Stroll around any car show and you’ll inevitably hear at least one tale of mishaps and frantic, last-minute thrashes to get their ride finished and at the show – Meguiar’s MotorEx is no different. A case in point is Sydney-based mates, Damien ‘Chubby’ Lowe with crème VH Commodore and John Spinks in the blue LX Torana hatchback. Here’s what adversities the pair had to overcome on their road to this weekend’s MotorEx Melbourne.

John spun a bearing in his Torrie’s stonking-hot, eight-throttle-body Holden V8 at Autofest. After yanking the engine and opening it up, the damage revealed itself to be one junked connecting rod. A bit of a downer but far from the end of the world, with a replacement rod duly ordered. Despite numerous promises from the supplier, the rod never arrived – they engine was not going to be ready in time. John was devastated.

“I’d put a lot of effort into building the car and getting it ready,” says John. “Besides in the 20 years I’ve owned the car, it’s never been outside of NSW.”

With just days to go before MotorEx Melbourne and despite holding down a full-time, six-day-a-week job. John managed to; source a complete long motor (albeit six hours drive away), drag it home, clean it up and paint it up. After which he had to swap the heads, injection system, throttle linkage, plumbing and all the billet accessories – oh and drop it back in the hole. It was five, straight days of burning the midnight oil until the wee hours of the morning.

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Thanks to a massive effort from another mate, Andrew Broadly, John managed to piece it all back together, load it onto the trailer, before heading off to Melbourne on a nine-hour, sleep-deprived drive through atrocious weather conditions.

“It took ages to clean, I’ve had an hour’s sleep in the last two days,” says John, “but I’m stoked to be here, it’s the best show of the year.”

Chubby’s woes started quite a bit before MotorEx Melbourne; he torched a gearbox on the way back from the Tamworth show weeks prior. For him the mad thrash was to get the ’box out, fixed and back in before he had to jump aboard bomber to ye oldie England for a huge family reunion. He didn’t set foot back in Oz until a bit over a week before MotorEx.

Not a problem, Chubb’s Commodore is a reliable beast, it’s racked up 20,000 since he finished it a few years ago. All it needed was a few bits ‘n’ pieces tidied up before he point the Commodore’s nose southbound for the 900km trip down the Hume. Chubb had barely left home and he found himself in thick fog with near zero visibility. Not the sort of thing you want to be doing in a hand-built show stopper – on your way to the most prestigious show in the country.

Just outside Goulburn, the car dropped voltage – argh! He pit stopped at a mate’s workshop in Yass, where the problem was diagnosed as a fried main fuse. The culprit; the last minute edition of the thermo fan that had accompanied the new transmission cooler that Chubby had added to avoid another gearbox meltdown.

After modifying the fuse and a bit of chit-chat, it was back on the road, only to be greeted this time with what is best described as sleet.

“It was damn near snowing,” says Chubby.

Nonetheless he soldiered on, only to run out of petrol, five kays out Wodonga.

“I was travelling by myself,” says Chubb. “I had to leave it stranded on the side road, unattended, while I walked into town, bought a petrol can and walked all the way back.” And just for good measure, the station attendant told him off for talking on the phone while filling the can.