New Zealand Classic Car - - Feature Car -

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.

Ad­vanced De­sign

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.

Retro Tour­ing

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.

Ford’s nicely de­signed deluxe banjo steer­ing wheel sets off the in­te­rior with its front bench seat beau­ti­fully

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