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David King is something of a renaissance man. Over his 86 years he’s done a bit of everything — it might have been quicker to ask what he hasn’t done. You imagine he’d need a special vehicle, a spirited multi-seat load carrier with agelessly sculptural lines and forgiving panelwork. A hard ask but effectively that’s what he’s got.
He bought this MkII Ford Escort van new in 1980. The front-engine rear-drive Escort sold in two- or four-door sedan, estate and van versions, and there were performance cars, too — think RS Mexico and RS2000 — with NZ assembly in Wiri, South Auckland.
David started out in the UK and his first job after leaving school was panel-beating vehicles that had been damaged in the war. He arrived in New Zealand at 22, and spent two years in the bush. “I did everything, learned how to cut piles, prune trees. We weren’t felling, we were hauling logs.”
Then he moved to Auckland and drove for Winstone, before a stint in a joinery shop. When he bought the van he had a carpet shop, and the Escort was initially leased for two years. His previous load hauler had panels out back, but this time he specified windows, as the old van had been hard to back.
He also wanted the rear bench seat as he had young grandkids.
After the two years he sold the shop, and bought the van he’d been leasing. “It was such a handy vehicle. I started playing golf around then and knew it’d be good for golf clubs.”
It was a practical second vehicle.
David’s a bit of a Ford fan. He owned his first in 1956 — a Ford Consul — and has always had one.
This Escort has the 1.3-litre engine and four-speed manual gearbox, and it’s all original, even the spare tyre is the same one that left the factory with the car, although it was used once when he had a puncture, then put back under its neat brown cover, in the load bay. It has driven 104,784km and nowadays gets out twice a week, to golf.
The Escort is in fabulous condition after 38 years’ use. David used to fold the back seats when they weren’t needed, as he often carried tools, so he also laid a heavy carpet atop the original load floor and seatbacks. The cabin is simple, as befits a work vehicle, with trim and headlining only over the front seats, and just the choke knob and hazard flasher switch set into the plain dash, although you can see where a radio and other controls could have gone.
David does his own maintenance. “It’s had 76 WoF inspections and never failed.”
One of the front shocks did go, which he had done. Other than that, he does everything else. “Valve grind, decoke, that sort of thing.” It needed new brake pads in the back after an oil leak “but that’s it”.
David has no plans to sell it — there are still many rounds of golf to play.