After a 30 year career in the Australian Air Force and the United Nations peace keeping forces , with tours of duty in Vietnam, Malaya and Egypt , he was on vacation in the USA in 1998 looking to buy and import a couple of Ford Mustangs.
After doing a deal on some Mustangs and loading them into a container, John decided to make a last minute visit to a swap meet in Los Angels before getting on the plane to fly home.
He picks up the story. "I was walking around the swap meet and saw a Mustang pedal car at one of the stalls, and was fascinated by it. So I bought the Mustang and ten other pedal cars with the idea of selling them in Australia at swap meets here. I just loaded them into the spare spaces in the container."
The big Mustangs were driven and eventually sold but it was the smaller pony cars which found more willing buyers. And so began a business and a hobby of buying, restoring, selling and showing pedal cars. Along the way John joined the Pedal Car Club of Australia, and began making contacts and forming friendships across Australia and the world. Right now he is president of the club.
"My collection has just grown and grown" says John. "My main source of cars is from swap meets and garage sales. Plus, people give me cars all the time. Some are restorable others not, but they can be used for parts."
John collects all brands of cars. "Some club members specialise in specific brands or countries", he explains. "For example, after the second world war, Holden in Melbourne made a range of simple, plain looking cars to give their workers something to do. These are now highly prized and some members collect only Holden pedal cars. Others focus on Australian names like Cyclops, Peerless, All Steel, Wizard and Butler Toys cars, while others go for UK brands such as Triang."
John has more than 40 cars his private collection and others in various stages of restoration. He sells cars at swap meets, displays and through word of mouth. Restoration is as serious an enterprise as it is with road going cars. Sourcing original parts is just as difficult for rare models, though the time to complete a restoration is, naturally, quicker.
"I've made so many friends through the pedal car club. It's a great club and where ever I go around the world I know I will run into someone who has a similar interest." He says. "During my next trip to the USA I plan to visit all the major swap meets and special pedal car events. It's a big business now", he concludes.