THE MUSCLE CAR Factory is rising, Phoenixlike, from the ashes of a catastrophic fire in October that destroyed its previous premises and most of the cars stored in it, including many of its signature Eleanor Mustangs. It could so easily have been the end for the Melbourne business, which wasnít insured, owner Leo Banks said.
ďThe alarm went off at 1:56am and I raced down there to see the factory ablaze. I was the first one there and I called 000. It took me a good 15 minutes to get in because my security was so good, I had bollards everywhere. I tried to get the roller door open but itís electrically operated and the wires had burned out so I raced outside and tried to douse the flames as best I could. About half an hour later the fire brigade turned up but they couldnít cut through the roller door. If they could have we could have contained the fire to the mezzanine floor. It was pretty hard to see 15 years of hard work go up in flames due to a callous act.Ē
Three of the cars destroyed were ready for delivery including an XW GTHO and an XY GT that had been in a family for 25 years and was only in for a service.
Six Eleanors in various stages of build went up in flames, the one pictured with Banks had just been painted and hand polished to show quality. Banks said 13 cars are still under the collapsed mezzanine floor and he is not allowed to access them as the building has been condemned. Luckily, the office and two Eleanors in it survived but were badly waterlogged. Banks is rebuilding but said it will take a long time to recover.
ďI had eight people working for me and it would have been easy just to fold up but Iíve always been a fighter and with the support of all my customers and crew we found a new premises in a week and salvaged what we could. All my customers want their cars rebuilt and Iíll be doing what I can for those who didnít have insurance to get them back to a stage where they donít lose everything, but itís going to take time. But weíll come back bigger and better.Ē