New Zealand Classic Car - - The Survivors -

By far the old­est ve­hi­cle to line up for this year’s Sur­vivors Class com­pe­ti­tion was this his­toric Dodge. Orig­i­nally pur­chased by Gavin’s fa­ther, Rod, in 1955, as a cut-down truck to cart toma­toes to the rail and mar­kets for the fam­ily busi­ness, Sylvia Park Nurs­eries, Rod was the Dodge’s third owner and the car re­mains reg­is­tered in his fam­ily trust to this day.

Around 1963, a good sedan body was found and re­stored. By 1964, it had been painted and the up­hol­stery re­done, and the Dodge be­came the Welch’s fam­ily car. Their first big trip was to the Haast Rally in the South Is­land, this be­ing fol­lowed by many trips all around New Zealand, as well as many jour­neys to New Ply­mouth.

The Dodge was also used for quite a few wed­dings over the years, un­til fi­nally be­ing parked up in the shed in 1984–’85. Gavin res­ur­rected the Dodge in late 2012, un­stuck the valves, and has driven it reg­u­larly ever since.

Th­ese cars were def­i­nitely built to last, sport­ing a 3.0-litre four-cylin­der side-valve mo­tor with an up­draft car­bu­ret­tor bolted to the en­gine block. The dis­trib­u­tor and wa­ter pump are driven off the cam gear in a line down the side of the block, while the dyno starter/gen­er­a­tor runs from a Morse chain from the front gear on the crankshaft. Fuel sup­ply is via a vac­uum tank mounted on the fire­wall. The three­speed gear­box has a gate change that has a key lock in the top plate to stop the car be­ing stolen. Brakes are rear-wheel only and are of the ex­ter­nal wrap­around type — no quick stop­ping here!

Gavin’s fa­ther, now 83, lives in a rest home and, de­spite suf­fer­ing from Alzheimer’s, still en­joys an oc­ca­sional ride in his old Dodge.

The car is used of­ten in vin­tage car club ral­lies, with Gavin’s bet­ter half do­ing a great job as nav­i­ga­tor.

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