Shed envy: Brett Hansford’s South Coast playground

A workshop and museum rolled into one, Brett Hansford’s man cave is a shrine to some true Aussie legends. Here's a look back at our feature on Brett's cars from 2014

Photographers: Tony Rabbitte

“I’ve done my fair share of backyard rebuilds,” says Brett Hansford from Wyndham, NSW. “After doing body swaps using one-tonne jacks and hurrying against fading daylight to lay down primer, you soon appreciate the benefits of having a decent-sized, well-equipped shed.”

First published in the August 2014 issue of Street Machine

With 400 acres at their disposal, Brett and his wife Mandy have built the virtual Taj Mahal of private workshops, filling it with plenty of prized goodies.

“We bought the farm 10 years ago and there was absolutely nothing here; it was a blank canvas that gave us the freedom to build what we wanted from scratch.” The house, pool, sheds and paddocks were laid out to indulge both business and pleasure, working in their cattle and horse interests alongside their automotive passions.

With 650 square metres of covered space at his disposal, Brett’s garages are bigger than most suburban house blocks. “I’ve got good sheds – no, great sheds,” Brett admits. “I never dreamed I’d have my own hoist, but equipment like this is far more affordable these days and really does make life easier as the bones get wearier.”

You might have already noticed that Brett has a leaning towards the HQ-WB era of Holdens, and it’s an interest that stems back to his teenage years.

“My brother, Russell, did up an HX van when I was still at school and that got me hooked. In 1983, at 16, I bought a stocker HQ panel van. Dad said I wasn’t allowed to have a V8 as a first car, so I soon blew the six-cylinder to pieces and, well, you know, it just seemed like a good time to fit a V8.”

The HQ was reborn as Warlord, running the V8 donk, an L88 Corvette bonnet scoop, murals and spoilers. Although that HQ is long gone, Brett has plenty of other projects earmarked for greatness.

“I work in a great job that allows me to travel and meet lots of people. It’s been a godsend when it comes to finding hidden treasures and abandoned projects, especially in these country areas.”

The carport has a number of Holdens waiting for their time to shine, starting with a genuine HJ XX7 Sandman panel van wearing factory DeVille Blue paint. There’s an HQ Monaro shell serving as a parts donor for a 350 Monaro that’s in the build, but is slated to be revived into something cool. The white HX ute is fully optioned – 308, four-speed, GTS dash and bucket seats – while the Caprice-fronted WB windowless van will be a show van with murals that will also serve as a tow car.

Wander inside and you’re met by an HZ one-tonner currently scoring a retrotech custom build, including an XR8 bonnet bulge and Lambo door conversion along with period gunmetal paint and gold Simmons wheels. An SL/R 5000 clone waits patiently as Brett decides its fate, while a Commodore SS ute is at hand should he have the hankering to drive something modern.

If your jaw is yet to drop sufficiently, then brace yourself for Brett and Mandy’s garden art. Yes, the super-cool Torana hatch lolling by the pool is a genuine A9X, while the XY-fronted XW Falcon earmarked for its own garden is a genuine GT.

“Both of the cars have extensive rust issues but will be restored,” Brett says. “It’s just nice to be able to enjoy them in some form until the resurrections begin.”

Brett is busily enjoying his latest purchase, the iconic 80s panel van Street Legal. “I’ve always loved custom vans. They were a huge part of growing up in the 70s and 80s and there’s nothing else around quite like them.”

His custodian kudos are well established, having already owned some famous vans, namely the ex-Phil Davis Untamed and Steve Ellis’s XX308.

“I saw Street up for sale a while back, hesitated and of course missed out. A mate rang late last year and said to Mandy: ‘Tell Brett his van’s up for sale again’ [laughs]. I knew straight away what he was talking about and hounded it on eBay.”

Prior owner Dave Crane put in a heap of work getting Street back up to scratch, and Brett has plans to return it to NSW roads.

“The original builder Dave Marsh went to great lengths to get it properly engineered and registered back in the day – hence its name – and I have all of the necessary documentation to get it sorted. The van is in fantastic condition for the age of the build, is great to drive and definitely a keeper.”

Brett’s son Dave has called dibs, which will not only see the van kept in the family but will keep an unusual tradition intact.

“The original builder, Dave Marsh, sold it to Brett Birch. Then Brett sold it to Dave Crane, who sold it to me, and as a Brett I’ll be passing it down to my son Dave. So yeah, the whole chronological Dave-Brett-Dave thing is a bit weird, but cool as well.”

A recent Summernats display was the van’s last major outing before a makeover leading up to the 2015 Van Nationals. After 28 years, the body needs some touch-ups that will be carefully worked around the existing paint, while the current Star Trek murals will be replaced with something fresh.

“I’ve never been a Star Trek fan, not in the slightest, so we’ll choose something to personalise it a touch that doesn’t detract from its identity,” Brett says. “Apart from that, it will remain exactly as is, and be driven and enjoyed as much as possible.”