LIVING THE DREAM

By
Updated: September 14, 2018

Jeff McClintock’s stunning car, truck and tractor collection feels the love in one of Australia’s finest Man Caves.

Plenty of mechanics get into the game because they’re car enthusiasts, pure and simple. And what’s the dream for such enthusiasts? A car collection of course, plus a pretty special place to keep them. Reality bites hard though, and small matters like not having shed loads of cash or real estate space gets in the way of most automotive Man Cave fantasies.

Nail the business side of life and it can become reality though. Jeff McClintock has done just that. After decades of hard slog he’s recently sold his successful Queensland trucking company and effectively retired aged just 50. This is no time for him to put his feet up, though. His mighty car, truck and tractor collection is there to be enjoyed, with all the vehicles in his custom shed road registered, running and ready to enjoy.

This is possible thanks to Jeff’s ability to service, maintain and fix most issues with his machines. Every year he dedicates a full day to each vehicle, utilising his14x7-metre workshop where he keeps a hoist, MIG welder, ARC welder, plasma cutters and a complete range of other tools.

“When servicing these cars you can’t really take them to a mechanic who has to punch out 12 services a day to make money,” Jeff said. “These cars need a special looking over. I walk around them on the hoist and run my hand over everything. You can’t see if there’s a loose bolt unless you run your hand over it. They get an oil service regardless of kilometres, I check the rubbers and bushes, and I believe in Penetrol for anti-rust. All the cars are sprayed with Penetrol underneath once a year, and my Buick I spray the whole car as it has surface rust on it.”

Which brings us to the vehicles. Interestingly they’re all coupes, with each sportscar, hot rod or pick-up having only two doors. “I have no allegiance to any one brand, but as they’re all investments as well as to be enjoyed, coupes go up in value faster than four doors,” Jeff said. “Cars with four doors have them for a reason: they’re people movers. Two-doors are for show-offs, and I’m the biggest show-off you’ll ever know.”

Most car collections are scuppered by a lack of space to keep them, but Jeff’s is an exception. “When we lived in Gladstone I’d already collected a few cars and were keeping them in separate sheds dotted around the property. When we moved to our current home my ex-missus said ‘just build a shed, I don’t care how big, so you never have to extend again.’ We came up with this monster, then 18 months later had to put a six-metre awning up to accommodate a truck we’d just done up. I wasn’t popular!”

The layout is superb, with plenty of space to move between the cars and fully appreciate them. That’s the benefit of a 30×30-metre steel framework Southern Cross Sheds creation with Colorbond sides, which with the awnings give Jeff and his vehicles just shy of 1000sq metres under cover. It’s practically a hangar rather than a shed.

With roller doors up you’re greeted by a treasure trove. On the walls hang desirable automobilia from Esso, Shell, BP, Caltex, Valvoline, Golden Fleece, Ford, Holden and more, while old petrol pumps, engine blocks, a rusty truck grille and other car parts are neatly dotted around. There’s even a wall-hung side cut-out of a red Lamborghini beside the main entrance, plus a few diner tables and giant Coca Cola cruiser bicycle.

The rusty iron panels lining the shed walls have great family history too. Around 40 years ago Jeff helped his dad dismantle an old chook shed with a forklift tractor. The old iron ended up buried at Jeff’s dad’s farm, but he eventually dug them up and utilised them as “the shed looked too clinical, and the rusty old iron has made the difference,” he said.

Having been around tractors and trucks growing up on a pineapple farm in Beerwah, Queensland, Jeff’s always had a knack for things mechanical. “Trucks are much like cars mechanically, only everything with a car is a lot lighter and smaller,” he said. “Growing up, if we had a rainy day and there were a couple of boys hanging around the shed we’d bring a car up and do the brakes or something. I was always interested in the mechanical side of things, and it’s really easy to make yourself look good if you’ve got excellent people around you, as I did with the trucking company.”

Outside the shed is a huge Ford truck used to cart around Jeff’s 454 Big Block Chevy V8 Massey Ferguson to tractor pull events. His classic tractors include a 1954 Ferguson, 1942 Massey Harris three-wheeler and a few others that serve as reminders of his dad’s workhorses from the pineapple farm. Move inside the shed and you’re greeted first by a 1934 Ford Coupe with supercharged V8 Lexus engine resting on the beautiful epoxy painted chequer floor. Beside it a 1957 Buick with 364 cu in Nailhead V8, complete with original paperwork from its first owner in Yonkers, New York. Then the hero car to any car nut who grew up in the 1980s: a 1969 Dodge Charger General Lee replica, immaculate after a full nut and bolt restoration.

The first hot rod Jeff ever bought is next – a T-Bucket with 289 cu in Ford motor – which is dwarfed by two stunning trucks beside it: a 1927 Chevy Capitol pick-up and a 1951 Chevy Advance-Design truck tastefully branded with Golden Fleece decals.

More movie magic is seen with a 1979 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am in Smokey and the Bandit style. “I found that at an auction in Kilcoy, nobody else bid on it and I got it for $20,000,” Jeff said. “I dropped it off at my mechanic, Gavin Johnson Mechanical in Nambour, to see what it needed for a roadworthy. He called me back, called me a lucky bastard and said every light and switch works, the air con works, and in the glove box there’s paperwork for a just completed $16,000 rebuild on the turbo V8 motor.”

A 1942 Ford JailBar truck is next, using a 468 cu in Big Block with 8-71 blower on top. With 850 horsepower, this hand-built special is Jeff’s most extreme hot rod. There a 1974 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray with chameleon paintwork, while Australia is represented by a 1975 Ford XB Falcon John Goss Special and a 1976 Holden Limited Edition (LE) Monaro, dazzling in its exclusive metallic LE Red with gold honeycomb wheels.

“Every fortnight I’ll go over to the shed, open the big roller doors and let the westerly breeze creep through,” Jeff said. “I’ll start everything up, including the trucks and tractors, and let them idle a while and give them a rev. Every now and then there’s one that gets a bit cantankerous, so I’ve a battery charger in the shed to throw on any for a few days.”

Jeff said the only downside was not being able to drive the cars as much as he’d like to, but maintenance wasn’t an issue. “I do all my own mechanical work except really big stuff like gearboxes,” he said. “That and electric fault finding; that all goes to my mechanic Gavin who’s excellent. Anything where you need a computer just baffles me.”

As awe-inspiring as Jeff’s shed is, he’s on the move to the Gold Coast hinterland soon, and hauling his collection with him. Where to put them all? He’s having another shed of similar size built at the new place, this time with a mezzanine floor so he can “look down over the cars and enjoy a beer,” he said. “Not many people get to build a 1000sq m shed twice in their lifetime!”