UK, US live agreeably together

22:38, Mar 25 2014
neil manchester
Neil Manchester's 1962 Chevrolet Corvette.
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The 1956 MGA Neil Manchester picked it up from the Winchester Swap Meet before he restored it.
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The 1962 Chevrolet Corvette engine before Neil Manchester restored it.
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The upholstery of Neil Manchester's restored 1956 MGA.
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The 1956 MGA Mark II part-way through the restoration.
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The 1956 MGA engine.

American and English relations have never been as harmonious as they are in the garage of a Timaru man.

Sitting in Neil Manchester's garage is an MGA, and a Chevy Corvette, both in a shiny red hue.

"My favourite types of cars are American and English, not sure why. They just are. Of course they're red. It goes faster," Mr Manchester said.

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ART WORK: Neil Manchester beside the 1962 Chevrolet Corvette engine he restored.

Mr Manchester has loved cars and motorbikes as long as he can remember, but it is restoring them that is his great passion in life.

He said working on the cars and seeing the transformation gave him great pride - which is obvious when seeing the 1956 MGA he transformed from a rusty shell he found at the Winchester Swap Meet.

Putting in hours of working on the MGA, and using his knowledge as an engineer, he completely transformed the car to its original mint condition.


Mr Manchester has in the same garage a 1962 Chevy Corvette, which he said was almost the antithesis of the little MG.

He said that to compare the two cars to modern vehicles would have the Corvette like a Holden Commodore, and the MG like a Suzuki Swift.

On the surface they seem quite different "and I suppose they are" but they are both convertibles - which was one of the two types of cars he loved, Mr Manchester said.

"I like driving around with the wind in my hair. Not that there's much of that now I am getting old," he said.

The other type of car he fancied was the coupe, he said.

The Chevy Corvette was found by Craig Gilbert when he was in the United States, and he thought Mr Manchester might like it.

He loved it.

Superficially the Corvette looks as though it was not one of Mr Manchester's restorations.

Until you flip the bonnet, and see the engine.

It now looks pristine, and something to show off, a big difference from a rust-filled, crumpled tangle of parts that was the American classic's engine when it arrived in New Zealand.

Mr Manchester said that as time had passed restoring cars had become easier with the internet than it was when he started restoring his first car, a 1936 Chevrolet Coupe, in the 1980s.

He said he usually had the required parts within a week.

Nurturing his car restoration hobby, Mr Manchester has three garages on his property to store his cars and one that operates as his restoration garage.

"Yeah I spend a bit of my time out here. Its my passion."

However he is not a complete petrolhead. He enjoys watching Top Gear but he would not rank it as his favourite show.

"I wouldn't drive a modern car if I had the choice, but I have to have a ute for work."

The Timaru Herald