100 examples be built, Holden actually constructed 120 at Pagewood and a further six in Melbourne – still not a lot. Of those, Harvey’s is one of 11 that are known to remain.