A real kiwi summer breeze

by Andy Bryenton

Can you imagine being told that the waiting list to get behind the wheel of your new car was three years long? Coveting, desiring and saving pennies for that beautiful new machine — because it was worth it? Welcome to New Zealand in the days before auto imports filled whole wharves and warehouses. Welcome, in fact to 1951, and the dawn of the Ford Zephyr. People really did wait years to own one, and drivers sat proudly behind the wheel.

In ‘51 England was ‘mother’, world war two was in the recent past, and the future came in the form of a sculpted, curvaceous new look from Ford.

The Zephyr was from Dagenham, Britain, not Detroit, and it was perhaps more restrained in its design than the chrome-trimmed leviathans of the highway, which were being born on the drawing boards of men like Harley Earl. Assembled here from kitsets, the Zephyr would go on to four distinctive generations, becoming a Kiwi icon like few other cars before or after.

From the Mk1 with its 68-horsepower and classic lines, through to the fins and wide, grinning grille of the Mk3, Zephyrs — and their upscale cousins, the Ford Zodiac range — are well-known to all motorists of a certain age. Maybe dad or grandad owned one.

Perhaps this was the car where you first tried to reach the pedals, attempted to pass that driver’s licence test or drove out on a first date? No matter how this iconic marque made an impression, the sight of a classic Zephyr always gets people talking. Just ask John Winchester — a man who owns eight Zephyrs and Zodiacs, and who credits the ‘Z’ lineage for fostering a lifelong love of Fords. A particular favourite is his 1959 ‘facelift’ model, which languished in an Aussie garage for 23 long years before coming home to his collection!

This weekend, many of John’s Ford fleet will be out in the sunshine at the Selwyn Motorfest — an event he helped establish, and one which helps spread the joy of classic motor cars while raising money for a good cause. If you’ve had a memorable Zephyr in your life — or a Velox, Morris Minor, Valiant Ranger, Falcon, Commodore or any other iconic motoring brand, come and enjoy the show. You’ll find that memory lane is best experienced over the dashboard of a classic!