1924 DODGE ‘A’ SEDAN
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.