Gary Hood loves his eye-catching, two-door, left-hand-drive 1958 Ford Custom – the body is all beautiful two-tone paintwork and gleaming chrome -it looks very much as a 1950’s cruiser should, but you can instantly tell by the look and the sound of this machine that there’s a lot more going on.

Gary was working The States back in 2005, and purchased the car in Sacramento, California. “It was pretty much original when I bought it, but I’ve done a few things, made a few modifications,” he grins.  Those “few things” include changing from drum to disc brakes, manual transmission to auto, installing power steering, lowering it and “quite a bit more.”

The interior is in amazing condition with a factory bench seat that matches the exterior colour combo perfectly and delivers a really comfortable ride. The back seat is also a full-sized bench seat – so comfortable you could stretch out and take a nap, and the boot, or ‘trunk’ if we’re sticking with the American lingo, is enormous. Everything is in mint condition – the dashboard is immaculate, in fact it all feels a just a little bit elegant.

Then, of course, Gary’s foot hits the accelerator, you hear the rumble, and remember how very low to the ground you’re sitting, and it’s no longer posh, it’s very, very cool! 

1958 was the year that Ford added a simulated bonnet scoop to their cars (it disappeared again just as quickly), tail fins (nothing like as extreme as those on the Chevrolets) and quad headlights. They also re-designed the front grille, and updated their engines.  

Lift up the bonnet, and you can see what all the noise is about. “This car had a small-block Mustang motor in it, I think it was a 287, but don’t quote me on that.” (Sorry, Gary). “It’s also had a bit of a tickle-up.”

The appeal for Gary is the rarity factor. “The Ford Customs were not considered particularly sought-after in their day, and you just don’t see too many around – certainly not here. Even though this car has had “a few things done” it’s a real classic. I don’t really do shows and events, but I had it out at Musclecar Madness recently, and you’d be amazed at the number of people who wanted to check it out – it’s a bit of a head-turner.”

Gary says he doesn’t really get out in it often enough. “It’s definitely a summer car – its magic to wind the windows down and go for a cruise,” he grins.  “It’s also a bit heavy on the gas, so you wouldn’t want to use it for an everyday car – you want to make sure you enjoy it every time you drive it.

Would he sell it? He hesitates. “I’ve got a few cars, and I can’t drive them all, so if I had the right offer, I’d definitely think about it.”  

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Judy McAuliffe is a writer, and publisher Essence Mid Canterbury. Her experience in media is extensive and includes approximately 15 years as Creative Director for The Radio Network, writing, and managing the writing of radio advertising, mainly in Invercargill and Greymouth. In the late 1990’s she transferred to Christchurch, moving into an Account Management role with 91ZM. In 2007 she and a business partner set up Essence Mid Canterbury, very quickly adapting her radio-writing skills to print media. Judy became sole owner of Essence Mid Canterbury in June 2014. Judy is a ‘people person’ and has found her niche writing feature stories about the community she lives in and the people who live there. She is also available for freelance writing assignments.