No other badge will do for avid collector — and former dealer
Maurice Hall is a bit of a magpie when it comes to cars. We're here to look at his 1948 Ford Businessman coupe, but he has at least 14 other cars in his sheds.
Up front there's a big orange Valiant with a bonnet the size of a soccer pitch, an emerald 1958 Ford Customline, a Daimler and a Ford Prefect, a Vauxhall Velox and a 1948 Ford Pilot. If there's a preference it's definitely Fords, and no wonder, as he spent 42 years working in Blue Oval dealerships.
The Businessman coupe is the only car he kept of the many he traded. The rest of his collection he bought, spotting immaculate cars in classified ads or online.
The previous owner was interested in a ute, Maurice said.
"This was probably 20 years ago, and he said, 'I've got a trade, but you're probably not interested'. He told me what it was, and I didn't look too excited."
Maurice, pictured with the Businessman. Photo / Jacqui Madelin
He was, though. "I'd always wanted a 48 coupe. When I was a young guy in Dargaville there was a land agent and AA rep for the area who had a new one, and I wanted one."
No surprise, then, that the guy got his trade.
Maurice got straight into cars after leaving school, initially heading to Waikato to work at Wilkinson Ford in Cambridge, then to Te Awamutu.
He ran a secondhand-car yard for 15 years, went into business on his own for nearly 20, and ended up in Kihikihi.
He's supposedly retired now, though, given his fleet, that must be relative.
"I don't sell many, but now and again I get top-heavy," he said, surveying his packed sheds.
The car he always comes back to is this one, and he gets out in it at least once a month for Ford runs.
"I'd rather drive something like this than a modern vehicle. Get in a modern car, and no one wants to know you. Everyone has the same. In this, everyone waves."
Photo / Jacqui Madelin
The coupe was designed in 1941, but Ford halted manufacturing on February 10, 1942, to concentrate on war production. It resumed in July 1945, building a car almost identical to the pre-war model, but with a horizontal grille.
Bar a few relatively minor styling tweaks that was it, until the model was replaced in 1948.
"They came out as a five-seater like this one," Maurice said, "or a bench seat, and this one His love for Fords is undimmed
The Ford Businessman Coupe has had an overhaul inside and out.Picture / Jacqui Madelin
had the higher rear roof, which is why it's a businessman's coupe."
Since acquiring it he had the paint redone, "it had humidity blistering," and the original flathead V8 overhauled.
The wheels are replacements, the original 16s now 15 inches out back and 14s up front. There's a three-speed column-change transmission, drum brakes all round, and the old transverse spring suspension. "A lot of guys used to roll them because of that, so they put the anti-sway bar in them. This hasn't got it, you just have to learn to drive better."
Indicators have been added, the dash is original, though not the velour trim or the very tidy roof lining, and the electrical system is now 12-volt, not six.
The newer instruments beneath the dash showing fuel, oil and temperature had been added when he got the car: only one of the original dials works, though he has a full set that he's never got around to putting in, and the clock still ticks, though it jumps around a bit.
What lurks under the Businessman's bonnet. Photo / Jacqui Madelin
But that lazily burbling engine has just the relaxed, torquey flexibility it would have boasted from new; , plenty of pull even from low speeds in top gear make it a relaxing drive, though a hot one on a sunny day.
Maurice has got around a bit in it, and it's often spotted in Hamilton, though no further than Tauranga. He's a member of several car clubs, and is a fixture at Hamilton's all-Ford day.
So it wasn't a surprise when I asked him which he would keep if he had to sell his collection bar three, that he replied they'd all be Fords. The Businessman coupe of course, the Fairlane and the Customline.
"They're V8s, and there's just something about V8s. They've got that rumble."