After months of waiting, Eric "Tex" Schwass managed just 20 kilometres in his reconditioned Ford Fairlane before it blew up.
By the time firefighters arrived at the car fire in Carrington St, in central New Plymouth, late yesterday morning, Mr Schwass knew it was too late to save his baby.
"I had just got it on the road," the New Plymouth RSA president said as smoke poured from under the bonnet.
"I was coming into town, it started to smoke, I pulled over and she burst into flames.
"I had come in from Inglewood; maybe done 10 or 15 miles."
While the fire made short work of the engine, an LPG tank in the back of the 16-year-old car was his main cause for concern.
However, having only just got the car, Mr Schwass did not know whether the fuel supply lines running to the engine could be turned off. "I wouldn't have a clue," he told firefighters.
Collin Pillay had watched the drama unfold from across the road at his home and rushed out in his pyjamas in a vain attempt to put out the fire with a small extinguisher.
"I wasn't sure if there was a person in the front or not. I wanted to have a closer look," he said. "I was inside and I saw the smoke and I thought ‘man, I just have my pyjamas on'. But sometimes there is no time to dress up, put some lippy on, you know what I mean. Desperate times call for desperate measures," he said.
Mr Schwass' passenger in the car, Ruby the terrier, was not harmed in the fire.
The Fairlane remains in a critical condition.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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