Gavin Bain was only 14 when his father took him to see the start of a VCC rally in front of the Canterbury Museum on Rolleston Avenue. He vividly remembers seeing the cars lined up in front of the impressive gothic revival building. “I thought, crikey I wouldn’t mind something like that!”

The thought, however, of actually finding the right car to take part in such an event was a daunting prospect for a 14-year-old. “Obviously in those days there was no internet and very few adverts in magazines; The Press newspaper was the only option. So early on a Saturday morning I would go and get The Press and would start searching the ‘Vintage’ section, where there might be 10 or 12 cars listed. Then I would hop on my pushbike and ride to view all the advertised cars after having rung their owners. I must have looked for two months or so. Everything was just too expensive, too big, too American or just not right.”

The Humber in the drive of the Bain family home in Christchurch with body removed for restoration

Gavin eventually came across a wee Humber stored in a chicken shed in Office Road, Merivale. The seller had bought the car, a 1924 Humber 8/18, from its second owner and had been stropping over the peninsula and had managed to bend the engine’s crankshaft. It would run but not very well. This didn’t deter Gavin at all; in fact the idea of a restoration was appealing. Having never restored anything before Gavin was certain there would be books that would help him, and he was sure to learn some skills that would be valuable in the future.

“The car was advertised for £75. I managed to get it for £50 in the end with a bit of a loan from Dad. Dad drove the car back to the family home in Beverley Street while I followed close behind on my pushbike, being still too young to drive the thing.”


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