“It’s unique and it’s India’s closest comparison to the most famous event in the world the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance..” (more…)

“It was the vision of industrialist Mr. B. M. Birla that turned the import into a people’s car that dominated sales in India until the mid-1980s.”

by Nigel Matthews 

The Hindustan Ambassador sedan began life in England in 1942 but it became the known as “The King of Indian Roads.”

It was the vision of industrialist Mr. B. M. Birla that turned the import into a people’s car that dominated sales in India until the mid-1980s.

The first model offered was a knockdown (or re-assembled) Morris 10, rebadged as a Hindustan 10. That was followed by the model 14. The next body style change resulted in the Landmark, a knockdown A Morris Oxford fitted with a 1,478 cc, side-valve engine that had been used in the Hindustan 14.

The uni-body constructed Morris Oxford was launched in July of 1955, named by William R. Morris after the University City of dreaming spires.

The tooling for production of the Morris Oxford family sedan, used by the British middle class, was sent in the mid-50s to India, where Hindustan Motors had built a factory in West Bengal near Calcutta (now Kolkata) to produce the Landmark.

Despite the car being etched in British style, it was immediately embraced by India due to its size, and the comfortable ride experienced by its passengers.

The Ambassador, affectionately known as the “Amby” in India, replaced the
Landmark and was the first car to be built in India. During its 57-year production run, it was considered a status symbol and was used widely by politicians and government officials.

It only began losing its dominance and foothold when Maruti-Suzuki introduced a low priced hatchback in the mid-80s.

The Ambassador was fitted with the well-known 1,489 cc, 55-horsepower; BMC B-series engine, and later was the first car in India to be fitted with a diesel engine (37 hp, B-series).

In 1992, it was available with a 1.8 litre Isuzu Engine.

A trip to India would not be complete without the experience of riding in a Hindustan Taxi, and today there is no shortage of those. Bombay (Mumbai) has 55,000, Calcutta 35,000. For comparison’s sake, London has 22,000 black cabs and New York 40,000 vehicles for hire.

Over time, these familiar yellow taxis will disappear from Indian streets and be taken out of service as new legislation states that any cab 20 years old or older can no longer be used as a taxi.

My recent ride in Calcutta brought back fond memories of being delivered to prep school in a Morris Oxford Series III during the early ’60s.

Other than the indestructible cloth interior and the newer plastic dash and thick steering wheel, it was just as I remembered.

*Nigel Matthews is the global director of client services for Hagerty Insurance Agency, LLC – Hagerty is the world’s largest specialist provider of collector car insurance and provides many resources that support the classic car lifestyle.

Contact him at nmatthews [at] hagerty [dot] com or visit hagerty.ca.

Our classic and collector car expert continues today with the final part of his four-part series on the restoration of public relations executive Laura Ballance’s rare 1967 Ford Mustang T5 by 360 Fabrication in Abbotsford…

The restoration story of Laura Ballance’s Mustang T5 has been an interesting to follow and one that is not typical of this kind of project.

Before I get carried away telling you what a T5 actually is, I have to report that with the help of the team at 360 Fabrication, suppliers White and Peters, BASF paint and the 200 plus hours of paint preparation, application, wet sanding and polishing by master painter Darren Emmerson, the car is finished!

And here is the best part, it’s on time and under budget, almost unheard of in days gone by, let alone today.

So what is so special about a T5 Mustang?

The Ford Mustang could not be sold in Germany as a ‘Mustang’ because a truck manufacturer there and later a motorcycle manufacturer owned the trademarked name. Both manufacturers offered to sell the rights to Ford for $10,000 each but Ford declined and decided the solution would be to use the initial Mustang project name T5 as the solution. With all of the changes required, they should have probably paid the $10,000. With there being so many U.S. armed forces bases in Germany, export models were highly sought after.

Laura had no idea how rare her car was until she decided to embark on this project and began doing her research.

The T5 registry has informed Laura that of the 453 Mustang Hardtop T5s built in 1967, hers is one of the few examples ordered with a vinyl roof, which is listed as an option in the V.I.N tag. There are only two T5s known to exist in Canada, hers and one in Ontario and only 45 have survived in various states of condition worldwide.

It is going to be a busy summer for Laura, her two daughters and the Mustang. I suspect her father, never in his wildest dreams would have thought the car would end up as a show car let alone become a family affair involving three generations of his family. The T5 will debut at the Vancouver Classic Car Show and Auction at the PNE on June 21 and 22. A picture of it at it’s gleaming best in next week’s Driveway preview of that show. Then it will head south in July to the Mustang Roundup in Bellevue, Washington, the world’s largest Mustang meet. The car is entered in the Concours restoration class and should place well.

Because this is the 50th anniversary of the Mustang the invitations are pouring in, the most recent one from an event in North Carolina, Laura still has a day job so unfortunately will miss that one.  She will finish the summer off at the Luxury SuperCar weekend at VanDusen Gardens in September. The car will be viewed at least 30 or 31 times in a month, gracing the walls of garages and repair shops all over North America featured in a 2015 Ford calendar.

This concludes a restoration project with a happy conclusion.

*Nigel Matthews is the director of sales and marketing for Hagerty Insurance Canada.

Contact: nmatthews [at] hagerty [dot] com


Your classic car could ‘Going once, going twice, sold!’

The 2014 Vancouver Collector Car Show & Auction, presented by the Dueck Auto Group, is now accepting consignment applications for those looking to sell their cars.

New to this year’s event, which takes take place June 21-22, at the PNE Fairgrounds, is an auction preview, open only to the auction’s registered bidders and consigners. This event will allow sellers to show off their vehicles and mingle with the bidders before the auction.

If you have an awesome car that you want to show off but don’t want to sell, they too can be displayed at the show for free. For more information on displaying or consigning your car, visit www.VancouverCollectorCars.com.

Our classic and collector car expert continues today with the third part of his four-part series on the restoration of public relations executive Laura Ballance’s rare 1967 Ford Mustang T5 by 360 Fabrication in Abbotsford…

The Mustang T5 body shell has been painted, clear coated, wet-sanded, re-cleared and finally polished to a show quality finish.

Now comes the fun part of a restoration, the reassembly, opening boxes and fitting all of those new parts. This is as close as you can get to being a car factory assembly line worker except you are doing every task instead of just one, and you have all the time that is needed and not having to work to the speed of a moving production line.

One of the upgrades that the T5 will receive is a new product designed to dampen and suppress the driveline and road noise, making the inner cabin as quiet as possible and a bit like a modern car. The foil covered pads have a peel off backing and are adhered to every inner sheet metal panel such as the roof, floor, doors and bulkhead. The next step is to install the new wiring harness; old wiring harnesses become brittle over time due to heat and corrosion at the joints and terminals, ask the owner of any British Sports Car from that era!

The interior has been completely renewed from top to bottom staring with the headliner, trim panels, carpets, dash pads and the seats have all been reupholstered.

Before the new back glass and windshield are installed (all of the other glass panels have been replaced) the new vinyl top is installed. Installing a vinyl roof is not a task that is performed very often these days but 360 have the skills to do this in-house.

LKQ stocks a huge selection of high quality muscle car sheet metal and parts. “If you are doing a premium muscle car restoration the only sheet metal you want to use is from LKQ,” asserted Rick Francoeur at 360.

The exterior panels will soon have their final fitting. They have been fitted and removed during the restoration process countless times to make sure that the panel gaps are correct. The final fitting process will involve two or three people to make sure that the paint does not get chipped or damaged.

Before the original V-8 engine was removed from the car it underwent a compression check, all of the cylinders had equal and strong readings so a complete re-build was not necessary. The carburetor has been replaced with a new two-barrel, the automatic transmission has been completely re-built as has the rear axle.

Rick talked Laura out of fitting a modern rack and pinion power steering kit or even upgrading the manual steering box to a power-assisted unit so it will be reliving the Armstrong steering experience for Laura when parking at low speeds!

One safety upgrade is the installation of original Ford front disc-brakes; these are a must in today’s traffic. Collector vehicle drivers are very cautious, invariably when accidents occur it is the drivers around you that are not paying attention or cutting you off.

360 have done their research and paid a lot of attention to detail during this rebuild, right down to avoiding the temptation of installing an exhaust system with two tailpipes.

Next week, we will explore what exactly a T5 is? How rare they are and explore some of the events that Laura and her brand new old car car will be attending in this 50th anniversary year of the Ford Mustang.

*Nigel Matthews is the director of sales and marketing for Hagerty Insurance Canada.

Contact: nmatthews [at] hagerty [dot] com

Our classic and collector car expert continues today with the second part of his four-part series on the restoration of public relations executive Laura Ballance’s rare 1967 Ford Mustang T5 by 360 Fabrication in Abbotsford…

The restoration business has changed a great deal – in the past, most auto body repair shops would only take on such work when their collision work dried up.

Now, it’s very specialist work and I’m often asked if I could recommend a restoration shop. To be honest with you, I would be hard pressed to come up with enough names to fill the fingers of one hand.

But I have no hesitation in saying that I doubt there is one in the entire country that restores and builds as many custom cars as 360 Fabrication, in Abbotsford. They control the costs and track the daily progress by using a number of management systems and a Gantt chart.

The secret to controlling the work is to perform all of the tasks in-house with perhaps the exception of chrome plating.  During my time in the trade, costs kept mounting up and either the customer or the technician, who worked on a flat rate (piecework) basis, was short changed resulting in ill feelings between the shop owner, his staff and the customer mainly caused by the lack of communication and too many assumptions!

Laura Ballance’s original plan was to have a sympathetic restoration performed, replacing only what was necessary. But cars are no different from houses, boats and planes, so when the Mustang was disassembled and stripped they discovered that probably the only thing holding the car together was Laura’s father’s DIY welding!

The Mustang is a relatively easy car to restore in terms of obtaining new parts. In this case, by the time the air chisel and plasma cutter was put away the only major sheet metal components left was the roof, “A” pillars, rocker-panels, bulkhead and the two front frame rails and the rear section of the floor. I have heard the expression “better than new” a few times over the years and have often wondered how can it be better than new? But it can.

Today’s  restorations have improved with the help of new technology such as compression fit welding equipment, seam sealers and paint products including epoxy primers, spray on polyester fillers and the waterborne color coats with a clear coat finish. These products are far superior to anything that came off the production line during the ‘60s.

Rick Francoeur and his team at 360 always allow the customer to be in control and understand customer needs and expectations, even down to the smallest sentimental detail. However, sometimes they have to advise the client for their own benefit, sometimes financial, safety related or future re-sale value. Laura wanted the Mustang refinished it its metallic blue, all the rage during the ‘60s and the car she remembers. But if the car is to retain its value and to represent how it came off the production line as a rare T5, it had to be painted its original Ford Paint Code Z, an interesting colour called Sauterne Gold Irid. This colour combined with a black interior and vinyl roof will make the car a real eye catcher.

Next week, we will look into the mechanical component restoration and exterior trim replacement.

*Nigel Matthews is the director of sales and marketing for Hagerty Insurance Canada. nmatthews [at] hagerty [dot] com

I spend the entire year driving new cars so this seemed like a fun way to spend some fun time in a classic.” – Keith Morgan

NM 2012springthaw

The Hagerty Spring Thaw is a budget-minded driving adventure through British Columbia for pre-1979 touring and sportscars.

And that was all cost conscious Driveway editor Keith Morgan needed to know to take part in this un-scored, non-competitive event, which takes place next month entirely within the province of British Columbia.

“I spend the entire year driving new cars so this seemed like a fun way to spend some fun time in a classic,” Morgan explained.

“My old friend George Holt, from Gabriola Island, has a rather fine 1954 Jaguar XK120 roadster so I’m going to ‘nagivate’ for him. Yes, knowing George I will be doing more ‘nag’ than ‘nav’!”

The drive starts on Friday, April 25, in Squamish and finishes in Hope, on Sunday, April 27. To ensure an “adventure”, the route will remain secret until competitors receive their entry packages at registration.

Way-finding instructions will be detailed and clear, and will not require any calculations or rally knowledge.  The event consists of 100 percent paved roads, with some mountainous terrain, and driving is scheduled during daylight hours. Car wash facilities are available at each overnight stop.

The Morgan and Holt Driveway team will photograph the event and their journey along the spectacular 1,200km route over three days. The account of their adventure will appear in Driveway and online at drivewaybc.ca in early May.

Squamish Classic Car Adventures and the West Coast Rally Association organize the Spring Thaw and follow the BC Rally Regulations.

The event is open to sport, touring and classic cars from 1979 and earlier. The organizers say that if people believe they have a unique car that fits, but doesn’t meet the age category they should make contact, regardless.

Entry information can be found Online.

Nigel Matthews is the director of sales and marketing for Hagerty Insurance Canada.

E-mail him at: nmatthews [at] hagerty [dot] com

Looking into my automotive crystal ball, I see a number of reasonably priced Japanese cars with the potential to go up in value, not down.

And while you wait for their price to rise, these collector cars of the future should give you endless driving pleasure – that is, until you sell! (more…)

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