Each has an im­por­tant role — but none more so than the other!

New Zealand Classic Car - - Contents - By: Greg Price Il­lus­tra­tion: Steve Richards

At the end of Oc­to­ber, both my nephew and my son trav­elled down from Auck­land — you know how it goes, “We’re com­ing down to Christchurch for the Best of Bri­tish, can we each bor­row a car?” Seem­ingly the two of them (both en­thu­si­asts, I’m happy to say, and both pos­sess­ing sev­eral clas­sic cars) had been plot­ting in the months prior, and ex­press­ing con­cern over the fact that I seem to be spend­ing more time rac­ing Post Clas­sic mo­tor­cy­cles than driv­ing our clas­sics. Not so, of course, but it was true that ‘Happy Days’ (my 1954 Zephyr) had not been out of the garage since the big quake save for a trip to the panel beater (for an assess­ment) and a cou­ple of war­rants. Any­way, cut­ting a long story short, three of my cars were on dis­play at the Best of Bri­tish show.

All this got me think­ing — how many peo­ple do you know who have said some­thing akin to, ‘I’ll do that when I re­tire’, only for them to reach that time and find that, for one rea­son or an­other, it’s just not go­ing to hap­pen. Num­ber One nephew once gave us a photo of both our Ze­phyrs with the caption — ‘You can only be­come old when you give up the things that make you young!’

The en­thu­si­ast will never give up their in­ter­ests, be it cars, mo­tor­cy­cles, col­lect­ing, what­ever. Whereas an owner even­tu­ally loses in­ter­est in their cur­rent fad and moves on to an­other — but how can you tell the dif­fer­ence?

Owner vs En­thu­si­ast

Next time you are out and about in your clas­sic, count the num­ber of driv­ers of other clas­sics who wave, or oth­er­wise ac­knowl­edge you. The ‘owner’ will be fo­cussed no fur­ther than the front of his or her bon­net, whereas the en­thu­si­ast will be ac­knowl­edg­ing vir­tu­ally ev­ery­thing else re­motely clas­sic. Car shows are also a good place to view this phe­nom­e­non, as en­thu­si­asts like pretty much all kinds of ve­hi­cles re­gard­less of their coun­try of ori­gin, and while they may not ac­tu­ally want a par­tic­u­lar type amongst their fleet, they still ap­pre­ci­ate a re­ally good ex­am­ple of such a ve­hi­cle when they come across one in their trav­els. At car shows the en­thu­si­ast will spend time check­ing out all the at­ten­dees’ ve­hi­cles.

The owner, on the other hand, will prob­a­bly have a quick check to see how many other ex­am­ples of their ve­hi­cle are present, and sur­rep­ti­tiously have a closer look to es­tab­lish that they are not as good as, or bet­ter than theirs. If you en­gage said owner in con­ver­sa­tion they prob­a­bly will not know much about their mar­que at all, and have prob­a­bly not owned the ve­hi­cle for long. There is an­other type of owner — the ‘all show and no go’ ex­am­ple. This type of in­di­vid­ual sel­dom ac­tu­ally goes very far, save for at­tend­ing shows, es­pe­cially ones where tro­phies are on of­fer.

Cheque Book or Span­ner

In the early days of the Auck­land In­ter­mar­que (where judg­ing took place in Corn­wall Park), I en­coun­tered my first ex­pe­ri­ences of owner ver­sus en­thu­si­ast af­ter be­ing been in­vited to be one of the judges.

On closer ex­am­i­na­tion of an MG TD that had been re­cently pur­chased by a (then) high-pro­file in­di­vid­ual, I noted that it had the wrong en­gine and marked it down ac­cord­ingly. For­tu­nately I knew my Morris Garages his­tory par­tic­u­larly well, and con­vinced the very dis­ap­pointed (and an­gry) owner that I was right, and he should take the mat­ter up with the seller. What was also ev­i­dent from the en­counter was that the TD’S new owner sim­ply thought he could buy into the tro­phy ex­pe­ri­ence. As an en­thu­si­ast, I didn’t re­ally care two hoots as to what mo­tor it had in it, rather I ap­pre­ci­ated the car for how it pre­sented — as a nice old MG.

Sub­se­quent to that, I no­ticed that en­thu­si­ast re­stor­ers who did most if not all the work them­selves were be­ing out­classed by own­ers with fat­ter bank bal­ances. While I strongly dis­ap­prove of so-called cheque­book re­stor­ers, they are (I dare say) still im­por­tant in the grander scheme of things — without their dol­lars, many pro­fes­sional restora­tion busi­nesses would not ex­ist.

I gen­er­ally do not plug busi­nesses in this col­umn, but for the pur­poses of this de­bate I will men­tion Auto Restora­tions in Christchurch. In a sen­tence, this firm re­stores ex­tremely rare and highly val­ued clas­sic ve­hi­cles for own­ers (and some en­thu­si­asts) around the globe. They do amaz­ing work. They even made a car­bu­ret­tor for a car just from a photo of it!

For my part, they have done some small but none­the­less im­por­tant jobs for me — mak­ing two lock nuts for the steer­ing head of my Tri­umph Ti­gress, a splash guard for the same, and they also re­built the har­monic bal­ancer on the MKI. If this busi­ness did not have the vol­ume of work gen­er­ated by its ex­cel­lent world­wide rep­u­ta­tion (and wealthy car own­ers), I would have been left search­ing the in­ter­net for those miss­ing bits. So, own­ers are im­por­tant, as are en­thu­si­asts. Here’s a chal­lenge for the own­ers out there to try dur­ing the hol­i­days. Keep an eye out for the other old clas­sics on the road, and toot and wave as they go by. There prob­a­bly is a bet­ter ex­am­ple of what you drive out there some­where, and there is no dis­grace in the fact that some­one might ac­tu­ally have known the pre­vi­ous owner of your ve­hi­cle. Prove­nance is of­ten very in­ter­est­ing, so don’t try to hide your ve­hi­cle’s his­tory — a pre­vi­ous owner might even have some parts/books he/she now wants to pass on to you!

So, whether you are an owner or an en­thu­si­ast, get your clas­sic out on the road these hol­i­days, and warmly greet other like­minded in­di­vid­u­als you may en­counter. It’s ac­tu­ally a real buzz!

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