SUMTHN SPECIAL: 1945 K Model Bedford Pickup

Words Karlee Sangster Photography Luke Ray.

Darren Bevan (Bev, to his mates,) already had a few cars. A nice FC, and EJ to drive the kids around in, a Chev roadster... that sort of thing. Nice cars. Tidy rides. His mates had hot rods, and Darren went to swaps and events and often came away with something large enough to fit in the bed of a truck. But he didn’t have one. This was a problem.  A furniture removalist by trade, Darren travelled more than your average guy. On one work trip, he spotted a possibility on the side of the road. That possibility turned into a sale, and not long after, Darren was the owner of a rather unfinished 1945 K model Bedford pickup. A truck of his own.

With the help of his mates Billy and Phil, Darren set about fixing her up. The previous owner had intended to get much further than he had, as the car was intended to be a project for his son. It was running, but that didn’t mean the boys had nothing to do, especially cosmetically. They undid and re-did a lot, including re-hanging doors and making new running boards. “He bought it, we basically pulled 80% of it apart and put it back together, you know?” says Billy, Darren’s mate. “We made running boards, refitted all the guards, re-trimmed the interior and put a big stereo in it, we then installed a supercharged V6, out of a Commodore. It was in fair condition, we just tidied everything up and dropped a different motor in.” With no major inspiration, Darren just added and subtracted as he saw fit. “He had a heap of cars,” says Billy “But he just wanted a bit of a rat truck, a hot rod kinda thing, to take to events. We all have hot rods, so I think that gave him the idea. He just saw it on the side of the road and bought it. He worked off a vision in his head, walked around it a few times and decided what he wanted.”

So, a reliable new supercharged V6 was added, as well as a respectable sound system. Billy (a panel beater by trade) also suicided the doors and made one piece glass windows. The car was finished in a matter of months and Darren hit the road. “Darren wasn’t a mechanic or a panel beater, he just loved cars, he always had cars and he just tinkered on them all the time,” says Billy. Phil Bond, who had helped out by building several cars for Bev and his mates. “I remember it was blue when he got it, but he had an old signwriter guy paint the East Coast Relics sign on it. He was from the east coast, and he had a ton of old cars, so it just fit, you know?”

When the boys weren’t attending runs, they were working on the cars. “We had a car night each week, we get pizza and just tinker and talk shit,” says Billy. This unofficial club provided not only mechanical help, but a solid friendship for Darren and his mates. Billy says: “We all have a few cars, and all work on them together. Darren had a stock EJ that he put his kids in, he was 90% through a ’31 Chev roadster. This truck was just one more for the collection.”

All was going according to plan, the truck was finished, and Darren was working on his Chev build, spending time with his young family and his mates. Then he got sick.

“In about October last year, he got what seemed like the flu basically. Then in November he was diagnosed with cancer and he just went downhill really fast,” Billy remembers.

Darren wanted to organise his affairs as best as he could, and that included the cars. “He just asked a few close mates if they were interested and they just stepped up and bought them, you know, just because they were his.” Phil bought the pickup as well as the Chev roadster. “It’s pretty much our daily runaround,” he says “It’s just like driving a Commodore, it’s got that Commodore running gear, it’s a good little thing to drive around. It’s got a VR V6 supercharged statesman motor with a 4 speed auto, on a Chevy Impala chassis, a 12 bolt Chev diff in it, the wheels are 15x 8 smoothies with white walls, it’s got classic old gauges in it, a custom built radiator, runs a standard computer. God, it’s got a good stereo in it! We’re not going to change much on it, we want to leave it how people remember it.”

Sadly, Darren passed away in February [2014]. Darren’s mates now own his prize possessions and drive them in his memory. “Where we’re from, there are lots of runs, we’ve got a few that we go to, kind of regular.” says Darren’s mate, Billy. “There’s usually something to do most weekends in the cars.” By driving his cars, Bev’s mates remember him daily.

“He was an honest guy, you know? A spade was a spade and you either liked him or you didn’t. He was always up for a laugh,” says Billy. “He was a ratbag!” says Phil. “A absolute ratbag. He’s always had cars, he had a HK 4 door with a blown small block in it. Early on he got top 10 with an XT Falcon at the ‘Nats in ’06 or ’07. Every car he’s had, he just did burnouts in. I built a motor for him, and I said “Just go down the road, go easy. He backs out and does a burnout all the way down the road and all the way back, he comes back and says “It’s fuckin’ beautiful!” You couldn’t tell him. A copper would pull him over for doing a burnout and he’s do another one with the cop next to him! He was definitely a crazy guy. One of a kind, that’s for sure.”

This article first appeared in Fuel Magazine issue 16