CHRIS MARKS

> BRISBANE

SNAP SHOTS STORY SIMON MAJOR

CHRIS Marks epitomises the homegrown, hands-on car-building philosophy. After cutting his teeth building BMXs and motorbikes as a young bloke, it was natural that Chris would progress into the car scene. Years spent tinkering in the shed has armed him with proficient paint, panel and mechanical skills, all thanks to a willingness to get in there and just have a crack. Armed with a wicked sense of humour, it’s not surprising to learn that Chris has had plenty of fun along the way too. Here are some of the rides that have marked his journey. Part two next issue! 01: CHRIS paid $300 for this EK wagon back in 1991. “I was 18 and it was my first car,” he says. “I loved the widies on the back and the 138 grey motor ran beautifully, but the threeon- the-tree gearbox had a lazy clutch slave cylinder, which made hill starts tricky. I drove it everywhere and it seemed like it was always full of people and dogs; that’s just how we rolled back then. The plan was to paint it and make it a clean daily, but I sold it a year later.

I probably should have actually registered it too, come to think of it!” 02: IN HIS late teens Chris headed south and hitched around doing fruit-picking. “I was living the hobo life, but thought I better get my shit together,” he says. “I came back to Brisbane and got an apprenticeship as a ceramic tiler.

I hadn’t been back for long and caught up with my mate Brett [centre, with Chris on the right] who’d bought this XC sedan. We went for a cruise up Mt Nebo, where this photo was taken, and straight away I knew I had to get another car. Brett’s was a genuine red GS with a tan interior, running a 302 and four-speed along with ROH Wildfire rims before they were considered ‘old-school’! He later sold it to buy an HX sedan that ran a cranky 308.” 03: CHRIS had the yearning for a split-window Kombi and found this ’66 close to home in the nearby – albeit hilly – suburb of Paddington. “I bought it off this hippy couple who took me for a fairly scary test drive around the block. It had no brakes and the handbrake only worked on one wheel, so my mate John and I decided to flat-tow it home ‘to be safer’,” Chris remembers.

“It was a bad move – it just kept locking up that one wheel and I was shitting my pants the whole way.” Chris went as far as doing all of the bodywork and repainting it in two-tone white and blue, but sold it off in the early 90s as an unfinished project. “Can you believe I paid $350 for that Kombi? That probably wouldn’t buy me a genuine front badge nowadays.” 04: WITH the Kombi gone, Chris wasted no time finding another streeter and bought this white HD off another apprentice when doing his study block at Yeronga TAFE. It was your typical era-correct hottie; the 179 was bored out to a 192 and fitted with a Yella Terra head, 350 Holley and extractors. Chris swapped out the Powerglide for a Celica five-speed and gave the tyres on those fat little 13in US Racers a hiding. “That’s my youngest brother Rod standing with me in the white T-shirt. He was

only 15 or 16 at the time and just loved this car.

I didn’t truly appreciate just what effect it had on him; he’s owned a number of HDs since.” 05: CHRIS needed a ute for work, so he bought an HR and swapped the running gear, wheels and all the other good bits from the HD – yes, including the front panels – onto it. I personally dig the West Coast mirrors on the ute in this shot, and never imagined the day would come when a Monza Red KB Laser would almost look cool! “The ute started giving me a heap of clutch and gearbox problems and I just got sick of it,” Chris says. “It was nearly Christmas so I figured I’d buy myself a present and came home with an HQ ute fitted with a later Statesman front along with a 350 Chev and Saginaw four-speed. And yep, you guessed it, I blew that bloody Saginaw up too! It took me ages to find another.” 06: CHECK out those threads! “Judging by my cowboy hat and vest we’d just been to a hot rod show at the Oxley Hotel around 1993,” Chris says. “My friend Reggie is in the passenger seat and another mate Barry owned the LJ. The Torana started life as a genuine GTR and was a flat-back streeter with flares and fat jellybean mags when he first bought it. He resprayed it metallic blue, added the widened steelies and built a pretty tough six for it. It was later sold to another mate, Toppy, who got T-boned by an HT wagon that ran a stop sign. The car was written off but Toppy was lucky to make it out in one piece – the HT pushed the left side in that far, he was rubbing shoulders with both doors at the same time.” 07: CHRIS’S mate Barry sold the LJ to buy this CJ6 Jeep. “That thing went everywhere and handled all the 4WD stuff with ease; we had a ball,” Chris recalls. “The 307 Chev sounded so tough hauling up this hillclimb at Stradbroke Island. He eventually went to sell it so decided on giving it a thorough detail. He pressurecleaned the motor and it sprung oil leaks everywhere; all the dirt and grime must have been holding the oil in! He was spewing.” s