Custom car salutes men and women of RAAF in World War II

Get the inside story on the 1952 Chevrolet Coupe Utility entered in RACQ’s MotorFest competition.

To celebrate MotorFest 2020, each week, RACQ Living will be conducting a Q&A with an entrant to find out a little bit more about them and their prized vehicle.

For the third instalment, Phill Burchell, a World W II aviation enthusiast, shares the story of how he modified his 1952 Chevrolet Coupe Utility (The Bombshell Babe) to become a tribute to the men and women of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).

Tell me a bit about the history of the car?

After building plenty of 1970s cars over the years, such as HQ, HJ, HZ and VB Holdens, as well as a 1970 Valiant, I wanted something older that I could turn into a cool custom. A friend had heard of someone selling an unfinished project, so we headed over to check it out. It was very basic, with no engine, transmission, interior or front body parts, but it had a 4-inch roof chop and was a good basis to start.

1952 Chevrolet Coupe Utility

What modifications have you done to the car?

Where do I start? The Bombshell Babe, as I have lovingly nicknamed her, has a 4-inch roof chop, and is running a 383-cube small-block Chev, TH350 automatic transmission and Ford 9-inch diff with 3.50:1 Trutrac gears. She has a HT Holden front end grafted in, along with HQ Holden disc brakes and VC Commodore steering rack. She's got Honda Jazz seats, an airbrushed ammo box for a centre console and a hand grenade shifter as well as a custom-made 80-litre fuel tank. There's also plenty more to come.

1952 Chevrolet Coupe Utility

What makes the car so special?

It would have to be all the help from good mates who chipped in to make my crazy vision a reality. I've always loved World War II aviation, so I wanted to combine that passion with my passion for cool old cars and make it a tribute to the men of women of the RAAF. I wanted something completely different from any other vehicle out there and I think we achieved that. It’s also a rolling work of art with the artwork on the car (including the fantastic pinup art on the back tailgate).

What’s your favourite thing about the car?

The favourite thing for me about my car is the Bombshell Babe pinup painted on the back tailgate. She always puts a smile on people’s faces and is popular, especially with kids, and to see people stop, smile and wave as we drive past is a buzz. I get people I've never met, messaging to say they saw us driving and how much they enjoyed seeing us.

Why this car?

I'm not sure. I know that even though the car looked very sad on the first day I saw her, I fell in love immediately and could see her potential. We've been through a lot together, both good and bad, but I love how she seems to have a personality and how recognisable she is.
1952 Chevrolet Coupe Utility

What would it mean for you to win RACQ’s MotorFest Judges choice award?

It would mean a hell of a lot to me. As I mentioned, the Bombshell Babe came about with the help of a whole bunch of great mates and to win RACQ's MotorFest Judges Choice would be a big thank you and reward to all of them, not just myself.


For more details and to enter your vehicle, visit Get in quick as nominations for the competition close at midnight on 31 July, 2020.