TChic Henry’s influence on the Australian auto scene is immeasurable, and its ripples will be felt for years to come.
That street machine The Summernats he founded have touched the lives of hundreds of thousands of people over the years – whether they’re looking for wild parties, inspiration, or a sense of community.
This event has helped shape and propel the modified car industry to very significant levels and today continues to spread the good news about cars across the country, with regional events born out of it – including Red CentreNATS and Rockynats.
There are a million stories about Chic – here are just 10 of them.
Did Chic find the fuck wagon? Maybe not in the full ’70s sense, but Chic reckons he’s ahead of his time in the van bet:
“My fellow soldier Kevin Burrows and I bought this Morris Messenger van in 1964 to take us to and from the beaches we surfed on when we were interns at Balcombe in Victoria.
“We called it Machine. We painted it blue, my mom made black satin curtains for it and we installed an inner spring mattress in a double bed at the back for beachside luxury.”
Chic’s first genuine street engine was the hot EH Holden, followed by the speedy VE Valiant and then the ’57 Chev. But he met the true love of his automotive life in 1978 – his 1962 Chevrolet Impala Super Sport.
Chic stuck with the Chev for the rest of his life and while it went through several different mechanical interactions – including a brief time with the exploding rat from Wayne Barbour’s Corvette – the Impala remained basically as we featured in the April/May 1982 issue of SM.
Chic continued to cruise in cars in the final months of his life, including local car club meetings and as the ultimate school formal train.
Chic’s role as National Director of the Australian Street Machine Federation (AMSF) ultimately led to his founding the Summernats in 1988, but Chic’s first car club was the Broadway Knights – named after the Brisbane pub where members used to hang out.
Although Chic famously began his working life in the Australian Army as a blacksmith, it is less known that he did so during his seven years in the funeral industry:
“I was the maintenance mechanic for the funeral director, and apart from keeping all the vehicles running, I would hit the road as the funeral director. I once got an LTD hearse at over 120mph, luckily it was there. not a dead person in the back. .”
While Summernats is ultimately about cars and drivers, Chic also knows it’s about entertainment and puts a lot of its energy and resources into bringing out stunning special features each year. Stuntman Lawrence Legend is one of his favorite co-conspirators.
Rob Zahabi is best known as one of Australia’s top automakers through his Rides by Thurs business, but did you know Chic was instrumental in helping Rob build his new Canberra-based import business many years ago?
“Chic invited me to a meeting and when I got there, there were a lot of movers and shakers there. He didn’t know me at all, he just saw some potential in me and decided to help me. It was amazing,” Rob told us.
street machineThe roots with Chic go deep, going back to our founding editor Geoff Paradise, who was a close confidant in his early days. His successor, Phil Scott, took things to the next level, and was instrumental in helping Chic get the Summernats off the ground by financing a burnout pad.
Not to explain it, but one of Chic’s most defining features is the huge set of kahunas she carries with her everywhere. How else can you explain the courage it takes to fly the world’s best Pro Street car to another part of the world for a new event?
Not only did Chic manage to convince Rick Dobbertin to fly the legendary J2000 to Australia for Summernats #1, he paid for it and brought the Pontiac home unscathed.
Besides his Impala, Chic’s most enduring love of automotive is his FASTFUN Camaro. Originally embellished with wild jellybean graphics, the car stole several different color schemes over the years.
The final look was sparked by a fire on the Summernats burnout board – with wife Debra on board!
“It was the first and last time Debra rode a rifle in a burning place,” Chic said.
The thing that impressed me the most about Chic, was its friendly and warm demeanor with people from all walks of life, whether they were strangers on the road or one of the world’s best automakers. Excellent quality that will be sorely missed.