WOR­THY SUR­VIVOR

When re­tired banker Brian Mudge de­cided to up­grade his trusty Mor­ris Trav­eller to some­thing a lit­tle more com­fort­able and with some ex­tra power, a 1970 Wolse­ley was one of the first cars on his shop­ping list

New Zealand Classic Car - - Feature Car - Words: Ash­ley Webb Pho­tos: Chris Smith

Brian re­tired from West­pac af­ter man­ag­ing its Suva op­er­a­tions in Fiji, then, af­ter re­turn­ing to the hum­drum of Auck­land, took early re­tire­ment in 1989–’90.

A re­tire­ment life­style for Brian and his wife, Bunty, meant that they could travel and see the world — some­thing they did for the next three years — but too much of a good thing re­sulted in bore­dom for Brian, so, on his re­turn to New Zealand, he pur­chased a half-share of a real-es­tate com­pany in Wark­worth along with a good friend. Although Brian re­tained 50 per cent of the busi­ness, his friend man­aged it for the next 10 years be­fore he also re­tired, while Brian pur­sued his pas­sion for boat­ing.

Brian had owned boats for most of his life, the last be­ing a 40-foot John Glad­den mo­tor­sailer, and proudly ad­mits that he’d al­ways car­ried out his own main­te­nance.

When Brian re­lo­cated from Al­gies Bay to Orewa, on Auck­land’s North Shore, he thought it would be the right time to in­vest in a more suit­able car — an­other clas­sic to re­place the Mor­ris Trav­eller he’d owned for 10 years — that he could still com­mute to and from Omaha in to play golf.

Mor­ris to Wolse­ley

Brian had al­ways en­joyed main­tain­ing and work­ing on the Trav­eller, so he def­i­nitely wasn’t averse to pur­chas­ing an­other clas­sic car. He had loved the Trav­eller — not so much to travel in as much as to play with as a hobby, and a quick look in Brian’s garage cer­tainly con­firms he is well-equipped to tackle al­most any project. The Trav­eller had been re­stored by a pre­vi­ous owner, so Brian ba­si­cally just had to keep it main­tained and run­ning over the years — with work in­clud­ing the in­stal­la­tion of a larger 1100cc en­gine and an up­grade of the brakes.

The Trav­eller was sold three years ago to its new Hawke’s Bay owner, who pur­chased it as a present for his wife.

Mem­o­ries of a pre­vi­ously owned Austin 1300 and its nice soft ride led Brian down the path to se­lect­ing an­other sim­i­lar ve­hi­cle. Once he’d de­cided on a Wolse­ley 1300cc, the long and ex­haus­tive search for a re­place­ment ve­hi­cle then be­gan.

Brian’d also con­sid­ered an MG, pri­mar­ily be­cause he thor­oughly en­joyed the up­beat MG club scene and had toured with the group sev­eral times on ral­lies in the Trav­eller. He and his wife also en­joyed the com­pany of the club mem­bers. How­ever, in Septem­ber 2013, Brian stum­bled across an ad­ver­tise­ment on a

lo­cal auc­tion site for a 1970 Wolse­ley 1300 au­to­matic from Waimak Clas­sic Cars in Christchurch, and sub­se­quently wasted no time in mak­ing the call to get a more com­pre­hen­sive de­scrip­tion of the car.

The news was good for Brian — the Wolse­ley was a New Zealand–new, Uk-as­sem­bled ex­am­ple with a gen­uine 55,000 miles (88,513kms) on the clock and seemed to be com­pletely orig­i­nal. This was enough for Brian to make the all-im­por­tant de­ci­sion that the car would be the per­fect toy for a self-con­fessed 82-year-old ‘leisure­ol­o­gist’.

Once a fi­nal price was ne­go­ti­ated, in­clud­ing Brian tip­ping in just half of the cost of trans­port­ing it, the car was on its way to Auck­land.

Upon its ar­rival, Brian was happy with the over­all ap­pear­ance of the Wolse­ley; it was ex­actly as de­scribed, and he had no griz­zles. There were sev­eral mi­nor main­te­nance is­sues that needed at­tend­ing to, such as the ra­di­a­tor, CV joints, and en­gine mounts, and the Wolse­ley needed a good tune. Brian also changed the en­gine oil, had a mi­nor steer­ing is­sue re­paired, and gave the orig­i­nal red in­te­rior a spruce-up.

Ac­cord­ing to Brian, “It’s just such a lit­tle gem, and I thor­oughly en­joy driv­ing it!”

The car would be the per­fect toy for a self­con­fessed 82-year-old ‘ leisure­ol­o­gist’

Su­per Smooth

I was pleas­antly sur­prised when Brian took me for a drive from Orewa, over the hill, to Wai­w­era for our photo shoot. The Wolse­ley’s in­te­rior is spa­cious, eas­ily big enough for four peo­ple, and the 1300cc en­gine was more than com­fort­able trav­el­ling at open-road speeds and han­dling steep climbs, which it did with un­ex­pected ease, de­spite be­ing fit­ted with an au­to­matic trans­mis­sion. The ride was su­per smooth thanks to the hy­dro­las­tic sus­pen­sion, which of­fers a ride qual­ity equal to that of many mod­ern ve­hi­cles on the road to­day.

Af­ter re­sid­ing in Al­gies Bay for 23 years, Brian and Bunty just re­cently shifted to Orewa to be nearer to lo­cal fa­cil­i­ties and fam­ily. Th­ese days, they spend much of their time tour­ing the coun­try in their fully equipped motorhome. Brian never passes up an op­por­tu­nity to drive the Wolse­ley and was de­lighted to have been part of the Eller­slie Intermarque Con­cours d’el­e­gance this year, com­pet­ing in the Sur­vivors Class com­pe­ti­tion, scor­ing a well-de­served 709 points and plac­ing third over­all be­hind Sh­eryl Boyd’s Holden EH Pre­mier and the MG Road­ster owned by Colin Upchurch.

Brian con­cedes that what clas­sic car own­er­ship has taught him over the years has changed their lives. He says, “On ral­lies, in­stead of go­ing from A to B, you’d tour around the place and you start to learn more about coun­try along the way.” This type of clas­sic car tour­ing was the cat­a­lyst for the cou­ple to take up car­a­van­ning and, later, for their ac­qui­si­tion of a mod­ern motorhome.

Brian and Bunty are re­liv­ing those car ral­lies as a way of life now — some­thing for which they both of­fer thanks to the clas­sic car club fra­ter­nity.

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