Adrian Gray motor collection

Moving Well | Words: Liam McPhan | Photos: Meredith O'Shea | Posted on 01 February 2016

A life spent around cars is reflected in a former mechanic's vintage collection.

Each of Adrian Gray’s collection of restored vehicles has a story to tell and none more so than a 1949 Plymouth. While serving as the town taxi, it once became a birthing suite when a woman delivered on route to hospital. Adrian’s father, Bill, was at the wheel: “Dad said he just kept driving as fast as he could.”

The Plymouth features in Adrian’s collection of British and American vehicles. The common thread binding the collection of four wheels and two, private and commercial is Adrian, a former motor mechanic and for many years the RACV serviceman for a 30-kilometre stretch of the Hume Highway either side of Chiltern in north-east Victoria.

Cars are our life. I have been very lucky to have a job I loved. It was never work.
Adrian and Monica with the Austin 7, PLymounth, BSA motorcycle Model T, Model A Morris Oxford and Mini
Adrian and Monica in the Plymouth
Adrian in the Plymouth
Monica in the Austin 7

“Dad started the local garage in 1932,” Adrian says. They were the RACV service agents until 1980. “We had a tow truck and spent a lot of time on the Hume ... We had taxis: Mum used to take the expectant mums to Wangaratta Hospital. My life has been in and around motor cars.”

The family business sold Nuffield – later British Motor Corporation – and Chrysler cars, which led to Adrian’s collection: “Mostly they’re the cars we sold,” he says. “Cars are our life. I have been very lucky to have a job I loved. It was never work.”

Adrian has also restored a 1927 Ford Model T van that belonged to a local market gardener, and a 1929 Model A Roadster with dickie seat. Forty years ago the roadster’s punchy side valve engine powered Adrian, wife Monica, and their children around Tasmania, the children – riding open air in the dickie seat – sheltered by the Ford’s towering cabin.

Completing the collection is a 1927 Austin 7, a 1949 Morris Minor and a 1963 Mini 850, as well as a vintage BSA motorbike. A 1949 Morris Oxford awaits restoration.

Adrian and Monica have been keen rally participants since 1969. Monica says: “We had the T Model and the Austin 7 out yesterday. The week before we went over to Jindera in the roadster.” Adrian always carries his tools on rallies, but as Monica says with pride: “We’ve never towed one home.”