Chef Shane Delia still gets ribbed over glittery pink car
AS AN apprentice chef struggling financially, Shane Delia built a car from scrap, much like the way good cooks work wonders with leftovers in the fridge.
The thought of it still gives him indigestion.
"One of my uncles had a heap of junked cars on his property and he said I could have whatever car I wanted but I'd have to rebuild it," says Delia.
"The ones I really wanted were too rusted out so I settled on a Pulsar. It was an ugly brown colour, had grass growing through the floor, the engine was in the back seat, and the body needed a lot of repair work but that was the best option available."
With parts from salvage yards, Delia took two years to make it roadworthy.
"My uncle pointed at a batch of old paint tins and said, 'Why don't we mix that up and see how it turns out?' " says Delia, who was 16 at the time and yet to get his licence.
"I should have realised something was up. When I came to collect the car, it was Barbie pink. Just to be a smart-arse my uncle added a heap of metallic flake through it … a cruel joke."
He didn't see the funny side at the time and, he says, "My other uncle who helped me put it together wasn't impressed either. I tried to black out the windows to make it look better, and so people couldn't see me, but you couldn't escape the fact I was driving a pink car. I still cop a lot of grief from my mates about it 20 years later."
The experience didn't scar him for life - unlike his dad's Holden Torana.
"The VB Commodore was the family car but dad had a two-door LJ Torana to take to work … that thing had no airconditioning and only one window opened," he says.
"My legs would stick to the vinyl seats in the middle of summer, and the metal seat belt buckle would burn the crap out of me if I had shorts on - which of course you do because it's hot and it's summer."
The pink Pulsar was followed by a hotted-up Holden. "I kept the Pulsar about two years because that's how long it took to build my HQ Kingswood," he says.
"It had a V8, big rims, GTS dash. I couldn't afford the two-door but it was a ground-up rebuild, I loved it. I had that Kingswood for nearly eight years, until about 2002."
His first new car, a Mercedes SUV, was more for wife Maha. "We just had our third kid and we just opened our restaurant (also called) Maha," says Delia. "My wife was driving my dad's hand-me-down Mazda6 and I was driving her hand-me-down Ford Festiva. I wanted a safer car for the kids."
His fortunes have clearly changed: Delia has been a Mercedes brand ambassador since 2013. "That's how it came about. I was initially a customer," he says.
Delia's other automotive love is a retro edition HDT Commodore. It's a 2009 VE with bodywork inspired by Peter Brock's VH Commodore road cars from 1983.
"It was my daily driver but it was a bit of an animal in traffic. I used to do track days in it - it goes pretty hard. I've just had it brought back to showroom condition. It's special to me."
When he was growing up, his dad wanted a real HDT Commodore - he couldn't afford one so he specced up his own version. "It was a blue manual six-cylinder with matching blue seats, a vinyl roof, and gold wheels," says Delia. "We had the HDT bodykit but it wasn't the real deal HDT."