Canadian-born, Blue Mountains-based car builder Paul Bennett has had a hand in creating a raft of seriously iconic cars. We could fill a book with cars that feature his handiwork, but just to paint a quick picture of his contributions down the decades, his résumé includes George Anthony’s pro street XB sedan in the 80s, Darryl McBeth’s Xplod Commodore delivery in the 90s, Anthony Sant’s ’57 in the 00s, and Nathan Borg’s Grand Champion-winning Datsun ute in the 10s. Not to mention Paul’s own builds, which are rolling manifestations of his fertile imagination and fierce individuality.
Now, Paul is retiring from the car building game and is selling his incredible car collection, house and man cave up for grabs.
Check out the listing here and a cool video from the Today Show below. Then keep reading for just a snaphsot of Paul’s incredible body of work.
First published in Street Machine’s Legends book volume two, 2022
Paul got his start working in Alberta in the 1970s oil boom and found a steady stream of cashed-up customers. While there, he built his first car, a rusty ’69 Camaro that he turned into an early pro streeter, which scored big on the International Show Car Association circuit.
In search of better weather and a more relaxed lifestyle, Paul moved to Australia in the early 80s and became a sought-after car builder, with a flair for airbrushing and graphics.
The latter was captured in all its glory on the cover of the September 1995 issue of Street Machine, which featured Paul’s pink ’68 Camaro (his first build for himself after arriving Down Under) and Brian Horsman’s yellow ’68 Corvette. Both cars were cutting-edge for the time, and they remain instantly recognisable as Bennett designs.
The Willys build was dedicated to Paul’s late father. “I had the car well underway in paint and had laid out much of the artwork when I lost my dad,” he says. “The Aboriginal Dreamtime theme was something that I’d wanted to do for years but I never found a customer with the guts. This was the perfect opportunity. I had Dad’s words in the back of my head: ‘Always do exactly what you want to do. Do things as you please.’”
While the Willys was both innovative and individual, Paul’s crowning achievement in both of those departments was his mind-bending Borgward Goliath (SM, Nov ’12).
Paul recreated the Goliath – and matching trailer – as a surf wagon-themed concept that could double as a long-distance touring car and a track day warrior. Every aspect of the car was modified beyond recognition, and, while it was schmick enough to win Best of Breed Street Machine at MotorEx 2012, it was also utterly practical and useable.
Aside from his long list of completed cars, Paul has a number of builds that were done to a point, handed back to the owners, and are yet to see the light of day, including a high-end pro touring HQ Monaro owned by Silvio Muscat and a heavily modified ’67 Mustang fastback belonging to Nick Pedotis. Paul reckons bth cars are show-stoppers and he’d love to see them finished.
More of Paul’s creations over the years:
Peter Jackson’s taxi-themed, rotary-powered Austin A30 (SM, May ’03) is another Bennett build pushing into the realms of concept car. It landed in the Top 10 and won PPG Supreme at Summernats 16.
Paul’s ’68 Camaro SS (SM, Sep ’95) featured his signature graphics, this time with a North American Indian theme. Bodywork was extensive, with a raised flat floor, fabbed firewall and late-model dash.
The Xplod Commodore sedan delivery was Darryl McBeth’s follow-up to his SMOTY-winning FJ. Street Machine followed the build of the car in detail, including Paul’s work on the body, chassis and paint
Anthony Sant’s ’57 (SM, Feb ’04) remains a landmark Aussie build. Paul handled the chassis and rear suspension build, and the epic bodywork.
Paul’s utterly insane Borgward Goliath was built to take on Targa-style events, but it was so sharp and innovative that it won Best of Breed Street Machine at MotorEx 2012.
Chris Boundy’s LC Torana
Wayne Jeffress’s HR wagon, SM April/May ’95
Mick Barbero’s Gemini
Nathan Borg’s Summernats 28 Grand Champion Datsun ute
Adam Lock’s HQ Monaro from the July/August 1991 issue of SM. This is just a taste of Paul’s output over 40 years in the biz. We’ll bring you a deep-dive into his career soon!