Paul Ashby's 1937 Graham Crusader 85 came to our shores without its body - it was a rolling chassis with engine plus all its running gear assembled with the exception of a body, seats, glassware and lights.
The Australian government, in order to protect our motor body-building industry, had tariff restrictions in place on imported motor vehicles during the time Paul's car came to the country.
Its body was built in Adelaide by Holden's Motor Body Builders, along with another 233 of this model Graham during 1937.
Octogenarian Paul Ashby, came to Ulladulla with his family when he was one-year-old.
"They reckon I'm almost a local," he says with a smirk.
His father was a motor mechanic and Paul said he acquired his love of cars from his dad.
He'd learned his stock and trade as a ship's joiner, which is a skilful craft working with wood on all types of boats and ships.
According to Paul there aren't any square angles, just all manner of compound angles in a ship, and shaping and joining the meccano-like timber construction is almost a lost art.
However, those days are long gone and these days he loves restoring old cars and trucks - of course, the majority of older vehicles have wooden frames, so he's in his element.
Paul is one of those talented artisans who can quite easily turn his hand to working with metal and all things mechanical.
He is a founding member of the Milton Ulladulla Vintage and Classic Car Club, which was formed 28-years-ago.
"Dad always praised Henry Ford's Model Ts and so when I decided to embark on a restoration I was lucky enough to find a basket-case Model T truck nearby, on the south side of Ulladulla," Paul said.
"It took me nine-months working full-time in the garage behind my house to complete the full restoration, it was the first vehicle to be bought and restored by a member of the club during its first year.
"With the Model T completed, I now had the bug and wanted another project.
"As luck would have it, while wandering around the Bargo Swap Meet, up on the Southern Highlands perusing all things old and automotive, when I saw the Graham.
" I didn't know much if anything about them, but it was unusual, different if you like, somewhat out of the ordinary.
"I thought to myself this unique model car would be an interesting challenge."
So, a deal was done and the challenge of restoring this dilapidated piece of Aussie-American motoring history would become a reality.
During the early 1900s brothers Joseph, Robert and Ray Graham established a factory in Evansville, Indiana, to build truck bodies for mounting onto passenger car chassis.
By 1920 an expanded line of Graham Brothers trucks and buses were being manufactured, using Continental and Dodge engines.
It wasn't until 1930 that they started building cars with the Graham Brothers' name. The Great Depression hit Grahams hard, as it did with the US automotive industry as a whole, and the majority of the smaller manufacturers either merged in an attempt to stay afloat or just sank.
The Grahams tried all manner of smart marketing, creating new less expensive models, but to no avail.
The company managed to exist on orders for war material up until 1945, however by 1947 the automotive business was sold to Kaiser-Frazer Corporation.
Makin' old new again
Paul's Graham arrived on the back of a car trailer in the early 1990s and the three-year project quickly got underway.
"White ants had destroyed the wooden frame and there was no doubt that the car needed a complete rebuild. So I stripped everything off it in order to assess the situation," he said.
In doing so he found a section of bodywork with the original colour and had Nowra's Stone Brothers mix it to the original pearlescent Brown.
He was also lucky enough to retrieve some upholstery seat leather to colour match and lay it out, so the trimmer was able to use it as a pattern to recover the seat frames, also fitting a velour hood lining, replacing the original vinyl.
"The Australian Grahams were more upmarket than in the US and they only had vinyl seats, hood lining and basic paint colours," he said.
"I had the interior door handles, dashboard control knobs and the steering wheel pearl coated, these were also standard in Australia, but not in the US."
Paul was determined to rebuild the old girl to its original specification.
The painstaking task of rebuilding the wooden frame was obviously in Paul's court, using his skill in crafting, joining and in general, the fettling of the wood framework.
The bumper bars were re-chromed and Paul rebuilt the stainless-steel grille and all the laminated glassware had to be replaced.
The engine is a Continental, which was a common power-plant for many US automotive, agriculture and stationary engine manufacturers during the first half of last century.
It was completely rebuilt.
"As it happened a fellow club member Kevin Gibson had a set of Chrysler pistons, which were of the same dimensions other than slightly larger in diameter. I thought we'd have to clean the cylinder bores up anyway, so why not take a bit more metal out and give the engine a few more cubes," Paul said.
"The three-speed transmission, springs and steering components were also completely overhauled.
" As for the brakes, you wouldn't want to know, a fellow who knew I was restoring a Graham came to me with a box marked '37 Graham, which contained brake linings and rivets. As they say it's not what you know, but who you know."
On the road again
"I finished it in 1996 and its first trip was to Tasmania," Paul said with a satisfied smile.
"I virtually drove it out of the shed and we headed south to catch the boat for Tassie, along with a contingent of club members and their cars.
I took a tension wrench and re-tensioned its aluminium head in Tassie."
Paul's effort had a great deal of foresight, skill and faith in your own ability as well as determination.
Then he had the confidence to put the key in the ignition, fire it up - without any real local shakedown, head off for Melbourne some 800km by road, in order to catch the ferry across Bass Strait to Tassie.
Paul said approximately 69,000miles showed on the odometer when he bought it.
He had it zeroed during the resto and it now shows some 22,000miles.
Apart from the Tasmanian trip, it's travelled to South Australia twice and once to Phillip Island in Victoria for car rallies.
There is an active Graham car club in Australia that holds a rally every two-years in different parts of the country.
New Zealand members usually attend as do some members of the American club who take the trip across the Pacific.
But wait there's more - Paul has since meticulously restored a Model A Ford roadster - making a trifecta with his own vehicle restorations.
He, like most club members, believes in keeping as many of these examples of our motoring history on our roads today as we possibly can.