Back in the early 1980s I was reading the Evening Post one Saturday night and there was a Morris Eight for sale.
I rang the number and established the location of the little treasure, and next day a friend and I went to view the car. It was on a vacant lot on Mount Victoria, and someone had started to “do something’’ to it. That is, the motor and gearbox were sitting on the front seat. However, a quick inspection revealed that it was in fact a complete car and crying out for restoration. Having negotiated a price the deal was done, money paid and a receipt issued – thank goodness, because at a later date I would be very relieved to have this receipt.
My friend and I towed the Morris home, tucked it into a comer of the garage and duly admired our purchase. Margaret was not so impressed and couldn’t understand how we could be so enthusiastic about a collection of old car parts that wouldn’t go. I proceeded to pull the car apart, and took the engine to the reconditioners for a complete overhaul.
I realised that I would need help in sourcing parts and material for the car. Also at that time my interests in life were to change with becoming a member of the Enthusiasts Club through meeting Kevin Troy who was then editor of the club magazine. One day Kevin brought David Payne to my home, and when I saw David’s Morris 8 saloon restored and going my interest in restoring my car was raised a level or two. Along the way I became involved in the the club as Treasurer and enjoyed three years on the committee.
As time and finances permitted I continued with restoration and even employed a panel beater to work at my
home dealing with the inevitable rust and tidying the panels and guards.
Then one night at a committee meeting Mark Britton told me that my precious Morris was a stolen car, which had been taken from a garage in Kilbimie some time before, and that the original motor was in somebody else’s possession. I was gutted at the thought of having to surrender the car after all the money and time spent on restoring it. I decided to come clean and tell the rightful owners the whole story. Fortunately for me the owners were pleased to hear about their missing car and especially thrilled to hear that it was being restored.
As I had already paid for the motor to be reconditioned I declined the offer to purchase the original motor which was in someone else’s possession. How it got there I do not know and was never told.
Like so many restorers, my enthusiasm waned to the extent that nothing was done for 12 months or more, and
doors and guards that had been repaired but not painted started to rust and looked rather pathetic lying on the
garage floor. I felt guilty about having assured the previous owners of my intention to restore their car and take
part in events and rallies. My conscience pricked me from time to time, and try as I might the guilt of not making progress stayed with me.
At this time I was working with Smith and Brown and we had just opened a store in Taranaki Street. Needless
to say I was working long hours and did not even have time to attend to basic chores, let alone work nights and
weekends on my car. One day, while talking with Shaun McCarthy it became evident that he had lost interest in
his Morris Ten, and we ended up doing a swap, with me taking ownership of the Ten and Shaun taking over
The future of the Eight is another story which Shaun might feel like telling one day. For my part I still own the Ten and have over the past 14 years completed a rolling restoration and enjoyed participating in many events and rallies organised by the club.
I guess the moral of this story is that if you intend to purchase an unknown car from a stranger, do your homework and ensure that you are not placed in the same position as I was all those years ago. On the recent
Twin Rivers rally we came across two cars offered for sale by people on behalf of their owners. I am sure that
in both cases they were genuine, but it is easy to get caught out. Our time is precious and we all work hard for our money, so when you negotiate to buy that next old car, make sure that you are dealing with the rightful owner or their authorised agent.