Buyers' Guide: Kiwi classics
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When Kiwis started buying cars, British models were a popular choice.
From time to time, we’re lucky to still see classics on New Zealand roads, after they’ve been lovingly restored.
In the 1960s and 70s, assembly factories in New Zealand popped up with the intent of making vehicle ownership more affordable to fulfil the desires of Kiwis wanting their own car.
Between January 1960 and October 1976, nearly 60,000 Minis were produced locally, put together by a complete knock-down assembly programme out of the Dominion Motors Morris plant in Auckland and sold for just shy of $1400.
Those classics are hard to come by in today’s marketplace, but if you were able to get your hands on one, it would come as no surprise that a Mini would set you back a lot more than its original price tag, despite the sparse features.
The mighty Triumph 2000 was another vehicle assembled in New Zealand, as well as in the United Kingdom and Australia.
It came with a simple, four-speed manual configuration and a popular Borg-Warner 35 three-speed automatic transmission.
This car had a reasonably sized engine — a six-cylinder, Vanguard motor with twin carburettors.
Both the engine and transmission fitted in well with the requirements of the daily driver and it was a good family/business vehicle.
In today’s market, these vehicles aren’t too expensive and can be a slightly more affordable classic car.
Tuning two carburettors is a bit of a nightmare, but it can be a fun experience nonetheless, once you get it right.
If you do want to buy an iconic, New Zealand-built classic, there’s no point in buying one half-heartedly.
They require devoted owners who need to be prepared for unexpected repairs and maintenance.
We’d suggest getting the car professionally checked before you buy it as the main area of concern is usually corrosion.
Some vehicles assembled in New Zealand were treated with additional rust protection and somewhere on the vehicle there would be a sticker stating what protection had been applied — typically Tectyl.
Brakes on classic cars are different to modern vehicles. They require regular adjustment — and if the vehicle you’ve found has been sitting in a shed for years, the callipers and brakes should be checked to ensure they haven’t seized.
Running a spanner over all steering suspension and brake components, and ensuring all lock tabs are peened over can also be a pain, but is important.
Over the years these vehicles have gone through a lot of work, some of which might not have been done by a professional.
This means there is a higher chance of components being loose and the last thing you want to do is buy a vehicle that is dangerous.
Classic car purchases tend to be more a labour of love than a practical solution to drive the family from A to B.
You may be trying to relive the good old days, but you should never throw caution completely to the wind.
So, when you’re out looking for your dream piece of four-wheeled Kiwiana, invest your time and money in thorough pre-purchase checks and servicing.