When our second car (1961 Morris Minor) was written off in an accident in September 2004 I started searching for an Amazon to replace it. Amazons are reasonably rare in New Zealand, having never sold new here. The more I read about them, the more suitable they seemed. I purchased a dead 1959 122 early in 2005 with a view to assessing if it was worth restoring.
When a local road-legal 221 became available in July 2005 I purchased it to use as a weekend runner. The guy I bought it off had owned it for 25 years. His father was the original owner, having purchased it new in Beirut in 1963. It has been in New Zealand since 1967. It has travelled over 540,000 km and had one major engine and gearbox overhaul at about 320,000 km. I purchased the car with a vast collection of receipts for work that had been done to it over the last few decades. The car is an export model with left hand drive and is in good working order considering its age and mileage. There is some rust to be dealt with and the mechanicals are pretty tired but it drives well.
Soon after I bought the car I made a long list of things that need to be done to make the car a bit more comfortable, reliable and presentable. The intention is to carry out a "rolling restoration" - doing a bit at a time and keeping it motor-able as much as possible. So far I have repaired rust in the front panel and headlight bowls, repaired front door locks, fixed the horns, reconditioned the windscreen washer pump and fitted new seatbelts for the rear seat. I have recently replaced the rear shocks, front wheel bearings and steering box seals. The current task is to replace the dead mechanical temperature gauge with an electric one.
I would like to keep it mostly original but I am not averse to adding some modern conveniences such as central locking (to make it a bit more family friendly). As our second car, the estate is expected to earn its keep. With the excellent load capacity (6 foot long flat space with the rear seat folded up), it has seen plenty of use carting building materials, bikes and camping gear around. It gets used for towing a trailer on occasion as well.
The paintwork is a bit tatty - it looks OK from a distance. It was repainted in the early 1980‘s. The colour is thought to be from the Toyota range of colours at the time. I’ll retain the current colour for the foreseeable future and get some paint matched for touch-ups. Re-painting all the panels forward of the windscreen would tidy it up a lot.
Towards the end of 2005, a 1963 121 restoration project became available locally from a deceased estate. In the space of a year from my first acquisition I now have 3 Amazons - one for parts, one to drive and one to restore. There is no space for any more cars (although I am always on the look out for a 140 series donor car that has an M41 manual + O/D gearbox).
April 2006, Neil
Glasson, Ph: 03 357 9039 (Christchurch, NZ)