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The wheel deal ... This Model F Ford appears in John Stokes' new book. Pictured are organisers of a 2003 Ford event in Rangiora, with Chris Dyer, at the wheel, and Avon City Ford dealer principal John Luxton beside him. Mr Stokes is in the back seat, at left, beside Peter Bayler. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

By ROBYN BRISTOW

A limited-edition book that grew from a gleaming line-up of 250 Fords in Dudley Park, Rangiora, nearly 15 years ago, has been published.

Written and compiled by Rangiora’s former promotional and marketing co-ordinator, John Stokes, Ford in New Zealand – Putting the Car before the Horse details the introduction of the Ford brand to New Zealand and the evolution of the “horseless carriage”.

The 230-page full-colour hardback book details the founding of the Ford name in New Zealand.

It is not quite what Stokes had in mind when he set out on his Ford journey.

An event to mark the new millennium called “The Car Show of the Century” in Dudley Park produced a timeline of cars – one for each year of the century.

He replicated the timeline theme again in 2003 when, as a Ford enthusiast, he organised what turned out to be possibly the largest event in New Zealand to celebrate the centenary of the Ford Motor Company.

John used the same format – a time-line with 250 Fords in the park.

“We had Fords from all over the country at the show, including the oldest Ford in New Zealand – a 1904 car which was brought down from Wellington.

“The following day we had a participants’ rally around North Canterbury, which had Oxford as its destination, in time for lunch. It was a wonderful weekend and we were blessed with amazing weather on both days.”

Realising how big the event was becoming, he pondered issuing a souvenir picture book.

However, on approaching Ford to write about its New Zealand history for the book, the idea of a picture book foundered when it was discovered no-one had ever documented the New Zealand history.

But the seed was sown and, ever since, John has been researching the history of Ford in New Zealand. Now, the book, published by New Holland Print, has been released.

“This book is a direct result of that wonderful show hosted in 2003 at Dudley Park, Rangiora,” he explains.

“Even Mayor David Ayers had his old Ford car there (a 1967 Ford Corsair) as did his uncle, the late Lindsay Ayers, in his family Model T from 1913.”

It details the arrival of the first Ford in New Zealand and shows that by the mid-1920s almost half the cars in New Zealand were Fords, before taking readers on a journey through to the Ford V8 era of the 1930s.

The book is available at Paper Plus stores throughout New Zealand, including in Rangiora.

Buyers wanting a signed copy can arrange it through John by emailing tourist.times@xtra.co.nz.