1952 Chevorlet Deluxe: Soft spot for Chevrolets
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And no wonder, he learned to drive in a 1936 chev
You could say Jim Drummond has a bit of history with the Chevrolet brand. After all, he learned to drive in a 1936 Chev.
"It had a floor [gear] change and synchro on top and second," which meant you had to double-declutch in the other gears.
"Dad always had Chevs, then he went into Holdens," Jim said, before digressing into chat about his nephew's Holden (it can be hard to keep the conversation on track when you're talking classics).
"Anyway, I drove my father's car from North Cape to the Bluff three or four times when I was 21, that was in 1960 to 63, I suppose."
He married soon after: owning a 1927 Chev Capitol for 55 years, and a 1938 Chev for "Ooh, here we go, Charles is 40, so 38 years."
He sold both eventually, the '27 because of Auckland traffic.
"It was too slow, and the brakes weren't good for heavy traffic, and the kids couldn't drive it because of the gearbox."
The '38 went, too. "As I was too old to fully restore it, I didn't have the oomph," so he started looking for a Chevrolet Deluxe.
"I reckon it's the best shape, looking at Chevrolets of the time, the '51 was the same, but without the teeth on the grille, and the Bel Airs were all right, but didn't have the body shape."
Eventually he found this 1952 Chevrolet Deluxe, an upper-end model for the brand.
When he bought it six months Chevrolets remain a constant ago this car was in good condition.
"I've done a few little things, the ignition switch wasn't there, the fuel gauge didn't work, the fuel tank leaked and half the air cleaner was missing."
The car remains standard, apart from a heater fitted by the previous owner, and he's still deciding whether to pull that out.
"I might put a radio in, but Joan doesn't like it, reckons they're noisy -- but I have it on all the time."
He also had seatbelts fitted.
"I went to the guy who does my WoF, who has a Model A Ford. He said, 'I can't give you a WoF if they're not certed'."
Jim says when seatbelts first came out they weren't fitted from factory. If you wanted them, you fitted them.
"The cars got the anchor points, and that gave the customer the choice."
In this case he went to the professionals for the belts, the certifier told him exactly what he wanted to see, Jim fitted them and got them certified.
"There are 17 anchors in that car, three per seatbelt," that's three three-point belts in the back, two in the front, plus a lap belt on the centre-front bench seat.
"And if you're going to fit them, they've got to work."
The seats are the original trim, a little cracked now, and he's looking to tidy and brighten it up, if possible while still leaving some evidence of the patina that tells of a long life.
He says you can spend thousands to recover seats like this. "But it's still no better."
The Chev is used regularly. He drives it 35km to the North Shore Vintage Car Club weekly morning teas and car-fettling sessions.
"It takes only five minutes more than in the modern, and it's comfy."
It certainly is, as I discovered from the passenger seat, and the car gets along rather nicely, and stops just fine thanks to effective drums -- naturally, neither brakes nor steering are power assisted.
The Deluxe is powered by a 3.5-litre six-cylinder engine with a 68kW output, drinking around 14l/100km at a steady 80kph.
Jim would like to bolt in the 3.8-litre Blue Flame six which was also available for this model.
He knows so many people with old cars, and they all have stories. The hills round his Kaipara home are alive with them.
And not just cars - Jim mows his lawns with a Gravely tractor, a walk-behind device that's 60 years old, and designed to operate a number of implements, which affix to the front. He first used it with different tools fitted to plant pumpkins, and here it is, still going strong, now with grass clippings in its blades.
Over a cup of tea he told me his new car is a film star, pulling out the photos to prove it: a company had set up a classic "car yard" in the grounds of Henderson's Corbans Estate, with his car "for sale" on the yard.
"Lucky I'd had a shower that day!" Jim quipped, as I packed up to leave. I'd best leave him to it, after all, the Gravely still has the rest of the lawns to do.