KEEP ON ROCKIN’

WHEN A CHRISTCHURCH COU­PLE PUT ON THEIR DANCING SHOES 20 YEARS AGO, IT PROMPTED A LIFE­LONG PAS­SION FOR THE 60S AND A PAIR OF ICONIC CARS TO PROVE IT

NZ Life & Leisure - - Contents - WORDS ANN WARNOCK PHOTOGR APHS K I R S T EN SHE P PARD

His- and- hers Mustangs com­plete the pic­ture for a Christchurch cou­ple who love to kick up their heels

WHEN DAVE AND SHARYN BUSCH re­newed their mar­riage vows in Las Ve­gas, they merged ev­ery­thing that makes their world spin – fam­ily, ad­ven­ture, rock and roll, and Amer­i­can cars.

“We drove a big four-wheel drive from Los An­ge­les up to Ve­gas and were re­mar­ried in the Lit­tle White Chapel by an Elvis im­per­son­ator. It was our 30th wed­ding an­niver­sary and we had the kids and our grand­daugh­ter with us too,” says Dave.

Sharyn wore a full-length pale-pink gown, the Elvis im­per­son­ator ser­e­naded the bridal party with Love Me Ten­der and a pink Cadil­lac trans­ported them back to their ho­tel. “It was such a lot of fun.”

While re­new­ing their vows in 2010 was a first, Sharyn and Dave have vis­ited the States many times. On each trip they av­er­age 7000 kilo­me­tres, stop­ping off at car shows, quirky 60s-style din­ers and na­tional parks.

“We are free­dom trav­el­ers. We hire a late-model car like a Corvette or Dodge Chal­lenge and keep off the free­ways. We love the 60s car scene over there. If we find a car event, we’ll stay for a few days.”

In the past they have rel­ished the mega-sized Hot Au­gust Nights car show in Reno and last year at­tended the Spirit of Munro event at Bonneville salut­ing the 50th an­niver­sary of New Zealan­der Burt Munro’s record-break­ing land-speed laps. “Not ev­ery lady wants to watch mo­tor­bike and car rac­ing on the salt flats so it’s quite good,” says Dave.

For Sharyn ( who en­joyed muck­ing about along­side her me­chan­i­cally-minded fa­ther as a child), Bonneville was no chore. “I ab­so­lutely loved it. I was in my el­e­ment.” While trav­el­ing Amer­ica is a favourite hol­i­day pas­time for Dave and Sharyn, back home in Christchurch two quin­tes­sen­tial Yan­kee coupes are their high-volt­age pas­sion.

Life is chock-full op­er­at­ing their build­ing com­pany and en­joy­ing the prox­im­ity of Can­ter­bury-based son, Luke, and daugh­ter, Krys­tle, their part­ners and young fam­i­lies.

Week­end out­ings with Dave driv­ing his 1969 Mach 1 Ford Mus­tang pow­ered by a 351 Cleve­land V8 en­gine, and Sharyn in her 1968 con­vert­ible Ford Mus­tang with a 289 Wind­sor un­der the hood, are the ic­ing on the cake.

Cruis­ing the Port Hills in two mus­cle cars is a world away from the mo­tor­bikes they rode around the Waimakariri District dur­ing their teenage courtship. “Our moth­ers worked to­gether at Han­nahs shoe store and both sets of par­ents loved dancing. They en­joyed old­fash­ioned Satur­day night dances to­gether at the Clarkville Hall,” says Sharyn.

“We each had won­der­ful out­doorsy up­bring­ings. It was tough go­ing at times but our par­ents were mar­vel­lous and taught us the im­por­tance of hon­esty and work­ing hard,” she says.

When Dave, an ap­pren­tice car­pen­ter, was se­ri­ously hurt when a car ploughed into his mo­tor­bike in Merivale at the age of 17, it firmed up the young cou­ple’s com­mit­ment to one an­other. Sev­eral years later they bought a house, mar­ried, had a fam­ily and in their early 40s they too started to dance.

“We took up rock-and-roll classes. It was like putting to­gether a puzzle: we fell for the dancing then we fell for the 60s era, and that brought on the Amer­i­can cars.”

Twenty years ago Dave’s per­for­mance-ori­en­tated Mus­tang was their first ac­qui­si­tion.

“It’s a top-end model and I’m only its sec­ond New Zealand owner. It was built in San Jose, shipped here in the early 70s and it seems its owner lost in­ter­est once he de­cided to give it a re­furb. It was a shell with piles of bits in boxes. We trail­ered it home.”

It was a fa­ther-and-son project – Luke is an au­to­mo­tive tech­ni­cian – and over the fol­low­ing year, the pair re­built the car. “Krys­tle and I had the re­mote to our­selves,” says Sharyn.

Dave’s ma­chine has all the model’s high-spec ac­cou­trements: tinted win­dows, high-back bucket seats, a hood scoop, low-gloss black hood and cowl, dual colour-keyed rac­ing mir­rors, dual ex­haust with chrome quad out­lets and rac­ing-type hood pins.

He’s also low­ered the saloon and added ex­tra mo­tor mod­i­fi­ca­tions to de­liver its bold, lumpy sound. “It’s big, heavy and thirsty. No way are you in a mod­ern car – there’s a bit of slack in the wheel, you have to con­cen­trate and point it around the corners. If you travel to In­ver­cargill and back, you’ll know you’ve been driv­ing.”

With Dave and his Mus­tang out on the road, Sharyn cov­eted her own set of Amer­i­can-made wheels.

“I el­bowed in and said, ‘I think it’s my turn.’ I didn’t want to be left sort­ing the pic­nic.”

But want­ing a car with a de­tach­able roof wasn’t a whim. “Ever since I was small I’ve imag­ined driv­ing a pink-coloured con­vert­ible so my hair would blow in the wind. I used to love that feel­ing on my mo­tor­bike.”

Sourced via a New Zealand-born agent on the ground in Cal­i­for­nia, Sharyn’s soft-top Mus­tang had been driven daily for 20 years by its Amer­i­can ven­dor.

It was shipped from the States to the port in Lyt­tel­ton. A ner­vous wait en­sued.

When the car emerged from its con­tainer it was “all orig­i­nal, tidy with a sound body, no rust and painted red and black.”

Three months later Sharyn’s Mus­tang makeover be­gan. The “lady-sized” con­vert­ible was stripped out and soda-blasted to bare metal. The new-look in­te­rior up­hol­stery was con­firmed as moth­erof-pearl vinyl with pink pip­ing. Then the ex­te­rior paint charts came into play.

“I wanted a real pop of colour. When I was re­search­ing I learned that Ford brought out the Mus­tang in Pas­sion­ate Pink for Valen­tine’s Day in 1968 and a year ear­lier Hugh Hefner or­dered 12 Mustangs in Play­boy Pink.” Sharyn says there were jit­ters from the car painters. “We set­tled on a cus­tom-mix colour. Then they said, ‘Are you sure?’ I said, ‘Just paint the thing.’”

Her first port of call in the newly re­fur­bished car was to her much-loved late mother, Dawn. “I was so ex­cited to show Mum. She hopped in and was de­lighted. Sadly we knew at that point she was very un­well. I love think­ing Mum loved the car too and our wee drive to­gether was very special.”

Both Dave and Sharyn’s Mustangs boast highly-prized fac­tory num­bers, they are reg­u­larly ser­viced, metic­u­lously main­tained, driven and adored. Mem­ber­ship of the lo­cal Amer­i­can Clas­sic Car Club and the Can­ter­bury Mus­tang Own­ers Club adds to the fun.

The boot space in Sharyn’s con­vert­ible is ham­pered by the sub­woofer in the boot – “I’ve learned to cut down on bags” – but sing­ing along to Elvis on a road trip to Lake Tekapo or Lake Brun­ner is heaven and noth­ing beats lean­ing against the car and en­joy­ing the land­scape.

“A pink con­vert­ible isn’t ev­ery­one’s cup of tea but for me it’s a dream come true and from the mo­ment I slid into the driver’s seat I felt it was meant to be.”

Sharyn says of­ten men will glance at her con­vert­ible, shake their heads and smile or look at Dave as if to say, ‘You’re mad…how could you let her ruin a good car.’

But she is not re­motely fussed. “They freak out at the pink colour, walk off and then I will no­tice they are tak­ing a photo.”

Dave and Sharyn’s two chil­dren, Krys­tle and Luke, both used the two mustangs as their wed­ding cars. Driv­ing them, rather than preen­ing and pol­ish­ing, is the cou­ple’s phi­los­o­phy. They take the cars out to cafés, on the ferry, through the take­away driv­ethrough with their grand­chil­dren and on fam­ily vis­its.

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