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words & images:   Leanne Gichard

Memories of childhood are often looked at through rose-tinted glasses.  We tend to remember the things that made us happy and often our fond memories revolve around the cars our parents either drove or aspired to drive.  The smell of the leather upholstery; the gleam of chrome; the sound of the motor as manual gears were changed (or graunched on some occasions!) and the animated conversations and feelings of awe over the latest features available to make driving a more pleasurable experience.  For those too young to remember, in the 60s and 70s a family drive on a hot summer’s day meant literally peeling yourself off the leather or vinyl upholstery when you reached your destination!  For Robert, a local car enthusiast, one car that evokes fond memories is his latest acquisition, a 1964 Morris Oxford Farina Deluxe Saloon. 

 “My father owned a Morris Oxford Traveller when I was a child and I remember it vividly,” Robert explains. “It was very similar in shape to the Morris Oxford Farina, but was a station wagon, as opposed to a saloon.  Morris Oxfords were on every street corner in the 60s and 70s – they were as common as the Suzuki Swift is today.  They were so popular because of their affordability and were a mid-sized family car. They competed with the likes of the Singer Gazelle and Vauxhall Victor.”

To say that the Morris Oxford Farina Deluxe is in mint condition would be an understatement.  You can almost see yourself in the reflection of the Dove Grey paintwork and the interior is in equally good condition.  The Farina has bench seats front and rear, which are immaculately upholstered in vertically pleated grey leather with a stunning retro red trim.  The panels on the doors echo the seats, but the panelling is pleated horizontally which adds contrast.  The steering wheel is particularly quirky, with a retro chrome inner segment giving way to a glorious domed centre with the iconic Morris “M” Logo on a background of rich red enamel, surrounded by a circular grooved chrome area making a real statement.  Miles of chrome trim punctuate the exterior of the Farina, adding definition and class, and the sleek tail fins and cathedral shaped tail lights add style and flair.  The dash is another point of interest, with an interlacing zig-zagging panel in copper creating a foil for the round speedometer and fuel, oil and heat instruments.  The vehicle is also fitted with a car stereo, heater and dial clock.

So, what’s under the bonnet? The Farina is powered by a four cylinder, 1622 cu cm engine capacity motor, with a four speed manual gearbox.   Top speed is approximately 80 mph.  “The motor goes very well and is in good condition,” says Robert.  Steering uses a cam and peg system and drum brakes are front and rear.  Gear shifts came in either floor or column options; this vehicle being fitted with the former.

“This car has a relatively long and narrow body, as it was designed for the narrow British roads of the day.  I find that when I take it out for a drive, so many people of my generation come up and wave or nod, because they recognise the car from their childhood.  It creates a nostalgic feeling for them.  The British Motor Corporation Limited also produced the Austin, Riley, Wolseley and MG cars, which were also very popular, and apart from badging and some minor trim differences, they were essentially the same vehicle.”

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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.