F ord-badged vehicles are prominent in the range of projects currently underway at Custom Metalshapers Ltd in East Tamaki. Notable in this are those small British Fords that are becoming increasingly popular for high- dollar restorations and repowers.
This Mk1 Cortina is in for a full body restoration to remedy extensive rust and collision damage. Every exterior panel will be removed and either repaired or replaced with handmade or used parts, while the undercarriage is strengthened for the new drivetrain.
The Mk2 Escort van has had the rust removed and the bodyshell repaired to a hammer-and-file finish, allowing the project to progress to the mechanical trial-fit stage. It has a Lynn Rogers– prepared Ford 2.0-litre OHC motor, and the drivetrain and braking system have been uprated to suit. The engine bay features a completely custom fit- out, with custom touches extending to the exhaust, electrical system, and interior.
It’s not all British stuff, though — this Falcon XY has been in the same family for 40 years and, following a false start at another repair shop, is now at Custom Metalshapers for a total body restoration. With rust and existing collision damage, a complete teardown was required forward of the firewall, with many newly patterned panels from Rare Spares incorporated into the restoration. The next run of work will involve the fitment of four new door skins and a pair of outer sill panels, before the rear guards are removed to eliminate any remaining rust.
Visit Custom Metalshapers’ website — custommetalshapers.co.nz — to learn more about its services, and search ‘Custom Metalshapers’ on Facebook to see more on these and other restorations.
Scaling the stairs of the control tower at Circuit MontTremblant to collect lap-time sheets, I was suddenly pushed to one side by a pair of sturdy minders. Moments later, the then Canadian prime minister, Pierre Trudeau, brushed by me and all was explained. Trudeau was there to drop the flag for the first of three Formula 1 Grands Prix to be held at the beautiful racetrack located outside the village of Saint-jovite in the Laurentian Mountains.
It was September 1968, and my first visit to Canada. A few days earlier, at Mclaren headquarters at Colnbrook near London, director Teddy Mayer had briefed me that French was the first language in Quebec — something Rob Walker’s driver, Jo Siffert, did not realize when he parked his hire car at an airport entrance in Montreal. A Mountie asked him to move the car at once, and Jo retorted with some rude remarks in French, only to cop even ruder remarks back in French.
Weeks earlier, I had applied in writing for Canadian Grand Prix press credentials, but the sponsor, Players, had hired a public relations company which effectively told me to bugger off when I lined up with other journalists for the appropriate pass. Luckily there was some Commonwealth spirit among the local writers standing with me, and with their support I eventually gained accreditation.
Joining the F1 circus
Negotiating customs at Montreal airport the day before the race, I chatted with three Dunlop tyre motor-sport technicians who were on the same flight from London. They immediately offered me a lift to Saint-jovite, a 140-kilometre run on mainly tolled highways. One bonus in travelling alone is that you are more likely to be offered assistance.
I managed to snag a room at the charming Mont Tremblant log-cabin hotel, at which almost all the Grand Prix teams lodged — Formula 1 was akin to a tight-knit circus 47 years ago, rather than the huge commercial enterprise it is today. The way money has devalued over the decades can be seen from the notes I made in my diary for September 18, 1968 — although at the time, the daily room rate of US$10.50 plus 2.5 per cent sales tax seemed rather expensive!
The weather was baking hot, and I was in the hotel’s swimming pool little more than four hours after arriving in Canada. During the next few days, poolside before and after practice was the place to be, and the location for many battles between drivers and mechanics. Chief pool protagonist was BRM team manager Tim Parnell, son of Reg, who won the 1957 New Zealand Grand