Three old Chevys become one stunner
With so many look-alike vehicles on today's roads it is easy to wander about a congested car park trying to locate your own car. However, it's not a problem for New Plymouth's Gordon and Pauline Bourne.
Quite the opposite happens, in fact. When out in their Chevrolet the Bournes are instead the recipients of many gaping mouths and curious questions.
It's because the pair aren't rolling about in a stock-standard Chevrolet model.
Rather, they are the proud owners of a custom-made New Zealand first.
The car is an amalgamation of 1957, 1958 and 1959 Chevrolet models, the two-door convertible - which is aptly named 789 - features the "hooded eyes" and chrome grille of a '57 Bel Air, a mid-section that's reminiscent of a '58 Impala, and the "bird in flight" rear tail fins of a '59.
Crafted by the California-based custom auto manufacturers N2A, which translates to "no two alike", the 789 first graced the Bourne garage in December last year.
Gordon, who has a well-developed love of classic cars, says he never entertained the possibility of designing his own vehicle, but after Pauline received an email from a friend with a picture of a custom-made 789 attached, it became an idea worth examining.
"It was everything I wanted, it was three models rolled into one," he explains. So the Bournes immediately made contact with the American auto manufacturers to ask about the custom convertible.
As Pauline and Gordon considered taking on the project from across the globe their relationship with N2A Motors blossomed. They found N2A Motors CEO Gene Langmesser both helpful and trustworthy and so they committed to the project and the search for donor cars began.
For three months Langmesser scoured America for a Corvette chassis from the C6 series that would suitably transform into the Bournes' modern melting pot of Chevrolets with the retro styling.
"He finally found one only 35 miles away from his workshop and he was so excited he rang us at three in the morning," laughs Gordon.
The couple then trawled through thousands of detailing options to further personalise the rare vehicle.
"Every make of the 789 is completely unique because the owners choose their own interior, wheels and colour and so there are no two models alike," says Gordon.
As a family the Bournes decided to personalise their convertible with a New Zealand theme, so they had the seats of the black 789 embroidered with silver ferns.
"We also opted for additional chrome and it has a great GPS system," says Gordon. "Pauline said it had to have a decent stereo in it and she also really appreciates the seat warmers."
The 789, which has a six-speed manual transmission, has limited modifications and sports a high performance 6.2-litre LS3 V8 engine.
Gordon explains before their black muscle car was produced there were already 56 existing models, and so when Gordon realised their build number was destined to be number 57 he asked if he could jump the production line to number 58 to concur with his birth year.
"Build number 57, 58, and 59 are also anniversary cars, which means our car and the other two have some additional emblems that don't feature on the other models," Gordon explains.
After a year of production the Chevy was complete and the couple, who have been married for more than three decades, flew over to America and to get a feel for the car before it was shipped to New Zealand.
The left-hand drive modern classic has since been enjoyed by both Gordon and Pauline, and they take it out as often as possible - and whenever they do the car draws a lot of attention.
"People are so curious," says Gordon. "But we get nothing but positive comments."
The purchase of the 789 was fuelled by Gordon's immense passion for classic vehicles. Gordon can recall his grandparents owning a 1960 Plymouth and says from there he had always hoped that one day life would afford him the opportunity to own an automobile as fine as they once did.
That moment came 11 years-ago when the Bournes purchased a 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air. The two-tone red and white sedan was a restoration project that was rebuilt to its present immaculate condition over a period of four years. The pair then purchased a 1949 Chevy pickup which the couple enjoyed for a short while before selling it to create space for the impending arrival of the custom-made Chevrolet.
The two Chevys are now housed in a garage at the couple's urban New Plymouth property, but the space is limited and so the shed now sports a four-post vehicle hoist in order to neatly accommodate the two classics and Pauline's daily driver.
"We were going to do some major renovations to the shed but Pauline mentioned looking into the hoist and it has worked out perfectly," says Gordon.
With a hardtop and a convertible at hand the couple now have a classic to take cruising whatever the weather.
Pauline says the couple "practically live in their cars" as they are there to be enjoyed.
"We took this huge leap of faith building a car from half way around the world, so we are not going to just leave it sitting in the shed." she says.http://www.stuff.co.nz/motoring/customs ... ne-stunner