The Mark 2 Jag, built in 1968, was bought by Frances’ late husband, Robin, to further his long-standing interest in classic cars during his retirement.
He stripped the car down and was about to get it repainted, from the original cream colour to a vibrant red, when he was suddenly and unexpectedly diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and told he had just six weeks to live.
Frances says the prognosis was shattering, especially as Robin, then 75, appeared fit and healthy.
“He was the sort of man who could have erected a fence without any trouble. All that seemed to be bothering him was a pain in the shoulder, which we thought was simply an old rugby injury coming to the surface again,” Frances says.
Sadly, it was far more serious. Robin’s health rapidly deteriorated, but despite the doctors’ dire predictions he managed to cling on to life for another six months.
Frances, 75, says it was during these difficult months that members of the Wellsford Warkworth Vintage Car Club rallied around to help Robin rebuild his car.
The classic saloon went on to win the Wellsford Warkworth club’s award for Best Reconstructed Car of 2012, and in March the following year Robin and Frances entered it in a club rally, “Are we there yet?”, and won.
The following month Robin died.
Frances says the car serves as a reminder of all the support she received from club members during her husband’s last days.
“And I still get that support. That’s why I still have confidence to drive the car in rallies, because I know if I get into trouble, the men of the club will be there to help me straight away.”
She has the car serviced at two local garages and insists they remedy problems straight away, rather than leaving it until the next Warrant of Fitness.
“I have complete faith in the car and the boys’ workmanship so there’s every reason for me to keep driving it,” she says.
The Wellsford Warkworth Vintage Car Club Daffodil Rally takes place on Sunday, August 25. Cars will leave Smales Farm, Takapuna, at 11.15am, and start to arrive at Warkworth Wharf around noon.
Visitors will be invited to vote for their favourite cars and prizes will be awarded to winners.
Money raised during the event will support the Cancer Society in its efforts to reduce the incidence and impact of cancer.