NZ clas­sic car gifted to Bri­tish mu­seum

South Waikato News - - Motoring -

A 68-year-old New Zealand-owned clas­sic car now has a new home in a Bri­tish mu­seum.

The 1948 Ri­ley RMB has been shipped across the world from New Zealand to Hamp­shire by its long-term owner, who has do­nated it to the Na­tional Mo­tor Mu­seum Trust at Beaulieu.

James Welch, who had known the car for much of its life and had painstak­ingly re­stored it, do­nated the Ri­ley to the mu­seum and paid to have it trans­ported there.

‘‘I am 74 and with no ben­e­fi­cia­ries,’’ Welch said.

‘‘I had dreamed that this car, be­cause of its rar­ity, should go to a place where it can be ex­hib­ited for all to see. The time was right to send it off.

‘‘Af­ter hav­ing this car in my life for 61 years, I am so very pleased that it has gone to such a pres­ti­gious home.’’

This Ri­ley RMB 2.5 litre has a re­mark­able story to tell.

James Welch’s fa­ther, Pat Welch, ac­quired the Ri­ley in 1955 as part pay­ment on his farm, af­ter the car’s owner had brought it with him when em­i­grat­ing to New Zealand.

Join­ing a car club, Pat Welch then started to com­pete in hill climbs and speed events, ac­com­pa­nied by his son.

‘‘My fa­ther sold the car in 1970,’’ said James Welch.

‘‘Soon af­ter­wards the new owner’s son fell asleep at the wheel, when on his way to Welling­ton. The right side of the Ri­ley was dam­aged and it was then aban­doned out­side for some years, hence the ma­jor de­te­ri­o­ra­tion.’’ Af­ter lan­guish­ing out­side in all weath­ers, the stricken Ri­ley was then stored for sev­eral more years in a shed.

The car’s spell of bad luck ended in 1985 when it was bought back by James Welch, who started a to­tal restora­tion, with help from the Ri­ley RM Club.

‘‘When I think of all the work that I did on it, my guess would be that I have spent be­tween 2500 and 3000 hours on the project. I spent ap­prox­i­mately 150 hours on the in­te­rior fas­cia wood, while the hub caps alone took up 100 hours.’’

James Welch with his re­stored 1948 Ri­ley RMB in New Zealand be­fore he do­nated it to Bri­tain’s Na­tional Mo­tor Mu­seum.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.