In memory of Maureen
RACQ member's passion project a tribute to his late wife.
Trevor Caunt cherishes his memories of taking drives with wife Maureen in his immaculately restored 1953 Austin A40 ute.
Maureen died of pancreatic cancer on 14 October last year and it was her encouragement that motivated Trevor to act on a long-held ambition to restore an old car.
She spotted an Austin A40 ute for sale in a “buy, swap and sell” newspaper advertisement about seven years ago and urged Trevor to take a look.
Trevor, 71, made the 30-minute trip from his home at Nankin, east of Rockhampton, to Gracemere where the old ute had been slowly deteriorating.
Despite its poor condition, the RACQ Gold 50 member saw the ute’s potential.
“I hired a car trailer, brought it home and drove it from the front gate about 170m to the shed and started stripping it down,” Trevor said.
“I’ve always wanted to do up an old car, and my wife knew this. It did not matter what sort and it’s just that this one came along, and the wife spotted it.”
He was able to source two more similar vehicles and, using parts from all three, was able to restore his original purchase to the standard of a new A40 ute – complete with the model’s unique wooden back.
“I built it from the shed floor up,” Trevor said of the five-year project he finished in 2018. “I took every nut and bolt off it, there was not a brass razoo left on it. I stripped it down to zilch and worked from there.”
Trevor said apart from installing an alternator and making modifications to allow it to run on unleaded fuel, the only non-original part of the ute is its colour.
“In those days, with Pommie cars, you could have any colour you liked as long as it was British racing green,” Trevor said.
However, Trevor broke with tradition and used Porsche colour Mexico blue after seeing it on a restored vehicle while watching TV during his recovery from hip replacement surgery.
“The main thing that my wife wanted was to see the ute finished, which she did,” Trevor said.
“I took her for a couple of rides in it before she passed.”
The ute was also part of Maureen’s funeral. Her coffin was loaded on to it instead of a hearse after the service for a “final ride”.
In memory of Maureen and her battle with pancreatic cancer, Trevor had purple ribbons with gold edging embroidered into the front seats and door trims. The purple ribbon is used to raise awareness of the disease.
“We would have been 45 years married in March this year,” Trevor said.
“It rained on our wedding night and they always say it is good luck if it rains on your wedding.”