Cars: What they mean to their owners

By Greg Dixon

Three car lovers tell Greg Dixon about their four-wheeled romance.

John Sansome and his red E-type Jaguar. Photo / Christine Cornege
John Sansome and his red E-type Jaguar. Photo / Christine Cornege

E-TYPE JAGUAR
John Sansome, retired farmer

The first real sporty Jaguar I can recall seeing was an XK 120. It belonged to a friend who arrived in it to buy some pigs from my brother and me. I thought 'what a bit of kit!' Needless to say, he did not take the pigs home in the car ... A few years later I went to work as a tractor driver for a man who had a MK VII, so yes I suppose at some time I had to own one, but not on a tractor driver's wage!

"Jaguars have always been individual in design and very attractive, the XK engine of course was one of their great features, apart from the fact of winning the Le Mans 24-hour race on several occasions with the C-type, D-type and XJR. I bought my E-type from a man in Auckland about three years ago. It was originally registered in Watford, England, and brought over here by a previous owner. It spent some time in Taupo before going to Auckland and it was originally painted green.

"This is the first E-type I have owned but I have previously owned a 3.8 MKII, an XK 120 and still have an XJ6 (XJ40), which I bought in 2007, so I already own two of [Jaguar co-founder] William Lyons' wonderful cars.

"When driving it, I feel someone has designed it to perform and handle correctly. Electronics are not required. And my wife Tricia loves it."

1928 CHEVROLET NATIONAL SEDAN HOT ROD
Angie Duke, mother of one

"I grew up with parents who were motoring mad. During my childhood I remember going to lots of events where there were all sorts of cars and bikes. I guess it is in the blood but I got really hooked on hot rods after my husband took me to a hot rod show about 15 years ago.

"I love that a hot rod is unique, there are no two exactly the same and each vehicle has its own look. You can buy or build what you like and have it just how you want it.

"The Chev was purchased about four years ago. It was a complete restoration project that had been started but never finished. We were fortunate enough to have a contact that knew the seller and a deal was done. It originally came out with a standard four-cylinder Chevrolet motor and manual box. All I know about this vehicle is that we purchased it from a guy in Northland who had started the project but was unable to finish it.

"My husband quite often gets asked 'is this your car, mate? It's really nice', he then replies with, 'no, it's the wife's, but thanks'.

"It is an amazing feeling driving it, I love it, the sound of the motor when you put your foot down, the way it is small and easy to drive. It is an amazing feeling knowing that you are driving a car that nobody else has. It is great to meet up with other car enthusiasts. And I love knowing that it is my car and it is just the way I wanted it."

1909 ROVER
Barry Robert, retired engineer

"The dismembered remains of this car were recovered on a farm in Whitford, where the engine had been used to drive a milking machine in the 1930s. They were given to me after several people had looked and decided it was too big a job to restore. This was 1964 and it took 16 years to rebuild it ready for a rally held in Rotorua in 1980. We drove it all the way there and back and did day-runs to Taupo and Tauranga.

"I believe my car is the sole survivor of the twincylinder models that were made for taxis in 1908 and when they failed to meet the London specification the remaining parts were made into cars with a shortened wheel base in 1909.

"Most people want to know how fast it will go - the answer is 60km an hour - and what it is worth. I used to say 'what does a new Rover cost?' and then tell them 'you can buy a new one but you can't buy this one'. Unfortunately, the Rover Company closed down in 2005 - so the joke no longer works.

"I do not take it on motorways now because of the speed difference to other traffic but on country roads on a fine day, it is delightful to drive. I have taken it to the South Island twice, driving from Picton to rallies in Christchurch. The second time we went via Greymouth.

"My wife doesn't enjoy the Rover - it's too exposed to the weather and too high up for her and without seat belts ... Vintage and veteran cars are so different to present-day vehicles and require many forgotten skills to keep them running. The car has a crank-handle start and no power steering or servo brakes - a handful for an 83-year-old if it does not start easily!"

- NZ Herald

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