1947 Ford Sedan “Blue Heaven”
I bought the sedan from an old school mate, Kevin Valder, in 1965, when I was 16, just after I sold my 33 Ford fordor sedan.
It was a genuine Left hand drive sedan & was painted green, but needed a bit of body & rust work done as Kevin had been working as a fisherman. I paid 80 pounds for it, got it on the Friday night, then drove to Auckland the next day, to go to a Hot Rod show in Campbell Buildings. It was my first left-hand drive car and I drove around town for 3 hours on the Friday night so I could get used to it.
After a while, I decided it was time to do something to it so sent it off to Terry Furness and Tom Jones at Mount Panelbeaters, (Terry’s business) and they worked wonders on the bodywork, then another hot rodding mate, Terry Mulqueen , mixed up our own tone of Blue iridescent metallic paint, which got sprayed on to the vehicle at 12-15am one night, just before one of the Hastings shows.
The car was never intended to be a show vehicle and was used on the street for heaps of years. It also doubled as a “taxi” when other members of our club had their cars in the shows on display. I did over 300,000 miles in it during the time I had it, which was mainly clocked up with continual cruising and weekend trips away to different hot rod events all over NZ. One particular trip springs to mind, when I towed Ross Simon’s show-chopper, Iridescent” down to Hastings for a show at the Tamona Showgrounds. It was at the same time that the film “Easy Rider” hit all the big screens around the country.
Anyway, we had the chopper on the back of a trailer covered only by clear plastic, towed behind my left-hand drive Ford. We pulled up at some traffic lights as we drove through Napier, and a young kid said to his mother “ Look Mummy, Look, Americans”. I never forgot that.
I could write a book on this car, “Blue Heaven,’ with all the experiences and good times I had with it. For some reason it seemed to have an infinity with the local nurses home & on party night , you could cram 15 people in it. On one of these nights, it was driven through one of the local shopping arcades, and as far as I know, it still holds the record as the biggest car to go through it. In those days, we made our own fun, but made sure that we didn’t hurt anyone or damage anyone else’s property in the process, and always had a certain amount of fear & respect of our elders.
Being a typical teenager, I had a heavy right foot and after blowing five or six 59A motors up, due to using NZ pistons in them, (they couldn’t take the high revs and used to take the tops off around the top ring land.), I had a 8BA motor done up for the car. This gave me excellent service until I tried to see if I could pull the elusive 75 mph in 2 nd gear, that side-valve V8s were reputed to do, down the main road in town. Can’t remember what speed I was doing, but when I pushed in the clutch to change gear, there was an almighty bang and the car shook like hell.
INSTANT V5 !!!!!.One piston had gone halfway through a cylinder head, another piston & rod was sticking out the side of the block and the other had exited through the sump.
I managed to turn the car around and drive back home to my place where it finally gave up altogether, just as I pulled into the drive-way. I was sitting on the back bumper, trying to think what to do next when this kid came down the drive on his push-bike, saying “ Mister, Mister, your’ve dropped something !”, and in his hand he had the remains of a con-rod. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry and guess he must have followed the trail of water & oil back to my place.
After this I fitted it with another 59A motor, but this time used genuine Canadian pistons in it and it never missed a beat.
I also blew the gear-box up a few times and as it used a LH Drive casing, I had to buy a normal RH Drive box, dismantle it, then change all the gears into my casing.
As you can see, the car never had a quiet life and was always driven to it’s limit, but we had many a good time together.
About this time, (late 70’s early 80’s ) I also had a couple of 59 Fords, had just purchased a 49 Mercury, had a 1960 Ford Fairlane, and also a Mercedes, so wasn’t driving the car as much and about the same time, I was endeavouring to fit a Jaguar over-drive gearbox into my 60 Fairlane, when I dropped it on my chest, causing major problems. This virtually put paid to my days of working on cars, or at least doing all the work myself.
“Blue Heaven” sat for sometime and I guess this really started it’s demise, as it started to develop rust around the bottom of the door pillars etc. Not long after this, my mother passed on and again the car was stored while I shifted house, as the family house got sold. It ended up in a lean to (carport) at my new abode and sat there for quite a number of years. As I couldn’t work on it at the time and it was still deteriorating , I sold the car to another friend, Ray Lloyd, who is also into fat-fendered Fords. It sat for sometime under a cover, after he got it, then he eventually sold it to another well-known rodder, Ray Fenton, who also on-sold it. It went through various owners before becoming a basket-case, and it is now owned by Auckland rodders, Terry & Kaye Brunton who live in Papakura.
I didn’t do the car justice, seeing it had served me so well, and I wish that I had never parked it up now, because it was a great car and I know this started it’s demise. Once the rust started, none of us took the time to deal to it in time and so now a great cars life has come to an end. (See Hot Rod Magazine article Dec 2002)
Everyone thought it was a 46 model but it was actually made up in Holland just after the war years, and was assembled in April 1947, being made from parts shipped over there from Canada, which is why I had trouble trying to trace the proper parts numbers for it. It was brought to NZ in 1952, by an Ardent Walter Middleberg, who had been a vet for the Dutch Government. He later sold it to a Thos Haines from Rongotea and then it went through a string of owners before it ended up in my hands.
R.I. P, “Blue Heaven,” you served me well.