BEHIND THE GARAGE DOOR
You may be forgiven for thinking your eyes are playing tricks on you. This very interesting project that the team at Jaguar Workshop in East Tamaki has underway at the moment is a 1953 Jaguar MKVII ute. The vehicle started life as a 3.5-litre manual saloon that has belonged to two other well-known Jaguar specialists and dismantlers over the years.
It is currently receiving a full ground-up resurrection and is destined to become the company’s iconic everyday workhorse.
Improvements and further mods include a 5.3-litre V12 Jaguar repower to replace the original 4.2-litre six-cylinder engine plus an XJS independent-front-suspension upgrade, full body restoration, interior leather retrim and British racing green paintwork.
Meeting the challenges of rebuilding classic trucks and cars has never daunted the workshop restoration crew at Bill Richardson Transport World, and the results speak for themselves.
But curator Graeme Williams has a real challenge on his hands with the latest arrival in the collection, a 1935 Chrysler Imperial Custom Le Baron CW, to give it its full title.
“We are still finding out a lot more about this car, and assessing it. It will be a very big job,” Graeme said.
The very rare Chrysler left the Detroit factory bound for Britain and Chrysler UK in an attempt to attract luxury-car buyers. It languished for some time, before Chrysler fitted a 1936 grille on it in an effort to raise buyer interest.
One of the first cars designed in a wind tunnel, it was quite advanced for its time, especially compared with the square lines of the company’s cars up to 1933. However, Chrysler’s radical rethink in car styling was not an instant success with the American car-buying public, and sales suffered.
The car eventually came to New Zealand in 1971 but fitted with a V8 engine.
“It’s owner recognized it for what it was and had the presence of mind to keep the original engine, a 385ci (6.3-litre) flathead straight-eight, so we are fortunate [that] he kept it,” Graeme told us.
A big surprise was the condition of the big straight-eight when it was opened up. “It’s in excellent condition and the car looks like it has done only the recorded 68,000 miles [109,435km],” he said.
Here is a chance for the public to help out, as Bill Richardson Transport World is on the lookout for radiator tanks suitable to rebuild or pattern off for this car.
“A CX radiator is similar but four inches [102mm] shorter, but the CW is stepped to fit under the Airflow grille. If anyone knows of tanks we can use, we would be very interested,” Graeme said.
It’s an eight-seater, and it should also prove challenging to restore the sumptuous interior and fittings that came in these Imperials. They were the top-of-the-line in Chrysler’s model range, and offered many advanced features for the day.
“The King of Sweden ran one, and one was known to exist in Indonesia. Two resided in the US, and the owners of these are assisting Transport World with patterns for replacement parts and information,” Graeme said.
A product of Chrysler’s Airflow styling, the art-deco look will fit in perfectly with the collection. An impressive car even in its unrestored condition, this piece of American luxury motoring is a superb addition to the fleet.
If you’d like to let us in behind your garage door, send in a few pics and a brief description of your project to firstname.lastname@example.org