Silver beauty fit for special occasion

ESTHER ASHBY-COVENTRY
Last updated 07:01 02/07/2012

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If I ever get invited to the Academy Awards I would like to turn up in a 1939 Ford Coupe just like John Hewson's.

The car oozes Hollywood glamour and would complement any elegant evening dress.

Hewson imported the stunning silver vehicle from the USA himself, about 18 months ago.

"I paid the deposit then went over and organised the shipping... it took 21 days."

Over the next eight months he changed it from left-hand drive to right-hand drive, re-strengthened the chassis and added diagonal seatbelts to meet New Zealand standards.

"I don't watch television, I'm in the garage every night."

The sleek smooth exterior is without handles on the suicide doors - it has keyless entry - doors open by remote control.

On the inside is a soft leather bench seat. The roof can easily be removed, and according to John the 350 V8 Chev engine costs about US$120 in petrol for Timaru to Christchurch return.

With its sleek silver body, column automatic transmission and an exhaust noise below 95 decibels, the Ford attracts attention wherever it goes.

When he has been stopped at a roundabout, strangers have been known to go around twice, the first time spotting him, and the second time to chase him for a photo.

Driving around Timaru, the Ford was a magnet to everyone it passed, male or female. Because the windows are small it feels very low to the ground.

John says whether an owner has done his own work on a car like this or has contracted it out depends on how much they sell for. He estimates the price would be between $90,000 to $200,000.

The fibreglass body car was in good condition when he got it.

The structural engineer has been into hot rods since the 1970s when he was in his 20s and explains a hot rod basically has souped up running gear.

In his youth he drove around Levels in a GT 40 a few times.

John's grandchildren love the Coupe so much he is lucky to actually get out and drive it alone.

Despite the glamour and kudos associated with such a fabulous looking car John's dream vehicle is a Shelby Mustang.

"I've always wanted one."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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