The revival of Ernie
Vintage car enthusiast Jim McCutcheon only planned to rebuild his 1923 Model T Ford once.
But that went out the window about the same time he went flying over the door in a crash last September.
The Bucklands Beach resident says seeing the damage was worse than the cracked rib, cuts and bruises he suffered. Ernie, as Mr McCutcheon calls the car, was left crumpled and its future uncertain.
"The thought of having to do it all again made me so angry," he says.
But he's much more hopeful of getting Ernie back on the road after being inundated with support from Eastern Courier readers who saw the initial story about the crash.
"It has made a mammoth difference. They've offered their time, their expertise and even different parts."
The 75-year-old bought the car as a pile of parts about 50 years ago.
Over the years he received a bit of cheek about the car he refused to let go of but just left sitting in the garage. But Ernie's time eventually came.
Mr McCutcheon got stuck in a year after he retired.
"I was chuffed to get it up and roaring on Christmas Eve in 2009, we had a bit of an audience. It was a performance that didn't disappoint."
The car at first refused to go but finally chugged into life after a runway-length push start.
Its proud owner was captivated by the make early in life and getting behind the wheel of a Model T that first time as a young lad was an eye-opening experience.
"I only lasted 30 seconds before crashing. The act of driving a Model T is quite different. I charged straight in to the back of a truck when I was actually trying to go into reverse."
Even now he has to put on his "Model T thinking cap" before taking to the road.
But Mr McCutcheon says accidents happen and counts himself lucky to be alive to start working on Ernie again.
"The windscreen is plate glass and if I had gone through it I'd have lost my head."
And although Ernie's been bent out of shape, he's determined to change that.
"The biggest hurdle is my interest. Having done it all before I find it hard to kick myself into gear to get started.
"But there is no way it won't get done. It's almost part of the family it's been with me so long."
He plans to have Ernie finished by Christmas Eve.
"A rebirth on the rebirth, it has a nice ring to it."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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