Zac Palmer’s 650hp shed-built ‘30 Ford at MotorEx 2024

One of the youngest owner-builders to ever unveil a car in the hall, Zac’s MotorEx mission included a special proposal

Photographers: Shaun Tanner

Anybody who’s built a car themselves knows even the best-laid plans can go south, as Zac Palmer found out first-hand when a key part of his home-built ’30 Ford went AWOL. “We had a custom set of billet wire wheels made in California, and they didn’t make it over here in time,” he explained. “They got lost in transit! It was a pretty smooth ride otherwise, so something had to go amiss.”

The 29-year-old from Forster, NSW and his mates had to improvise, stripping and painting the build wheels on the kitchen table in their Melbourne Airbnb instead! “The boys all pulled together and we still got to show her in all her glory.”

To rewind, Zac bought the Tudor body and chassis from Perth five years ago, rolling it into his shed and recruiting his dad, Troy, and friends to help out. “I bought all the metal-shaping gear and welder and everything I needed and just got started,” Zac said. “I didn’t know how to TIG weld or use a bead-roller or English wheel when I started, so I YouTubed it and taught myself every aspect of the build.”   

Good mate Alex Rixon laid down the paint, which draws inspiration from an old family favourite. “When I was a young fella, Dad had an XA GT in Wild Violet,” Zac said. “He loved that car, and I just wanted a purple car! The colour isn’t technically Wild Violet; it’s a bit darker and in pearl, but she’s wild and she’s violet.”

Zac reckons The blown and injected 383 will make about 650hp, following its initial fire-up just a couple of days before MotorEx. The Edelbrock E-Street blower has a different look to most traditional air pumps, which Zac enjoys. “It’s an original steel body and chassis, so I wanted to integrate my new-school, young-fella stuff to the old body,” he said. “It’s got a digital PowerTune dash, and the EFI just makes it ready to drive.” 

Owning a chopped Tudor and showing a car at MotorEx ticks off two bucket-list items for Zac, and it’s a big achievement for somebody who’s not yet cracked 30. “The price tag on something like this was out of reach unless I did it myself, and determination got me over the line,” he said. “One of the guys here said I’m potentially the youngest person as an owner-builder to unveil a car at MotorEx.”

He made the weekend even more special by proposing to his partner, Jasmine, who happily accepted. “It was all planned and she had no idea,” Zac said. “I thought she was going to pass out! “

“Jazzy and I have a 13-month old son, and she held the fort the whole time I was building this. I was in the shed every single night until 2am working on the car plus working full-time, pushing to get this done in the last few months. She’s been a gem – she’s awesome!”