Another J type van from wizards in Oz

The Queensland rural town of Warwick in far away Australia had a population of about 10,000 in the early 1960s. It also had about five Morris J type vans. One, JR 32164, suffered the ignominy of being crashed and became a firewood store in a suburban backyard. There it sat for over 40 years before being saved by Graeme Collins. Graeme’s Dad, Stan and a wartime chum, Roy Willi had started a garage in Warwick in 1948 and sold Jowett cars and Fiat Tractors. That garage, Fitzroy Motors prospered and soon they sold Austin vehicles. BMC came next, then Leyland. It was during these years Graeme was born.

Graeme recalls his dad selling three Austin 101s to the local milkman. That would have been in the late 1950s of course. He can’t remember exactly but he had seen the wrecked J type in that back yard for many years. It took over thirty-five years to procure that van. Eventually Graeme was able to take the firewood out and the van found a spot in Graeme’s shed and his long held dream of “dropping a J type on the floor and putting something serious inside” was able to start.

Due to the shunt the nose had gone and the chassis was crooked. The Oz ‘J type grapevine’ led Graeme to Far North Queensland and he found a ‘paddock feature’ through Alan Hurst who had saved a J type which had sat in a paddock beside the Redlyncyh to Cairns road for yonks. Enter JR 22909, only 18,000 kilometres away. No sweat.

All you really need to know is this finished J type Rod still has an original J type chassis (JR 22909) although much strengthened. Graeme started the rebuild by asking a local tradesman to have a look at the project but realized this dream project could only be successfully completed by a mob of pros. He sent it off to Queensland’s Gold Coast and the famous bunch at Oz Rods. Many quality Oz Hot Rods have left these artisans and JR 22909 is no exception.

It has Ford Econovan underpinnings at the front. A Flaming River steering column connected to a Billet Specialties ‘Outlaw’ steering wheel makes direction changing a breeze. There is a set of leather trimmed Mercedes Benz Sprinter van seats to make long Oz distances pass comfortably. The entire interior is trimmed but behind the trimming are kilograms of Dynamat, which keeps this van very quiet on the inside. At the rear a four link suspension holds the Econovan’s rear axle/diff assembly and that holds a set of 255 70 R15 Maxxis Bravo tyres. That is slightly more rubber than the 600 x 16s of an original J type.

And under the front seats is a Holden V6 3.8 litre engine coupled to an automatic transmission. That combination makes this very mild J type van into a very great Morris J type Oz Hot Rod.

Peter Bateman

Australia July 2014

Check the Oz Rods website for the build photographs’s%20J%20Van.html


Currently for sale

There are two J-types for sale at the moment, a GPO Planning van in the UK and a pick-up that appears to have been a cut down van, in New Zealand.

The Holden V8-powered Pick-up is on the ‘TradeMe’ website, whilst the GPO (the youngest surviving Morris J/B) van is for sale by auction (Lot 145) at Charterhouse Auctioneers sale on the 15th June in Shepton Mallet.