For this instalment I've been out chatting with none other than George Sydney (AKA Golden Books) from PPG.
If you’ve had the pleasure of meeting this bloke you’ll know exactly where the nickname comes from. He’s not short of a story or two but as I flip through albums of cars he’s worked on and owned over the years, I can tell you he can back em up!
First thing George how did you get into the trade?
"Well it all started back in NZ when I was twelve years old and I started to experiment with the first metal flake and candy finish on mates' skateboards. By sixteen I knew I wanted to be a painter and in particular get involved in custom cars so I started my apprenticeship and the rest is history."
What was your first car and what have you owned since?
"By 18 I'd saved enough to buy a '55 Chevy. It was a beat up old thing, one of the first in New Zealand. I restored it and painted it candy red. Since then I’ve owned and worked on a heap of cars from the US, muscle cars and hot rods to a stretch limo for King Hussein of Jordan."
I ask him to elaborate on the story - wondering where this will go, he casually tells me that it was just a normal job.
"Well I was working in the UK and got a phone call from the palace in Jordan saying that the then Prince wanted his Merc limo painted sky blue and the guys they had on the job had botched it up (at this time execution was a normal punishment). So they flew me over and got me to fix it. The job turned out nice and I got to see about 300 cars in the Royal collection in a huge hanger where we were working before they flew me back."
Mate, what a story, what else stands out as memorable in your career?
"Well there have been heaps from working at Bathurst on the smash team and working in about 40 countries including the US and Trinidad. Oh yeah, there was the time they flew me into the mountains of New Guinea to show the locals how to paint in these timber huts but my paint gear came on a later flight. The luggage I got given was a load of chickens - for real! Most memorable would have to be when I got a call that Chip Foose was in the country for a show and his rental got totalled. I ended up being his chauffeur for a few days, that was a real blast. I ended up judging at SEMA after that too."
There is a story about when he got kidnapped and held to ransom in South America too, but we can’t talk about that one apparently.
What’s in the garage now?
"Well I’ve been working on this '34 three window Ford for about 10 years too long. I’ve just finished making the alloy bonnet with a mate, he’s really good at what he does, he’s the guy that built all the cars for Mad Max: Fury Road."
And the stories go on. I spent an easy hour going through his albums and chatting. If you ever get a chance to buy this bloke a beer you won’t be disappointed. Cheers George!
This article was first published in March/April 2019 Paint & Panel magazine.