A cray fisherman by trade, ‘Link’, as he likes to be known (as in, the missing link), lives mostly in the Chatham Islands, but regularly travels through this neck of the woods to visit family. We spotted him outside the Ashburton Post Office, and had to check out his rather grand-looking vehicle.
The big 1984, left-hand-drive, 4-door Cadillac was covered in bird droppings, languishing in the long grass behind a property in the North Island when Link spotted it a few years back. “I love big, old American cars. I think this one had been a bit of a gangster car, but I just fell instantly in love with it. Even though it had been sitting there, abandoned for a couple of years, when I turned the key that first time, it burst into life.”
The car is pretty much as it was when it left the factory. It was a top-of-the-line vehicle in its day and came loaded with all the luxuries: automatic transmission, power steering, power brakes, cruise control, tilt wheel, electric windows, electric mirrors and door locks and a “ripper” stereo – all still working perfectly! The leather upholstery is all original, and appears hardly used. It’s immaculate. It still has the original paintwork too, which is a wee bit rough in places, but overall, it still looks darned good. “Some time, when I have the time and money, I’d like to restore it, but for now I’m happy cruising when I can.”
With a 4.1 litre V8 engine it’s a go-er. “I love how low it rides. It feels a bit mean. It has a great rumble to it, too. It’s not a fast car. It’s a cruiser.” He says making the adjustment to left hand drive was not an issue. “You just have to keep your wits about you the first few times you carry out a passing manoeuvre and then it becomes second nature. It’s all about taking your time and enjoying the ride,” he says, as he heads off to take his Mum and Dad out for cruise.
In a few weeks the car will go back into storage when Link heads back to work, but he knows that next time he’s in NZ, he’ll just jump in and turn the key and be off again.