‘Affordable and went like a cut cat’

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First car . . . The 1987 Ford Escort RS Turbo and (inset) its owner Dave Atkins, of Mosgiel. PHOTOS: SUPPLIED

Dave Atkins (41), of Mosgiel, talks to motoring reporter Shawn McAvinue about his 1987 Ford Escort RS Turbo.

How did you come to own your Escort?

I was bullied as a teenager in Wales and I was getting into fights. When I started winning the fights, it began to get me in trouble.

My dad, instead of punishing me, asked me what it would take to keep me out of trouble and I said I wanted a car.

When I got the Escort in the early 1990s it was a wreck. For every month I behaved myself, I got more parts to put together.

I was 15 years old when I was given the wreck and a toolbox. It kept me out of trouble for a long time.

Why did you pick a Ford Escort RS Turbo?

All the big boys had one.

At the time, it was the most stolen car of the 1990s in the United Kingdom.

It was affordable and went like a cut cat – it ticked all the boxes.

How many years did it take to get on the road?

I was 27 before I put it on the road.

The car was finished earlier but insurance is expensive in the UK and I couldn’t afford to put it on the road.

Are there many of the model in New Zealand?

It’s one of six in the country that I’m aware of. They are very rare here.

Why did you bring it to New Zealand?

It was my first car, so it has sentimental value. I sold it about four years ago to buy a house in Mosgiel.

The car sale had the condition I could buy it back from him one day, but it ended up for sale in Auckland and I flew up late last year and drove it home.

When I sold the car it was in immaculate condition and now it needs some tender loving care.

Have you been able to give it some care during the lockdown?

Before the lockdown the water pump failed on a trip to Central Otago and it’s in a workshop in Alexandra waiting on parts to be shipped from the UK.

So you haven’t had it in your bubble?

Working on the car during lockdown would have suited me down to the ground, because it has a 1600cc single overhead cam turbo-charged engine but I’m about to swap it for a 2.0-litre twin-cam Ford Mondeo engine.

Instead of having a small engine which is highly stressed, it’ll have a bigger one that’s under no real load so it does what it’s told.

How do you use your car?

It used to be my track car and I’d take it racing on the weekends in the UK but in New Zealand it’s been my Sunday drive car.

You are the owner-operator of DNA Auto Services in central Dunedin. Do you think Covid-19 will affect your industry?

Yeah I do. Anyone who doesn’t think there will be financial implications needs their head read.

For my business, the overheads are low, and I’ve been going for a few years now and I’ve got a good customer base but I expect to see a downturn for at least the next six months.

Unfortunately, the first thing people neglect when money gets short is their cars but I’m not too concerned money in the business account to keep us afloat for a while.