Luke McCue’s HZ Sandman

Maskell’s Customs & Classics built the perfect tribute car to John and Glenda McCue’s late son, Luke

Photographers: Chris Thorogood

It’s not uncommon for a project car to hold a special place in the hearts of those willing to take on a serious build, but it’s especially true of John and Glenda McCue’s HZ Holden Sandman.

The van was owned by their late son Luke, who died in a car crash in December 2020, aged just 18.

Luke had been year 12 captain at Trinity College in Goulburn and had just began an apprenticeship in auto electrics only a week before the accident. He was also a talented rugby player and had been named the Crookwell Young Citizen of the Year at the Upper Lachlan Shire Australia Day Awards in 2020.

Greg Maskell and the crew from Maskell’s Customs & Classics in Shepparton punch out some of Australia’s finest machines, including paint and bodywork on the groundbreaking XBOSS coupe. So it’s no surprise that they were already booked out at least two years in advance when John phoned them about taking on Luke’s van.

“John rang and said he wanted to do a panel van, and I said, ‘Look, we’re booked out for a couple of years; we’re flat-out,’” Greg Maskell recalls.

Nevertheless, Greg asked what John’s plans were for the van, to which John responded, “Sit in it and cry.” It was at this point that Greg learned the project was to be built in honour of Luke. “When that happened, the game changed and I knew I was going to be saying yes to this,” he says. “No matter what happens, this is going be a yes.”

The project kicked off properly in March this year, and it wasn’t long before Greg was inundated with support from businesses big and small to help out with the restoration in any way they could. “I posted on social media saying what a great honour it was to take on this project or something along those lines, and the next day I started getting calls from people offering to help out,” he says.

Companies that donated parts, labour or both to the build included KBS, Resto Country, Harkrome, PPG, Brilliant Polish, Bendigo Electroplating, Mongrel Motors, 3M Collision Repair, Pace’s Paint, Michel Signs, Southern Tablelands Windscreen Repairs, Shepparton Radiator & Windscreens and Hussln Auto Detailing, among many others. All were keen to be involved in such a special project.

Greg and the crew officially debuted the panel van at the opening night of the new MOVE (Museum of Vehicle Evolution) Museum in Shepparton on 20 November, in an emotional night for Greg, the Maskell workshop crew and especially the McCue family.

“We’ve done heirlooms before, but not like this – not this raw,” Greg says. “The team have just knocked this one out of the park. It was a six-month build, which we’ve never done before, and it’s a full credit to my team who put so much love into this project; they’re just amazing.”

If you missed out on seeing the Sandman at the MOVE launch night, then we have good news! The McCue’s arrived in Canberra for Summernats 34 yesterday and set up the HZ on display at the Street Machine stand in the Rare Spares Pavilion.

After setting up, we had a quick chat with the family to find out what they think of the finished product:

SM: So what is it like to have the van home?

Glenda: Actually, the van made it halfway home from Shepparton. We’re keeping it at Lachlan’s house in Crookwell because there are no dirt roads there. It will be safe there.

SM: How have you found it to drive, Lachlan?

Lachlan: Great! Luke did up a WB ute before the van, so I’m used to old cars. When Greg dropped the van off, he told us we should get out there and drive it, so that’s what we’ve been doing

SM: How was the drive today?

Lachlan: It went great, no issues at all!

John: No issues at all except for the stone chip! [laughs]

SM: The first one is always the worst. Is this your first time at the Nats?

John: First time in a long time, I took the boys over when they were six or seven

SM: What’s the plan for the rest of the year?

John: We’ll have it on the PPG stand at MotorEx. We’ll take it back to Greg to get all the stone chips done and we’ll get it to Melbourne from there. [laughs]