Continuing the ‘green’ theme is Alex’s meticulously restored Chevrolet Impala Sports coupé, a stylish confection of 1950s chrome and fins that he has owned since 2006. Alex jokingly tells us that the Impala was a 50th birthday present to himself. While the car was relatively sound when purchased, a minor accident eventually led Alex to embark on a full-blown restoration project that would not be completed until the end of 2008.
Resplendent in a new two-tone colour combination – a choice made by Alex after he came across images of an Impala finished in Aspen Green and Classic Cream – the freshly restored Chevrolet was officially unveiled on October 26, 2008 at the Kelliher Estate on Puketutu Island; a facility that Alex’s catering service manages. One hundred and twenty invited guests watched Alex drive the Impala around the estate’s main lawn as he showed off the car to friends and colleagues.
It was appropriate that we chose the same location for our photo-shoot with Alex, the Chevrolet Impala and his latest acquisition – a fully restored Lilliput Gazelle caravan.
Alex’s love of classic US cruisers dates back to the four-door Impala his father once owned, but his interest in caravans is much more recent. Following his attendance at events such as the Beach Hop, in his Impala, Alex started to notice the increasing number of classic caravans being driven down to Whangamata hooked up to equally classic cars and decided that his Impala would also look great towing a caravan, something that he was beginning to regard as an extension of a classic car. And, of course, a caravan would be great for those times when Alex and his partner wanted to get away for the weekend, especially when attending 2–3-day events such as the Beach Hop.
Having made the decision to purchase a classic caravan, Alex focused on a New Zealand-made model and he soon latched on to finding a Lilliput – locally designed and built caravans that were manufactured in Auckland from 1963 to 1980 (see side-bar on Lilliput Caravans). As an added bonus, Alex discovered the existence of the Lilliput Caravan Club of New Zealand (www.lilliput.org.nz), an enthusiastic club that currently boasts a membership of around 100 Lilliput owners.
Eventually he tracked down a 1976 Lilliput Gazelle, owned by a lady by the name of Marjory in Papamoa. A deal was struck and Alex purchased the caravan the week before Beach Hop 2015. Following his attendance at that event in the Impala, Alex drove home to Auckland and then set out the very next day to pick up the caravan and tow it back home. Although complete, the caravan had spent many years sitting by the sea at Matata, so it was somewhat weather worn.
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