LO­CAL RE­PORT

New Zealand Classic Car - - Contents -

In these past weeks, there seems to have been a push in the pro­mo­tion of elec­tric cars and how hugely they will ben­e­fit the en­vi­ron­ment — which, in truth, re­mains to be seen — as well as an am­pli­fi­ca­tion of the threat of global warm­ing: how rapidly our en­vi­ron­ment is de­te­ri­o­rat­ing, how much of the ice shelf is di­min­ish­ing, and the record sum­mer tem­per­a­tures that have siz­zled the North­ern Hemi­sphere — although, hasn’t the planet frozen over many times be­fore?

It all makes for a very de­press­ing read, but what sad­dens me the most is the fact that there seems to be not a sin­gle as­so­ci­a­tion, club, or­ga­ni­za­tion — call it what you want — that is rep­re­sent­ing the vin­tage / clas­sic car en­thu­si­asts. There’s al­most the im­pres­sion that we ac­cept that we have de­stroyed the planet and are now ac­cept­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity — as if we are say­ing to the pol­i­cy­mak­ers, “Yes, we will go with the flow; have it your way!”

Could this be a re­flec­tion of the ap­a­thy and lack of vi­sion within these clubs and as­so­ci­a­tions? Are we deal­ing with com­mit­tees that have run out of puff, or maybe lack the en­ergy, or are too proud, to unite in one voice to pro­tect and pre­serve our pas­time? Yes, I can see that most of you en­thu­si­asts are nod­ding your heads in af­fir­ma­tion — I have seen it be­fore!

What are clas­sic car clubs do­ing, col­lec­tively or in­de­pen­dently, about our free­dom to drive our cars in the fu­ture? Will these same clubs tell us that we can’t use our cars once the Zero Car­bon Act comes into force, or that we will be al­lowed to use com­bus­tion-engine cars only on week­ends?

Get­ting in­volved

Are clubs, or­ga­ni­za­tions, as­so­ci­a­tions, etc. get­ting in­volved in dis­cus­sions with the gov­ern­ment — do car en­thu­si­asts have a voice? Are car en­thu­si­asts be­ing given a fair rep­re­sen­ta­tion in this mad­den­ing rush to save the world from the harm (or so we are made to think!) caused by fos­sil fu­els? Why is it that only cars are be­ing tar­geted? Cargo ships, cruise lin­ers, yachts, recre­ational boats — what about their pol­lu­tion in the seas and oceans around the globe? What about air­craft? Av­gas is the largest source of lead in the air, and it has been proven through var­i­ous health sta­tis­tics that lead in a per­son’s blood­stream con­trib­utes to learn­ing dis­abil­i­ties and be­havioural is­sues, es­pe­cially in chil­dren. Maybe these in­dus­tries are very strong-gen­er­at­ing fis­cal tools that no one dares to touch?!

Shouldn’t clas­sic car own­ers and en­thu­si­asts be sub­si­dized to keep their cars on the road and to main­tain them in run­ning or­der? The ‘planet res­cuers’ seem to fail to ac­knowl­edge that these cars are not just a set of wheels mounted to a metal body and driven by a mo­tor; they are not just a means of get­ting from A to B; they are our his­tory, our story, our be­gin­ning!

Clas­sic cars will al­ways be bought and clas­sic cars will al­ways be sold — they are an in­ter­na­tional cur­rency! If con­di­tions are not favourable in New Zealand, they will find a home else­where — but, at the same time, New Zealand his­tory will be leav­ing our shores!

In the scheme of things, our cars are too few in num­ber and are used too lim­it­edly to rep­re­sent any en­vi­ron­men­tal threat. In re­al­ity, the en­vi­ron­ment will be more threat­ened when elec­tric ve­hi­cles dom­i­nate our roads, if that should ever hap­pen. For this rea­son, should clubs not be lob­by­ing for their mem­bers, to en­sure for them that clas­sic and vin­tage ve­hi­cles are ex­cluded from the Zero Car­bon Act?

Work­ing to­gether

Gen­er­a­tions should be work­ing to­gether, not in com­pe­ti­tion with each other. The whole point of a clas­sic car club is to re­main the hub of the clas­sic car com­mu­nity. Clubs can lead the way in driv­ing this pop­u­lar­ity by utiliz­ing new dig­i­tal plat­forms — by pro­mot­ing them­selves to an even larger num­ber of en­thu­si­asts via uni­ver­sal so­cial­me­dia plat­forms and dig­i­tal chan­nels. Most clubs are in des­per­ate need of mod­ern ex­per­tise that may not al­ways be found in their estab­lished cir­cles. New-gen­er­a­tion mem­bers want to con­tribute to the present and the fu­ture of a club, and that should be the heart of the ques­tion for ev­ery pro­gres­sive club: why should new-gen­er­a­tion mem­bers want to join a clas­sic car club in the dig­i­tal age? When prospec­tive mem­bers see an or­ga­ni­za­tion that is sup­port­ive, open, help­ful, and act­ing ex­pressly in the in­ter­ests of the cars and the peo­ple who own them, they will feel far more con­vinced of the au­thor­ity and use­ful­ness of that or­ga­ni­za­tion.

This is the way for­ward; this is the way to en­sur­ing that our ‘ beau­ties’ can in the fu­ture be driven on the road with­out much fan­fare! We must unite and speak to­gether as one, seek­ing one rep­re­sen­ta­tion that truly has at heart the clas­sic car move­ment! There is no room for per­sonal agen­das or per­sonal gain — the clock is tick­ing. If we do not come up with a solid front, clas­sic cars could be­come mere show­pieces — mum­mi­fied bod­ies that have been de­prived of life purely be­cause the pol­i­cy­mak­ers de­cided to switch off life sup­port! Are we truly pro­vid­ing the nec­es­sary go-to hub to en­able the pol­i­cy­mak­ers to make in­formed de­ci­sions about the fu­ture of our clas­sic cars? Maybe not!

New Zealand of­fers great crafts­man­ship and some truly spe­cial clas­sic cars; it is our duty, col­lec­tively, to en­sure that we pre­serve them and keep them tick­ing over for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

Un­til then, safe driv­ing!

gear, a posi­trac­tion dif­fer­en­tial, and a per­for­mance camshaft rais­ing the out­put to 310hp (231kw). The pack­age also in­cluded a stiff­ened frame for tor­sional rigid­ity; boxed rear con­trol arms; a heavy-duty clutch; and, of course, a four-speed man­ual gear­box — that’s ba­si­cally where the name ‘442’ orig­i­nated, orig­i­nally sig­ni­fy­ing the engine’s four-bar­rel car­bu­ret­tor, four-speed man­ual trans­mis­sion, and dual ex­hausts.

Although the spec­i­fi­ca­tions would change through the years, the name stuck. Oldsmo­bile’s mus­cle car pack­age proved to be nei­ther the fastest kid on the block nor the big­gest seller; how­ever, the 442 did earn an en­vi­able rep­u­ta­tion for its bal­anced per­for­mance and ex­cep­tional han­dling ca­pa­bil­i­ties. W-30 op­tion The 422 en­thu­si­asts who wanted the ul­ti­mate per­for­mance pack­age opted for one op­tion above all else: the W-30. As far as they were con­cerned, it trans­formed a good-per­form­ing car into a tyre-shred­ding mon­ster ca­pa­ble of hold­ing its own against just about any­thing that Detroit could bolt to­gether.

It was 1966 when the first W-30 pack­age ap­peared. It con­sisted of three two-bar­rel car­bu­ret­tors, an ex­ter­nal air-in­duc­tion sys­tem — which forced cool air to the car­bu­ret­tors via tub­ing from the front bumpers — a high­per­for­mance camshaft, and a Hurst shifter. The bat­tery was re­lo­cated to the boot to make way for the in­duc­tion tub­ing.

Un­for­tu­nately, in 1967, GM banned mul­ti­ple car­bu­ret­tors on all ve­hi­cles ex­cept the Corvette, which meant that 1966 was the only year in which three car­bu­ret­tors were avail­able on the W-30.

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The W-30 con­tin­ued to be of­fered with var­i­ous fac­tory horse­power rat­ings — gen­er­ally un­der­rated — through un­til 1972, peak­ing in 1970 at 370hp (276kw). It wasn’t un­til 1972 that the W-30 could be iden­ti­fied by an ‘X’ in its VIN, mak­ing it al­most im­pos­si­ble to repli­cate.

Other com­po­nents of the W-30 pack­age in­cluded a light­weight alu­minium in­take man­i­fold, the W25 fi­bre­glass Ram Air hood, a posi­trac­tion dif­fer­en­tial with 3.42:1 gears (3.73:1 avail­able), and heavy­duty cool­ing. Due to the low vac­uum at idle, air con­di­tion­ing was not avail­able, and power brakes were avail­able only with an au­to­matic trans­mis­sion.

As we all know, all good things must come to an end, and 1971 was the be­gin­ning of the end for all mus­cle cars. The Oldsmo­bile 442 was in no way im­mune to these changes. Per­for­mance num­bers took an im­me­di­ate nose­dive, with the ’ 71 Olds 442 that boasted the W-30 op­tion and 455ci (7.5-litre) V8 just a shadow of its for­mer self, down 70hp (52kw) to 300hp (224kw) net horse­power. The writ­ing was on the wall in let­ters 10m high that the 442 was at its end as a stand-alone model. In 1972, the 442 would re­turn to its roots with its tail be­tween its legs, once again as an op­tion on the Cut­lass mod­els.

Start­ing young

As pointed out ear­lier in this story, John Mur­ray has been pas­sion­ate about Amer­i­can mus­cle cars for as long as he can re­mem­ber. As a young­ster back in the 1960s, John would spend his hard- earned pocket money on US car mag­a­zines, read­ing them cover to cover to keep up with the lat­est and great­est mod­els. John would also send off let­ters to Detroit’s ‘ big three’, ask­ing for new- car sales brochures, and they would al­ways oblige by send­ing large en­velopes jam-packed with leaflets. John al­ways looked for­ward to re­ceiv­ing them, and would read them for weeks on end.

John’s par­ents owned a few Amer­i­can cars back in the 1960s and 1970s. His fa­ther taught him to drive the fam­ily 1960 Ford Fair­lane at the age of 14 years, and was trust­ing enough to let John get be­hind the wheel on his own af­ter he’d got his li­cence — although he wasn’t too im­pressed when he caught John do­ing a skid in the fam­ily Pon­tiac.

Fast for­ward a few decades, and John now owns an en­vi­able line-up of Detroit’s finest iron. His beau­ti­fully re­stored, award­win­ning, very rare 1970 Chev­elle LS6 has graced our pages, as has his 1972 Oldsmo­bile 442 W-30 and the 1971 Oldsmo­bile 442 he pre­vi­ously owned. Our sis­ter mag­a­zine

NZV8 has also fea­tured the 1970 Buick GS 455 that John used to own.

Lat­est ac­qui­si­tion

John’s lat­est ac­qui­si­tion is this out­stand­ing 1964 Oldsmo­bile 442. He dis­cov­ered the car while search­ing through a US mus­cle car fo­rum, and knew the mo­ment that he saw it that he was look­ing at some­thing ex­tremely rare. This car was one of only 563 Oldsmo­bile sports coupés built in 1964. As John al­ready owned a 1972

The third owner car­ried out a full body-off nut-and-bolt restora­tion on the Oldsmo­bile, keep­ing it ex­actly as it was when it rolled off the show­room floor

Oldsmo­bile 442 W-30, the last of the breed, he thought it would be a good idea to own an ex­am­ple of the first, too, and sent the owner, Vin­nie Savi­oli, an email. As it tran­spired, Savi­oli, who lived in Mass­a­chu­setts, spent the win­ter months in Florida to es­cape the freez­ing weather, so John dealt with his cousin, Dave Cas­tine.

Dave was ex­tremely help­ful in pro­vid­ing John with ad­di­tional pho­tos, his­tory, and other in­for­ma­tion. John also made con­tact with the friend of a friend, who had seen the car and who con­firmed that it was an out­stand­ing ex­am­ple of a rare mus­cle car. He told John that if the car hadn’t been fit­ted with air con­di­tion­ing, he would def­i­nitely have bought it for him­self.

John was also pro­vided with the own­er­ship his­tory of the Oldsmo­bile, which showed that the orig­i­nal owner had the car un­til 1975 and the sec­ond owner had it un­til 1998. The third owner car­ried out a full body-off nut-and-bolt restora­tion on the Oldsmo­bile, keep­ing it ex­actly as it was when it rolled off the show­room floor in 1964. He trav­elled only 5000km in it be­fore sell­ing it to Vin­nie Savi­oli in 2009.

Based on this in­for­ma­tion and the many pho­to­graphs he re­ceived, John de­cided to pro­ceed with the pur­chase. Fa­mous Pa­cific Ship­ping was given the task of ship­ping John’s pre­cious cargo to New Zealand.

The Oldsmo­bile ar­rived in early 2018. It was ex­actly as, if not bet­ter than, John had ex­pected, and he is look­ing for­ward to the sum­mer months, when we are as­sured it will be driven and dis­played at var­i­ous events for us all to ad­mire.

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