SINCE he moved from Auckland to Patea five years ago, mechanic Jim Baird has created a beautiful den of old cars in Egmont.

Jim and his beloved dog Ted live in a small cosy space inside his Star Garage Building built along the back wall. Fantastic pre-loved old cars are parked in rows in the rest of the space.

These days, if it's a warm day you can find the 74-year-old Vietnam War veteran sitting outside the building welcoming visitors.

Pride of place now is the 1916 six-cylinder, colonial-bodied Buick Roadster. "It's one of a kind. It came into New Zealand as a rolling chassis and was bodied in Invercargill."


It was called a Doctor's Roadster, because at the time only doctors could afford to buy the car.

From a rusty chassis, Jim has spent hours and hired experts to help restore the old Buick to its former glory.

Apart from a few months of detailed tweaks, Jim has his beautiful Buick up and running.

"I'm going to drive around Patea with Ted in the front, tooting the horn and waving to all the locals. I can't wait."

He was initially told the old Buick was a worthless wreck and he was thrilled to prove so many people wrong.

"Just look at this car. Isn't it the most beautiful thing you've ever seen?"

All the restoration has been done by specialists, with Jim concentrating on mechanics.

Jim reckoned he wanted the colour of the car, recently painted in the colour mango, to closely match his golden long-haired dachshund Ted.

The trim is nut brown and the interior is a soft tan leather upholstery, with a flash timber and aluminium body and class spoked wheels.

The old car has a low mileage because it was used little in its early years, with petrol rationing during both World Wars and the Depression. It was locked up in a garage for decades, Jim said.

"The engine has only done 40,000 miles (64,373km) which weirdly makes it a fairly new engine."