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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.

Smooth operator – ’74 Mazda RX-4

Cory Wilson’s Dunedin-based Retro Automotive offers servicing and a comprehensive restoration service for Mazda rotaries. As reported in the February 2021 issue of New Zealand Classic Car magazine, he joined forces with a Dunedin businessman to import a rare Mazda RX3-SP from Florida in the USA. That car and five others from Cory’s collection were, until recently, part of a display entitled “The Evolution of Japanese Cars” at Bill Richardson Transport World in Invercargill. One of them was this car: a 1974 Mazda RX-4 sedan.
“One of my customers rang me up out of the blue and asked me if I wanted to buy an RX-4,” says Cory. “I went around and had a wee nosy. The guy who was selling it had bought it when it was in its faded factory yellow, complete with the old supermarket battle wounds and stuff like that.”
The owner had it restored but it returned from the painters in a bright canary yellow colour, definitely not the factory colour.

Zakspeed cars light up Taupo Historic GP

It was at the Historic Grand Prix meeting organised by the HRC in January 20021. The focus make for the meeting was Ford, so it was no surprise to see a huge range of Ford cars everywhere, but to see these two ex-DRM cars here — the Deutsche Rennsport Meisterschaft is the German sports/touring car championship — was an eye-opener.
Turns out that the Escort was brought to New Zealand by Kiwi Gary Wilkinson, who discovered it in a very sorry state in Malaysia while he was working over there. He could see it had a lot of genuine Zakspeed equipment on it so was sure it was a special car. Research of the chassis number — ZAK-E23/75 — identified it as the car in which Hans Heyer won the DRM championship in 1975. Gary shipped the car home to New Zealand and gave it a thorough restoration over a seven-year period, painting it in the livery it wore when it won the championship.

Renaulternative lifestyle

The owner of our feature cars, Kimball Gaitely, says he has owned around 200 cars, up to and including Ferraris and similar exotica, so we should take note that he has no fewer than four Renaults in his collection.
The three we lined up to feature in this issue show amazing breadth and flair, just in that vast conglomerate’s sports car output. Perhaps that in itself suggests a reason Kiwis have found it hard to get a handle on the brand’s identity, beyond its Frenchness.
While Renaults, among many other marques, have come and gone in Kimball’s collection, the GTA has been a fixture.
“It’s just such a clever design,” he says. Its polyester and fibreglass body makes it lighter at 1220 kg than its Porsche 944 rival. While not notably wind-cheating in appearance — its square front looks bluffer in photos than it does in real life, it was also aerodynamic for its time, with a touted drag coefficient of 0.28. Its integrated bumpers helped. Its predecessor A310 had conventional bumpers, although Renault had pioneered the integrated concept in 1971 on its Renault 5.

Slot car racing — part two

No story reflecting on the history of New Zealand slot car racing would be complete without a nod to the amazing resilience of the Henderson Miniature Motor Racing Club. Started in 1962 in a barn in Swanson, the club then leased land from New Zealand Railways by the railway tracks on the western line approach to Henderson, Auckland, and club members built their clubrooms. The club has never stopped, nor has it left this venue. In the early days at Henderson, Russell Philpott was a revered stalwart of the club. Frank Hellawell remembers him as a great organizer and leader.
“There was racing five days a week for juniors and seniors — fabulous times,” he said.
Sure there have been many barren times in later years, when support has dropped to bedrock, but somehow the club has kept going and continues to thrive. It is also one of the few in the country to boast a permanent drag strip along with its challenging main track.

The evergreen Land Rover

The very reason Rover decided to invent them in the first place, to create a four-wheel drive, go-anywhere vehicle that would be a boon to post-war farmers aiming to mechanise and increase production, made Land Rovers a smash hit with country cousin New Zealand, which was rapidly climbing the international prosperity rankings on the sheep’s back.

Certainly Philip Parker, who has spent almost all of his life on farms, says for decades they were as central to his existence as gumboots. “We’ve always had Land Rovers: Series 2s and Series 3s. I feel a bit strange if I don’t have a Land Rover in my life,” he says.
So, he’s got the emotional attachment and a deep understanding of the affection and nostalgia that’s driving the current surge in interest, but he’s also making a hard-headed investment. He’s so convinced of the inexorable rise in the value of Land Rovers that he decided on a patient, open-cheque-book approach to restoring this Land Rover. “After $30,000, I stopped counting,” he says. “I always knew it was going to cost a reasonable amount, but the cost of anything was never going to present a barrier in the end.”

Video of 1963 Datsun Bluebird as featured in the July/August issue 388

Our car was found stored in a shed in Warkworth. A project car, it had spent three decades waiting for the proverbial full nine yards. During that time, a few bits had been attended to: new tyres, new brakes, but not much else. When the new owner took the car he was able to start and even drive the car, although it was trailered back to Auckland. The owner reports many wows and thumbs up on the drive back to Auckland.
In this short video, the Datsun’s owner talks about the five year restoration process.

1952 Cadillac Series 62 — celebrating 50 years

Whether it’s the art installation Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas, where 10 Caddys are buried nose first in the ground to showcase the evolution of finned rear ends, or recognising famous owners from yesteryear, these cars hold a special place in US folklore. Famous owners include Elvis Presley, Al Capone, Marilyn Monroe, and US President Franklin D Roosevelt.
For Taupo-based Cadillac enthusiast Kevin Cotton, his 1952 Cadillac Series 62 was a journey in itself. Kevin’s father Lloyd was the one who planted the seed of Cadillac ownership, having a ’52 himself when Kevin was a boy. A flick through an old photo album confirmed the Cadillac brand was number one in the Cotton household, and it has continued to be for Kevin.

Honda NSX video

Honda decided it needed to capitalise on the success of its passenger cars and its Formula 1 triumphs and release a sports car that could rival the Europeans. It wanted a halo car that could offer improved reliability for a lower price than existing rivals but, in the Honda fashion, it would be usable, fun to drive and easy to maintain. Starting in 1984, Honda developed a concept sports car called the HP-X – standing for Honda Pininfarina eXperimental. It had a mid-engine 3.0 litre V6 with rear wheel drive.
As the vehicle concept developed, the name changed to New Sportscar eXperimental – NS-X for short. Honda eventually settled on NSX, with no hyphen. The NSX was developed by Honda in Japan and was inspired by the F16 fighter jet. Ayrton Senna had input into the final stages of development. The NSX was the first mass produced car to feature an all-aluminium body.