Gen­tle­man racer

New Zealand Classic Car - - Report -

I en­joyed Donn An­der­son’s ar­ti­cle Gen­tle­man Racer, Mo­tor Trader Tony Shelly [Mo­tor­man, New Zealand Clas­sic Car Is­sue No. 313], and it brought back a few mem­o­ries for me.

I went to work for the Shelly Group in 1968. I had been work­ing for W&R Small­bone Ltd Re­nault Di­vi­sion in Welling­ton for a few years as a spare-parts as­sis­tant. The Re­naults (Dauphine, R8, and R10) were as­sem­bled by Todd Mo­tors in Pe­tone from CKD [com­plete knock­down] packs of 50, but that is all an­other story. The Re­nault fran­chise went to Camp­bell Mo­tors Lim­ited (it had Peu­geot at that point), and af­ter dis­cus­sions with Hugo Bed­ford in Auck­land, I elected to stay and try my luck at jobs in Welling­ton.

An­glo Mo­tor Im­porters Ltd, Cambridge Ter­race, Welling­ton, ad­ver­tised for some­body to run the Citroën ‘op­er­a­tion’ (parts and the odd car im­port), and I ap­plied. Ken Carter (KE Carter Mo­tors Tau­ranga, then a big GM fran­chise op­er­a­tion, part of the Shelly Group) hired me, and I met Tony at my in­ter­view. From my per­spec­tive, Ken Carter was ef­fec­tively the power be­hind the throne in the New Zealand Shelly op­er­a­tions, and a very shrewd op­er­a­tor. I re­ported to Ken, and he was a great guy to work for. The Xmas par­ties in Tau­ranga were great; Tony at­tended with Leslie, and we so­cial­ized at Ken and Di’s home. In the lat­ter stages of An­glo’s op­er­a­tions, I also looked af­ter the Lo­tus parts busi­ness. It did not take much time, be­ing some­what small in vol­ume! Donn An­der­son says in the body of his ar­ti­cle “He [Tony] was en­joy­ing the free­dom of the mo­tor trade in Hawaii af­ter the re­stric­tive con­fines of New Zealand”. Send­ing Tony to deal with Cus­toms of­fi­cials or Trade and In­dus­try of­fi­cials was not a good idea!

Archibald’s, Shorter’s, Moller’s, and Shelly had ra­tio­nal­ized the Jaguar busi­ness with the for­ma­tion of Jaguar Dis­trib­u­tors Ltd, the cars be­ing as­sem­bled in Nel­son with CBU [com­pletely built-up] XJS later on. It was then agreed that (for a num­ber of rea­sons!) Citroën would be put on a sim­i­lar foot­ing, and Palmer­ston North was se­lected as the base, mainly I think due to the ex­is­tence of two Moller busi­nesses there.

PO Box 46,020, Herne Bay, Auck­land 1147

So, in 1971, Av­enue Mo­tors on Fitzher­bert Av­enue be­came Citroën Dis­trib­u­tors Ltd. At that time, Tony was driv­ing a 1968 Porsche 911 (with the lovely fac­tory mags, which I was con­stantly chas­ing spe­cial Miche­lin tyres for). I was asked to move to Palmer­ston North to set up and run the na­tional Citroën spare-parts op­er­a­tion. Tony and I had a few trips be­tween Welling­ton and Palmer­ston North dur­ing the set-up of the en­tire op­er­a­tion, all con­ducted at high speed — I re­call 130mph [209kph] show­ing at one point on the dial. One of the trips was done in a new Tri­umph 2.5 PI, the new boy on the block. Its in­jec­tion sys­tem was cour­tesy of Lu­cas (aka the Prince of Dark­ness). The PI was no match for the Bosch-in­jected Citroën DS21. At this point in time, Tony’s choice of cars was “911 first, Citroën Sa­fari for the moun­tain trips and an XJ6 for fronting”.

I took over the gen­eral man­age­ment of Citroën Dis­trib­u­tors shortly prior to Tony mov­ing to Honolulu in 1976. Tony asked me to “drop in” when I was on my way to visit Citroën in Paris to look at his Mazda parts op­er­a­tion; how­ever, it could not be man­aged due to tim­ing. My rec­ol­lec­tion is that the early days in Honolulu for Shelly Mazda were not easy, how­ever, along came the Mazda 323 and the rest is his­tory. I last saw Tony quite by chance when we bumped into each other at Honolulu air­port in 1986.

I did not at­tend Tony’s fu­neral; how­ever, I will al­ways re­mem­ber him, es­pe­cially for his gen­er­ous do­na­tion to Scots Col­lege where his boys were ed­u­cated.

Gordon Parry

PS. OK, I ’fess-up to a per­sonal in­ter­est. I grew up with a 1947 Mer­cury, which has a grille that has to be an all-time clas­sic. In­ter­est­ing num­bers in­deed, Gordon, but no one can ig­nore the gi­ant strides taken to make cars more fuel ef­fi­cient over the last decade or so. BTW, the 1947 Mer­cury is one of my favs as well. AFW

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