DREAM SHED —

BIG CARS AND AN EVEN BIG­GER COL­LEC­TION OF MEM­O­RA­BILIA MAKE FOR THE UL­TI­MATE SHED FOR THIS DUNEDIN COU­PLE

NZV8 - - CONTENTS - WORDS AND PHO­TOS: ROD DUNN

DUNEDIN DREAM

When look­ing around this great coun­try of ours, there are hun­dreds, if not thou­sands, of fan­tas­tic man caves and sheds stacked to the rafters with all man­ner of car-re­lated and col­lectable mem­o­ra­bilia. If you speak to the own­ers, many of them will be able to re­count the day, and even the item pur­chased, that started them down the road of col­lect­ing. Barry and Liz Carmichael of Dunedin are one such cou­ple. At­tend­ing a farm auc­tion south of Bal­clutha some 30 years ago, Barry’s plan was to pur­chase a com­pres­sor that he was in­ter­ested in, but, as is usu­ally the case at auc­tions, Barry got a bit side­tracked look­ing at an old petrol pump. “I ac­tu­ally missed the auc­tion for the com­pres­sor,” Barry men­tions. “I was too busy lug­ging the petrol pump up to my trailer.” Fast for­ward to 2018, and the cou­ple have amassed a huge col­lec­tion of mem­o­ra­bilia — so large, in fact, that they have taken to build­ing shelves across the roof trusses to house more pedal cars. Be­ing mem­bers of Con­rod­ders — Barry is a life mem­ber, while Liz is club sec­re­tary, and even their two sons are mem­bers — they’re hugely ac­tive in the lo­cal scene. The word is out about the im­pres­sive col­lec­tion, with many garage tours hav­ing been held over the years, from car and bike clubs to a wed­ding to which 120 guests showed up. “I [said that I’d] let them have the wed­ding here if I could ar­range the cake,” says Liz, “so they got a black cake com­plete with flames, and they loved it!” And the lo­cal BSA club showed up on one oc­ca­sion for a tour with 140 peo­ple in tow. “We col­lect from all over,” Barry tells us. “Peo­ple know [that] we col­lect and keep an eye out. We get items turn­ing up when we aren’t even look­ing.” Own­ing their own plumb­ing busi­ness has its ad­van­tages for the cou­ple, with their team also keep­ing an eye out for that in­ter­est­ing item that will add to the col­lec­tion. Most of the stuff has been sourced from through­out New Zealand. Liz and Barry haven’t ac­tively gone out look­ing for things of late, but, if they do hap­pen to come across some­thing in­ter­est­ing and they don’t want

it, they usu­ally know plenty of peo­ple who will. “I know plenty of rod­ders who want a petrol pump or some­thing for their garage,” Barry says. A small Mercedes pedal car that has just un­der­gone a restora­tion came from friends down south who had had it kick­ing around their garage, and some great Trade Me finds came out of Nel­son and Queen­stown. “I ring the plumb­ing sup­pli­ers and ar­range for one of their reps to bring the stuff down to me next time they are head­ing this way,” Barry ex­plains. An­other source of good col­lectable things is the sec­ond-hand shops in small towns. “You can find some re­ally cool stuff in the back. I think to my­self, ‘I could do with that’,” ad­mits Liz. “Next minute, it’s in the car [and] on the way home.” Look­ing at the amaz­ing col­lec­tion of beau­ti­fully fin­ished pedal cars at one end of the

garage, we can’t help but no­tice two very cool­look­ing items — a plane and a Fer­rari. The cou­ple ex­plain that these were pur­chased dur­ing a trip to the US a few years ago. Part of a 19-day tour was a trip to the Pomona Swap Meet — well known among car peo­ple for be­ing the place to find that one part that has eluded them. Held ev­ery six weeks, the event con­tains close to 18 miles of aisles, with any­where from 200 to 300 ve­hi­cles for sale. The two pedal ve­hi­cles were not the only pur­chases made that day, as the cou­ple re­call: “We bought a pal­let full of shit home!” Hav­ing al­ways liked Amer­i­can cars and cul­ture, Barry and Liz had an awe­some time while state­side, do­ing all the usual touristy things such as vis­it­ing Hoover Dam and Las Ve­gas, but they both agree that one of the high­lights was meet­ing John Force while vis­it­ing his work­shop. “He came out of a meet­ing, spoke to the group, and took pho­tos for 10 min­utes,” Barry re­counts. On the sub­ject of cars, a big black ’62 Cadil­lac con­vert­ible caught the cou­ple’s eye some 30 years. Pur­chased from Auck­land, the car was quite rare at the time and is still very tidy, run­ning the orig­i­nal 390 V8 and Hy­dra­matic three-speed with over­drive. They have re­painted the Cadi and re­placed the shocks, and, with power brakes, roof, win­dows, seats, and steer­ing, it makes for an awe­some cruiser. Sit­ting along­side the Cadi is the cou­ple’s ‘small car’ — their ’64 Oldsmo­bile Starfire. The cou­ple were after a com­pact car, some­thing that could be used for daily trans­porta­tion, and im­ported it from Cal­i­for­nia about six years ago — although, once it ar­rived, it soon be­came ev­i­dent that it wasn’t so com­pact at all. They spot­ted it on eBay on a Thurs­day, and a mate was go­ing to be near the place the fol­low­ing Tues­day, so he popped in to look the car over for them. “We got a phone call from our mate to say that if we didn’t buy it, he would, cos he was driv­ing it down the free­way,” Barry re­calls. “So that was it; we owned it.” Once it landed on our shores, it was dis­cov­ered to be very low geared, pulling 3500rpm at 62mph, mak­ing it a very thirsty beast, so the de­ci­sion was made to repower it, re­plac­ing the big block with a GM Vortec 5.3-litre V8. Very happy with their de­ci­sion, the cou­ple have been re­warded with much bet­ter fuel econ­omy, with the car now pulling only 2000rpm at 62mph, which, com­bined with its new wheels, makes it a great cruiser. The third car in the col­lec­tion is the cou­ple’s ’59 Chev Im­pala sports coupe. The ex-Auck­land car was first spot­ted on Trade Me by the Carmichaels’ son, who was then aged 14. Hav­ing looked at it on­line a num­ber of times, Barry de­cided that he would fly up to see it. The owner lived a few min­utes from Mere­mere Drag­way and would ap­par­ently drive the car drive to the track; race it; and, if it held to­gether, sneak it back home. Barry ex­plains, “When we bought it, it con­sisted of a front seat, a glove box full of earplugs, a roll cage, and straight pipes. It was such a shitty car that Liz wouldn’t get into it!” So, how did the idea come about to turn the car into the stun­ner that it is now?

“Well, a cou­ple of friends of ours said that the Methven Street Rod Na­tion­als were two years away [2008], so why not see if we could get it done for that?” Barry replies. “I thought [that] it would be a piece of piss. [But i]t was full on.” Un­like a lot of peo­ple, the cou­ple didn’t want the same as ev­ery­one else; they wanted some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent — and, judg­ing by the re­sults, they got ex­actly that. From the Terry Bow­den chas­sis and chan­nelled body that the car came with to the full cus­tom in­te­rior, cus­tom-made Boyd Cod­ding­ton wheels, and over-the-top au­dio, this ride is any­thing-but av­er­age. Start­ing the project with 18 months un­til the nats, the Carmichaels cut it fairly close, with the cert plate go­ing onto the car on Thurs­day night and the cou­ple leav­ing Dunedin on Fri­day morn­ing. The only prob­lem en­coun­tered on the trip was a faulty al­ter­na­tor, but, $40 later, the cou­ple were back on the road. All the hard work was well

worth it, with the Im­pala re­turn­ing home with a boot full of tin­ware, in­clud­ing New Zealand’s Top Street Ma­chine. Asked if there are any plans to change any­thing, Barry men­tions that he has toyed with the idea of fuel in­jec­tion, but that’s as far as it’s got — an idea. After we have a look through the work­shop area and the room where the panel beat­ing and paint­ing are done, Barry states that he has no plans to buy any more stuff, as he has a stash in the other shed to keep him go­ing. But when we ask if they plan on pur­chas­ing any more ve­hi­cles, Barry tells us, “I would like to get a ’32–’34 some­thing. I re­gret sell­ing my ’37 — got caught at a weak mo­ment.” So, while it’s al­ready the dream shed for most, it looks as if there may still be some more to come!

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