Everywhere he drives Derek Nicholson gets stopped. Not that the modest Kumeu 80-year-old reckons he's anything special - but his cars are.
Mr Nicholson owns two Armstrong Siddeley vehicles and has been a member of the make's club for 22 years.
His black and white Mark 2, 346 Sapphire has special sentimental value because it took him four years to restore. "I know every nut and bolt."
Today its rarity is even more distinctive because it still has its original chassis, motor and body. It also has the same number plates it had when it was first registered in March 1957.
His other pride and joy is a Star Sapphire which was first registered in November, 1960. Today there are only four on the road in New Zealand.
Mr Nicholson says that every time he is out in one of his cars he is approached by either someone whose family used to have one or who remembers them in their childhood.
He also participates in car displays and rallies including one in Hawera over Labour Weekend for his car club.
During his overseas experience as a young man working in Ramsay, Hampshire, England, he first saw a dark green Mark 1 Sapphire owned by his boss who crashed it into a tree.
He had to help tow the car into a workshop. "I was left with a lasting impression of strength and elegant design. So much so that I've kept a scrapbook on Sapphires which eventually led me to buying my own in 1990."
Mr Nicholson has a background in sailing and has built 26 model boats, mainly to their original plans.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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