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It’s easy to see why the Morris Minor Traveller was one of the best-loved variants of the Morris Minor. Introduced in 1953, it was equipped with the same independent torsion bar front suspension, drum brakes, and rack and pinion steering as its saloon sibling but, with their foldable rear seat increasing versatility, many Travellers were used as trade vehicles, says Derek Goddard. Derek and Gail Goddard, the owners of this superbly restored example, have run Morris Minors since before they were married in 1974.
“Our honeymoon vehicle was a blue Morris Minor van — it was a rust bucket,” says Derek.
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.
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.
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.
Riding in a genuine Ford GT40 with Geoff Manning is like living a slice of automotive history, as Donn Anderson found out over three decades ago …
The phone call in 1990 was dead easy to accept. Geoff Manning was ringing to ask if I would like to spend some time with the only genuine Ford GT40 to have driven the roads of New Zealand. There was little time to ponder since the car was destined to return to England and new owner Ted Rollason.
My answer, of course, was positive and immediate — and what a rare and fleeting experience a few days later to be driving around Auckland streets in such a stunning and wonderful machine.
When you next chat to one of our Aussie cousins, tell them they can have the rights to the Pavlova, we just want to claim their rare classic Holdens thanks.
Our main feature in this issue of the magazine is on the tale of a car that many Australian classic car lovers were hunting for that just fell into the lap of an ardent Kiwi Holden fan who was living in NSW.
This sought after EJ was offered to Stan Adams in 2010 from a neighbour living just 600m away.
“It was the fabled ‘Mail Car’ that was owned by her mother, which she used for local country mail delivery for years. The car was parked up for 18 years after her mother died. I handed over the $4000 without even opening the doors on a car last registered in April 1991.”
The car was coated in brown dust and the clutch and brake hydraulics were frozen solid.
“People from as far away as Queensland were looking for this car because of its rarity. It was totally unmolested and, yes, there were a few scratches. I decided to leave them as they are; history!”
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
Wolf in wolf’s clothing
In the September/October 2023 issue 389, we discover there’s much more to this cute 1973 Triumph GT6 British sports car, than meets the eye.
John Burke of Paremata is the owner of our stunning cover car but felt the car was somewhat underpowered and that annoyed him. So he took this pristine example of a 1973 Triumph GT6 and installed a V8 engine from a Triumph sister manufacturer, Rover. The resulting car is a restomod that really ticks a lot of boxes.
“In 1963, Standard-Triumph, as the company was then known, delivered a Mk 4 Spitfire to Michelotti’s studio in Italy and commissioned him to design a GT version. His design, delivered in physical form later that year, was a sleek fastback reminiscent of the E-Type fixed head coupé launched in ’61. It was also not too dissimilar to the Mustang Fastback of 1964, a profile that would become familiar on other American models during the sixties.”
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.
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.
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.
To this impressionable youth, the entrance to Aladdin’s çave was the ‘Pit Stop’, two floors above the Regent Theatre on Auckland’s Queen St. It was an oasis of multi-lane wooden slot car raceways, the walls emblazoned with motor racing art and adverts, with hypnotically attractive model race cars in brightly lit glass cases blasting out in the subdued ambient lighting.
The Pit Stop was a mecca for boys and young men in the mid to late 1960s. A twilight wonderland, it attracted us like moths to a naked bulb, glittering with state-of-the-art dayglo/metalflake sleek racers and hot on-track action.
Home Kidston did a lot more than tackle the Muriwai sands during his New Zealand adventure nearly 90 years ago. Donn Anderson uncovers the fascinating story behind the Kidston family and a special Mercedes-Benz.
Home, or “HK” as he was often known, added a dash of international flavour when he arrived with his exotic German machine on the Muriwai beach sands in March 1934 for the annual championship organised by the Muriwai Motor Racing Club Limited. The supercharged Mercedes created high interest but had spark plug problems and was unplaced in four races. Kidston said the Roots blower only came in “when you put your foot down and if you held it for too long the plugs became incandescent”.
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.”
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.
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 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.
We recently caught up with VW enthusiast Steve Fejos, son of Hungarian parents who arrived in New Zealand as refugees after the ’56 uprising. Being European Steve was naturally attracted to European cars, especially the more affordable VWs. “We must have owned at least 20 Kombis and Beetles over the years,” says Steve. “My father was a handyman and was always doing things — buying, selling, and doing work and repairs at his property, so the Kombi was the ideal work horse he needed.”
As a young boy, under 10 years of age, Steve always liked to tag along with his father. Kombis in the 1960s and 1970s were usually rust buckets, but that didn’t deter his father from buying one every year and spending the winter months ‘doing it up’.
The July/August 2023 issue 388 has a couple of stunning supercars featured and the story of a truly unique restored 1963 Datsun, the first model Datsun sold in NZ.
A quarter of a century before boy racers put their caps on back to front, reclined their seats and drove their cheap Japanese imports through town we saw an altogether different cheap Japanese import here in NZ.
Our cover car this issue 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 car has undergone a complete restoration by the owner where he undertook every stage of the restoration himself apart from the engine reconditioning. A stunning classic car is the result of all this effort.
Manawatu’s Bryan Menefy is passionate about his Fords. A shed full of them proves he’s serious, but it was the fire-breathing Aussie V8s hurtling around Mount Panorama in Bathurst, being wheeled within inches of the concrete walls by Dick Johnson and John Bowe, that really grabbed his attention. But they too were well out of reach at that age.
Not wanting to give up on his dream, Bryan set about working his backside off to fulfil his desire to surround himself with the things he loved — trucks, music, and a shed full of Fords!
Denny Hulme’s victory in August 1960 wasn’t the only reason I was drawn to Pescara, Italy — though it was a contributing factor. There’s not another country that better combines my wife’s love for art with my mild obsession with the motor car; add in our shared fondness for history, architecture, beautiful scenery, food, and wine, and it isn’t hard to see why this Italian town is on the list.
Besides routinely building some of the world’s most desirable cars on its production lines, and some of the world’s most successful cars in the crucible of motorsport, Formula 1, Ferrari occasionally sets out to build something a bit special — a limited-edition model that makes a statement to the motoring world.
There are currently five of these models, the 288 GTO (presented 1984), F40 (1987), F50 (1995), Enzo (2002–2004), and LaFerrari (2013). The one they decided to name after company founder Enzo Ferrari had better be good.
Many of these landmark cars have made the most of the prancing horse’s extensive F1 experience. This car makes this connection explicit, offering a car tantalisingly close to a full-throated F1 car. It even goes beyond, offering technology that wasn’t allowed in F1, such as active aerodynamics and traction control. As a result, Ferrari produced what is now by consensus seen as the world’s first hypercar.
For most car-conscious folk of a certain age the sight of a whale tail still has its own magic.
No mere spoilers, these excessive peacock-fan displays signal a car with too much power to be held on the road by the weak fundamental force of gravity. Porsche 930 turbos needed them to correct the wrong-headedness of having all that power thrusting from behind the rear wheels and Sierra Cosworths also needed them for genuine road-holding reasons.
When Ford launched the bravely rounded Sierra in 1982 to replace the boxy Cortina, its blobby shape and expressionless face wasn’t universally loved.
Historic Muscle Cars and Saloon Cars president Tony Roberts was delighted with the success of the sixth edition of Taupō International Motorsport Park’s Historic Grand Prix held over the weekend of 21–22 January 2023.
No doubt Tony would have been chuffed even without his win in Class A in the SAS Autoparts MSC F5000 Historic GP race driving his McLaren M10A, the feature race for the meeting. Taking top honours was Brett Willis, winner overall in his Lola T332, after finishing second and third in the first two races and winning the feature race.
Summer Supercars by the Sea had a million dollar harbour backdrop for cars worth maybe 20 times more than that, parked along Wellington’s Te Papa promenade on Sunday 22 January. The capital’s anniversary weekend car show ran between 10am and 12.30pm.
Around 60 supercars graced the concourse for the Wellington Sports & Supercar Owners’ second show. Last winter’s show was at the nearby Odlins Plaza but the new venue for the summer event enabled an improved display, and easier access for visitors to get amongst them.
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.
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 Volkswagen show happened on Sunday December 11, exactly a fortnight before Christmas. Wellington’s fifth annual biggest little VW show again took over the car park for the day at the Parrotdog bar, Lyall Bay, in 2022. Classics from the greater Wellington region and beyond graced the concourse.
Our cover story this issue is on the remarkable Imp. The car first came out as a Hillman in the 1950s and, as with many cars of that era, it also morphed into other versions over the years. The Imp featured in this edition of NZ Classic Car is a Sunbeam and is a real stunner. Enjoy this article where you will learn the history of Imp and The Rootes Group and enjoy this pristine example we discovered in the Deep South.
“Our featured Sunbeam Imp is a survivor now in Gore in the care of Russell and Marlene Newland. A member of the Gore Vintage Car Club, Russell bought their car from fellow member Bill Sheddan in 2021. A keen collector of all things Sunbeam, Bill purchased the little gem from retired Christchurch aircraft engineer Robert Tudehope in 2009. Restored by Robert, the Sunbeam is a 1970 Mark II model now being brought back to top condition”
I am glad to say that Alfa has conquered its demons and improved immeasurably in both reliability and rustproofing — and the brand’s reputation has almost caught up to this fact.
This was further confirmed on a recent trip to Napier, when Ian MacPherson invited me to see his 2007 Alfa Romeo Spider. In coupé form it is known as the Brera, itself a great-looking car, but the muscular lines of the Spider could well be proof of the old adage that less is more.
There won’t be many people of a certain age who haven’t seen an episode of The Dukes of Hazzard — in the US its popularity was second only to Dallas — and fans of car stunts will surely have seen quite a few of them.
It’s fair to say that ahead of James Bond’s Aston, Bullitt’s Mustang, and even the talking Pontiac Firebird also featured in these pages, the General Lee is the most famous film and TV car of them all, not least because of repeated exposure over 147 episodes in seven series, two films, and, of course, every episode’s signature stunt — the General Lee hitting a ramp and flying free as a bird, accompanied by triumphant driver Bo Duke’s “Yee-haah!”
Often we we feature a car in the magazine, there are just too many photos to squeeze in on the allocated pages, but these photos are often just too good to not be enjoyed. Here are our unpublished photos from issue 385, the January/February edition of NZ Classic car.