It takes two to tango – for a lasting marriage and to restore an English Bedford.
Darrel and Gail Maher met in primary school at Goolmangar. They married when Gail was 18 and have been married for 50 years. They have three children, nine grandkids and three great grandchildren.
While Darrel has been the frontman performing country music for 48 years, Gail has been there with him every step of the way – travelling to his gigs, building a house in North Casino, and helping him restore a British Bedford.
Darrel had no trouble convincing Gail to come with him on a road trip to country Queensland to pick up two old Bedfords.
Gail’s brother came too and when he saw the wrecked Bedford sitting in the bush he said – “You’re crazy,” to Darrel.
That was 14 years ago.
“I bought two trucks – one from Murphys Creek near Toowoomba and the other from Allora,” Darrel said.
“I built one from the two.”
The ‘one-from-the-two’ 1932 WLG Bedford sits in the driveway at the Maher home. The gardens tended by Gail frame the beautifully restored car.
What drove Darrel to take on such a huge restoration project?
‘I subscribe to an old machinery magazine,” Darrel said.
“I’d done up an old tractor and then sold it. It went to Perth.”
Darrel reckons his passion for restoring cars came from growing up on the farm.
“I came from a farm at Goolmangar. Dad had an old Fordson sitting in the dust in the shed,” he said.
“I played on it as a kid.”
The farm was on more than 100ha and as a kid, Darrel would drive the paddock bashers around the property.
“Gail knew I was a revhead.”
“I enjoy it all,” Gail said.
She watched Darrel strip the chassis, sandblast and paint the parts of the two trucks.
Darrel said the restored Bedford is worth about $40,000.
He owns a fire truck too – a 1926 English Dennis fixed up by a mate.
Five years ago, Darrel retired from playing the clubs and pubs but keeps his hand in doing special gigs every now and then.
One of those performances will be at the Casino COW Country Music Muster on April 29–May 4 at the Casino Showground.
It’s going to be a great show, Darrel said.
Danny Phegan, The Linelockers, Chris Callaghan and many others will be performing at the muster.
And Darrel will too – on the back of the Bedford. The tray is lined with wood and makes the perfect stage for him to sing a bit of country music.
Country Road on the back of a Bedford is going to sound good – Darrel playing guitar and singing while Gail claps along in the audience – both of them enjoying their new adventures.