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"A Trip in a Horseless Carriage"

This story was contributed by Ken & Trish Jonathan (www.veteranautolamps.com). Ken & Trish drove their Ford T (pictured) from Invercargill to Te Awamutu in November 1999. This article was written for the Horseless Carriage Club (NZ) magazine.

JemimaWe have had quite a journey, and not just a physical one. Campers passed us that had “Adventurer” written on them. But with us, travelling north from Invercargill, in our 1911 Ford T Tourer, all our luggage along with my wheelchair piled in the back, anyone could just see that we were living our adventure. We certainly didn’t need a sign!

Our ungainly entrance into Dunedin city, hissing steam from the front and smoke and oil from the back, without brakes and not knowing where to go, was to add to our experiences and our surprise at God’s goodness (or providence) when we stopped at a garage only to find that the garage man was a T Ford fan from long ago who happened to have a coil to give to someone!! We spent three hours parked at his garage while Ken fixed the brakes and while John Gray chauffeured us around, to have made two fan belts that were too small!! (Not all things expand when they get too hot!) Then a third fan belt made to fit this time. John Gray was a blessing, but he didn’t know just how his hospitality was to be tested when he gave me his card with his mobile number on it as we waved goodbye!

Jemima was ticking up the hills out of the city, when she certainly disgraced herself and dropped a bearing. We stopped and waited, while the cows all gathered at the fence line to chew and stare at us. Were we that unusual?? I rang John Gray, while Ken despaired and tried to work out how much to transport Jemi all the way home, and whether the ferry tickets could be transferred for flight tickets!

John Gray had another idea! I suppose we took over his house, and Jemi took over his basement! What we experienced was overwhelmingly humbling. We were left speechless while others gathered to minister to our wee car, and in two days she was once again our dainty wee Jemima Puddle Duck, and we were able to continue our great adventure.

I am now very convinced on the benefits of touring New Zealand in an open veteran car. The world is such a lovely place, and the continually changing panoramic views are very awe inspiring. I never realised what a wonderful fragrance flowering lupins have, nor how long one has to hold ones breath, in order to chug past a pig farm! The world is such a friendly place, everyone toots and waves, and sometimes those that pass us, stop ahead and video us as we pass them. Waving becomes an occupation. He’s the “driver” and I’m the “waver”! The benefits to the heart and soul far out way the damage to ones completion, which heals in a week or two.

I have been dripped on, by condensation in a road tunnel, I have heard birds, cicadas and echoes, I have been investigated by sheep and cows, steered at by bunnies, driven to avoid a two inch fluffy duckling scurrying across the highway, been an attraction for both children and old folks, and been photographed as if I, not our car, was the celebrity. Who wants to live any other life??