words & images: Leanne Gichard

Cast your mind back to the roaring 20’s and all things glamour.  It was a time of excitement, liberation and most of all positivity after the darkness of the Great War.  Hemlines went up, women bobbed their hair and then there were the cars…

Roger and Isla’s 1929 Dodge DA Deluxe is the epitome of sophistication and style – you can just imagine the Dodge on the set of Downton Abbey.  Plush vertically pleated velvet upholstery in a warm camel tone sets off the interior beautifully.  A footrest and handles are provided for rear seat passengers for comfort and security (in case the road is rough or the driver takes a corner too fast!) Windows wind down for ventilation, including all rear windows.  “I reckon all that is missing is a cocktail cabinet, as it has everything else,” Isla laughs.

The exterior is stunning, having recently been totally restored.  Massive black fenders curve voluptuously onto the main body of the vehicle.  The squared roof is clad in thick black vinyl which contrasts with the rich maroon paint on the rest of the body.  Large round headlights sit either side of the bonnet with much smaller round park lights set further back, making a real statement. The chrome bumper bars front and rear are impressive, but it’s the finishing touches that really set the Dodge apart.  The attention to detail is amazing.  Two spare wheels (a necessity in the 20’s) are secured on each side of the vehicle by beautiful curved chrome brackets which echo art deco styling; the Dodge Brothers winged emblem sits proudly centred on the luxuriously chromed surround of the honeycomb radiator and on the number plate holder; white spoked wire rims have a polished chrome centre with the intertwining DB (Dodge Bros.) initials enamelled in black, adding a touch of real class. Two hand-painted pencil thin stripes in a creamy white add style and elegance to the upper body and bonnet.

Made from steel and built to last, this car is very solid.  Wide foot-treads make getting in and out of the vehicle easy and much needed with 19” tyres.  “The Dodge has a top speed of 60 mph, although we don’t drive it at this speed, and is powered by a 3.3L, 6-cylinder, side-valve engine with a 3-speed gearbox,” says Roger.

Roger’s love for vintage vehicles started many years ago, but it was only in retirement that he was able to pursue that dream.  “I saw the Dodge at the Christchurch Swap Meet in 2016 and decided to buy it,” said Roger.  “The next week we went to pick up the car and driving home, it overheated.  We have rebored the motor, and replaced the radiator and pistons to try and remedy the overheating.  In early 2017 the decision was made to give the ‘old girl’ a complete bare-metal re-restoration and body repairs were necessary.  That’s why she looks so pristine now,” Roger explains.

Isla and Roger enjoy going on runs, and the camaraderie of others who also love vintage cars.  “I don’t buy them to put in a shed. They are there to enjoy,” Roger says.

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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.