Andrew Ash’s Holden FX ute – flashback

Andrew Ash has enjoyed a long career providing paint and panelwork for a host of award-winning rides - and it all started in 1987 with his own FX Holden ute

Photographers: Street Machine Archives

The July-August 1987 issue of Street Machine was an absolute cracker. Mark Sgaravizzi’s infamous 88NATS XD Falcon was bursting off the cover, while inside was Andrew Reader’s sensational EH, the Castrol Collection Phase III, and a full overview of an all-new, upcoming event called Summernats!

First published in the January 2022 issue of Street Machine

Then, on page 114, Australia’s street machine community got its first introduction to a legend of our sport, Andrew Ash – or more correctly, his red FX Holden ute.

Between then and now, Andrew has amassed an incredibly impressive CV. Since opening AA Panel Craft, firstly from his home around 2000, followed by a full-blown shop in 2004, he’s had a hand in more than 10 Street Machine feature cars, other cars of historical significance, and a few concours winners (see more, below).

Back in 1987, Andrew was a mere lad of 18 and a third-year apprentice panel beater. Despite his tender age, he not only managed to score that SM feature, but he’d also already tasted show success, having picked up the Judges’ Encouragement Award at the 7th Street Machine Nationals in Canberra in 1986.

How, you may ask? Well, being an apprentice at Bowral’s prestigious Pro Finish under the tutelage of none other than Owen Webb may have had something to do with it. In fact, once Andrew had finished cutting out the FX’s rust and ironing out all its wrinkles, Owen pitched in and laid on the paint and stripes.

“I’d bought the car when I was 15, before I started working for Owen,” says Andrew. “I’d been driving it around for some time before ripping into it. The build took around 12 months, which was tough. All my mates were out having fun and here I was spending all my spare time working on this damn car. Once I’d finished all the bodywork, Owen liked what I’d done and offered to paint it for me. It was very generous of him – I’ve been forever grateful.

“Mark McGlynn was another gun tradesman that worked with us at Pro Finish; he was also of great help,” Andrew continues. “Back then I didn’t have a welder at home – heck, I was working in an open carport with a tarp down the side to keep the wind and rain out. I got it as far as I could, then brought it to Mark’s place for welding. To get that kind of help at that age, it meant a lot.”

Under the bonnet of Andrew’s classic Aussie hay-hauler was a warmed-over 161 red motor from Roadrunner Performance Engines. It featured a Stage Three head, 30/70 cam, Cain intake, 350cfm Holley and a set of extractors. The original kingpin front end had been swapped out for a disc-brake HR unit for better steering and stopping. Fat rubber and a set of Globelines held it off the road. Inside was simple but neat, which was Andrew’s goal for the entire build.

Once the FX was on the road, one of the more exciting things Andrew got to do with the ute was take part in the filming of a music video for American singer Susi Beatty. “Graham Stubbs organised it; his Malibu Magic was also in it,” says Andrew. “The song was called Whatcha Lookin’ At.”

In late 1987, Andrew decided to sell the car. “I got $5000 for it, which was a decent wad of money back then,” he says. “By the way he was dressed, I think the guy who bought it was a minister or pastor. He gave me the cash, drove off, and I never saw nor heard of it again – no idea what happened to it.”

Andrew left Pro Finish sometime after Owen sold off the business. He had a family – including two sons, Harry and Marty – and did a multi-year stint in a regular panel beating business. Eventually he found the work he was doing at home on the side was more rewarding, and AA Panel Craft was born. Joe Agnello’s teal Mustang (SM, Mar ’07) was one of the first high-profile jobs to come out of the shop.

Andrew never got around to building the V8 Torana hatch he mentioned in our original 1987 yarn, but he did build a few other cars for himself, including an HK Premier with flames and a tough XY. His current personal project is a ’57 stepside with a blown LS and a bit of chassiswork, and there’s another car in the build that the team hopes to unveil in 2022.

Who would have thought that a neat FX ute would be the catalyst for a 35-year show-winning career (including Troy Trepanier handing Andrew the 2009 Master Craftsman Award at Summernats 22)? But for Andrew, an even bigger highlight has been the many lifelong friendships he’s formed along the way – people like that Owen Webb, OAM bloke.

As for the FX ute, Andrew has fond memories of his time with it. “I grew up in Goulburn but was working in Bowral,” he recalls. “Although I was staying with a family in Bowral during the week, I was still racking up plenty of miles running up and down the highway in the ute. I now live in Bowral, right near where we did the photoshoot. I drive past the spot every day, and every time I think back to all those years ago.”


Some of Australia’s highest-profile show cars have emerged from AA Panel Craft, which these days Andrew runs with his son Marty. Here are just a few of the standouts.

JOE AGNELLO – 1965 Mustang (SM, Mar ’07)
JOE LORE – 1971 XY Falcon (SM, Apr ’08)
PETER ELLIOT – 1937 Ford (SM, May ’08)
MICK FABAR – 1933 Ford (SM, Oct ’09)
PAUL BARBARA – LX Torana (SM, Nov ’10)
AARON WILLIS – WB Holden ute (SM, Jun ’11)
GRANT CONNOR – XR Falcon (SM, Jul ’16)
STEVE BELLIA – XB Sedan (SM, Jan ’18)
STEVE STOJANOVSKI – Ford Capri (SM, Aug ’18)


Colour: Cortez Red
Engine: 161ci Holden six-cylinder
Carb: Two-barrel 350 Holley
Intake: Cain
Transmission: Three-on-the-tree
Brakes: HR discs (f & r), VH40 booster
Suspension: HR front end (f), lowered leaf springs (r)
Wheels: Globeline; 14×7 (f), 14×8 (r)