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Wayne Bennett, from Paeroa, stands by his restored 1955 Chevrolet 210. Photo: KELLEY TANTAU

Car restoration a passion project

The “dream” for Wayne Bennett looks something like this: driving his restored 1955 Chevrolet 210 along the state highway; his family spread along the backseat; a fish and chip stop at Mount Maunganui; a weekend spent on the road.
This is the dream that has underpinned two years and countless hours of car restoration, a feat that is finally nearing completion for the Paeroa man.
It’s his first attempt at restoring a vintage vehicle – he says it’s his last – and it all began with a motor.
When Wayne was a teenager, he and his brother and mates used to cruise around in a Vauxhall Victor that had a 327 Chevy motor inside it.
He sold the car when he was 19, but 25 years later, he bought the Chevy motor back from the same guy he sold it to.
This was the catalyst for the restoration that would span the next two years.
At the end of 2020, Wayne purchased a chassis and shell of a 1955 Chev from his uncle, John Burndred.
He then bought a 4-speed manual for the gearbox, inserted a new ignition, attached a grill and bumper and dash, and chose an earth-green paint colour for the body.
“It’s easy to bolt things together, it’s like a jigsaw puzzle,” he said, “but when it comes to things like the electrical work, I’ve paid people to help me with that.”
Wayne has had to sell things he didn’t necessarily want to sell in order to fund the project, like a Massey Ferguson tractor he bought off his dad and refurbished around a decade ago.
But though it’s been a long-haul, Wayne said he was proud of himself and the helpful locals for seeing the project through to its end.
Rick Purcell, Steve Richards, Ajay’s Ford V8 Parts, John Smith, Advanced Auto Refinishers, Wayne’s panel beater Alex, and his uncle, John Burndred, had been instrumental in the 55 Chev’s outcome, he said.
Wayne was now looking forward to debuting the car at Rotary Paeroa’s Vintage and Classic Car Swap Meet this weekend, and also had plans to attend the Whangamata Beach Hop in November.
“He did say it was a 10-year project, but once he got into it, I guess there was that thrill of getting each phase done,” his wife Amanda said.
“It’s been his dream, and it’s nice to see it come to reality.”
The Vintage and Classic Car Swap Meet will this year be held at the grounds at the end of Railway St instead of at the traditional location on Wharf St.
As well as a swap meet and car displays, there’ll also be food stalls, kids activities, and live entertainment. Funds raised from the event will go toward community projects.
DETAILS: Vintage and Classic Car Swap Meet, Railway St, Paeroa, September 17. All cars parked by 10am.