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Early American Cars in New Zealand


The sign on Mudford & Sons Motor Garage, tells us a bit about the enterprise and reads as follows: “Overhauling & Vulcanizing A Specialty”. The garage was located in Stratford, New Zealand, a fairly small town on the western side of North Island.

The circa 1914 photograph was taken by James McAllister and shows the following vehicles left to right: a circa 1914 Model “T” Ford, what appears to be a Triumph motorcycle and a circa 1912 touring car by an unknown maker that appears to be American-made. View the two enlargements below to see more details, and let us know if you can date the Ford and identify the others. You can learn about tire vulcanizing and repairing in the period here.

  •                   Mudford2                     Mudford3

The Model “T” Ford truck below was used by Thomas, Olliver & Thomas of Kaponga, which is also located on the western side on North Island and just southwest of Stratford. This photograph was also taken by James McAllister and shows a circa 1914 Model “T” Ford converted to a truck with a double chain-drive conversion. Note the ornate pinstriping and signage on the truck body. Photos courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand, via Isabelle Bracquemond.


13 responses to “Early American Cars in New Zealand

  1. The long wheel base indicates that the model T truck probably has a ” for- a-truck” conversion . These had an extra gearbox plus an open drive diff . The box is the drivers seat which could be slid around to make room up front. Top speed is pretty low so a loose seat made little difference.

      • I think Ron may mean the Smith “Form-a-Truck” conversion. These were not uncommon in New Zealand before Ford brought out the “TT” model and I have seen the remains of several over the years.

  2. David,
    You will see that the 1912 vintage car is an Overland. I direct you to the radiator filler neck and the painted script in the corner of the upper hood panel. Your model year assumption appears to be correct.

    Thanks for your site. We all enjoy it.


  3. This pic has appeared elsewhere for id – maybe it was here in NZ? – from memory I think the car was identified as a 1912 Overland.

  4. The clue to the American car is indeed the characteristic filler cap: it’s a 1911 Overland model 52. The Ford is either a 1911 or 1912 model: it has the post-1910 radiator filler pipe and bills on the fenders (which disappear in 1913). It needs a real specialist to date even more precisely.

    • I believe the Ford ‘T’ to be very early 1912 as it retains the two-piece dash but appears to have the newly offered front doors as far as I can tell from the photo. The front wheels appear to be right out at the edge of the fenders whereas on my Canadian 1912 they line up with the centre-line of the bills. Could this be a wide track model?

  5. That seat box may slide, but to my eye that truck looks like right hand drive. Follow the line of the steering column to where it meets the firewall and it is to the right of the center line.

    • It appears you maybe correct, after only a quick look concentrating on the steering wheel location it appeared to be LHD. If so the seat would be in the right spot. I will take that notation out of the text. No soup for me tonight…

      • New Zealand has always had its steering wheels on the correct side and cars with the wheel on the wrong side, especially Ford ‘T’s, were most uncommon until restrictions were eased years ago to allow for ‘classic’ imports. Do have some soup anyway, it must be very cold up there right now. Hate to say it but it was 35 degrees C here yesterday…

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