Ian Parkes

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.

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.

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.”

The one and only – The Sierra Cosworth

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.