‘It’s never had to be towed anywhere’

Ooh la la . . . Ivan Bennett and his 1922 Lorraine-Dietrich B3-6 touring car. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE

Ivan Bennett, of Outram, talks to Shawn McAvinue about his 1922 Lorraine-Dietrich B3-6 touring car.

How did your French car end up in Dunedin?

The Wardell boys from an Otago family drove Lorraine-Dietrich ambulances in Europe during World War 1. Afterwards they got three of them to use on family farms in the Waitaki Valley and Maniototo. I retired from sports car racing in 1961 and wanted to restore a vintage car. In 1964, I went around the farms and gathered up all the bits to build one car in Dunedin.

When did you finish the restoration?

I had it ready to leave Green Island to travel with my family and brother Cliff to an international rally in Rotorua in 1980. My dad told me I was either mad or brave because we’d only been halfway to Brighton and back to test it out. The car went well – we got from Dunedin to Picton in a day with five on board.

The interior of the classic six-cylinder Lorraine-Dietrich touring car.

Have you ever had mechanical issues?

It’s never had to be towed anywhere – it’s never let me down. It did get a puncture on the way to Rotorua.

How often do you use it?

I wait for the warmer weather and register it for six months of the year.

What is the gauge on the hood?

It’s a motor meter. It’s a clever way to tell you the temperature of the engine when you’re driving. When the temperature goes up, a thin red line gets magnified and alerts the driver.

A hood-mounted motor-meter gauge on the touring car.

Why is there a light on the windscreen?

On the back of the light is a rear-view mirror. When the car was a farm vehicle, the light had been taken off for rabbit hunters to use as a spotlight for night shooting. I found the light, restored it and put it back on.