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NZ Classic Car magazine, July/August 2024 issue 394, on sale now

Big brash and beautiful
Faced with the possibility of scrapping his cherished 1973 Ford Falcon XA GT 351 Hardtop, David Chase took the plunge, delivering it into skilled hands at Matamata Panelworks. It’s now a stunning classic and 2023 Ellerslie Intermarque Concours Masters Class winner.
This big Aussie brute of a car is our stunning cover car for this issue and the restoration journey of this classic is a fascinating tale with a jaw dropping result.
“Rarely do these Ford Falcon 351 GT hardtops last long in their original state as they are either modified, raced, or rust results in them being scrapped. They are already a rare sight on New Zealand roads and survivors turning up at car shows are well-restored as their values skyrocket past the A$200,000 mark. This is especially the case with David’s car, for a particular reason.
“Surprisingly, it’s an all matching numbers car. Yep, that’s pretty cool. A lot of them lost their motors early on, but mine’s still matching so that’s pretty good and I’m very happy about that.”
With a restoration bill approaching the $200K mark, David is thrilled to see a recent valuation well in excess of the figure.”

Becoming fond of Fords part two – happy times with Escorts

In part one of this Ford-flavoured trip down memory lane I recalled a sad and instructive episode when I learned my shortcomings as a car tuner, something that tainted my appreciation of Mk2 Ford Escort vans in particular. Prior to that I had a couple of other Ford entanglements of slightly more redeeming merit. There were two Mk1 Escorts I had got my hands on: a 1972 1300 XL belonging to my father and a later, end-of-line, English-assembled 1974 1100, which my partner and I bought from Panmure Motors Ford in Auckland in 1980. Both those cars were the high water mark of my relationship with the Ford Motor Co. I liked the Mk1 Escorts. They were nice, nippy, small cars, particularly the 1300, which handled really well, and had a very precise gearbox for the time.
Images of Jim Richards in the Carney Racing Williment-built Twin Cam Escort and Paul Fahey in the Alan Mann–built Escort FVA often loomed in my imagination when I was driving these Mk1 Escorts — not that I was under any illusion of comparable driving skills, but they had to be having just as much fun as I was steering the basic versions of these projectiles.

Fear and loathing the blue oval – part one

The slogan went something like ‘There’s a Ford in your future’. ‘Bugger off!’ were always the words that sprung to my mind. Ford and I have never really got on in the manner of many of my friends, so I’d say my relationship to the brand was distant. The accelerating blur of passing time has helpfully blanketed memories of a few Ford encounters which I probably wanted to forget but I have to admit, now I look at them, they are re-appearing through the mists of time. What comes to mind more readily, to quote some uncharitable wit, is that the letters Ford could stand for ‘fix or repair daily’. Still, I have to ’fess up, there were several Fords in my past.

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1955 Chevrolet Pickup – Four-by-four for town and country

The half-ton truck here is a four-wheel drive 1955 Chevrolet owned by Murray Robinson, a car enthusiast who has owned many American cars, following the footsteps of his parents who have owned even more. Murray’s first car was a 1952 Chevrolet which he still owns. He also owns a 1956 panel truck that featured in the Daily Driver section of an earlier issue of  New Zealand Classic Car magazine.
The ’55-’59 Task Force pickups and trucks which also featured a panel van and station wagon in the range have always been popular and downright cool.

Class struggle

For a British car, it is huge; for those sitting inside, the bonnet seems to extend past the horizon. The front seats are very comfortable rather than body hugging. The dashboard and centre console cluster are beautifully laid out, reminiscent of a fighter plane cockpit, with acres of red leather all around. Its V8 burble is on show. It is not a car to sneak about in, and it gets attention wherever it goes.
The large back window, possibly the best-known feature of the Interceptor and one that sets it apart, has very good functionality, allowing greater access to the boot. It would not be an easy job to replace it, so Interceptor owners are careful about reversing and not hitting anything.

Spectacular historic racing at Phillip Island did not disappoint the large crowd

This year 32 car clubs displayed a total of 1,100 cars — a magnificent sight as well as being an added attraction for the thousands of spectators who braved the very hot weather. There is a pavilion on that same stretch of the circuit that houses stalls offering books, models, enamel signs, parts and all manner of motoring bric-a-brac plus more car displays.
Kiwi Codie Banks dominated all the F5000 races in his Lola T332. For the first race he was joined on the front row of the grid by his father David in his Talon MR1.

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The super-detailed point of difference

Tony Lyne has been building models for as long as he can remember, and he has realised his love for classic Formula 1 in spectacular fashion. As a teenager, Tony was drawn to the ‘elbows out’ style of racing required to keep cars of that era on Formula 1 circuits the world over and the technological race to improve them.
It is hard to fully understand the time, patience, and nerve-racking moments that go into a super-detailed work of art. However, hearing people utter “Where do you put the keys in to start it?”, and watching their eyes bulge as they carefully inspect the finished product, shows that all the hours spent in the spare room looking through the magnifying glass were well spent. These kitsets may have started out as a mere humble model, but they have ended up as true scale works of automotive art.

Lunch with … Roger Bailey

Roger’s story is a classic illustration of what hard work, honesty to the point of brutal frankness, a ‘can-do’ approach, and a racer’s brain can get you in this sport of car racing. Roger, or ‘Boost’ as he’s known up and down the pitlanes of America, was who Kenny Smith turned to when he was dragging a reluctant teenager around the different pit garages at Laguna Seca.
“Scott [Dixon] kept complaining that it was too hot and he just wanted to go back to the hotel pool. I had to tell him that I was trying to secure his future — we weren’t getting much of a look in until we saw Roger who knew everyone and set about introducing Scott as New Zealand’s next big thing.

TVR Tasmin — proper wedge

Neville Wilson of Napier has been a keen member of the Vintage Car Club for most of his life. He showed me the collection of cars in his garage, including a 1937 Dodge Coupe he has owned for 25 years. Behind that was a 1929 OHC Morris Minor that has been in the family for even longer. It was considered a good buy in 1961. Now retired, Neville enjoys going for runs with other
club members, especially on balmy spring days in a car with the roof down. What could be better than doing it in an old roadster, preferably something with a bit more get up and go than the Morris, lovely though it is? Its 20bhp (15kW) 847cc engine makes it considerably faster than a single horse and cart but not much else.

Aspen Siris — A roadster for the wrong time

When I visited George Spratt’s workshop in Auckland, I was impressed with the number of vehicles he had tucked away, mostly hybrid or fully electric. Many of them had started life being petrol powered but George has been tinkering with converting conventionally powered cars to electrical propulsion since the mid ’70s.
The Horizon was George’s first attempt at building a car; it was an evolution of ideas about what was considered to be ideal for a car at that time. The shape and style were governed by the choice of running gear and power plant. The size of the garage restricted walk-around viewing, and it was not until it was almost finished that George was able to push the car out of the garage to get the full picture.

Big jump at Cromwell

Kicking off the event, the Alpine Street Machines’ Friday cruise to Bannockburn and back on the Friday was easily the biggest in the event’s history. Some 380 cars created a wondrous spectacle for unsuspecting fellow road users that day, potentially tempting some to take a closer look in Cromwell over the weekend.
Saturday’s car show, organised by the Southland Ford Falcon Club at the Alpha St reserve, drew perhaps a thousand or more gleaming examples of interesting cars and applied restoration skills. Chrome and flashing paintwork dazzled the eye in the bright Central Otago light everywhere you looked. It really looked as if everyone with a classic or a hot rod from across the island had seen the forecast for great weather and headed for Central Otago.

A passion for classics and customs

In the highly competitive field of New Zealand classic and custom restorations, reputations are won or lost on the ability to maintain consistently high standards of workmanship. A company managing to achieve this is D A Panel beating Ltd, of Rangiora near Christchurch. Is your classic or custom car restoration stalled, or in need of a refresh, or perhaps you are looking for experts to rebuild that recent import project out of Europe or the ‘States?

Protect your investment

Total Lube Guide gives you the good oil Choosing the right fluids for your car, and refreshing them regularly, is the best form of preventive maintenance. It makes driving more

Croz: Straight up

During the COVID lockdown, Michael Clark had to forego lunches with motorsport celebrities but he interviewed motorcycle racer Graeme Crosby on his direct route into the Grand Prix ranks via Zoom.
“My first actual race was at Porirua on a circuit set up around the shopping centre. I was riding a little 350cc Kawasaki, an Avenger, which was a little two-stroke 350 rotary valve with something like 10hp. Suddenly, I found myself in third spot and I’m thinking this is actually pretty good. Anyway, I think I got in second spot and we only had a couple of laps to go and I overcooked a corner and ran wide. Health and safety back in those days required you to keep the crowd back, so they got a piece of rope and tied it around a 44-gallon drum, then a 10-metre gap, and another 44-gallon drum, and so on — and I went over the kerb at great speed. I still finished second — with one of those 44-gallon drums following behind in third place. Yeah, it was a bit of an experience.”

Romancing the automobile and motor racing in art

The glamour and excitement of the automobile first had an impact on me through car advertisements. Growing up on Auckland’s North Shore in the conservative early ’60s, there wasn’t much dynamic stuff going on. Everything was pretty bland and socially constrained, but there were glimpses of a world beyond that lay just out of our grasp. One of these early influences was a pile of late ’50s National Geographic magazines. We received these on subscription from a generous uncle in North America. It wasn’t the articles we were poring over though, it was the advertising, particularly the art-styled American car adverts.
The evocative, lusciously coloured and boldly styled auto adverts hit me like a juggernaut.