Servo with a smile gets Phil pumped

PHIL Williams’s business card says it all. Tigers tamed! It claims. Bars emptied! Wars fought! Then comes a footnote: Windows tinted. The card sums up the humour, the natural inclinations and outward appearance of Mr. Phil Williams.

Outwardly, his tattooed upper body suggests someone who can cheerfully empty a bar, but the truth is, he works in mental health. Once seen, Phil’s place at Rosegarland will never be forgotten, even by those just traveling through on the Lyell highway. It was a service station from 1953, and today the large workshop areas house Phil’s eclectic automotive collection. To be clear, this isn’t a museum.

Phil is a tinkerer, a collector, a curious mind about all things mechanical. That explains the old pumps and various curiosities that decorate what was once the service station’s driveway, now his front yard. His real work is in youth justice for the Catholic Church as a mentor, helping build life skills for kids, and his house sits adjacent to the workshops, out of sight. But it’s indoors where the real action is. This man is the proud owner of a hot-rod with a serious 454 Chevy engine and a massive blower (that’s a supercharger to the uninitiated) bolted on top. This beast even has a name: Irrational Concepts.

He bought his first car at 16 from the US, and the place at Rosegarland is home to a couple of favourites, among them a flat tray Ford truck, and left-hand-drive Ford dual cab and a Renault taxi that “needs a tiny bit of electrical work”.

In the automotive community around southern Tasmania, Phil is known, and sought after, for those needing windows tinted. Meanwhile, back at Rosegarland, he’s asked if anybody can stop there on the hill on the side of the highway, and come take a look at what he’s done, what he’s doing. “The rule is simple,” says Phil Williams. “If the workshop doors are open, come on in. Otherwise, come back when they are!” Better ask about those tigers, too.