Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Proud classic British cars still chugging away

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An Austin Maxi, left, and Morris Minor 1000 owned by Andrew Dyer are among the machinery being publicly displayed at this year’s Auckland Brit and Euro Classic Car Show. Times photo Wayne Martin

Andrew Dyer’s two classic British cars may have a combined age of 110 years old but they’re running as well as if they’d left the factory yesterday.

The Howick resident is one of hundreds of car lovers taking part in this year’s Auckland Brit and Euro Classic Car Show at Lloyd Elsmore Park on March 5.

Dyer, who’s from the UK, is entering his beloved 1963 Morris Minor 1000 and his 1973 Austin Maxi in the display, which will feature more than 1100 vehicles owned by the members of more than 55 car clubs and associations.

He has a strong family connection to the Morris Minor as his father worked in the factory where they were built when Dyer was a child.

“I blame him for brainwashing me into old British cars,” he jokes.

Dyer bought both cars in New Zealand and says they would have been shipped to this country as kits in boxes and assembled here when new.

The Morris Minor is the first British car to have sold a million units, while the Austin Maxi is the “first true British hatchback”, he says.

“When you talk to people here or back in the UK there’s always a Morris Minor in everybody’s family.

“There were quite a lot of Maxis in New Zealand but you see very few now.

“When this model was launched in the UK in 1969 it was quite a new idea. It’s built like an overgrown Mini.”

Both of his cars are “completely standard” and unchanged from when they were built, except for a new paint job on one.

In keeping with the custom of some car owners, Dyer has affectionately named the two old Brits.

The first owner of his Morris was a nurse so he’s named it Gladys, after the character Gladys Emmanuel in the sitcom Open All Hours, who worked as a nurse.

His Austin is named Sybil, for the character Sybil Fawlty in the classic comedy TV show Fawlty Towers, who drove an Austin Maxi.

Dyer is on the Auckland Brit and Euro Classic Car Show organising committee and belongs to the respective New Zealand owners’ clubs of both of his cars.

He recently returned from driving the Morris Minor to Rotorua and back to attend its annual Lakefront Car Show.

“We do owners’ club runs and then shows like that one,” he says.

“I’ve been to Wellington and back in the Austin. It’s an old car and when it was designed, motorways didn’t exist.

“She jogs along quite happily at 80km/h but if you try and thrash it to bits and go at 110km, you’re likely to blow it up. The old girls have to be treated with a bit of respect.”

The Auckland Brit and Euro Classic Car Show runs from 10am-3pm on Sunday, March 5, at Lloyd Elsmore Park, Pakuranga, and entry is free.

It’s sponsored by Times Newspapers, the Howick Local Board, Protecta Insurance, and NZ Classic Driver.

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