READERS’ WRITES R
eferencing your feature Riding the Revolutionary Road — New Zealand Classic Car, October 2015 — has me identifying a few of the Chrysler Corp cars spotted by the author in Cuba.
The green sedan (p. 76) is a 1957 De Soto Diplomat (Canadian and for export), as evidenced by its loop front bumper and single headlights: 1958 models had dual headlights and a ‘drop centre’ in the front loop bumper.
The green wagon (p. 82) is more difficult to identify. It is a 1957 Dodge from the windscreen and front doors forward, and only two of the optional four headlights have been fitted. The roofline looks as if it has been altered and is taller and more new-fangled radials, which were somewhat wider in the tread and made parallel parking a bit of a chore. They also had the habit of unfurling the swage around the wheel arches if you slumped fast across a kerb with the wheels turned on lock.
On p. 26 of your feature, on the photograph showing the Daimler’s side profile, the car’s stance looks incorrect — it should be lower at the front and not horizontal, as this car is. I assume the owner has shimmed up the front springs to prevent the oversize tyres fouling the guards. The car’s dashboard could be improved by fitting a period radio and [by having] the trim at the sides smoothed out. The image on p. 24 shows the number plate mounted without the original panel, as shown on the lower part of p. 25. It looks naked without it — rather like wearing shoes without socks. Also, the small wedge-shaped red lens on the front park lights is fitted the wrong way around — the point of the wedge should be to the front, blunt end to the rear. In the past, I’ve had discussions with owners at car shows about these items being fitted incorrectly — they usually say that they’ve seen them fitted in this manner in magazines.
Lastly, with regard to the weather strips fitted around the doors — I’ve seen many Daimler 2½ and Jaguar Mk2 cars at shows, but have never seen these items fitted correctly. When genuine strips are fitted correctly, a bead of rubber protrudes out and fills the gap between the door and body. In the ’70s, I worked for the Jaguar agent in Wellington (Shelly Motors), and, at that time, these cars were only a few years old, so I know how they should look.
I have owned most Jaguar models between 1956 and 1982, except for the XJ-S and E-type, and I still own eight Jaguars. In that time, I’ve owned five Mkxs but have never owned a Daimler V8 — maybe one day?
Robert Kemsley, Hawera
We hope that all Daimler and Mk2 owners have taken note of Robert’s knowledgeable comments. AGW
When you think of the US, the words ‘big’, ‘bold’, ‘brassy’, and ‘beautiful’ spring to mind, and, naturally enough, the cars manufactured in that powerhouse of the world can be similarly described. Maybe in some cases ‘beautiful’ could be more in the eye of the beholder, but then, as with John Morrison’s nearly six-metre-long 1977 Mercury Marquis, the adjective ‘grand’ is an apt substitute.
In any case, there didn’t appear to be any vehicles on show at the Bay of Plenty (BOP) Mustang Owners Club Extreme All USA Day in November 2015 that could be described as ‘small’, ‘economical’, or ‘cute’.
Which is just as well, because it is the former set of terms that fascinates us, if the number of vehicles on show and fans coming through the gates is anything to go by. Admittedly, numbers were down, courtesy of the weather and a dodgy forecast. Nevertheless, as has become customary at the annual BOP All USA Day, there was plenty to admire and covet.
There were also trade stalls vending all things automotive, including offerings from the event’s main sponsors, Extreme Automotive Parts and Swann Insurance. No one had an excuse for going hungry, because American hot-dogs were readily available, along with other fast food and drink. There were even couples who gave a spirited demonstration of rock-and-roll dancing to the evocative rhythms that only Elvis could provide.
BOP Mustang Owners Club president Paul Stops and his willing team of members pulled out all the stops to ensure yet again that the Waipuna Hospice would benefit from our collective enthusiasm for automotive Americana. He explained that, formerly, a different worthy cause was selected each year, but, this time, the membership decided to support the Hospice again and possibly will do so into the future because of its local focus.
Occupying pride of place at the show’s entrance were two cars to which every complimentary descriptive applied. The first was Dave and Kay Roche’s 2014 Shelby GT 500 Super Snake widebody that surely must be the ultimate
Mustang. Add the adjectives ‘powerful’ and ‘menacing’ to the aforementioned descriptives. The second was a 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air that must have cost owners Steve and Leanne Milne a fortune to bring to the modified state it is in today. Add the adjectives ‘amazing’ and ‘magnificent’. Both cars were judged first in their respective categories.
Of course, there were many more cars and light trucks deserving mention, such as the Cadillacs, to which I am very partial, especially the 1953 Coupe de Ville that took out first place in the Classic Pre ’60 class. All the others on show from the ’50s to the ’80s were pretty good, too, thanks to the Cadillac La Salle Club. Add ‘awesome’.
Another car that stood out was the 1960 Studebaker Silver Hawk. The sponsors agreed, as did many others, because Extreme Automotive Parts awarded it Sponsor’s Choice. Try ‘outstanding’.
No surprises that the Auckland Corvette Club won Best Represented Club with its turnout of at least 15 cars. Thankfully, the club has made attending the All USA Day part of its annual programme. ‘Wonderful’.
Another club which has hitherto flown under my radar is the Classic American Club, which no doubt has been represented in past years. This year, it turned up with flags, and, as Shane Beckham, past president and owner of a 1958 Ford Fairlane, explained, the club encourages friendly, family membership from anyone who has an American car older than 25 years. ‘Unmissable’ springs to mind.
It was good to see past winners looking just as immaculate as when they had first appeared on the scene. Among these was Graham and Debra Coombes’ 1964½ Mustang, which, over the years since its restoration, has won more awards than there is space to mention (it has previously featured in New Zealand Classic Car magazine). Another was the 2008 Chevrolet Corvette that was judged Best Muscle Car in 2010 and 2013, which wasn’t a bad feat considering the show is judged by members of a Mustang car club.
Superlatives exhausted and rain arriving, my assistant and I deemed it prudent to beat a reluctant retreat, downcast that we have to wait another year to be impressed by the big, bold, and beautiful but confident that next year’s All USA Day will be just as unmissable as this year’s.