Tim’s Bradford Drophead Gorgeous
T T his rare 1935 SS1 drophead coupé has recently been restored by Upper Classics NZ for an overseas client. A new ash frame was made along with the majority of outer body panels. Many parts had to be cast and machined or made from scratch to replace miss
his vehicle was sold new to its first owner on September 14, 1950, and he retained the Bradford until January 1990, when he sold it to another Patea local with 51,021 miles (82,110km) on the clock. It was subsequently purchased by Tim Chadwick — a car enthusiast and regular contributor to Nzclassic Car — in January 1993, with 52,281 miles on the odo. Tim then used the Bradford until March 2006 when it failed its WOF for a number of small mechanical defects — including failing door hinges — most caused by rot in the car’s wooden A-pillars. After Tim’s tragic death in a car accident, the Brady passed to Tim’s dad Robin, and the current owner, John Wolf, purchased it from him in 2010.
The Bradford remains in very original condition and John intends to keep it that way. Unfortunately, the rot in the A-pillars has spread to the cross members above and below the windscreen, the wooden floor, the B-pillars, and the framework at the rear of the cab. At the time of writing all the rotten wooden framework has been carefully replaced to the original design and pattern. The original panels will go back on soon, and John also has the original wooden deck that was built by Spragg and Sons Ltd, Hawera — this also needs a lot of work.
We look forward to seeing the Bradford being completed — especially with its strong connection to the magazine and the late Tim Chadwick.
Ken Brough agrees, the longer you keep a car the less likely you are to sell it — and moments after he told me that he would have to cut off his right arm rather than sell his Datsun 240Z, the Te Awamutu enthusiast revealed a profile of the 240Z tattooed on his right arm.
You need to be a rabid follower of a particular car to have its outline emblazoned on your body, but Ken’s that sort of bloke. In-between designing helpful machines for farmers, and racing speedway, Brough just loves spending time with his Datsun — a car he’s now owned for 18 years. And it is a rather special 240Z, as the message inscribed on the number plate surround indicates. The car still carries the original silver on black plates with the registration FV4253, matching the car that graced the cover of Motorman magazine in November 1971.
It is rare to see a vehicle you drove 44 years ago, but Ken was more than happy to drive to Auckland recently to reunite me with the memorable machine. What’s more, this was the first 240Z to arrive in New Zealand. Registered on August 11, 1971, by the local Nissan Datsun distributor, it was used for promotional purposes and driven by the company’s managing director, Keith Broadbent. Two examples of the brilliant Datsun actually landed here in the initial shipment and Ken, being Ken, was keen to track down the other car. He spotted FT2185 for sale three years ago with an asking price around $20,000. It went to a Christchurch dealer with 93,000 genuine miles on the clock (149,669km), and four months later was on-sold to Malaysia for $30,000.
Something you love
One of the joys of owning classic cars is that they usually do not depreciate. When Brough bought FV4253 from a Wellington owner in 1997 it cost him $7000, and today he reckons its value is well north of $30,000. Not that he is likely to ever part with the car — you just don’t sell something you love.
Ken had long been keen on Datsuns,
Late in 1967, the four-door Datsun 1600 sedan went into local assembly in New Zealand and it was, without doubt, the best Japanese car you could buy at the time, and a clear indication Nissan meant business. But of course, the 1600 could not match the wow factor of the soon-tobe-released 240Z.
Unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1969, the car went on sale in the United States in mid-1970, and more than a year later there was still a six-month waiting list. Nissan was shipping 2500 240Zs to the States each month, while the maker put actual demand at around 4000 cars.
A low frontal area and clean, wellproportioned lines were the key to this Datsun. Perhaps the car looks slightly nose-heavy with the long front-hinged bonnet and short tail, but weight distribution is better than it appears since the engine is mounted well back. Just over half the dry weight rests over the front wheels.
Boasting good proportions between the body and greenhouse, plus overall styling that is almost impossible to dislike, the 240Z was always destined to be a winner. Of course the car was built down to a price, evidenced by the standard fitment of steel wheels with hubcaps,