Grant’s DB2/4 MKII
Grant first car, purchased in 1967, was a 1931 Austin 7 saloon that needed new kingpins and other maintenance in order to meet the WOF standards of the day. As it was so small, Grant was able to park the Austin between the trunks of the trees on Symonds Street and the footpath kerb, without attracting the attention of the parking wardens, whilst he attended lectures at the University of Auckland. This car required all maintenance to be done in the home workshop, and taught Grant a lot about automotive engineering — effectively, the diminutive 7 supplied the foundation for his love of engines connected to wheels.
Several years later, an accident-damaged TR3A was acquired and totally rebuilt over a period of years, but was sold following Grant’s marriage to his wife, Helen, and the subsequent arrival of a family. When Grant’s children were young, there was time to work over another car, and this time it was a TR4A. This beauty was eventually sold to help fund the purchase of a bigger house.
At that time, Grant’s family also had a Triumph Herald — Helen’s car — and he reckons this was the easiest vehicle to maintain they ever owned. It was swapped for a BMW 200Tii in the mid 1970s, this arguably being the most expensive car to maintain they ever had, but an absolute joy to drive. It was sold when Helen engaged in full-time employment which came with a company car.
Then there was a period of about 15 years when they swapped cars for yachts when the children were teenagers, although they did undertake the rebuild of a 1972 Renault 4 estate car during that time — this originally being their daughter’s first car, and when she no longer wanted it, the Renault became a restoration project. Grant and Helen came back to sports cars in 2002 when they took delivery of a new Morgan Aero 8 from the factory in Malvern Link, near Worcester in the UK. Their car was number 130 from a build of 296 cars, a Series 1 version with no airbags or ABS, which made it arguably one of the last of the ‘true’ British sports cars built. The Morgan was definitely beyond Grant’s capabilities to maintain, but he found an excellent tradesperson in Derek Atkinson, owner of Atkinson Restoration Services in Henderson. Dave stepped up to the mark and has looked after
After following up on a casual remark from Derek Atkinson about an old Aston in a barn that could be an interesting restoration project, Grant and Helen eventually became the owners of the late Bruce Radford’s 1957 Aston Martin DB2/4 saloon, in November 2012
the car ever since it arrived in New Zealand. Derek is the North Island Morgan sports car service expert and, as Grant and Helen’s was the first Aero 8 in New Zealand, they decided to work with him with regard to the learning curve required on how to look after these very individual, hand-built cars. All problems have been solved but, in retrospect, there have only really been a few over the years. This car remains in the stable at present, and is used frequently.
The couple grew to like their first Morgan so much that, in 2008, they purchased another — this time a 1988 Ford 1600cc 4/4 four-seater. It had been imported from the UK and was living in Havelock North. Totally different to the Aero 8, but quintessentially Morgan, she is the baby of the fleet and has also received a major rebuild courtesy of Derek Atkinson. The single overhead cam Ford CVH engine was elegantly rebuilt, with a few tweaks to provide better performance, and the bodywork and interior was given a major restoration. The numbers 4/4 after the word Morgan mean that it is a four wheel, four-cylinder-engined car, and theirs is a four-seater to make it easier to carry luggage when touring. This Morgan is ideal for city running, although she has been to Christchurch and back for the NZ Classic Car Rally in 2012, an event she handled extremely well.
The Aston Arrives
Finally, after following up on a casual remark from Derek Atkinson about an old Aston in a barn that could be an interesting restoration project, Grant and Helen eventually became the owners of the late Bruce Radford’s 1957 Aston Martin DB2/4 saloon, in November 2012.
With a chassis number of AM3001155, originally this car was painted two-tone silver and gunmetal.
Delving back into the car’s history, Grant discovered that it had originally been imported by Manthel Motors in Lower Hutt, and was first registered to Ernest Vogtherr of Napier on March 13, 1957. On March 12, 1962, ownership changed to James Morey of Lower Hutt, and then to Denis Woods of Days Bay on June 1,
Dashboard and instrumentation restoration and a myriad of other things — all of which all add up to the result that the car is now a virtually new 1957 Aston Martin DB2/4