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  words & images: Leanne Gichard

It is fair to say that David has a passion for Plymouths.  This passion started many years ago when his family owned a 1947 Plymouth, which they sold when the gearbox had seen better days.  He had been thinking about buying a vintage car for many years but had put it off due to the cost. 

When he noticed a Chevrolet Impala sitting in his neighbour’s driveway ten years ago, he immediately wondered what his neighbour intended to do with the 1937 Plymouth he already owned.  His interest was further piqued when the neighbour set about washing and polishing the Plymouth. Curiosity got the better of him and he went next door to enquire.

“My neighbour asked if I was interested in buying the Plymouth and told me that someone in Christchurch was keen to buy it and that it would likely end up in Britain,” he says. “He suggested that if I was interested, I should take it for a drive, so I did. As I was driving back, I thought, ‘There is no way this car is leaving New Zealand!’  So, I bought it.”

The Plymouth was previously owned in West Melton in 1993, it then went to Napier, where it underwent restoration work which was completed in 2005. David’s neighbour purchased the Plymouth in 2006.

The 1937 Plymouth is a P3, 4-door sedan, painted in Plymouth Green, a colour that sealed the deal for David as this was also the original colour of the 1947 Plymouth his family had previously owned.  It has a standard 6-cylinder Chrysler engine, with 3-speed gearbox and very comfortable, well sprung leather bench seats which accommodate six people.  The body is steel, with double-acting hydraulic brakes ensuring great handling and a smooth ride.

From any angle the Plymouth is impressive, with massive fenders joining the curve of the rounded radiator shell. The many gleaming chrome features just add to the sophistication and make a bold statement – “Look at me!” The white walled tyres add a final touch of class.  

A lot of thought has gone in to the design of the Plymouth, down to the interior door handles, which slope inward to avoid catching on the occupants’ clothing as they enter or exit the vehicle; insulated engine mounts, which keep vibration to a minimum; flat dashboard with recessed controls and a chrome stylized sailing ship ornament that sits upon the top of the bonnet.  Built during the Great Depression, this vehicle must have added a degree of elegance and solidity in very uncertain times.

“We love taking the Plymouth out on car rallies, the two most recent being the Easter Rally and the Rotary Car Rally at the beginning of May,” David said.  “My wife is the navigator and we enjoy the camaraderie of mixing with other car enthusiasts. To be honest, I would love to attend more, but they tend to be scheduled on a Sunday, which clashes with my other hobby, which is breeding and showing coloured sheep.”

David also collects vintage tractors and has a keen interest in vintage machinery.

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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.