Outrageous love for Westie wheels

WESTSIDE GLORY: Shelby Ryan with her 1971 Ford Falcon XY ute.
LAWRENCE SMITH/Fairfax NZ

WESTSIDE GLORY: Shelby Ryan with her 1971 Ford Falcon XY ute.

They're not your usual stage mums - but when the television cameras turn on their "babies", Kathy Jarrett and Shelby Ryan couldn't be prouder.

Their cars, a 1966 Ford XP Falcon Coupe and a 1971 XY Ford Falcon Ute, are among more than 100 classic vehicles commandeered from around the country for new local show, Westside Story.

The prequel to Outrageous Fortune is set in the 1970s and focuses on the early lives of Rita and Ted "Grandpa" West.

Clayton Ercolano, production designer for the South Pacific Pictures venture, says one of his biggest concerns was finding cars - the largest number he's ever used for one show - contemporary or historical.

He says a Facebook casting call prompted one of those "proud to be a Kiwi moments".

CLASSIC: Kathy Jarrett with her 1966 Ford Falcon XP coupe.
LAWRENCE SMITH/Fairfax NZ

CLASSIC: Kathy Jarrett with her 1966 Ford Falcon XP coupe.

"People contacted us from all over the North Island and even a few from the South. One couple from Rotorua made the drive up after being told by friends it must have been a hoax and was a scam to steal their car!"

Jarrett's coupe will feature in street scenes and background shots. She says she's "quite emotional" about her car and is excited about its small-screen debut.

"I looked for a year-and-a-half to find a car like this. Every single day on Trade Me. I tracked old listings back seven years, and I eventually found one in Melbourne and imported it."

It's cost her around $32,000, but, says Jarrett, "on a beautiful day, there's nothing better than winding the windows down and cranking up some music".

Shelby Ryan's ute will be driven by a character called Phineas. She says she's not concerned for her vehicle's wellbeing, "as long as he doesn't drive it like a wunce! He needs to hit the kerb really well".

The $40,000 vehicle Ryan affectionately calls "Miss Ute" was purchased after a six-month search.

"I have five children, and I think after years of toil I had a bit of a midlife crisis - although I prefer to call it an 'awakening'.

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"When I was a kid I used to work on my uncle's cars with him . . . as long as I was bashing stuff under the hood and getting covered in oil, I thought it was really cool. They had a lot of V8s and I just loved the sound."

The women say classic car ownership is not "a blokey thing" - though Ryan admits whenever she's had to lift the bonnet, "there's always three or four guys there within 20 seconds asking if I'm OK".

The Auckland-based pair believe people feel happy nostalgia when they see the cars of their childhoods restored to full glory.

Ryan: "I remember one car show, and a dad elbowing his son, he would have been five or six years old, saying 'your granddad had a car like this mate' and then the granddad came along, and you could just see him going back into a time warp."

No screening date has been set for Westside Story, but filming wraps this week in West Auckland.

 - Stuff

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