Nfld. & Labrador

Building a 'rat rod' is a family affair in Conception Bay South

With these vehicle restorations, the rust is a feature, not a bug.

This father-and-son duo is working together to build something rusty for the road

Ryan Murray poses in front of his 1953 Fargo Power Wagon. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

It doesn't look like much to people who haven't done all the work required to put it together. 

But for Ryan Murray, revitalizing the rusted-out body of a 1953 Fargo power wagon is his latest passion project.

"It's unique, interesting and there are not many around," Murray said.

Brian's Auto Body in Conception Bay South tackles the rusty and the shiny. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

It's what's known as a "rat rod," a custom-made car that is supposed to look like something dug up from a field somewhere.

As it turns out, that's exactly how Murray got the vehicle. 

A few years ago he found out about a few trucks buried in Cormack on the province's west coast, and he began to work with the land owner to get his hands on one. 

Ryan Murray literally dug up the '53 Fargo in a field in western Newfoundland. (Ryan Murray)

He literally dug the truck up, then shipped it back to the Avalon Peninsula.

"I found it in the woods in Newfoundland, and I am putting it back on the road just as is," Murray said. 

"No paint, just rusty and different."

One man's trash is another man's rat rod

Back on the family property that houses his father's business, Brian's Auto Body, Murray got to work getting the rat rod road-ready. 

This new project is a little different for the father-son duo.

Ryan Murray wants to take this 1953 Fargo truck that once rode the roads of Newfoundland and get it back on the street. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC/Ryan Murray)

A lot of the business in the Conception Bay South garage is collision repairs, but when that work is done the Murrays turn their attention to personal projects — like restorations.

"We have all kinds of unique cars. Most of them are shiny — but this is rusty," Ryan Murray said.

"It will be different."

Brian Murray has a collection of 1969 Camaros that would make car lovers salivate. It includes a '69 RS/SS with all of the original parts and interior.

Brian Murray's Camaro Collection is showroom worthy. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

"It's probably one of the last Camaros built in 1969," the elder Murray said. It's a desirable year for car collectors, he said, and one of four classic cars he owns.

"I collect them for my retirement someday — I hope. I wanted to get the most bang for my dollar," Brian Murray said with a laugh.

Brian Murray stands in front of his prized possession: a 1969 Camaro RS/SS. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

When the automotive enthusiasts aren't busy in the garage, they are out racing at the Eastbound International Speedway.

Brian uses one of his Camaros to drag race, while Ryan is into Legend car racing. 

Back in August Ryan had a close call — what he calls a "mishap" — that left his car flying off the track and flipping eight times before coming to stop.

"I flipped it eight times and crashed really bad," he said.

"I'm just lucky to walk away from something crazy like that."

This is what remains after Ryan Murray flipped his Legend race car eight times back in August. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

The younger Murray somehow only suffered a few bumps and bruises, and it wasn't long before he was back at work with his dad trying to get the rusty rat rod on the road — hopefully in the not-so-distant future.

"Me and my day do a lot of stuff together — racing, drag racing, building cars and trucks and that [the rat rod] is something different we can connect on," he said of the unique restoration project.

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