From a young age, former Shepparton resident Tommy Giankos had his mind set on one day doing up his father’s Ford Falcon XA Superbird.
The car was bought new by Mr Giankos’s father from Sleeman Ford in Melbourne in 1973.
‘‘The Superbird was the family car back then,’’ Mr Giankos said.
‘‘Mum would take us kids shopping in it or pick us up from school with it.’’
But all that changed one night when Mr Giankos’s father crashed the car on old Dookie Rd about 3m from where the family lived.
‘‘The car rolled over into a ditch, ending up on its roof,’’ Mr Giankos said.
‘‘The passenger-side pillar was pushed right down to the door.
‘‘There’s a good chance that if he had a passenger with him that night, the passenger might not be here today.’’
Fortunately no-one was injured badly and although the family loved the car, they decided not to fix it, knowing it would cost more to repair than it was worth.
Mr Giankos said every now and then people would come to see the car and if his father would contemplate selling it.
‘‘Dad had plenty of people come and look at it and offer him money for it early on,’’ he said.
‘‘One night, he brought someone to our house because the guy was adamant that he wanted to buy it. Dad said to him, ‘if my son says it’s okay to buy it, then you can’.
‘‘While having dinner, Dad asked me if it was okay to sell the car. First I said no, then I started crying, then I threw my fork at him (I was only 12).’’
Mr Giankos’ father turned down the interested buyer and never entertained any offers for the car again.
From that point it became common knowledge Mr Giankos owned the car and he would one day fix it up.
As the decades slipped by the car sat, waiting for Mr Giankos to give it a new lease on life.
‘‘I was always going to restore the car, I just didn’t think I was going to do it so soon,’’ he said.
‘‘After I started receiving phone calls about the car, I knew that people were finding out about it and I didn’t want any more parts to get stolen from it as lots had gone missing over a 25-plus-year period.’’
Mr Giankos took the car to Mark Stevens, who stripped it for him, and then took to Jody Vincitorio, who did the paint and panels.
He sourced most of the parts for the restoration and then Mr Stevens put the car back together for him.
It took almost five years to complete but it was well worth the time and effort.
Mr Giankos said his parents were amazed when they saw the finished car and held back tears as they examined the amazing job which had been done in bringing a family treasure back to life.
But the journey is not over and has really only just started for Mr Giankos who plans to unveil his Ford Falcon XA Superbird at the Spring Car Nationals.
SpringNats is on Friday to Sunday.
For more information, visit www.autofest.com.au