New Zealand Classic Car - - Feature Car -

Those of you who reg­u­larly visit Auck­land’s Ta­maki Drive will, no doubt, have no­ticed this iconic 1967 Citroën H Van parked up at Okahu Bay. Not only does this mag­nif­i­cently re­stored ve­hi­cle serve up the best or­ganic Kokako coffee to go but it also al­ways has a tan­ta­liz­ing as­sort­ment of fresh muffins on of­fer and, dur­ing the sum­mer months, sev­eral flavours of Kapiti ice cream for those want­ing more than just their usual morn­ing caf­feine fix.

It’s all a labour of love, and the Citroën, aptly named ‘René’ — French for ‘born again’ — by the owner’s wife, is a mag­nif­i­cent sight and at­tracts plenty of at­ten­tion from passers-by. With this in mind, we couldn’t re­sist the urge to take a drive and check out René and its cre­ator, John Martin, aka Tin­man.

Caffè crema

John Martin’s pas­sion for clas­sic cars be­gan when he was 18 years old and de­cided to go ral­ly­ing in a Mk1 Es­cort. John built the car him­self, in­clud­ing the en­gine, and, like most of us in our younger days, blew most of his money on his car while com­pet­ing in ral­lies around the North Is­land, both lo­cally and na­tion­ally or­ga­nized events.

Af­ter about four years of lo­cal ral­ly­ing, John headed off for his OE and, while in Eng­land, se­cured a job at the home of Bri­tish mo­tor sport — Sil­ver­stone — work­ing for a fac­tory-backed race team owned by Andy Daw­son.

Andy achieved renown dur­ing the ’70s and ’80s as a World Rally Cham­pi­onship driver and also com­peted in New Zealand. Dur­ing the late ’80s and ’90s, he be­gan to lean more to­wards cir­cuit rac­ing and, in 1987, bought a for­mula Ford that he trans­formed into a front-run­ning car. From there, he moved on to For­mula 3, and his team, Daw­son Auto De­vel­op­ments (DAD), en­tered the 1988 Bri­tish For­mula 3 cham­pi­onship with a Ralt RT30. DAD ran Por­tuguese driver An­to­nio Si­moes in the Bri­tish For­mula 3 Cham­pi­onship in 1989 and en­joyed fur­ther suc­cess in the same se­ries in 1990.

John worked for Andy Daw­son’s team for about eight months then, with some money in his back pocket, headed off to ex­plore Europe — an ex­pe­ri­ence that in­cluded help­ing to sail a cata­ma­ran from Hol­land down the coast to Eng­land. Alas, all good things must come to an end, as they say, and, in 1990, the time came for John to re­turn to New Zealand.

Af­ter a cou­ple of years back home, John was in

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