For decades, New Zealand was a living, breathing, working museum of historic motor racing.

Distance, cost and tough import restrictions meant that many New Zealand racing drivers had to make-do with cars that were no longer competitive internationally – it was a situation that was mirrored with what we had to drive on our roads as well, but that’s another story.

Racing cars that were no longer competitive in Britain and Europe found a ready home in New Zealand where their competitive life was extended by many years, in some cases decades.

This is a story about two of those cars.

Left: First appearance of the Morrari at a meeting at Pukekohe in late 1964. The car rounds the Elbow on the full circuit (Photo Terry Marshall) Broken windscreen at the first of the two Matamata street races (Photo Terry Marshall)

The Morrari

The story of New Zealand’s Allcomer saloon car racing is well known – some of the wildest and wackiest racing creations of all time emerged from backyards, basements and garages in the early to mid-sixties, and the Morrari was one of them.

Its competition lifespan was brief, it wasn’t seen much outside the greater Auckland area, it didn’t win anything significant, it was as rough as guts, but in terms of sheer creativity and pushing the Allcomer limits, it was the outright champion.

Half a century after its birth – and death – the Morrari remains a car of great interest and some mystery. Mention it on any of the online forums and there’s an instant outpouring of interest from people wanting to know more about this most unusual – bizarre, perhaps? – racing saloon.

And, today, a replica is being built.

This all took place a long time ago and sadly, old age has claimed many of the people involved, However, there’s enough information available, and still some people around with memories.

Simply put, the Morrari was an old and uncompetitive Grand Prix racing car, fitted with a low-light Morris Minor body and powered by a 327-cubic inch Chevrolet V8.

But, let’s start at the beginning.

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