NEW ZEALAND CLASSIC CAR READERS’ WRITES
Igreatly enjoyed your last issue and, in particular, the feature on the Daimler V8. I spent my university vacation in 1964 working for Croydon Motors in Christchurch as a general workshop dogsbody. Much of my time was spent preparing Daimler V8s for delivery. The cars would arrive at Lyttelton by ship, batteries were fitted, and they were then delivered to Croydon Motors by transporter.
The cars were protected in transit by a layer of grease over the whole body. The first job was to remove this using kerosene before washing and polishing. As they were a luxury vehicle, Clem the workshop foreman was pretty fussy at the quality of the final product. I was already into cars at that stage, having graduated from a Morris 8 to a wreck of an MG TA, and took great pleasure preparing such beautiful vehicles. I occasionally had the joy of taking a just-prepared Daimler through the testing station, and then delivering it to its new owner. I well remember taking a sparkling silver V8 to a lady owner in Fendalton, and returning with the trade-in. The lady in question never even came out to look at the new car, simply gave me the keys to the trade-in and said goodbye — an unimaginable response to a car enthusiast who could only dream of ever owning such a beautiful car.
Incidentally, Croydon Motors was also the agent for the Prince Gloria at that time, and a number of companies were
wheels for its new role as a hill-climber!
With spares including another Climax engine, spare gear ratios, and de Dion, plus original knock-on wire wheels, we, too, underestimated its value and it languished in our parts room for a while, with the occasional quick blat down the side street next to our workshop. Hell, it was neat!
At a time when our charge-out rate was $6.60 an hour, and with a new business to support, we decided that we couldn’t afford, or justify, the $650 it was going to cost for new aluminium bodywork for the front of the Lotus, so we made the decision to sell it.
Since then, every time I see an article about the Eleven, I always think, like all of us who have ever let a classic slip through their fingers, if only!
I would be very interested, if only for nostalgia reasons, to find out if any of your motor-sport and collector readers know of ‘my’ car’s destiny and present whereabouts. At some stage I heard that it had been restored to its original glory and was racing in historic racing around the country, but I have never taken the search further. Your article has rekindled fond memories and thoughts of the car’s current whereabouts.
Maurice Hollands, via email