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
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.
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.