THE RESTORATION KING.
Ron Williams has a straightforward approach to restoring cars.
It’s an attitude that has earned him a revered title among MINI enthusiasts: the Restoration King.
“It’s my way, or the highway,” Ron says.
Ron, who has been giving MINIs a new lease of life for decades, has a meticulous method to making sure his restorations preserve their iconic heritage and design.
He usually takes on four cars a year, taking each one right back to its bare metal before reconstructing it in painstaking detail.
“There’s a lot of history – if someone wants me to do a restoration, I’ll sit down and have a chat.
“If I think he’s fair dinkum, I’ll do it. If he’s not, I won’t touch it.
“There’s always a storyline behind it all, and that’s the fascinating part,” Ron says.
Ron bought his first Mini in 1962, after a few ex-police cars were brought into his panel shop for repairs.
His fascination with working on the small cars – an unusual sight in regional Australia at the time - laid the foundation for a life-long love for Minis.
“I could never get involved with other cars,” Ron says.
“The Mini always had that favourite little spot in my life…it was very, very complex.
“I knew them inside and out.”
In the late 1960s, small cars were a rarity, and Ron soon became known as a local expert on the Mini.
His most regular customers were young women – as times changed, and more women entered the workforce, the Mini became a go-to car.
“These young girls would get a job and they’d have to have transport…there were no other small cars around at the time,” Ron says.
Soon, his love for Minis took him to the race track, competing in hill climbs and building engines for other drivers, as well as competing in drag races in Surfer’s Paradise in the 1960s and 70s.
“Those were unreal,” he recalls. Those races, Ron says, involved managing to get a Mini up to 120 miles per hour.
“I suppose the Mini was reasonably quick,” he says.
His affection for the small cars was something he saw reflected in the tight-knit community of Australian Mini fans and fellow racers.
“Somewhere along the line with people, they’ve either had one, wanted one, and had to part with it,” Ron says.
“There’s the guys that want to make a quid out of them, and then there’s the guys that love them and they just won’t part with them.”
At the age of 76, and with hundreds of restorations to his name, Ron has no plans to stop any time soon.
“If I wanted to, I could forget about them,” he says.
“But then what would I do?”