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Bangers and Ash: modern dilemma

19 July, 2016

I’m sure you’ve all heard the adage ‘you can’t beat modern technology’ — after all, technology’s something that permeates our daily lives, whether we like it or not. 

I heard it bandied around quite recently when I attended an Auckland Mustang Owners Club run to Kaiaua — via the scenic route around the picturesque Kawakawa Bay — for a hearty fish-and-chip lunch. There were at least 70 Mustangs expected to attend, and, as they arrived at the early morning rendezvous point in South Auckland, I couldn’t help but notice the number of club members driving late-model Mustangs and Shelbys. My inquisitiveness got the better of me, and I couldn’t resist asking one or two club members why they hadn’t brought along their classic Mustangs. 

After a few discussions, I learned that, in some cases, members had simply just gone out and purchased a later-model Mustang specifically for club runs and the like, opting to leave their concours-standard restored classic Mustang tucked safely away in the garage, while others had simply chosen to replace the old with the new. And when I spoke to a couple of new members about what had motivated them to buy a new Mustang, the common response was that, ‘you can’t beat modern technology’ — and, let’s face it, the new Mustangs don’t look too bad either.

When it comes technological advancements, the automotive industry must certainly be — or be close to — leading the way at a blistering pace, as we discovered earlier this month after spending a day in Rolls-Royce’s opulent new Dawn ragtop (grab a copy of the mag to find out more). Much of this technology is in the realm of safety, or, at least, has some sort of safety focus, while the rest is purely for convenience. Typically, these innovative features, of which there are dozens, make their first appearance in high-end vehicles, before eventually trickling down to the everyday commuter when production costs decline and expectations increase due to awareness. Upmarket options that once wowed the public, such as cruise control, airbags, reversing cameras, satellite navigation, and self-closing doors, to name just a few, are now taken for granted as we demand more from automotive manufacturers.

Naturally, this begs the question, what’s in store for future cars? We’re all aware of the huge technological leaps towards driverless vehicles, and I recently saw a rather interesting television documentary on the development of compact ‘flying’ cars and was amazed at just how far this technology has come. Could this be the answer to our burgeoning Auckland traffic woes? Now, that would make a great story. 

But I digress, and as much as I’m tempted by the cutting-edge technology and stunning looks of the latest Mustang, I’m happy to stick with the old — at least for now, anyway — and leave the nice-to-have stuff in my daily-driver. 

To read the latest from Ashley Webb and the New Zealand Classic Car team, pick up a print copy or a digital copy of the August 2016 issue here:

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.