Lissa McQueen’s Holden HZ ute

Lissa McQueen has owned a few Holdens over the years, her most recent being this HZ ute she calls 'Violet'

Photographers: Ellen Dewar

Lissa McQueen has ticked off a bucket-list item that plenty of us aspire to yet few manage – she’s travelled Australia in an HZ Sandman pano! It’s one of three Holdens Lissa has held the keys to over the years, with her HZ ute, ‘Violet’, being the most recent. And Violet’s introduction to the family has now piqued Lissa’s interest in mechanics.

First published in the September 2022 issue of Street Machine

What drew you to cool cars?

I got inspired as a 16-year-old when my older friends had beautiful muscle cars, HQs and early Commodores. My first car was a 253-powered WB ute with a four-speed manual.

It was terrifying driving that for the first time, as it was the first time I’d driven alone and it was a bigger and more powerful car than I had learned in! The WB was completely original and in such good condition that when I sold it, a collector in SA bought it.

Enter Sandman!

My then-partner and I bought an HZ Sandman panel van, which we headed off around Australia in.

We travelled and worked on the road for two years, living out of the car for at least half of that time – it was fantastic! We sold that when I had our daughter, Bonnie.

And that’s when the HZ ute arrived?

I bought the ute in 2013 after my daughter no longer needed a baby seat. I hated the mummy car I was driving, so I spent a few months looking for a cool replacement.

The HZ was clean and tidy and hadn’t been flogged. Leanne, the previous owner, had all the body and paint done in Cosmo purple just before selling it. I’ve called her ‘Violet’ as all my cars have been named by their colour.

Done much to Violet?

She had bucket seats and a five-shades-of-brown interior. So, I’ve changed that to black vinyl and added a bench seat so that Bonnie can bring a friend to events.

Violet runs beautifully – she’s steady and strong. She remained my daily until four years ago; that’s when I had the 308 rebuilt and changed from dual-fuel to straight gas. I knew the engine build would take a while, so I bought another daily and moved the HZ to cruiser duties.

Is Bonnie keen on cars too?

She loves it! She’s passionate about chrome-bumpers and loves shows and cruises. We head to the Northern Gal meet most months. It’s been great to meet ladies who also are into cars through those events.

And your work has been an inspiration too?

I work at a high school and trade school where they teach auto – the students are very passionate, as most are already car enthusiasts – so I’ll take Violet to school every so often.

There’s a female mechanics teacher there who’s been really encouraging for me and for the female apprentices – she makes it all less daunting. I’ve learnt a lot from her and from the students.

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