BY’ GONE AUTOS OWNER MALCOLM CLARK CALLING TIME
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.