Allan Dick , 8 Apr 2011
2. THAT DUNEDIN HUDSON
In a past issue of Classic Driver there was mention of a special Hudson car that resided in Dunedin in the 1950s. It was circa 1936 and had been rebodied with a very elegant English looking sports style body. It was black and gleaming and it was to be seen most Friday nights parked on the main street with an elegant looking man sitting inside. He was always as immaculate as the car.
Later the car disappeared and the man was then seen driving a pale metallic blue Rolls Royce, which was common, compared to the Hudson.
Well, there’s been plenty of information about the car, and its owner. He was Kevin Dunn who was independently wealthy and who lived with his mother in a large house at the top of Pitt Street.
Rumour has it that the car was a show car at the 1936 Earls Court Show in London and the body had been created by one of the leading British coachbuilding houses.
It had found its way to New Zealand and bought sometime in the 1950s by Kevin Dunn.
It was serviced regularly by the then Dunedin Hudson agents, Hyslop and Gibson who also had Rambler, Daimler, Lanchester and then Borgward. During servicing, the Hudson caught fire and was extensively damaged. It was sent to Christchurch for repair and never came back.
Dunedin’s Viv Anngow
Which leads me onto Viv Anngow. When Hyslop and Gibson closed down, some of their franchises weren’t worth anything because the cars had vanished off the face of the earth, or they sold only a few cars.
Daimler was pretty much the only one that was worth anything and it was picked up by Anngow Motors — a small company operated by brothers, Viv and Dec Anngow.
Viv survives and is now well into his eighties and a more remarkable man you have to meet. Viv was apprenticed as a mechanic to South Island Motors in Dunedin in 1942. S.I.M were agents for Nash, Wolseley and Fiat, but the war got Viv and he was sent off to join the RNZAF as a flight mechanic at firstly Ardmore working on Corsairs and then Japan.
Back home he rejoined S.I.M. but within a year had started out on his own with a small garage in Filleul Street. “It was tough, I almost starved.”
In 1954 his brother Dec (pronounced Deck) sold his grocery business and joined him, moving into used cars from a “birdcage” operation in Hanover Street where they operated from for many years.
The business grew and they added franchises ending up with Daimler, Borgward, Goggomobile, Rambler and then Daihatsu.
As some of those franchises dropped off they added another - Mazda. That was a franchise they held for many years, adding Hyundai as well before the decision was made to close Anngow Motors.
Not only has Viv had a lifetime in the Dunedin motor trade, but he’s also been involved in cash cycling and he has a still active, 40 year plus history of involvement in harness racing.
The Heasley Humber 80 at a Dunedin Festival Road Race Meeting circa 1961
I met Harold Heasley again recently. Back in the late fifties he was the man to beat in New Zealand saloon car racing with his Humber 80. Harold’s remarkably hale and hearty despite being well into his eighties and he will be the feature of a major feature sometime shortly. But talk of Humber 80s in any other country and you’ll get a blank look. Although the Poms were into badge engineering in a major way, the Humber 80 version of the Hillman Minx was a New Zealand invention created by the demon of import licenses. The demand for the Hillman Minx was more than the license allowed. Todd Motors had Humber import license, but the nearest car in size to the Minx in the Humber line-up was the much bigger Hawk. So the Humber 80- was created from the Hillman Minx. The differences were absolutely marginal, but the two cars enjoyed quite different images. The Minx was an older person’s car, the 80 was for younger people.
The Thunderbolt under construction and how it ended its life. Where was the burnt-out carcass dumped?
Recently I wrote briefly of Thunderbolt, the Land Speed Record car of Captain George Eyston that reached 312mph. Thunderbolt was one of the last of those magnificent British LSR cars of the 1930s era when it was one of those things that a chap did it for his country - Malcolm Campbell and all that.
The Thunderbolt was sent to New Zealand for the 1940 Centennial Exhibition in Wellington that commemorated 100 years of the founding of the European community.
Because of the time taken for shipping, Thunderbolt was dispatched to the colony before WW2 erupted. After the show in Wellington it was decided to keep the car here for the duration rather than (a) risk sending it back and/or (b) have it take up valuable cargo space that could otherwise have been used by bags of carrots or stuff.
So it was stored in a woolstore which caught fire! Thunderbolt was “destroyed” in the parlance of that era, but probably only badly damaged today.
It was buried in a rubbish dump somewhere without too much ceremony and promptly forgotten.
The world had forgotten about the fate of Thunderbolt until about seven or eight years ago when questions were asked from the UK if anyone knew where the car was buried. I wasn’t aware until then that Thunderbolt had come here, let alone that it was damaged by fire and buried.