New Zealand Clas­sic Car

New Zealand Classic Car - - Words: Photos Courtesy -

Lotus has been beau­ti­fully re­stored and is an ab­so­lute credit to him. Roger pur­chased the car from well-known Cantabrian racer Ian Bis­man in 1997, and has re­stored it to the liv­ery it ran in when owned by Gra­ham Baker — the Christchurch driver who ran a va­ri­ety of cars car­ry­ing the num­ber 67. Roger went to the trou­ble of track­ing Baker down in the US to en­sure that he got the cor­rect shade of red — and dis­cov­ered that a gold pin­stripe bor­ders the red from the white nose and stripe. Bis­man — the 1973–’ 74 New Zealand Sportscar cham­pion — tells me he has, “Kept in touch with Roger since he and Paul Stich­bury [Ash­ley’s dad] ar­rived down in Ohoka [just north of Christchurch] in their truck to pick up the chas­sis and [a] heap of bits.” He also said that pay­ment was by way of “a wad of fold­ing stuff stored un­der the seat of his truck”.

More thoughts on colours

While I have no prob­lem with own­ers of For­mula Ju­nior Coop­ers want­ing to paint their car in dark green with the fa­mous white ‘ fore and aft’ stripes, or Lotus own­ers in green and yel­low — af­ter all, it’s their car, and they can paint it what­ever colour they want — there is gen­er­ally a story be­hind the liv­er­ies of fa­mous brands painted in ‘some­thing else’. In­ci­den­tally, the story as to why Col­lier’s BMC is pale blue is be­cause that was the colour of his first car (an MGA coupé). How­ever, I know of two more Lotus Ju­niors whose own­ers have re­sisted any temp­ta­tion to dress them like minia­ture For­mula 1 cars.

The black-and-red car is a Lotus 22 that will be sub­ject of a ma­jor fea­ture in an up­com­ing is­sue, but, in brief, it was im­ported by Roly Le­vis in late Novem­ber 1963, and was raced in the liv­ery it ar­rived with — it was the car driven by fu­ture Fer­rari For­mula 1 driver Jonathan Wil­liams. Roly died in Oc­to­ber 2013, and Wil­liams passed away in Au­gust 2014, and, as a trib­ute to both men, Noel Wood­ford — the car’s cur­rent cus­to­dian — has re­stored it us­ing the same colours in which it was first seen here over the sum­mer of 1963–’64.

Now, if I pre­sented two cars — one black and the other green with a sil­ver stripe — then asked the ques­tion as to which is in New Zealand’s of­fi­cial rac­ing colours, most peo­ple would nat­u­rally an­swer black. Of course, read­ers of are a more knowl­edge­able lot, and would doubt­less say that our na­tional sport­ing teams might per­form in black, but the an­swer is ac­tu­ally green and sil­ver, and they’d be spot on. Cleve­don racer Phil Foulkes de­cided our of­fi­cial rac­ing colours would be the per­fect choice with which to paint his Lotus 20/22, which looks stun­ning with its match­ing green wheels.

How­den Gan­ley used dark green and sil­ver when rac­ing in Europe with his For­mula 3 cars in the ’60s and the For­mula 5000 Mclarens in the early ’70s. Phil’s colours are a nod to How­den’s lead — and, in case you’re won­der­ing, I’m not pulling your leg — th­ese re­ally are our of­fi­cial rac­ing colours.

In the early days — like 1900 and the Gor­don Ben­nett races — colours were al­lo­cated to na­tions. France had blue, Ger­many white, Bel­gium yel­low, and the US red — yes, red, that is not a mis­print. Italy ini­tially had black, but, by some sleight of hand, ended up with red, then the US adopted white and dark blue.

The whole Bri­tish Rac­ing Green (BRG) thing was dealt with some years ago when I went through so many shades of ‘vert’ that I con­cluded that, tech­ni­cally, Ker­mit the Frog was BRG.

Any­way, back on topic. Even­tu­ally, all na­tions were al­lo­cated colours — some were con­nected to their sport­ing strips — for ex­am­ple, the Nether­lands was al­lo­cated or­ange — while oth­ers had noth­ing to do with sport­ing colours, or their flag, such those of Mex­ico, which was al­lo­cated gold. Per­haps the strangest sit­u­a­tion con­cerns coun­tries that had no rac­ing his­tory at all — for in­stance, Egypt was al­lo­cated vi­o­let with red num­bers — a most fetch­ing­sound­ing colour scheme that I have long wanted to see on a rac­ing car — per­haps one called ‘The Sphinx’, ir­re­spec­tive of whether its nose has been shot off.

Clas­sic com­men­tary

Over many years, I have helped with the com­men­tary at the Skope Clas­sic down at Mike Pero Mo­tor­sport Park in early Fe­bru­ary. It re­mains one of the best meet­ings of the year, and a lot of that has to do with the en­thu­si­as­tic Ste­wart fam­ily that spon­sors the event and the or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee that runs such a tight ship. One year, there were three Bu­gat­tis present — all blue, but each a dif­fer­ent shade. A ques­tion came up to the com­men­tary box, ‘Which one is cor­rect?’ At the lunch break, I made it my mis­sion to find out and went and met all three own­ers — of course, each of them as­sured me their car was right, and the oth­ers were just slightly off.

I re­called that when I was at Elkhart Lake 10 years ago for the 40th an­niver­sary of Can-am, I saw at least 12 dif­fer­ent in­ter­pre­ta­tions of Mclaren’s par­tic­u­lar shade of or­ange.

Oxo post­script

Fol­low­ing on from the De­cem­ber is­sue’s trib­ute to David Ox­ton and his sig­nif­i­cant birth­day, I re­ceived a let­ter from Aus­tralia telling how Oxo had been the writer’s boy­hood hero — and this guy only re­ally knew about the Ralt days at the very end of that long and suc­cess­ful ca­reer. And then there was the lady who told me — “You wrote about a sig­nif­i­cant birth­day, but didn’t men­tion his age — of course I know you meant 60!”

Oxo roared with laugh­ter when I told him that.

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