Apprentices give old workhorse new lease of life 

This Austin “old-timer” is destined for many more years on the road after being overhauled by Certificate III Automotive apprentices at Charles Darwin University. From left: Darcy Page, Terrence Plekker, Steven Wallace (front), Stephen Erickson, Lyndon Wells, James Butler and lecturer Robert Tucker.

The Austin A70 Hampshire Ute occasionally seen in the streets of Alice Springs has been given a new lease of life thanks to a group of trainee mechanics at Charles Darwin University.

Lecturer Robert Tucker said seven students, all in training for a Certificate III in Automotive, have worked on the vehicle this semester.

“We’ve overhauled the rear suspension and replaced the steering ball joints,” he said.

Mr Tucker said he jumped at the chance to have his students work on the vehicle, which was made in England in 1950.

“It’s not often that we can provide our students with a good solid classic car to work on so it was an opportunity not to be missed,” he said.

“The parts we replaced were original, which means they’ve stood the test of time for a good 60 years.”

Owner Eric Bailey said he believed there were just 10 Hampshire Utes in Australia.

“They are good sturdy workhorses that were built to last,” he said.

Mr Bailey said the vehicle was first purchased in Mackay, Queensland, by a fencing contractor in December 1950.

“It would have covered thousands of dusty miles across some pretty rugged terrain in its time.”

Mr Bailey bought the vehicle “sight unseen” in 2009.

“I drove it from Rockhampton to Alice in four days and it didn’t skip a beat,” he said.

“I expect it will go for another 50 years,” he said.