GLO­RIA T

A FESTIVA NAMED A G I F T THAT S PA R K E D A L I F E LONG PA S S I ON

New Zealand Classic Car - - Report - Pho­tos:

his Blaze Red Ford Festiva GL was pur­chased new by Sy­bil Irene Thorpe from Avon City Ford, Sock­burn, Christchurch, on March 9, 1992. The records show that Graeme Green was the sales­man, and the re­tail price was $21,895. Mrs Thorpe chose to have fit­ted, at ad­di­tional cost, clear plas­tic head­light cov­ers and black num­ber­plate sur­rounds. It seems as­ton­ish­ing to me that some fran­chise deal­ers would charge their cus­tomers for num­ber-plate sur­rounds that car­ried their com­pany’s name. These plate sur­rounds are still fit­ted to the car, and will re­main, as the plan is to re­tain the Festiva as close as pos­si­ble to the day it left the Avon City Ford show­room.

Sy­bil lived in the sub­urb of Wind­sor, east Christchurch. This en­tire sub­urb was to­tally red-zoned af­ter the dev­as­tat­ing 2010/’11 earth­quakes. As this New Zealand–new model did not have power steer­ing (as op­posed to the Ja­panese-as­sem­bled ex­am­ples, she must have found back­ing out of her awk­wardly placed garage dif­fi­cult. Dur­ing her 19 years of own­er­ship, Sy­bil kept her red Ford in im­mac­u­late con­di­tion. When she passed away, in late 2010, the odo was read­ing a mere 40,143km — an av­er­age of only 2112km per year.

First sight

One day, in early De­cem­ber 2010, I vis­ited a sign­writer friend of mine, Den­nis Thorpe. It was then that I first saw this car, as Den­nis was gen­tly wash­ing it down. I was im­me­di­ately im­pressed with its over­all con­di­tion. Den­nis ex­plained to me that his mother had pur­chased it new, had passed away a cou­ple of months ago, and that he was about to of­fer it for sale. With­out hes­i­ta­tion, a deal was done.

I ac­tu­ally pur­chased it for my grand­daugh­ter, So­phie O’grady, then aged 15. So it was, on Christ­mas Day of 2010, that I pre­sented the wee Ford to her.

two years while she at­tended univer­sity! How­ever, I pur­chased the car back, and im­me­di­ately em­barked on a com­plete ma­jor groom. Af­ter two full days of work, the Festiva was once again look­ing pris­tine. Plan­ning to sur­prise So­phie once more, the car was garaged for sev­eral months be­fore, fi­nally, one day in 2014, I pre­sented it to her for the sec­ond time.

My hope is that So­phie will keep this Ford for the rest of her life, to use on spe­cial oc­ca­sions — the likes of the an­nual events in Canterbury like the Park­side Me­dia Clas­sic Christ­mas Pic­nic, the All Ford Day, Twin Rivers Sum­mer Pa­rade, Henry Ford Memo­rial Rally, North Canterbury Clas­sic Tour, Kaik­oura Hop, Am­ber­ley All Makes Ve­hi­cle Ex­trav­a­ganza, plus the All Bri­tish Day.

While many read­ers may not re­gard this Ford as a present-day clas­sic, given the vin­tage car club’s slid­ing 30-year ac­cep­tance rule, it’s only five years and three months un­til this car will be el­i­gi­ble to par­tic­i­pate in its events. Over the past three years or so, I have no­ticed a slow but sure in­crease in ve­hi­cles man­u­fac­tured in the mid 1970s to early ’90s bracket par­tic­i­pat­ing in clas­sic car events. Henry Ford once said “His­tory is bunk”, but, let’s face it, you can’t stop progress.

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