‘Ugly duckling’ allures

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One of the Villager people ... Wayne Nicol, of Wingatui, and his 1958 Edsel Villager. PHOTOS: SHAWN MCAVINUE

In the first of a two-part series, motoring reporter Shawn McAvinue asks Wayne Nicol, of Wingatui, about his classic cars. This week, the spotlight is on his 1958 Edsel Villager.

Q: How many people can it carry?

It’s a nine seater – they only made 970 nine-seater wagons in the United States in 1958 and an Edsel database states 92 of them remain in the world.

Q: How long have you owned it?

A friend in Christchurch imported it in 2014 and he never drove it and stored it in a barn. I convinced him to sell it to me last year.

Q: Are Edsels the cars which were a sales failure after being deemed ugly and overpriced?

Ford lost $250 million on Edsels but now the ugly duckling is something everyone wants. It has some unique features – the speedo needle stays still but the numbers turn around. The tail-lights are known as boomerang tail-lights, which are unique to the ’58 wagon, and you once changed gears with a push button in the centre of the steering wheel but I’ve put an after-market shifter in it.

Q: Have you done anything else to it?

I got it road legal and did the brakes, suspension and exhaust and all of its underneath is new. But I didn’t want to paint it – I just want to leave it with its faded factory paint. It’s the patina look in the States at the moment because everyone paints them up shiny. But now they want to see original cars which have never been mucked around with. It has a few dints and scratches but that’s the battle wounds of a car from 1958.

Q: What’s all the equipment on its roof rack?

It is to make it look like it’s going to be used on a holiday in the 1960s. It’s period correct for the age of the car – there is an old Coca-Cola crate, scooter and water-skis.

Q: What type of engine does it have?

A 361 cubic inch motor. It’s got an after-market air cleaner on it but that’s it.

Q: Do you use your car?

show Muscle Car Madness in Rangiora in January for its maiden voyage. It attracts a lot of attention because people don’t know what it is.

Q: How is it to drive?

It drives along nice on the open road. It sits real good.