The Raymond Terrace man they call ‘pops’ will be among the thousands at Canberra’s ‘annual horsepower party’, Summernats, which begins Thursday.
It will be Terry Hartmann’s 28th time at the festival but only his first as a driver in the city cruise, at the invitation of judges, with his Holden One Tonner.
“People laugh at me being there, at my age,” the 65-year-old said.
“They say ‘hello, pops, good to see you back again’.”
It’s a name he carries with pride, having spent his life in and around quick cars, one of his earliest an FB Holden used for hillclimbs. More recently the tow truck driver and one-time fabricator helped the New One Tonner Company transform Commodores and Statesmans into utes, early on in the Newcastle-born program. That was after Holden momentarily ceased production of its One Tonner in 1984.
“I always wanted one of these, so when it came up [for sale], I had to have it,” he said.
What was a white Statesman-derived ute was bought without an engine. He’s spent the past 3.5 years building it into a show car, modified to resemble the road-legal version of the VN Group A SS race cars.
The 5.7 litre ‘stroker’ engine was bought through an online auction site. The timber inlaid tray he crafted himself, from fence palings reclaimed from a church at Morpeth. He’s entered it in show classes and driving events, but not the burnouts.
“My boys wouldn’t let me, they said I’ve put too much work into it to put it into a wall,” he said.
Of the 2000-plus cars entered in Summernats only 300 of the most unusual and most well-presented machines are selected for the city cruise.
“It’s the first time I’ve been picked for city cruise and I’m really happy,” he said.
While Summernats begins on January 4, Mr Hartmann loaded his ute onto a truck for the trip to Canberra on New Year’s Day.
“You do get your bogans there, people come from everywhere for it,” he said.
“It’s become a lot more family orientated over the years, so there’s no more [female nudity].
“It’s not what most of us go for anyway, I spend the three days looking around at cars getting a head full of ideas for what to build next.”
The city cruise parade attracts 20,000 spectators as the cars file along Flemington Road at Exhibition Park, and down Federal Highway/Northbourne Avenue.