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Think of it as a four-door Cooper

New Zealand Mini Owners Club coordinator Josh Kelly of Dunedin loves his Minis. It’s a family affair. Julie and Mike, Josh’s mum and dad, are just as keen, and they can usually all be found taking part in the club’s annual ‘Goodbye, Pork Pie’ charity run from the North of the country to the South.
But lately Josh’s young head has been turned by some other revolutionary BMC cars. He has picked up a couple of Austin and Morris 1100 and 1300s, which he started to restore — that was until an opportunity arose to buy a rare example stored in a shed.

The name’s Aston, Aston Martin

Martyn Jagusch didn’t intend to carry out a ground-up restoration on his 1971 Aston Martin DBS V8. Yet one glance at the car’s pristine condition shows he definitely changed his mind — or had it changed for him, which is nearer the truth.
The Aston Martin DBS V8 is a handsome car that only looks better with age. Enthusiasm for Aston’s earlier cars, especially the James Bond-era DB5 and the earlier super-sexy Zagato models, has been skyrocketing for years but appreciation for these larger and less iconic GT cars languished for a time. The V8 is less well recognized as a Bond car even though George Lazenby drove one in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service in 1969 as did Timothy Dalton in The Living Daylights (1987).

Rare rotaries gather in the south

The owners want to remain anonymous at this stage, but they are keen to set up a permanent Mazda display in Dunedin as a drawcard for visitors to that city. “We are keen to involve the Dunedin City Council, who could perhaps set us up in a suitable display. It could be big for Dunedin, judging by the popularity of other Mazda displays overseas,” he said.
A Transport World transporter picked up five Mazdas from Cory Wilson’s workshop for the exhibition, meaning the SP’s owner has barely glimpsed it. “It’s been in New Zealand for some eight months, and I’ve barely seen it, as it has been most of that time at Cory’s. I’ve basically just driven it to his workshop and that’s it.”
The five cars shipped to Invercargill included an RX-4, Mazda’s first full-production rotary-powered car the R100, and a Roadpacer — a Holden HZ body fitted with a rotary engine.

Southern comfort

Derek and Rachel Ayson enjoy cruising southern highways to the easy loping beat of their 1970 Holden HT GTS350 Holden Monaro. Powered by Chevrolet’s popular 350 cu. in. V8, the motor has found favour in many restomod classic cars and developed a great reputation for reliability and satisfying performance.
The car it powers was originally a factory-built GTS in white with a blue interior, fitted with Holden’s 186 cu. in. six. Derek bought it in 2007 from good friends Russell and Catherine Harrex of Dunedin. During the mid 1990s the Harrexes had had the car stripped to bare metal.

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.

Formula Ford One Cool Cat

In the ’60s Buick was butting heads with the Mustang and Thunderbird, Corvette, Impala, and many others for eight-cylinder supremacy.
In the Buick stable the most well-known of the marque was the Buick Riviera, a competitor in the American version of the luxury auto market and, while it was a two-door, it wasn’t squarely pitted against the popular Ford Thunderbird. Following the introduction of the Riviera in the early ’60s, Buick released another trophy car, the Wildcat.

A Giugiaro great

Giugiaro himself — the man who created the Ferrari 250 GT — was pleased with the design that Isuzu had commissioned to be based on a GM Chevette platform. His design, called the Asso di Fiori (Ace of Clubs), was unveiled at the 1979 Tokyo Motor Show to rave reviews. Isuzu fast-tracked it into production.
Carrying the nose forward to refine it just a touch more shows the respect Isuzu had for its lines. It meant engineering in some mechanics to flip up little eyebrows in the bonnet lip to expose more of the lamp glass in this pre high intensity light bulb era. You can imagine most car makers would go, “No, cut it off there”. If Isuzu had, it would certainly have been a less characterful design.
I can remember seeing one or two of them when they were new in the ’80s and feeling a fondness for the car, and for the company that had produced such a clean and restrained design.

TR7 — legend or lemon?

Stuart Bladon, a long-time motoring journalist who spent 25 years at Autocar magazine in Britain, owned one. He rose to deputy editor before he left in 1981. He likes open air driving but was perturbed by high insurance costs for his modest Peugeot 205 CTi convertible. A friend suggested he swap to a classic car with a much cheaper limited use insurance premium and thus he became the owner of a 24,000 mile TR7 convertible, first registered new in August 1982, a year after production ended.
Bladon was the European correspondent for New Zealand Car magazine and Stuart and his charming wife Jenetta kindly invited my family to lunch at their home in Radlett during our time in Britain in 1987. Later that day Stuart simply had to take me out in his prized red TR7, top down, of course.

Super Leicht Gullwing

It’s fair to say that nothing much in the classic Mercedes world gets past Mercedes-Benz Club stalwart Garry Boyce so it wasn’t surprising to learn that around 15 years ago he had sniffed out an extremely rare 300SL lightweight Gullwing as well as a 1958 300SL Roadster hiding away in the Waikato. The cars were not for sale but Garry eventually managed to persuade the owner to allow him and his restoration team to take a look at the Roadster. They discovered a very distressed but largely unmolested car. The car was so original that the body had never been off the chassis, meaning most of the parts and fittings were still present and correct, as they had been fitted by the factory.

Snake bites twice – 1998 Ford Mustang

The Mustang almost ceased to exist during the late ’80s. Plans were made to replace it with a re-badged front-wheel-drive Mazda MX6. The Fox-body Mustang, barely recognised as a Mustang by the ill-informed, was stumbling towards the end of the longest production run of any Mustang in history, from 1979 to 1993. The third generation Fox-body looked more like a family two-door hatchback than a sports car and sales steadily declined. Ford, who at the time owned a large percentage of Mazda, not wanting to spend money developing a new car for a dying market, believed that a restyled Mazda MX6 might be the cheapest way to give the Mustang brand a shot in the arm.

Pallas Athena — The French Goddess

Love lost and found again!
Like all cars there are the favourites. When it comes to the Citroën DS, there are those, like Classic and Sports Car and certain former French presidents, who love it, and there are those who think it is an acquired taste.
Stuart Bilbrough sits squarely in the ‘love it’ camp. When seeing his first DS in the late ’80s, owned by Max Earnshaw, a manager at the Christchurch-based accounting firm Stuart had recently joined, he set his sights on owning one.
It wouldn’t be until returning from his long OE in 1999 that he would buy his first DS, a 1974 DS23 from Masterton-based Citroën specialist, Terry Falkner.

Working class Austin’s upper class contender

Once you have driven one of these cars, which Rolls-Royce seriously considered as the basis for a new model, it’s hard to fathom why they weren’t more popular. From the safety of what was a more egalitarian New Zealand at the time, it’s tempting to think that, despite Austin having made substantial vehicles before, including 1927’s 3.4-litre Austin Twenty and the Westminsters of the late ’50s, it had hit a glass ceiling. Its success with small and cheap cars — even though, like both the Mini and the Maxi, they were often innovative — had redefined the brand. Not to put too fine a point on it, snobbery has always been a feature of many car markets, and buyers of upmarket cars inevitably preferred a Rover, Triumph, Jaguar, or Mercedes badge on their bonnets.

Living the American dream

The search for an Airstream caravan led Nigel Teape to a trio of American classics which ended up surpassing his Airstream dream
There’s a school of thought in the British dominions that Range Rover invented the luxury SUV. Over in America it’s well known that the honour belongs to Jeep.
Fans of the US car point out that the Johnny-come-lately original Range Rover was not even a luxury vehicle until much later in its life. It had flat vinyl-covered floors designed to be hosed out. The Wagoneer, on the other hand, had a top-of-the-line version loaded with luxury equipment almost from the start.
True, the four-door Jeep Wagoneer, launched in 1962, had also started out as a utility vehicle, sharing the platform with the Gladiator pickup truck. However, its independent front suspension offered car-like handling – although this was deleted on later models – and it came with un-trucklike power steering, automatic transmission, and a factory radio.
The first proper luxury version, the Super Wagoneer, was launched just four years later in 1966. It had plush carpets, leather, cigarette lighters galore, a tilt steering wheel, ceiling courtesy lights, air conditioning, a power tailgate, power brakes, power steering, and of course, wood effect panelling.

Suddenly it’s 1960

Neville Horton enjoys tinkering with classics and his Invercargill collection has a few surprises. It consists mostly of rare European microcars, some being restored and others in top running condition. It’s quite a contrast then when Neville opens up his main garage to reveal his impressive 1958 Plymouth Savoy two-door pillarless sedan. At 207.8in (5177mm) in length, parking it in anything less than a trailer park is a challenge.
For a car more than 60 years old, it is in remarkable condition. The two-tone brown and white colour scheme adds to its commanding presence, finished off by the chrome banded flash of a white spear down each side. A mild tint to the large glass area adds a cool modern touch to this design and, except for some exterior trim, it is close to the layout Chrysler used for its Fury models.
Neville was always keen to get his hands on one of these big Plymouths. His father owned a four-door version back in Neville’s youth. His father’s Plymouth sedan would later provide a surprising coincidence shortly after Neville bought his coupe into the country, as Neville explains.

South American Torino odyssey

Rob Mumford first visited Argentina in 1990 on a backpacking trip with his brother and fell in love with Argentina’s passionate people and stunning landscapes. In 1998 he moved there to live and a year later spotted a sleek emerald green 1971 Ford Torino parked near his Buenos Aires apartment.
He ran home, grabbed a Post it note, and scratched out a message: “Awesome car! If you are keen to sell, please give me a call.” He stuck the note to the muscle car’s windscreen and crossed his fingers.
Rob received a call from the owner, Ruben, just a month later in October ’99 and they made arrangements to meet up. Ruben took Rob for a drive and although Rob didn’t get behind the wheel, the Torino looked and felt great. A few days later a price was agreed and along with his father, who was visiting from New Zealand, Rob headed out to the suburb of Olivos to pick it up and hand over the cash. On the drive back into town a couple of people asked “What car is that?” and plenty of heads turned as they went by, confirming he’d made the right choice. That night Rob’s dreams of a Patagonia road trip flowed freely.