Some time ago, I spotted this photo (below) in the “Old Invercargill” files. It shows the old “Wishing Well” in Tay Street, in 1960, but there was something else in the picture that caught my eye.
Parked in the background is my mother’s 1956 Austin A30 2-door, which my father bought for her in 1957. I recognised mum’s A30 by the “home engineered” “pram-carrier” on the back, which my father had a friend build, in his garage.
At the time, my dad had his own building business, working mostly out in the country, building new farm houses, and shearing and implement sheds. Mum used the A30 to run errands and pay accounts for dad, during the week, while he was away working. At this time the A30 was still in its original colour of light teal blue.
In 1967, this A30 became my first car, while still at High School. I paid $175 for it, with the money I was earning at my after school job, at Stevens Southland, a local Chemist Wholesalers, in Esk Street.
I owned this car until late 1974. During the time I owned it, I continually developed it, until by the time I sold it, it was running a fully-worked 1622cc MGA engine, coupled to a Wolseley 15/50 floor-change gearbox and Mk1 Cortina GT rear-end, that had a “Watt’s linkage” attached to it, to help tie the car down. I also installed power-assisted Healey Sprite discs up front.
By this time, the A30 was unrecognisable to the one you see in the Wishing Well photo, with flared guards to accommodate the wide wheels, and even wider Cortina diff. It is still the fastest accelerating car I have owned, and had a top speed of 115mph.
I made many modifications to get it to handle well at speed, but as the “science” goes, gaining handling back then, was always a trade-off with comfort, and the A30 became a terribly firm car to go a long distance in, but was certainly exhilarating under other circumstances!