NEW ZEALAND CLAS­SIC CAR PRICE ON Re­mem­ber­ing

Greg Price How time flies when you’re hav­ing fun!

New Zealand Classic Car - - Price On - By:

This year is a mile­stone event for our es­teemed edi­tor as he gears up for Is­sue No. 300! A cred­itable ef­fort, I reckon. While this cur­rent is­sue is es­sen­tially June 2015’s, it goes on sale in May, and that’s a mile­stone for this writer, mark­ing my de­but with the mag­a­zine back in 1995.

How the heck did I ever get in­volved in Nzclassiccar, I hear you ask? I guess you could say it all started (for me, any­way) when I picked up a copy of the third is­sue of what was then NZ Clas­s­ic­cardi­rec­tory. In the late 1980s, I was living in Dunedin and had just ac­quired the (then) only 1959 Cadil­lac Fleet­wood in New Zealand. At that time there were seven 1959 Cadil­lacs in to­tal within our shores, and three of those were owned by the one in­di­vid­ual in Auck­land — to­day, there are 79! An­other long-term writer for this mag­a­zine, Trevor Stan­ley-joblin, wrote a My Clas­sic & I fea­ture on my Caddy, that short ar­ti­cle ap­pear­ing in is­sue No. 11.

Toon Town

By the time I moved to Christchurch with my wife in 1991, we’d be­come regular pur­chasers of the mag­a­zine. At the time, I was a bit of a car­toon­ist and saw some­thing in the lo­cal pa­per that I thought had po­ten­tial. The Trans­port Min­is­ter had just re­turned from an over­seas jun­ket and, apart from com­plain­ing that he had not been given his First Class ‘good­ies bag’, he an­nounced pub­licly that he thought New Zealan­ders should be driv­ing on the right-hand side of the road. Around that same time, Anita Mcnaught was one of the TV’S news­read­ers, so the car­toon I drew was Anita an­nounc­ing the Trans­port Min­is­ter’s idea — with some ed­i­to­rial li­cence, of course. I had the Min­is­ter quoted as say­ing that, “As from Jan­uary 01, 1995, cars will be re­quired to drive on the right-hand side of the road, for a trial pe­riod of three months … if this proves suc­cess­ful, then trucks and buses will be re­quired to do the same!” I sub­se­quently sent the car­toon to this mag­a­zine’s found­ing edi­tor, Greg Vin­cent, and it was in­cluded in the Jan­uary 1995 Club­scene col­umn.

Get­ting the Lead Out

In Christchurch, my wife and I were regular at­ten­dees at the Can­ter­bury Con­cours d’élé­gance and, as luck would have it, Greg Vin­cent at­tended sev­eral of th­ese shows — so I took the op­por­tu­nity to in­tro­duce my­self. This was the time when an­other for­mer mag­a­zine writer — that lovely Canadian, Tr­ish Duffy— was writ­ing about a pro­posal con­cern­ing a pos­si­ble switch to un­leaded petrol in New Zealand, a prospect that sent shock waves through the clas­sic-car fra­ter­nity. Tr­ish also re­ceived some hate mail and, as a con­se­quence, wanted to stop writ­ing about petrol. Not be­ing both­ered by a few threats from vested-in­ter­est groups, I agreed to take over from Tr­ish, who had al­ready done much of the re­search, and hap­pily pro­vided me with boxes of doc­u­ments from which I was able to take up the cud­gels with­out much ex­tra ef­fort.

It was an in­ter­est­ing time, and more than my fair share of ar­ti­cles fea­tur­ing my ef­forts to halt the on­set of un­leaded petrol were printed in var­i­ous news­pa­pers. Alas, the cam­paign was un­suc­cess­ful, and when the dreaded un­leaded was fi­nally in­tro­duced, I hap­pened to be tour­ing the US. With Tr­ish also out of the coun­try and the me­dia itch­ing to get some­one to com­ment, Greg Vin­cent pretty much ended up as the fall guy.

Grand­stand­ing Gabriel

As some of you will re­call, the main prob­lem with the early batches of un­leaded was high lev­els of aro­mat­ics — in the case of toluene, which was used to boost the oc­tane level, the level was as high as 54 per cent. This is what caused all the petrol fires and leaks, as it de­stroyed the rub­ber seals in ev­ery­thing. Oil com­pa­nies went into over­drive to mount dam­age con­trol, and lots of peo­ple re­ceived ‘con­fi­den­tial’ set­tle­ments.

In­ter­est­ingly — I asked this ques­tion at the time, and I still do — if un­leaded is so won­der­ful, how come we still have to use leaded Avgas in pis­ton-en­gined planes, jet boats, mo­tor rac­ing and the like? I’m still wait­ing for an an­swer.

Those with long mem­o­ries will re­call the mag­a­zine’s Of Oil Leaks and Old Leather, a regular col­umn penned by Gabriel. I started do­ing a car­toon strip called ‘Grand­stand­ing Gabriel’ — my car­i­ca­ture was quite re­al­is­tic, be­cause I knew the real per­son be­hind the pen name, hav­ing worked with him briefly in 1970. Sadly Gabriel, aka Nigel Roskilly, is no longer with us — but if noth­ing else he knew ev­ery­thing about Jaguars and, for­tu­nately for me and my car­toons, also had a good sense of hu­mour.

From time to time, and in ad­di­tion to my regular col­umn, I have penned a few fea­ture ar­ti­cles on var­i­ous cars, usu­ally on NZ Clas­sic Car of the Year place get­ters. On one such mem­o­rable oc­ca­sion I had the priv­i­lege of writ­ing about Ian Cle­ments’ Jaguar XK140 — the best bit be­ing that I got to drive it on two oc­ca­sions, the first on a road test out to Darfield and back, and again dur­ing the mag­a­zine’s photo shoot at Rua­puna, when Ian gra­ciously let me take the mighty beast around the full cir­cuit for a few laps. I didn’t squeal the tyres on the hair­pin, hon­est!

All in all, it has been an in­ter­est­ing 20 years. I’ve re­ally en­joyed be­ing a con­trib­u­tor to the mag­a­zine, one that I’ve seen de­velop into a top pub­li­ca­tion, and one I am very proud (and priv­i­leged) to still be a part of. I’ve worked out that my read­er­ship now to­tals at least 29 — 30, if Al­lan reads my ar­ti­cle twice! I can even re­call Trevor Stan­ley-joblin telling us all ages ago that, “One day Ja­panese cars will be­come clas­sics,” at the time I didn’t en­tirely agree with him, but now even I’m writ­ing fea­tures on Ja­panese clas­sics — al­beit owned by an en­thu­si­as­tic son!

It doesn’t seem like 20 years — where has all that time gone?

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