Car Features

NZ Nostalgia


The following photos and words show some of New Zealand’s post-WWII vehicles at work in various occupations. Our HV contributor, Colin Miller, is checking through his extensive archive and has promised more historic info.


This grainy photo has been resized and filtered because it came from a chance opportunity to record Colin’s visit to the Parliamentary Services Garage back in 2018.  A framed picture of the 1950 Windsor fleet was hanging in the Operations Manager’s office and Colin couldn’t resist taking a snap shot of it.


“Trawling my old photos again I came across this significant photo taken back in 1950,” said Colin Miller.

“It shows a fleet of thirteen 1948 Chrysler Windsor, fully-imported RHD sedans and a lone 1949 Plymouth office car.

“This assembly of vehicles at the National War Memorial was a rare occurrence because it represented just part of the fleet operated by the NZ Government Railways Department on behalf of Parliamentary Services.  

“The others were located at Auckland, Christchurch and Dunedin which probably doubled the number of the vehicles pictured here.

“Furthermore, each of the four senior NZ Police District Commanders (Superintendents in 1950s parlance) were issued with their own Chrysler Windsors for use during the impending 1950 Royal Tour which was delayed until 1953.”

Colin Miller said that these Parliamentary Chryslers did amazingly high mileages. They were eventually replaced by a small allocation of black 1960 Chrysler Royals from Australia, supplemented by 1961 and 1962 Chevrolet Bel Air eight-cylinder, three-speed auto sedans that were built from Canadian CKD packs in RHD at GMNZ Petone plant.



The above photo is of radio and TV personality Selwyn Toogood, standing beside his new, 1958 De Soto Kingsway sedan, in which he covered big distances between ‘It’s In The Bag’ TV roadshows that were sponsored by Lever Bros. The shows were televised from practically every rural and coastal town in NZ over more than 25 years and Selwyn was the glue that helped hold remote farming communities together.


This photo shows a new Austin Sheerline ambulance being blessed before being placed in service for St John’s Priory in Dunedin City, circa 1950.


“This street scene shows some of the livery fleet belonging to well-known Wellington passenger transport operator Billy Higgs,” said Colin Miller.



“Billy started business in around 1910, using horse-drawn landaus.

‘The Higgs business continued until 1976, when South Island tourist operator Guthrey’s took it over.”

The special medallions on front of the cars commemorate the New Zealand Centennial Celebrations that were held in 1940.  Interestingly, the cars are fitted with a special series of licence plates that were issued to chauffeur-driven passenger service vehicles at that time. The series started with ‘.1’ for Government House and Parliament House vehicles right through to about ‘.100’ for tourist and provincial ‘service cars’ that were similar vehicles to those Royal Mail carriers in rural Australia.



“This photo shows one of Billy Higgs’ three modified 1930 Cadillac eight-seater service cars that he acquired from the South Island transport firm Newmans Coachlines, when they got into financial difficulties during the Great Depression,” said Colin Miller.

“Billy Higgs soldiered on with the Cadillacs until about 1950, servicing the airports at Wellington and Paraparaumu (50km up the coast) under contract to National Airways (NAC).   

New Bedford coaches were built for the airport runs during the 1960s, when Billy Higgs moved up into high-end LHD Cadillac Series 75 limos for his busy livery business.”

We hope Colin Miller will provide more NZ nostalgia for us over the coming months.

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