Darracq restored to immaculate best

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Gavin and Annette Hunt at the start of the Dunedin to Brighton Veteran Car Rally. PHOTO: OTAGO DAILY TIMES. Below: Gavin Hunt behind the wheel of the impressive 1903 Darracq at his workshop.

Gavin Hunt’s restored 1903 Darracq represented state of the art technology in its day and it’s still an eye-catcher.

The car was bought many years ago by his grandfather and later passed to his father.

It sat around wrecked and in bits for a long time before Gavin took on the big restoration project, which took two years to complete.

The project was well advanced when he took his father for a spin in it on his 100th birthday.

The two seater beauty has a single cylinder, 8hp engine and has a hand crank start.

The engine is lubricated by means of a hand pump which has to be operated every few kilometres.

“Every 12 miles or 10 minutes of driving you have to pump in oil from the three litre tank.

“I operate on the cautious side because I don’t want her seizing up,” said Gavin.

The Darracq has a top speed of 26mph and steeper hills need to be tackled in first gear.

Gavin said the car originally had no lights.

The front lights burned acetylene and the side and rear lights burnt oil on original later models.

He had sourced two dummy headlights and a tail light at the Winchester Swap Meet and didn’t need to drive at night anyway.

The car has a new gearbox and other parts sourced by Gavin, who is a fitter and turner by trade and ran his own engineering business before retirement.

The woodwork on the Darracq was carried out by friend Harry Bremner and there’s a new bonnet and new wheels made in Feilding.

The car is painted in Ashburton Red, the same colour found on an original spring, and it looks immaculate.

Gavin and wife Annette first took it for a spin to a national veteran car rally in Nelson four years ago and typically attend six rallies a year.

Their latest outing was the 66th Dunedin to Brighton Veteran Car Rally held last weekend.

Around 40 vehicles, all pre 1918, took part in the rally, including the cadillacs of Methven’s Andrew Sim and Ashburton’s Rob Ross.

The Hunt’s Darracq was the second oldest car at the rally and it was their third time taking part.

The car has been christened Marmaduke, the middle name of Gavin’s grandfather.

His latest workshop project is the restoration of a 1946 jeep. Other projects are lined up after that.

-By Mick JensenSportswear DesignNike