Mark Milliott’s custom cars and hot rods – My Shed

Mark Milliott's cars might not win many trophies, but they sure get plenty of attention

Photographers: Matt Black

INSPIRATION comes in all shapes and forms, but for Mark Millott — aka Suicide — entering the car scene partly came down to value for money. “I’d been a bike guy all my life and it wasn’t until about 20 years ago that I started to dabble with cars,” he says. “I rebuilt the engine in my 1970 Pontiac Grand Prix and it cost less than my last Harley engine build. I’ve been a car guy ever since [laughs].” With two decades on the bike saddle he’s well and truly paid his dues, travelling a heap of miles up and down the east coast of Australia. Many of those miles were at the mercy of rigid Harley frames, so a change to four wheels was sure to add an element of comfort.

This article was first published in Street Machine’s Hot Rod magazine #13, 2014

Low and badass is probably the best description for Suicide’s fleet. Each car is wildly individual and employ a range of technologies from old-school to late model, depending on the intended function. “The cars have been used in movies and done promo work for Dreamworld, so they have a pretty broad appeal,” he says

“I rode out of Melbourne in 1980 and lived a nomadic existence for many years, travelling as far north as Cairns and living everywhere in between. By the mid-90s it was time to settle down and my wife, Linda, and I bought this place just south of Brisbane.” With 2.5 acres at his disposal, Suicide wasted no time setting himself up in a decent shed that now provides plenty of sealed workshop area. Space is definitely a bonus when your passion revolves around low slung Cadillacs and suicide front ends, and his hard work and drive has seen him create an enviable collection of cool rods and customs.

A member of the Australian chapter of the Beatniks and a tattooist by trade, Suicide lives and breathes creativity. Everywhere you look within this space is proof of his metal mastery, aided by a handy array of lathes, linishers, welders, presses and grinding equipment. The hoist is a necessary luxury item while the shelving and rafters house a variety of cool parts and memorabilia.

His ZOMBIE ’55 Caddy is a well-known custom that features a healthy chop and serious ride height issues. A 500ci Caddy donk helps with the creep factor while Mark’s handiwork has created one of the coolest and most amazing dashes you’re likely to ever see. It’s been constructed using pieces of Buick and Corvette grilles shaped and laid out in a perfect marriage of art and evil. The extensive metalwork is finished in an unusual purpley-black hue dubbed Bruised Punani.

Sitting close by and looking way cooler than GM legends Earl and Hershey ever penned is a ’49 Cadillac Sedanette that is Suicide’s current build. “I’ve been into it for a while now and it features widened guards, a six inch chop and the bootlid sectioned to match; this keeps the lines flowing smoothly as it tapers to the rear.” The tail has been extended six inches to match the new profile and blur your eyes to disguise the raw fab work and its proportions are beautifully spot-on.

Small block Chevy power for the ’31 backed by a Powerglide and disc brake Borg Warner diff make for a reliable combo. The 6×2 intake and period dress up gear cleverly mask the modern crate engine

“Structurally the metalwork is all done so it’s a matter of giving it a final finish before paint and finalising the custom glass. I’m not in a rush though and can go months without laying a hammer on it, all in good time.” Mark has another 500- cube Caddy mill earmarked for the project, which will run some tasty speed equipment. “It’s amazing what you can find for these engines,” Suicide says. “I was able to buy the Boogie Man six shooter intake from the States, which will really suit the car.”

Also in the build is a 1950 Buick for Mark’s son Rory. “We’ve chopped the roof six inches, so it’s looking pretty nasty. It still runs the original straight eight engine and will be a great cruiser for him once it’s done.” Chopping a four-door in itself would be daunting to most, but all of this work is completed in-house including the bucks that are needed to make the custom glass. “I make all the templates, frames and formwork, then have the glass made to order,” says Suicide. “The side flat glass is usually pretty straight forward, but the front and rear screens can be tricky with their curved ends — I always get two sets made at a time — just in case.”

Suicide has a keen hot rod bent and uses a trick ’35 Ford pickup (featured in the SM Hot Rod Annual 2007) as a daily. It’s been on the road for nearly a decade so would surely be one of the first LS-powered hot rods built in Oz. “I bought a 1935 Ford truck from Moree and both chopped and channelled the cabin seven inches a piece. The ’34 sedan chassis features a Rodtech IRS front end and the rest of the running gear, including the IRS, was salvaged from a wrecked VU ute.” With a six-speed manual trans, the pickup is a heap of fun to punt around and has clocked up plenty of miles.

The other hot rod in the shed has more street cred than most and with its WEIRDO plates and ratty styling is hard to forget. “I bought the car from Victorian rodder Greg Ford and finished it for Queensland rego. It started out as a ’31 tudor that has been chopped and channelled and kept visually sparse.”

Suicide out cruising the WEIRDO ’31 Tudor is a sight to behold amongst the normally mundane commute. “It doesn’t just stop traffic, it nearly causes accidents. There’s always someone taking photos or video so it gets pretty hectic at times, but I enjoy driving it.”

So with the ’49 Cadillac, ’50 Buick and also a Model T coupe build for a family friend on the go, Suicide has his hands full for the foreseeable future. Owning and running two tattoo shops along with family commitments means spare time can be at a premium, but he still makes shed time a priority. “It’s a place to escape and unwind. Whether it be tinkering with one of the drivers or marking out the next cut, there’s plenty here to keep me busy.”