Oamaru’s Quentin Barrow considers himself more a custodian of his 1925 Jewett than an owner.
He had had his eye on the nearly 100 year-old vehicle for several years and, when the chance came around to make it his own three years ago, he did not hesitate.
However, how Mr Barrow came to own the vehicle was not as simple as signing on the dotted line.
He bought it from Garth King – son of Doug King, whose father Arthur once owned A S King Garage in Maheno.
When Arthur died, he left the business to Doug, and his other son Spencer.
When Doug died, Spencer decided to sell the land, former garage and everything that went with it – including the Jewett, which had been sitting idle in a shed for decades.
The only catch was that the seller wanted a buyer to purchase the lot, not just one or the other.
“They were always going to restore the car, but it never eventuated and they were just cleaning up the estate,” Mr Barrow said.
“You had to buy the land, garage and the contents . . . I found someone who wanted to buy the land and the buildings and I bought the contents.”
Garth handled the sale on behalf of Spencer.
Despite years sitting in a shed with a leaky roof that was prone to flooding, the Jewett was in remarkably good condition.
“It was last registered in 1954-55, roughly 60 years ago. It had been started from time to time, but never driven. When I finally got it home, the engine and gearbox had no oil, and when I checked the diff oil, about a litre of water came out.”
He replaced the four-wheel hydraulic brakes, and put in a new suspension system, fuel tank and specially-made tyres that cost more than $400 each.
Its 55 horse-power engine is all original, as are its pink Firestone-branded spark plugs.
The Jewett’s’s body has had some modifications, but is more or less in original condition.
While its paint had well and truly faded, Mr Barrow believed it would have been dark bottle-green in colour.
However, its roof can’t be lowered because of its fragility.
Mr Barrow said all he had to do when he got it home to get it started was put in some oil, petrol and crank the handle.
Despite most people’s pleas, he had no intention of restoring it to its original condition.
“It’s not restoration, it’s preservation. You just don’t find them like that. You would call it barn-fresh.
“It’s got a lot of history – it’s pretty special. I like the fact there’s been a lot of use out of it.”
He believed it had been used to ferry pupils to and from Maheno School at one point, but it wasn’t known exactly when.
Mr Barrow has completed one Windsor Rally in the Jewett, and plans to take part in the next.
He enjoys getting it out on the open road from time to time, and it cruises comfortably at a top speed of 65kmh.
The Jewett was manufactured by the Paige-Detroit Motor Car Company between 1922 and 1926 and was named after the company’s president, Harry Jewett. It was marketed as a Jewett Six at the time.
It was Paige’s “cheaper, more economical vehicle”, according to Mr Barrow.
He said there were only a handful in working order in New Zealand.