FEATURE CAR W
ith its classic styling and handsome demeanour it’s hardly surprising that Ford’s Deluxe series of cars have always been desirable amongst collectors and hot rodders alike. Indeed, when it comes to the latter enthusiasts — like it or not — seven decades of customization by devoted fans have elevated these Fords to a lofty status as one of hot rodding’s greatest cultural icons.
Ford’s 1939 line-up was not only technologically advanced, but according to many, also included some of the best-styled cars to ever come out of Detroit.
Having introduced its two-tier styling for the first time in 1938, Ford offered buyers the option of either the base Standard or the upmarket Deluxe model — it seemed that Ford had a car for everyone. 1n 1939 the Standard model was fitted with nothing more than a modified 1938 body, whilst the Deluxe model received an entirely different look complete with sleek, new frontal styling distinguished by a vertical stainless-steel grille. Uncluttered front guards boasted smoothly styled teardrop headlights that blended in nicely to the new guards, while the restyled bonnet was missing the old-style louvres, these now replaced with a simple and elegant trim ‘spear’ down the side. The running boards remained, an intrinsic item on all cars within Ford’s model line-up for 1939.
The Standard models had only four body styles, but the Deluxe line featured a coupe, Tudor sedan, sedan, station wagon, convertible coupe, and the fancy fourdoor delivery station wagon.
Changes were not just limited to cosmetics, as the ’39 Ford Deluxe models also included mechanical changes — for instance, the old mechanical braking system was now replaced with an infinitely more effective hydraulic set-up. This was a case of better late than never, as Henry Ford had resisted installing hydraulic brakes for many years, finally succumbing three years after Chevrolet and 11 years after Plymouth included such modern niceties within their automotive ranges. And 1939 was also the last year that Ford offered the popular rumble seat for the convertible coupe.
his passion for just about anything with wheels and an engine, particularly old American V8s and hot rods. However, he is probably best remembered for his !air, and competitive battles on the dirt oval, doing what he loved best — racing stock cars such as his trusty old ’38 Chevy coupe. Tony, Louie’s son, has restored that famous Chevy back to its former glory, and still brings it out to play on the odd occasion, such as this year’s Leadfoot Festival.
Tony remembers working on cars with his father and brothers from a very early age, and would help his father strip down old cars. Louie’s workshop had old Ford and Chevy engines lying around everywhere, as well as just about every other kind of engine you could think of, together with loads and loads of car parts. One of Tony’s jobs was to strip down old gearboxes and put aside the parts worth saving in an old nail box, and then throw away the broken or worn bits for scrap. Gearboxes would then be rebuilt using all the good parts left over from other units. Not only was Louie an A-grade mechanic and engineer, he also owned tow trucks, and that meant he would collect damaged cars which he would often end up buying and dismantling for parts.
Tony recalls his father as being a very sociable character, who would often have his good friends visit to help out on whatever the current project was — so it
wasn’t uncommon for Tony, as a 10-year-old, to be sitting around the workshop with his father and famous Kiwi racers such as Red Dawson, Johnny Riley and Garth Souness, to name but a few. According to Tony, these guys were just as crazy as his father, they would often get bored sitting around the workshop, and would occasionally relieve that boredom by racing each other around the block in their old V8s.
When Tony was 16 he bought a ’57 Chevy fourdoor sedan, around the same time as he started his apprenticeship as a panel-beater. As he progressed as an apprentice, he also completely restored the bodywork on his Chevy, and installed a big-block 396ci (6.48-litre) Chevrolet V8 engine — quite a big deal in the early ’70s. A big-block engine with oodles of power under the bonnet meant one thing — drag racing. Tony frequently attended meetings at Meremere along with the likes of Dave Loose and Ivan Junovich, now household names amongst the classic V8 and hot-rod fraternity.
Many years later Tony would set up a business in Pukekohe — Counties Mufflers — but his heart was in aviation, and he decided to pursue this passion with more vigour, and went to work at Ardmore as an aircraft engineer. Unfortunately that business closed down, so Tony set up his own business maintaining aircraft and helicopters.
Tony went to work for Avspecs in Ardmore in 2006, restoring World War II aircraft. At about this time, he purchased a 1941 Stearman Biplane that he still owns today, along with a Cessna and a helicopter.
Tony admits that his wife, Duane, has given him pretty much a free rein over the years regarding his passion for aircraft, classic cars and, more recently, rolling beautifully restored cars out of his workshop for satisfied customers. Finally, the time had come for Tony to repay her years of loyal support by building something that she wanted — a retro-style caravan that they could enjoy together.
It was Duane who began the search for a caravan, eventually finding a New Zealand–built 1973 4.2-metre Oxford caravan in the Coromandel town of Matarangi.