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My car in New Zealand

My car in New Zealand

Sunday 8th December 2013

Bob James is something of a legend in the world of vintage Austin cars. He is an ex professional musician who escaped the rat race by buying an isolated farmhouse on the side of a mountain in deepest Wales and he lives there without television or computers, making a living repairing and restoring vintage cars. His technical knowledge is unsurpassed and he is always willing to share it if you have mechanical problems. Our paths crossed several years ago when he rebuilt the engine of my Austin; we got on well and I often give him a call if I need help. A few years ago, he rang me and asked if I wanted to buy his Austin Windsor. He used to keep this car in New Zealand and drive it around when he visited on holiday. In fact, he took the car on a rally going from the top of North Island to the bottom of South Island back in 2000. When the engine became worn out he popped the car into a shipping container and brought back to Wales to fix the engine because he didn't have a workshop in New Zealand. At that point he thought it easier to sell it in the UK rather than ship it all the way back again, so he gave me a call and a deal was done.

Last week I went to Warwick to collect a cylinder block which I had bought on Ebay. The seller was a vintage car enthusiast and, naturally, we chatted about our cars. I said I had a car which used to belong to Bob James and which had spent most of its life in New Zealand. He looked at me in amazement and said he knew the car very well. Turns out he is also a friend of Bob's and had acted as navigator on the trans-New Zealand rally. What a coincidence! He very kindly sent me some wonderful photographs taken on the rally. These will now go into my history file for the car.