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New Zealand Collection Feature


Feature on Len Browell's Standard Collection - Update   Hi Phil,

I have just received this photo from Len Browell. You may like to put it on your web site. It was taken in January 2005 during the Wanganui Vintage car club's annual Burma rally.


Len Browell can be seen at Jerusalem, a small settlement on the Wanganui River with his collection of vintage Standards. Left to right:  1928 Fabric bodied Exmouth, 1924 Warwick, 1927 V6  18/36, and his 1926 V4 Doctors Coupe.

Regards,

Rick



Click above for1928 Fabric bodied Exmouth,

Click above for 1924 Warwick,

Click above for 1927 V6  18/36

Click above for 1926 V4 Doctors Coupe.

Many thanks, Rick, for sight of Len's rare and superb Standard collection. You will have to let us into the secret of how he drives them all at once?

If you click on each of the cars you will see an enlarged picture of each of them. (with apologies for the camera lens errors!)

If you own a Standard in New Zealand, you really should belong to the Standard Enthusiasts Club, just contact r.j.hil@paradise.net.nz

Update of 7th June 2005........................

The following is extracted from the Newsletter of the Standard Enthusiasts Club of New Zealand., Winter 2005 Edition (yes, it's June, so midwinter in the Antipodes!)

I am very grateful to the editor, Rick Hill for his permission to reprint this article in full:

I wanted to restore a British car of course, one that was rare in New Zealand. Involved in my Father's furniture removal business, driving and maintaining Bedford lorries in Ilford, England and then here in New Zealand driving buses, owning a taxi and later a petrol station, motor vehicles have always been a big part of my life. My name Len Browell from 145 Mount view Road, Wanganuii, New Zealand. My telephone number is 06-343-6790 and I am the proud owner of four vintage Standards. A 1924 Standard Warwick a 1926 Doctors Coupe, and 1927 18/36 V6 and a 1928 6 cylinder Standard Exmouth. 

The 1924 Warwick was the first Standard I restored. I found it in a little town called Waverly and it was just one heck of a wreck. It took us hours and hours to get it onto the trailer because the wheels where buried into the ground and had trees growing up through the floor boards. My son Frank and I expected to take about half an hour to collect it. Eventually we got it loaded and on our way home a Jaguar went flying by and the driver flagged us down. He was a stock and station agent who visits farms and buys stock for freezing works etc. He said "What are you going to do with THAT?" To which I replied" I hope to restore it", .-Well I'll give you the address of another one", which is in Rongotea, about 30 miles from Wanganui. I said thanks very much and off we both went on our way. My family were waiting at home in anticipation and when they saw the great rusty heap on the trailer with weeds and fern growing out of it, they fell about laughing. 

I stripped the car right down to the last nut and bolt and anything else that would come off it. Three of the wheels were absolutely rotten (cast iron). This dismayed me as part of the chassis was rusted badly as well. When you looked at the thing I had bought for, I think, fifty dollars, well, you couldn't help but wonder what I could have been thinking of.! I tried to get wheels everywhere but couldn't buy them in New Zealand so I thought, oh well, I must go and see ?he people in Rongotea the Jag owner had told me about, to see if I could buy that car. I didn't reaiiy know what it was at this stage, I didn't know it had been re-built into a farm truck. Anyway, I went to see them and they said," Oh no, we couldn't part with it. It was our Mother's pride and joy." I realised I wouldn't be able to get any parts anywhere in New Zealand, so after some time I visited them again and told them I'd like to restore their Mother's car, using parts from the first car. 

The gentleman and his sister discussed my proposal and eventually agreed that if I restored their Mother's car, then they would sell it to me. What would I offer them? Oh my goodness me I thought, and suggested a hundred dollars. After another long conference they agreed to accept. I paid them a small deposit and said I'd be back the following Saturday with the trailer to collect it. The chap said "Righto, I'll have it out all ready for you". When we went back the next weekend to pick it up, it wasn't ready at all, it was still in the barn. They had all sorts of gear heaped on top of it. Finally he hooked his tractor on it and pulled it out. Clunk went something and I thought, "What the hell was that"? Anyway, when we got it out we found he'd broken the Standard Legion mascot that was on the radiator. I gave him the money and that's the last we saw of him. They didn't even offer us a cup of tea, but I suppose that's beside the point! Anyway we finally got it home and low and behold most of it was very very good except that it had been built into a truck, (photo)

I started stripping this second car (truck) to the very bare bones and found that the cross member in front underneath the radiator was absolutely rotted through. This happened to be one of the only good parts left on first Standard I bought, so I used that. I had to bolt it on because I couldn't rivet it as it should have been but, it's still on there. I then spent 9 years building the car from there up. I had to start thinking of how to build the body on the back to match, which not having had any experience as a motor body builder, posed a few problems I can say.

My brother-in-law, Roy Bentley offered to build the frame for me. He studied the car and worked out all the angles. He had a brilliant photographic memory and could build anything he set his mind to. We used sheet aluminium because that was how the car was built originally. Hood irons and hood bows where the next problem. I found a bloke who had some hood irons and he lent them to me to get a pattern made. A engineer made them up for me because they are quite intricate. When I got them home they didn't fit onto the back of the car, instead of going on top of the windscreen where they are supposed to lock on, they went about a foot either side. I thought, what have I done now!! After talking and scheming we found we'd made the back too narrow and sloped it the wrong way. Instead of following the curve of the car, we should have built the very back of the car wider than the front. Anyway, I had to make up wedges to fit the hood irons to. The next problem was to fit the wood to the hood irons. They had to be graduated to make the hood look good. In the end I made "all the wood for the irons out of plywood. My wife Louisa spent countless hours finishing the interior woodwork till it glowed. We've had the engine completely overhauled. The pistons were cracked and I couldn't get any actual replacement pistons. Thirty odd years ago, we had an old boy in Wanganui who had a new and second-hand car parts shop which stocked (or could get) any part imaginable. I had to ask, "Please Mr Lee, can you find pistons to match these for me"? He replied ' Leave them here and come back in about a week, and I'll find something for you". Anyway ,1 went back in a weeks time and he said "Well I've found the nearest thing your ever going to get anywhere". They were Simca pistons. He said that the gudgeon pins would have to be bored out slightly to take the correct gudgeon pins. Other than that they are exactly the same, so, fair enough, there are Simca pistons in the 24 Standard. We managed to get a hand book for the Warwick and when it was new in England it was called an all weather car because it had a roof and side curtains. We've done a lot of happy miles in it and still use it regularly for weddings. Brides like the roomy back seat area for their big frocks! It goes very well now and I'm very happy with it. There are about 12 Warwicks in the British Standard Register. Louisa and IJiave driven hundreds and hundreds of happy miles in it. We've worn out a set of tyres. When I first started restoring the car I ordered five tyres and they cost me seventeen dollars each. That was trade price because I was in the motor business and knew a bloke in the tyre trade and at seventeen dollars each tliaf was a good buy-They now cost me two hundred and seventy dollars each! I'm very proud of this first car I restored.

192718/36 V6 Standard. 

Then I heard of a 1927 six cylinder Standard going for sale. Another wreck, so I thought, nice, a 6 cylinder car, probably put a caravan behind that, not a big one just a little one, and we could go all over the country to vintage car rallies. It would be marvelous to have our own bed plus it would be a lot cheaper than staying in motels. This car had a colossal amount of work to be done on it. No instruments with it, no windscreen and a lot of other parts missing. I made the dash panel out of a piece of walnut that I managed to find in a local timber merchants. Fitting some of the spare instruments from the 24 which worked out very well except there was no oil pressure gauge for it. I eventually got an oil pressure gauge with Standard 4 written on it and several other things including a clock. This car has 500X21 inch tyres which are very hard to get in New Zealand. The upholstery is leather, 2 bucket seats in the front. When I was restoring the car the fire wall had a fair size hole in it and I couldn't make out what this was for. I had a petrol tank made and fitted it at the rear, under the spare tyre, instead of under the dash (where I later discovered it should have been) This left a lot of room so I fitted a nice big parcel tray in the space. We decided to paint the car the same colour as the 24 which is caramel. Jeremy Collins sent me an advertising poster of the 18/36 which he had blown up and to my surprise I had chosen almost the exact colour except that the top half of the Standard in the poster was black. I also fitted a battery box to the left running board which seems in the right place. The poster notes that the car cost 335 pounds. I believe this car was displayed at the Earls Court Motor show without the engine. The engine that was subsequently fitted is the first of the 6 cylinder experimental Triumph engines. It is still magneto and when I tell people that I can drive this car all day without a battery they are quite surprised. 

Jeremy Collins (Christies Auctioneers) and his wife Heidi have been over twice from England to borrow the 1927 18/36 to drive in the Pan Pacific rally which lasted 2 weeks. The second time was for the South Island 50th birthday rally in which he did almost 2000 miles, some of it over Molesworth Station which is the biggest sheep farm in New Zealand. 70 miles of this was over very rough farm tracks for which they needed special permission to travel on. Some vehicles were stranded by the road side, but the Standard which is quite a cumbersome thing just kept going and I was very proud of what it had achieved. There was quite a large English contingent that came down for this rally. I believe Jeremy Collins wrote an article for the Standard magazine about this trip. 

The gear change is a gate change and it and the hand brake are on the right hand side, which makes it a bit hard getting into the drivers seat (especially if you have big feet like me) I don't know what she does to the gallon. I've never bothered to find out as driving it is my hobby, so I don't worry too much. She is very luxurious looking inside, all leather upholstery and real wood paneling. I had a windscreen made for it because I didn't have the original for it. It was made to fit the hole which was a mistake, when above the screen sttould have been blocked off. The big windscreen is a big sun trap and the bright NZ sunlight doesn't help! The 1927 Standard has power assisted brakes on the rods with a Clayton Deware Servo. This makes easy work of the foot brake. She's a large car weighing over 26cwt and takes up a lot of room in my garage. 

1928 Standard Exmouth 

About 50 miles from where we live I found another Standard. It's a fabric body Exmouth, 6 cylinder side valve (where the others are overhead valves) The fabric body had been restored but the rest of the car was in boxes so another jigsaw began! This car cost me $3000. Tyres, engine, gearbox all had to be restored and the unfortunate thing was that the speedo drive in the gearbox was missing. I couldn't find one anywhere. I found all sorts of drives for the gearbox but none of them fitted or worked properly. I ended up fitting an electric speedo which was for a bicycle, which seems to be calibrated right and tells me how many miles an hour I'm doing. It's nearly a 2 litre car. The speed limit in New Zealand towns is 30mph. I've never had any fear of getting a ticket for speeding on the open road as the cars top speed is about 45mph. A friend from New Plymouth sent me a cutting that he had discovered in an English church magazine about an Exmouth which an Austrian fellow entered in a rally round the mountains of the Alps. He hadn't done nothing special to it, it was just as it came from the manufactures. He didn't try to lighten it but drove it hard and won his class against all the other flash cars which was quite a wonder feat. Another cutting was sent to me from a very old auto car magazine about the Standard Exmouth and the write up was exceptionally good. 9 didn t have a handbook for this car so this article was very helpful. It went from near enough stop in\ top gear. I had been crashing the gearbox because I had been trying to go too fast in the gears which. could do in the other two cars. This engine seems to have such a torque on it that you're into top before you know where you are. I have not been able to find the correct headlights for this car so have fitted two (possibly Austin) solid beam headlights with park lights to match. I finished this car in 2000 and we have done 6 rallies in it. My daughter Frances has driven 5 of these and I ve only had the chance to drive it once! We use it for all sorts of occasions. It's simpler to drive than the earlier ones as the gear lever and brake are on the left and the accelerator is in the usual place rather than between the clutch and brake. 

1924 Doctors Coupe 

I haven't had much time to do a lot of research on this car which is now completely restored It belonged to a car firm in Wellington and was the fleet salesman's. Who had it next I don't know but I managed to track back two owners. One of them a Mr. Gilmore has gone to Australia so my chances of getting in touch with him is remote. I'm picking that the coupe came out to New Zealand as a chassis and then had a body built on it. I can only find four of the old Standard square head screws that they would have used in the days it was built and they were on the plate that covers the starter motor on the floor boards. That seems to be the only body part that is original Standard as far as I can find out The body was an absolute mess. Somebody else had taken it to pieces and thrown a lot of the wood away because it was rotten but that all gives you clues as to how to rebuild it. I have since found out that the car was found in a chicken run in Rangiora and I think the body was made in Christchurch as a piece of wood had the name of  T8 Lloyd of Christchurch marked on it and I wondered if this body building firm is still in Christchurch? A Warren Birch found it with the remains of a Pall Mall. I got two steering wheels with the car and I m not sure which is the correct one. Their part numbers are 62589 and 64473 The cars engine number is 65955. Warren Birch moved to the North Island and took the car with him. I brought the car from Roy Smith in Lower Hutt. It's old license plate number was 345 (?) 544 and I'm wondering if the question mark denotes the year or council that registered it 

The 1924, '27 and '28 and now the '26 Doctors Coupe are all now in mint condition. I have got lots of Standard memorabilia, curiosities, spare parts and precious junk in my 2 garages which people have given me or that I have found at boot sales or swap meets. I've even got a little post card that you were  to fill in and return to the Standard Motor Company when you brought a car- someone gave me a little Standard note book. All these collectable items give me a lot of pleasure.

Len Browell

June 2005

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