Monday, 2 July 2012

The Beginning

 Placed somewhat unsurprisingly at the start of my Blog, is this - The Beginning.
 This is intended to be a pictorial diary of my Mk 3 Zephyr, "Ralph". Before getting down to the nuts and bolts though, a brief history...
 I grew up a car nut. I have owned 41 cars and 1 motorbike. There was a car under restoration in Dad's shed from the time I was born. (It was still there when I turned 18!)
 My first project was a 1934 Austin 7 special, started when I was 11. Consisting of Dad's leftover/surplus bits, one could hardly call the small pile of parts a car. Although substantial work has ensued, it is still awaiting completion 33 years on!
 When I was 7 we moved to a new home. Next door another new house was soon constructed. The neighbours drove a mk 3 Zephyr as an everyday car until it broke down (teen-age sons!!) It was left to languish on our property boundary and may have been one of the reasons why Dad built a fence. I thought nothing of it, but just maybe a seed was sown...
 I recall seeing a "boy racer" mk 3 Zephyr being driven around my home town of Blenhiem when I was a kid. It was black, loud and seriously jacked up in the rear end. It must have handled like shit! I did think the concept was cool, but had no ambition to own a Zephyr. I wanted to be a "Jack of All Trades" and drive a red Ford Capri mk1 - the only model at the time!
 A local VCC member that I saw often growing up, as he had 2 Austin 7's, drove a mk 3, but again, it meant nothing to me.
 When I got my lisence aged 16, I bought the car I wanted (within my budget) - a Vauxhall Viva HB estate. A mk1 or 2 Cortina would have been great, but was out of my price range, as was a very hot Anglia van that I was smitten with. A 6 cylinder was just not contemplated. Still being at school, I struggled to feed the 1159cc Viva enough fuel - particularly as it was always at full throttle!!

 So how did I come to own a Zephyr?

 Chance is a funny thing. I was rebuilding a Mk1 Corina GT with a good friend, Archie. We had the vast technical facilities of the Ohakea Airforce Base to draw upon. I owned 5 or so cars at the time. Another airman who was being transferred may have figured I was a soft target and so offered me a 1962 mk3 Zephyr 4 for the princely some of $100. It wasn't a runner, having burnt out the clutch. It had some rust, but was low mileage - only 60k odd and had a very tidy interior. So car number 19 was my first Z.

 I had thought a V8 might be in order, but soon discovered it was a rare beast, being one of the first Z's built. In 1962 the mk3 was launched utilising the mk2 rear axle and a remote inline brake booster. Not many 4 cylinders came to New Zealand. Most of the 4's got a 6 or 8 transplant, so this unmolested car was quite a rarity. It even had the original blank for the radio in the dash. Incidentally, the dash was not woodgrain vineer like the 6's - it was fluted aluminium. The door cards were different too., having colour coded (red) caps screwed on.
 Not much happened on the Z. I had plenty on with the Cortina and other cars. I did get to like it though and started searching for a mobile example.
 My daily driver needed to be traded, as it was getting to be unreliable and we planned to do the big OE (overseas experience) After looking at some very rough cars, I found an ad for a Mk3 Zodiac that could be taken as part trade on a modern 6. I couldn't get rid of the Cressida fast enough. The Zodiac was in great condition and I loved it.

 EP 937 - the car I should never have sold.

 I did promise to sell this car before I bought it, as it was just a trade-in and a good way of parting with the Cressida. Easier said than done! I put a small for sale sign on it and parked it in between the legs of an "H" block building that I was working in. Unfortunately someone spotted it within a week and had to have it! I was glad to see it go to a very enthusiastic airman, but thought that it was a car I would love to own again some day.

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