Former mechanic Roxy Marshall has more than one HR Holden in the shed. This one she says takes her back to her youth and is affectionately dubbed Penelope Panelvan
When Roxy Marshall kicked off her mechanic apprenticeship at the age of 15, it was the start of a long and varied automotive career, from co-owning a panel shop through to working in a car yard. Now she gets to enjoy the fun side of the car scene, cruising the tidy HR Holden pano she affectionately calls Penelope Panelvan.
What drew you to become a mechanic, Roxy?
I wanted to be hands-on, and always had an interest in cars. I loved being a mechanic, though when I started my apprenticeship there were hardly any women doing it.
From doing that, I ended up in the book Open Doors, which was about women in male-dominated industries. From that I began doing talks at schools, where I’d encourage girls to do this type of work.
Why did you leave the trade?
I have six kids – three straight after my apprenticeship. Later, I part-owned a panel shop in Alice Springs, so I was often rubbing down cars and detailing – whatever needed doing.
Then I moved on to work in a car yard, and now I drive a forklift in a scrapyard. To balance it out with a girly thing, I do pole dancing for fitness.
So, what drew you to the HR pano?
A lot of lads had panel vans when I was growing up, so buying one took me back to my youth. I couldn’t afford a Sandman, and an HR was the next best thing – I have always liked HRs. Though it took about 12 months to find a van.
What condition was she in?
When I bought Penelope in 2014, she was pretty rough. While there wasn’t much rust, it had no door rubbers or trims, with only a pair of vice grips as a window winder.
None of the gauges worked and neither did the handbrake. Over time, my hubby Wes and I have slowly done her up. She now has fresh paint, interior and a rebuilt 186ci bored out to 192ci with X2 carbies, backed by a five-speed Celica gearbox and an LSD HR diff.
We hear Penelope is a movie star, too.
Penelope featured in the documentary The Woman and The Car, about Margaret Dodd’s early-80s film This Woman is Not a Car.
And Penelope isn’t the only HR in your shed?
That’s right. Penelope is mine, but Wes and I also have a multi-coloured sedan we call The Shitbox, and a wagon called James, as his number plates are RHR007 [both pictured above with Penelope].
We also have a ute that’s currently laid up; I’d like to put a V8 in that one.
What do you get up to with Penelope?
We’re in two car clubs, so we’re usually driving one of the cars every weekend. In September we took Penelope up to Red CentreNATS and my son and daughter took their burnout car. I had a passenger ride during their skids; it was great! Our next big trip will be to Benalla for the HD-HR Nationals.
Story: Carly Dale
Photos: Troy Barker