Story of Zcar

The Z Car


What came first, the art or the car?

The art. My mother and aunt are artists and so art was part of my Whitianga upbringing. I learnt illustration at polytech and art has always been my career. When I started getting commissions to paint classic cars for their owners I decided I’d love to have one myself. 

Is this your first classic car and how did you find it?

Not only my first classic car but also the first car I’ve ever owned. I never wanted an ordinary car. I saw an advertisement for the Mark 11 Zephyr in Thames. I was the first to enquire and given three days to payor they would sell it to someone else. I have owned the car for eight years and despite many offers I am not selling it! 

Describe the car and any special features?

I bought it in original condition and in the original colours of army green and cream. In honour of its being the last of this model the upholstery has the standard vinyl enhanced with gold flecked fabric. Apart from replacing the exhaust with a chrome one and replacing bits of engine as they wear out the car is as it has always been. 

How’s your ‘under the bonnet’ understanding?

I am learning about it. It is totally different to a contemporary car. This one is all nuts and bolts not all computers. The speedo is in miles, the battery has no alternator so I have to warm up the car in winter before I drive it.  Maintenance is done by Dave Crawford who is a Ford race car driver. 

Is this your everyday car or only driven on special occasions?

As it’s my only car I do drive it when necessary but I can walk most places. I take my car to events like the Wheels on Mainstreet at Mount Maunganui at Labour Weekend, the All Ford Day at Blake Park and the annual Whangamata Beach Hop. I also exhibit my art at car shows and sell postcards and frig magnets featuring classic cars.

Your favourite road trip?

To Whitianga and Whangamata with my retro 1950s surf board on top. I drive it home every Christmas which delights my dad as he loves cars. 


Are you protective of it and have you had any incidents?

I do look after it very well and keep it protected (don’t want the cat jumping up on it!) and garaged. The front seat has a cover to preserve the original. I do have a favourite panel beater I’ve used occasionally. One day I was cruising down Marine Parade when a car shot backwards out of a drive into my Zephyr. I was nearly in tears. Panel beater John Olds made it better than new and took out the odd ‘bubble’ in the process. He keeps telling me to "ditch the Ford and get a Chevy" and I have to admit that the 1957 Chevy is my dream car.

How do people react to the car?

I get heaps of comments. Many people identify with it and many, especially Maori people, tell me they have fond memories of having one in the family. The Mark 11 Zephyr is also remembered as the car the police drove; painted black and white.

Has your love of classic cars resulted in interesting art commissions?

Definitely; I have had some wonderful commissions from car owners. Often they want their baches, favourite old building and pets in the paintings too. I have painted Dave Olds’ collection of cars. I have done a work for a family with Granddad’s old milk truck and the son’s Corvette.  The old Oceanside Hotel has of course featured in my work as has the Cardona Hotel and Mount Taranaki. I am working on a commission now to cover a life-size fibre glass cow with a mural. The project will see 30 painted cowsdotted round Morrinsville. My sponsor is Silver Fern Meats and my cow will tell a different story from each side!


Created by Cap'n John