New Zealand Classic Car - - Letters -

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.

1st Pre ’60 Clas­sic — 1953 Cadil­lac Coupe de Ville John Mor­ri­son’s Grand 1977 Mer­cury Mar­quis Best Rep­re­sented Club — Auck­land Corvette Club Rock and rollers

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