Mick Stevenson’s custom EK Holden road trip to Red CentreNATS

A 7200km round trip to Red CentreNATS in a chopped EK Holden with no side glass? You bet!

Photographers: Ashleigh Wilson

Holden nut Mick Stevenson reckons he’s owned one of nearly every classic Lion, but FBs and EKs remain his picks of the bunch. “It just happened that way,” he reasons. “An EK was the first registered car I’d had, and I just kept going back to them. I’ve done a convertible one; a two-door with a post and standard roof; a delivery out of a station wagon; and I’ve had a couple of V8 ones.”

Mick, a stalwart of the Aussie custom scene and a Summernats fixture since day dot, built the chopped, pillarless, two-door example you see here about 25 years ago with mate John Meyers. There’s a mild, Weber-fed 202 under the bonnet, paired to a Celica five-speed gearbox, along with an HR front end and diff. Three inches were lopped from the roof and the door handles have been shaved.

“It doesn’t have any side glass or anything,” Mick points out. “We all had Impalas and pillarless cars at the time, and you never wound the windows up in a pillarless car. So we said we don’t need side windows because it’s a pillarless car.”

Shortly after finishing the EK all those years ago, Mick sold it off. “I went to buy parts, and the guy walked out and said, ‘I want that, how much do you want for it?’ I plucked a figure out of my head that would scare him away and said, ‘Six grand.’ He goes, ‘All right, I’ll take it!’ But I told him I wasn’t selling it yet; I was taking it to Summernats first!”

Happily, Mick bought the EK back six years ago, spraying it yellow and hitting Street Machine Summernats once again. Though the trip to Canberra from Mick’s home in Coffs Harbour was a decent undertaking, it wasn’t quite enough. “Ever since I got the car back, I’ve wanted to take it for a long drive,” he explains. “We planned to go [to Red CentreNATS] in 2020, but there was COVID [that year and next], so I said, ‘We’re going this year.’”

But the automotive gods had other plans, as Mick recounts. “The Thursday before we left for RCN, I was coming down a road that I thought was a different road, and there was a right-angle turn in front of me as I was doing 100 kays an hour.” Mick jumped on the picks, but it wasn’t quite enough and the EK collected a guard rail. “At first I was like, ‘Shit, the holiday’s ruined again, and this time it’s my fault.’ But I opened the bonnet and it didn’t touch the radiator, and the rails and everything were straight. So I thought, ‘If I can get a guard, I can fix this.’”

He did just that, sourcing and fitting a temporarily painted replacement guard in just two days before hitting the road to Alice Springs with his partner Lisa. “It was pretty shitty weather there and back, but we survived,” Mick laughs.

Aside from the lack of side glass and a speeding fine, Mick says the 7200km round trip was trouble-free. “I took two spare wheels, 20 litres of water, all sorts of tools, and didn’t touch a thing. I think I put 100ml of oil in it and topped the radiator up a couple of times, but other than that, I just put petrol in.”

The car got plenty of recognition on the journey, too. “A lot of people had seen it on Facebook when I smashed it,” Mick says. “Everywhere we stopped, people in motels were coming over saying, ‘I saw this on Facebook! You got it going, tops!’ It was bad that it happened, but it was good to get over it and fix it.”

Once in Alice Springs, Mick and Lisa spent a chilled-out few days cruising the town, enjoying the show ’n’ shine and racing, and taking in some local (and not-so-local) landmarks like The Olgas, Simpsons Gap, and even a rain-drenched Uluru.

“At first I was bummed that it was raining, but the guy at the hotel said we’ll see all the waterfalls off it,” Mick says. “So the rain turned into a bonus, because not everybody gets to see it!”