Rookie Pilot

How often have you heard someone say of their completely restored vehicle, “it only started out as a quick tidy up, but then got out of control”?

I have certainly heard that many times. And it is usually the same scenario: you buy a car that looks pretty good, but then you find there are a few things that need fixing up and before you know it the car is in pieces and you are wondering what happened.

Russell Walters was in a similar boat, but had the help of Moke Rescue expert Miyagi on hand to help – just Miyagi, as that’s what everyone on the Moke forum knows him as.

“It’s not about making money, it’s almost a non-profit thing”, Miyagi explained. “My aim is to just keep Mokes on the road and when I pass on at least they will be kicking along for a few more years. So, I’ve got Moke Rescue and people who have got problems with their Moke, they can get someone to look after them and keep them going, cheaply.”

So it was with Russell, when he bought his Moke, though the meeting with Miyagi was almost by chance, as Russell revealed. “I decided to do up a VW Kombi at the north coast and bought the Moke to have as a run-around. I didn’t want a Moke with a roof so one of the first things I sold was the canopy off the Moke and that’s how I met Miyagi. He bought it for a customer.”

“So, Miyagi had a quick look over the Moke when he arrived to look at the canopy, and noticed that a few things were wrong, and I said, ‘well, can you fix them?’ and he said yes.”

“Long story short”, Russell continued, “it went to Miyagi in January 2016 to basically have the suspension repaired and it snowballed from there. We got to certain points of fixing the car, where Miyagi would ring and say, ‘I’m at this point, this needs doing, do you want to do it?’ Then he’d say, ‘well, while I’m doing this we could also do this, do you want to do it?’ So, it really became a project that got legs and it got to the point where we decided it was to be done well and properly, and that’s what you see.

Russell said he helped out where he could and learned a lot from Miyagi. “There has been a bit of master and student in the build. Insolent Bug, is what I get called when I don’t do things as he tells me to.”

The pair were finishing off the Moke on the Sunday morning of the annual Mini Muster in Brisbane, but the effort was well worth it, coming home with the trophies for People’s Choice and Best Moke.

“The People’s Choice was very rewarding”, Miyagi said. “It was a nice thing to win, I must say. I wasn’t expecting it. He (Russell) had an idea of what he wanted to do and it kind of evolved and it just happened to coordinate with the Mini show. I was just trying to highlight what a Moke can look like.

Although they didn’t set out to build a car with an excessive sound system, they also took out the Sound Off at the show, as Russell explained. “The compere of the event came over and asked if I was going to put the Moke in the Sound Off competition and I said, ‘oh no, that’s not my bag’. I didn’t put the sound system in to make a lot of noise; I put it in because it’s a nice system. I wasn’t going to enter it, but I went and listened to the first two cars and then thought, um, I think I’ll go and get the Moke.”

The People’s Choice was no doubt influenced by the impressive array of different Moke bonnets on display with the car, and the fact the Moke was wearing the clear bonnet for the day.

But Russell has the choice of three others as well, as Miyagi detailed. “It started off because I had a spare bonnet under my house and the whole top surface of it was just rust. I was kind of saving it because I was going to do a galvanised Moke at one stage, but just have the bonnet in its rusted state, but coated over so it would remain that way. Russell was asking if I had another bonnet and I dragged this one out and it kind of went from my hands to his and the next thing I know it’s got the mid section cut out and the shaker on and it’s all been done over, but it looks quite good. Then he thought about doing another one, so next thing he’s got another bonnet with a wrap going on it.”

“The car is quite an industrial sort of car” Russell continued, “so I just Googled images of steel and that kind of thing, and found that one that’s got the bolts down the side and the slashes from the T-rex. It’s actually a wrap, that bonnet. It hasn’t been painted.”

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The BMC Experience Issue 21. Apr-Jun 2017 Magazine

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