Work vehicle like no other

Work of art .. Jon Leng and his 1958 Mark II Ford Zephyr ute. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE


Jon Leng, of Dunedin, talks to motoring reporter Shawn McAvinue about his 1958 Mark II Ford Zephyr ute.

Q: How long have you owned your Zephyr?

About four years. It was built new in Lower Hutt, then it was a Dunedin car for years, then it was wrecked and left to rot in a backyard somewhere in the South Island and a guy in Picton bought it and spent 12 years rebuilding it. His surname was Frew, hence the personalised plate Frujus.

Q: Have you done any work to it?

I replaced its Ford 302 Windsor engine for a 351 Windsor because bigger is better. The ute is my daily work vehicle. It’s always parked outside the Empire Hotel, which I own.

Q: So you use its tray?

Yes, it’s a work vehicle. It gets used but it’s pretty well looked after as well.

Q: Are the fluffy dice original?

No, a friend of mine gave them to me. He thought it needed them.

Q: What’s it like to drive?

Awesome. It drives just like a modern car brakes and power steering and the dash is out of a Ford Laser.

Q: How do people react to its colour?

People love it – it’s striking.You would have never seen a car in 1958 painted bright yellow – they were all beige, light blue and cream.

Q: Is it a rare car?

Yeah – there might be 10 in New Zealand.

Q: Do you enter it in competitions?

I do. I won the last show I entered – The Kaitangata Car Show.

Q: For what category?

I don’t know. I’ve got so many trophies for it. Many of them came with the car.

Q: What was the appeal of a Zephyr?

I owned a similar car when I was 16 years old _ a Mark II Zodiac.

Q: Do you own any other cars?

I’ve got about 20 cars _ I’v got McLarens and an Ariel Atom, one of the fastest cars in the World – they do from zero to 100kmh in 2.8 seconds.

Q: Do you race any of your fleet?

The Ariel Atom and a Caltex Sierra and eventually I’ll put a McLaren on the track.

Q: Have you considered entering your ute in a drag race?

I was going to but it’s not fast enough – it’s only 350hp. I’ve got a Walkinshaw Maloo ute with 700hp.