BY’ GONE AU­TOS OWNER MAL­COLM CLARK CALL­ING TIME

New Zealand Classic Car - - National And International News -

Mal­colm’s busi­ness card reads, “Clas­sic and Sports Car main­te­nance, Race Car prepa­ra­tion”, an ac­cu­rate de­scrip­tion …

A me­chanic’s me­chanic

Walk­ing onto By’gone Auto Ser­vices’ yard is like walk­ing onto one of the pages of New Zealand Clas­sic Car. Per­haps that’s why Mal­colm has been such a sup­porter of this mag­a­zine dur­ing the life­time of both busi­nesses.

The cars sit­ting there wait­ing to be worked on or col­lected are straight from the pages of this mag­a­zine — for ex­am­ple, a wild Hillman Avenger wagon that has a Toy­ota V8 sit­ting un­der the bon­net; it’s only af­ter a re­ally close look that you can see it’s no or­di­nary wornout Hillman Avenger. Keep­ing it com­pany are cars that count — there’s a brace of Rover P6s, a Lo­tus 7 sit­ting next to a Se­ries 2A Land Rover, a Daim­ler 250, and oth­ers.

In the work­shop, me­chan­ics Tim and Ben are work­ing on a va­ri­ety of in­ter­est­ing ve­hi­cles. A MKI Ze­phyr con­vert­ible is sit­ting there along­side an Alfa Ju­nior and a Mor­ris 8. Be­side those is a Beach Buggy, and the list goes on and on.

To step from the work­shop through to Mal­colm Clark’s of­fice is to en­ter a shrine to New Zealand automobilia. Piles of man­u­als share of­fice and shelf space with a myr­iad of Targa awards. Thir­teen of those on one wall, but there’s an un­counted num­ber piled up on the end of one of those shelves — enough of those Targa plates to cater for a very large din­ner party. Among them is an out­right win­ner’s plate from 1999, and be­side it an­other, although this time a wick­er­work pic­nic plate with a crudely mounted pair of sun­glasses stuck to it and a hand­writ­ten la­bel: “Targa’s Blin­d­est Driver Award”. Mal­colm laughs, as he says it was for a mis­take he made that cost them an out­right win in the 1998 Targa.

Lawn mow­ers, rac­ers, and clas­sics

Mal­colm be­gan his work­ing days as an ap­pren­tice me­chanic for the Auckland City Coun­cil and “worked on ev­ery­thing they owned, from cars, buses, and trucks, to lawn mow­ers.” It all stood him in good stead for what was to come. He re­fined that train­ing in a cou­ple of other es­tab­lish­ments be­fore go­ing to Aus­tralia and do­ing the rounds there with 18 jobs in two and a half years. Back in New Zealand, he com­pleted his busi­ness for­ma­tion by owner-driv­ing a truck for a while as he launched him­self into the busi­ness of mend­ing ve­hi­cles and even build­ing com­pe­ti­tion cars.

He started in his own car shed by pre­par­ing a Sun­beam Rapier for com­pe­ti­tion. To­day, the busi­ness is lo­cated in an in­dus­trial park on Auckland’s North Shore, and, since those start-up days, he has built and ser­viced some mem­o­rable au­to­mo­biles. At the height of By’gone’s in­volve­ment in Targa, the as­sem­bled team was look­ing af­ter 25 com­peti­tors. A cou­ple of D-type Jags also spring to mind, a Shelby Co­bra that was for a Ja­panese client, 10 or 12 E30 BMWS, as well the very-well-known Tri­umph TR7, an ex-works car, so suc­cess­fully ral­lied by Mal­colm and Mark Par­sons. He also built the well-known V8 MKI Capri, orig­i­nally for Neil Tolich, and now in the hands of ‘Rac­ing Ray’ Wil­liams, as well as the Tri­umph Vitesse V8 of Jonathon Hills; the BMW M3 and Toy­ota Corolla AE86 of Rex Alder; the Rover P6 of Kelly Archer; the MGB V8s for Mur­ray Baber and Dave Mallin; sev­eral Lo­tus mod­els, in­clud­ing his own suc­cess­ful MKI Cortina; and the list goes on.

Around the block

Mal­colm smiles as he re­mem­bers his ex­ten­sive con­nec­tions to the world of com­pe­ti­tion cars. His com­pe­ti­tion his­tory is dot­ted with in­ter­est­ing ones. He has owned and raced a Mini Cooper S and a Lo­tus Cortina, plus many oth­ers. Mal­colm de­scribes his start in ral­ly­ing here as a ques­tion: “When did ral­ly­ing start in New Zealand?”

You can see his stamp all over the busi­ness. His well-known bright orange Rover P6 3.5 is parked out the front, and the mo­tor from the TR7 is sit­ting in pieces in the back of his ute: “Time for a tickle up”. This man lives and breathes in­ter­est­ing cars and ma­chin­ery.

Re­gard­less, Mal­colm feels that the mo­ment has ar­rived to move over and give some­one else the chance to run this busi­ness. He has spent over 30 years build­ing By’gone Auto Ser­vices into a well-known brand and now he thinks it’s time he watched more mo­tor sport on TV, re­stored a car just for the en­joy­ment of it, or maybe com­pleted a cou­ple of bucket-list projects — com­pet­ing in the Rally of Fin­land is one and restor­ing a Cater­pil­lar D4 (as you do) is an­other.

Renowned for his sound, sen­si­ble ad­vice, Mal­colm has passed this knowl­edge on to Tim and Ben, so any­one lucky enough to pur­chase By’gone will also in­herit this in­valu­able ex­pe­ri­ence and wis­dom.

New Zealand Clas­sic Car thanks Mal­colm for his en­thu­si­asm and sup­port of our mag­a­zine, and mo­tor sport and the clas­sic car move­ment in New Zealand over the years. We wish him well with the next spe­cial stage.

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