THERE were some amazing cars eligible for the Laurie Starling Excellence award this year and Meguiar’s MotorEx is proud to announce that Michael Ellard is the 2016 recipient. Michael picks up the very tidy $5000 cash prize and will have his name added to the perpetual trophy.

Michael’s 1992 Holden Rodeo, SEVERD, perfectly reflects the award’s strong bias towards driveability and engineering. Winning this award will mean more to Michael than most, due to his close friendship with Laurie. The pair had started building similar mini-trucks more than ten years ago.

2Z7A0590

A very happy Mick Ellard, 2016 winner of the Laurie Starling Excellence award.

It fact it was Laurie’s tragic death, that gave Michael the push to finish SEVERD to such a very high standard. “The day after Laurie died I started the job of finishing it,” says Michael.

The ute also features a number of pieces that Laurie had a hand in fabricating, including the dash, door trims and roof-mounted gauge cluster. Laurie also carried out the fitment of the airbag system and LS1 conversion. Many of these pieces represent some of Laurie’s earliest custom work.

Other standout features of Michael’s Rodeo are its three-inch body drop, 2.5-inch roof chop, recessed tailgate, stunning HOK paint, Cadillac taillights, tough LS1, four-link rear, custom tubular front end and airbags all ‘round. Another high-tech feature is the iPod touch screen control of all the accessories like starting, power windows, wipers, etc.

2Z7A0387

Before his life was senselessly cut short on July 24, 2014, 29-year-old Laurie Starling was well on his way to becoming an inspirational and influential force in Australia’s modified car fraternity. Not only had Laurie elevated himself to become a highly-valued Meguiar’s MotorEx and Summernats judge, Laurie’s business, The Chop Shop, had designed and built a number of benchmark vehicles; including Henry Parry’s Summernats 27 Grand Champion and 2014 Street Machine of the Year winning FB Holden, known as Old Love.

In keeping with his stature and regard within the enthusiast community, Meguiar’s MotorEx honours his legacy each year with the Laurie Starling Excellence Award – which incorporates a perpetual masterpiece billet trophy and a $5000 cash prize. The judging criteria for this award focuses on driveability and engineering, along with overall stance. Mike Ellard’s 1992 Rodeo ute is a very deserving winner.

2Z7A0594

Last year’s winner, Mal Apps and Laurie Starling’s Father, Rob congratulate Mick.