Scotty Baker’s 1959 Ford Ranchero

Aussie rockabillly icon Scotty Baker did his first Red CentreNATS roadtrip in style

Photographers: Ashleigh Wilson

When he’s not touring around the world and recording as a bloody talented rockabilly muso, you’ll find Scotty Baker tinkering with an ever-changing fleet of old-school metal in country Victoria.. Scotty cruised almost 4500km to this year’s Red CentreNATS and back in his killer Windsor-powered ’59 Ranchero – with good mate and co-pilot Ross Nevett’s ’42 Harley WLA in the tub!

So you did the whole trip with this combo, Scotty?

Yep, it was my first time at Red CentreNATS and my first time in Alice Springs. Three of us decided to take our cars up in a convoy.

How did you get the Ranchero ready?

A few months before the event, Rossco found me the 302 Windsor. It had been sitting in his mate’s shed for almost 30 years in an unknown condition. I bought it, gave it a new timing chain and cover, a kit through the carby, a few new gaskets and a rattle-can rebuild and she ran like a dream!

Then another good mate of mine, Daryl Pugh, and I rebuilt the C4 trans. Then yet another couple of good mates, Steve Munzel and his son Wylie, spent a weekend with me pulling the old six out and fitting the V8, drive-in/ drive-out style. It was a major effort by those boys.

What else came along for the ride?

There was the ’59 Ranchy, an AP6 Valiant ute and a ’66 Valiant station wagon. Steve had bought the 273 V8 AP6 ute off me as a basket case six months earlier, and he’d only just got it together, running and registered. It was his idea to drive these contraptions all the way to the ’Nats.

Then Wylie decided he wanted in on the fun and dropped a freshly built 318 into his VC Valiant wagon a few days before. We drove up in convoy, camping all the way. Steve’s wife René came along too, and cooked up a storm each night.

Many dramas on the journey?

We had a surprisingly good trip, but on the first day we did have a mishap. We met up with our mates in Gunbower at 10am, and away we went. We got to Robinvale and caught up with another friend, and the ute went to get its front wheels balanced because they felt a bit wobbly.

When the young kid at the tyre place was putting the wheels back on, he snapped two studs. It wasn’t the left-hand-thread ones like you’d expect; it was the right-hand-side ones.

That’s not really ideal.

Studs for a 1965 Valiant disc-brake hub are a bit hard to find. Our friend we were visiting runs the local Autopro there, so we could get some studs, but they weren’t the right ones. So we tore a beer can into strips, wrapped them around the studs and bashed them in from behind.

And then we welded the broken ones to an old tent peg so they wouldn’t just spin when we undid them. We were able to get back on the road, but that wasted three hours, so we only got as far as Mildura that day. But aside from that, we had trouble-free motoring for about 4800 kays.

What about on the way home?

The only trouble we struck on the way back was torrential rain, which we also had on the first day. You might’ve seen the Port Augusta Safeway roof caved in?

We went through Port Augusta that morning, so there was plenty of water.

Did you enjoy RCN?

I loved it; it was so much fun. The highlight was the street cruise; we just could not believe how the locals came out and supported it. It was just amazing, something we’d never seen before.