A labour of love to restore an old van led to a marriage proposal and has now won national recognition too.
Gary Brown was the winning bidder for a Morris Minor Van on the online auction site ebay splashing out £1,000 for the badly dilapidated vehicle five years ago.
He then spent countless hours and around £4,000 with his now son-in-law James Bostock known as Boz working to breathe new life into the van. The pair gave it a complete overall from chassis to its mechanics.
It was during one of the long evenings of restoration work that James plucked up courage to ask Gary if he could marry his daughter Kealeigh.
“You know what it’s like when you know someone has something on the mind, well I had that feeling about James for quite a few weeks, then one evening he actually got round to telling me what it was - he asked for Kealeigh’s hand in marriage - I couldn’t have been more delighted.
“He’s a great lad and he has a love of cars that matches my own passion for them - especially older vehicles like the Morris Minor Van, so it was a perfect match as far as I was concerned,” said Gary.
Once the van project was finally complete James, who has since married Kealeigh, wrote to Practical Classics explaining the story of the van’s restoration and the magazine featured it in a special four page spread.
Later the magazine ran a nationwide competition for Restorer of the Year and Gary and James entered the van. The competition was an online vote with people voting for their favourite restoration and the pair won third prize.
Last month they were invited to take the van along to the NEC in Birmingham where it was on show alongside other classic vehicles and was seen by well over 28,000 visitors to the Classics Magazine’s exhibition.
“All those hours and hours of work have really paid off. We loved doing the project and since then I have done two more restorations. A MK I Mini, which James bought and was basically in bits and a Mini Cooper - which was my son Craig’s first car. Craig wanted to use it to go to church in for his wedding two years ago and so I did it up for him.
“I’m going to have time off from restoration projects this year, but I would love to do what I call a ‘Peaky Blinders’ car - an Austin 15 or something like that next. I started my work as a mechanic on Minis, Austin Minors and cars like that, so I have always loved them - so it has been great working to restore the last three cars,” said Gary, who runs his own garage business GB Autos in Murrow.