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Seventh Heaven

Fifty years ago, Christchurch businessman Graham Bernie fell in love with two beauties. One was a woman called Lynn Small. The other was a 1968 Ford Galaxie 500 convertible. He married one and forty years later bought the other.



“It takes pride of place,” he says proudly of the full-sized American-made scarlet classic housed in his five-car Fendalton garage. Originally from the West Coast, Graham first met Lynn in Christchurch when he was 20. “She was living next to a friend of mine,” he smiles.

Desperately wanting to court Lynn, he soon realised he wasn’t the only man vying for her attention. “An older friend of mine had bought a yellow 1968 Ford Galaxie convertible and offered to take her for a ride. “Who could resist?” he laughs. When the friend arrived to pick Lynn up, he got Graham as well. “I made him take me!”

Sitting in the back beside the woman who was to become his wife and mother of his two sons, Graham said he was in “seventh heaven”. “We rode out to New Brighton when there was shopping on a Saturday… I thought it was the nicest car I had seen in my life.” A leather goods salesman, Graham says he thought he would never own a car like it. “It was the size of a small house. To own one was an impossible dream – a pure fantasy.”



At age 25, Graham became a car dealer and the rest is history. He enthusiastically started up a small car company in Moorhouse Avenue and went on to achieve success importing cars out of Japan. Cars have always been a passion. “I think it was every boy’s dream.”

Chatting from his luxury home in Heathfield Avenue, the developer and international car broker explains he bought his Ford Galaxie 500 from Turners in Christchurch 10 years ago. “I had been looking for years and finally saw the exact same model advertised for auction at Turners. I knew I had to buy it, so I did,” he says.

Lynn didn’t feel the same way. “She initially thought I was a nutcase. I think she’s been in it three times over the past 10 years. The memories are probably better than the reality,” he laughs. However, there were no regrets, Graham smiles. “And I’ll never sell it.” With a 590 cubic inch engine, the Ford Galaxie has only ever been driven by his two sons, with only 2000 miles being added (now with 38,000 on the clock).

This November is a milestone for the couple, who will celebrate 50 years of marriage. “If the house burnt down it would be the first thing taken out,” he says of the car. “After my wife,” he adds.


Eyes on Stalks

There is no denying a huge chunk of Kiwi gearheads love a Chevy, though those wanting a late model Chevrolet had to import one privately, until now. Yes, to fill a gap left by the recently departed Aussie-built Commodore, HSV is selling the Chevrolet Camaro in New Zealand, in right-hand drive. I was given the chance to spend 24 hours with the latest right-hook Camaro in Auckland.



Brought to our shores to take on the might of the right-hand drive Ford Mustang, the 2019 Chevrolet Camaro 2SS is available through New Zealand’s six authorised HSV dealerships. The right-hand drive conversion process is professionally done by HSV in Australia before the cars arrive in New Zealand; it’s a proper conversion job too. This work, plus the car, puts the price at $104,990 NZD. The only customisable option available is $1,000 for metallic paint, although the Bumblebee yellow of my test car certainly had eyes on stalks.

The Camaro 2SS’s beating heart is the LT1 6.2 litre V8 with a fairly substantial 339kW of grunt and 617Nm of torque. This, coupled with an eight-speed automatic box, will allow you to reach the national limit in a blistering 4.6 seconds, which this writer can verify. Inside you get a very driver-focused cabin, containing nods to Camaros of the past while still feeling bang up to date. The driving position is nigh on perfect and the small steering wheel feels good clasped in your mitts. Standard kit includes 20-inch alloys, Brembo brakes, LED running lights, Apple Car Play/Android Auto, and dual zone climate control.

A press of the starter button and those quad tailpipes emit the sort of V8 bellow that would wake the dead. Blip the throttle and it crackles and booms like distant gunfire. There are three drive modes to choose from; Touring, Sport and Track. Touring mode allows you cruise along in comfort with the V8 burble slightly subdued in the background. The LT1 V8 also shuts down four cylinders if they aren’t needed, returning combined fuel consumption of 11.5L/100km. Change up to Sport and things get racier and louder, put it in Track mode and the steering and throttle response sharpens up, plus the shifts on the eight-speed box become quicker.

Now, old Camaros have always been lacking when it comes to undertaking the twisty stuff. This is no longer the case as the bendy B-roads out of Waiuku were devoured with such ease. The Camaro also feels incredibly planted and despite the slight girth, you always have the confidence to push hard. That said, you do have to be awake.

So how does the new right-hook Camaro stack up when compared to the Mustang? Well, the Mustang is $25,000 less expensive, but the Camaro rides better, is just as exciting and will be much more exclusive. Each to their own of course, but the Chevy just wins it for me.


X Marks the Spot

Tesla is just Elon Musk’s side project to SpaceX yet it’s become the benchmark in the automotive industry when it comes to electric vehicles.



I once said it’s the iPhone of cars, the game-changer. It has made a dynamic impact on how the rest of the industry now performs. I was fortunate enough to drive the X and S models and they really do stand out as something quite special – 0-100 in 3.7 seconds in Ludicrous mode is a great example, not only of a good vehicle but good marketing.

Meanwhile 250 kmh on top speed is also another feature, hopelessly lost on New Zealand roads but pure power on an SUV. I’ve driven a lot of SUV vehicles, but the X really is in a field of its own. And that’s what you’re buying – something unique. There’s a number of the S models around town which suggests Tesla is making inroads in New Zealand.

Its quality and performance are right up there with the best in the luxury ranges. It’s good to see the prices have finally come down to allow the competition to really begin. It will be an interesting race.


Bang for Buck Supercar!: Christchurch European

When you wander the yard at Christchurch European, it’s a beautiful sight for any car enthusiast. From Porsche to Ferrari, Audi to Aston Martin, all the marques are there, including this beautiful, elegant, pure unadulterated V8 machine.




The Jaguar F Type R. With a 540BHP 5.0 V8 supercharged engine and 8-speed quick-shift gearbox you have the option of paddle control manual but as I put it into gear and touched my foot on the accelerator, I knew I didn’t want to go there quite yet. Damn! The sound of that engine is the sound of an automotive lover’s dream. It doesn’t purr like a cat, it growls like a Jaguar should.

I took it to Sumner, then over to Lyttelton and round to Governors Bay. If you know the roads, you know it’s a good road for curves. Its agile steering system made it seem like it was on rails. It has several options you can play with at the touch of a button – ice and snow mode and track but the standard suited me just fine. The Jaguar F Type R has the very latest touch screen Bluetooth streaming/navigation which makes listening to your favourite music great if you aren’t already spellbound by the sound of the Switchable Sports Exhausts. These F Type Rs represent very good value for money at $99,995.

When comparing other similar style European sports cars in this price range, there’s really no competition. Christchurch European currently holds three in stock, this vehicle in grey metallic with added ceramic brakes, a traditional Jaguar dark green vehicle and even a salsa red variant. Go down to 511 Blenheim Road and check them out. Christchurch European, the name says it all; elegant and stylish vehicles in Christchurch. Set your goals on something special and drive the dream you’ve always wanted.


A centennial celebration

Bentley is celebrating its 100th birthday this year; yes it’s been a century since Walter Owen Bentley, or W.O as he was called, set up shop in 1919.



One of the most iconic cars from this era was the ‘Number 9’ Bentley; a 4.5-litre supercharged blower Le Mans race car. To celebrate the legacy of this car and the 100-year anniversary of the company, Bentley has given us a special edition of the Continental GT. Called the ‘Number 9 Edition by Mulliner’, it will be available either in Viridian Green or Beluga Black, it will feature No. 9 badgework and a matching graphic on the front grille, just like the Bentley racers of yesteryear.

Inside, the headrests and door panels receive embossed ‘B’ logos in homage to the original 1930 Blower Bentley. The centre console features the familiar engine-turned finish, often referred to as ‘turned aluminium’, that was utilised in the early days of the automobile to minimise unwanted light reflection. The No 9 also features a bespoke clock made by Jaeger, to replicate the dials found on Bentleys of the pre-war era. Bentley says this future classic will be one of only 100 ever produced.


Something Special

It’s always a pleasure driving a new car and the new Mercedes C220D is another great offering from this top marque.




With a good price point, it offers a lot of features for a luxury car. The sunroof is a good starter, giving the cabin an open and light feeling while the console is a polished grey and metallic finish; 1950cc, 4 cylinder, 143kW and 400 torque, it really is a beautiful car to look at as well as drive. It features dual exhausts and sleek curves, the fuel economy of diesel, its torque allows instant response when driving – 0-100 in 6.9 seconds – and it’s smooth and refined. It’s not touch screen on the Apple Play but after a bit of time with Mercedes and their control dial and touch pad system, I’ve become used to navigating it, though it did take a while to stray from my iPhone mentality.

Something I totally love about this vehicle are the stunning 19-inch bi-colour twin spoke alloys. The model I drove came white with black rims and boy does it look good. It just adds something a little special. When you meet the car at night, it has carpet lighting to help you out with an LED lighting system that helps show you the way – technology at its greatest. Its all-digital display and interface systems are getting easier to handle and a lot more simplistic for someone who is kind of plug and go. The steering wheel adjusts automatically to your specifications and it just ‘feels’ good.

The base model sits at $75,400 but my model had some great additions; AMG package $3700; seat comfort package $900; dark tinted privacy glass $700; and the vision package at $6300, all together making a grand total of $87,000. I definitely felt that I was driving something special. You see a few C-class models on the street but the C220D just felt… special. Earlier in the year I managed to grab a week with the C200; the little petrol sister to the C220, it is a 1497cc, 4-cylinder, 135kW, 280 Nm rear wheel drive, mild petrol hybrid at $73,900.

It had similar 18-inch bi-colour wheels and different upholstery, but it just isn’t as good as its big brother. I can’t put my finger on it because, although they look the same, the 220D just seems the better buy. That could be my macho ‘got to have more power’ driver mentality speaking but the C220D just feels better. I keep saying that and it really is personal opinion but perhaps you need to judge this for yourself by taking a test drive with the team at Armstrong Prestige. The C class is Mercedes’ core sedan range and after driving the C220D and the C200 I can see why they are such good staples in the Mercedes range.


Second to None: Kevin Burt Ltd

Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi are the premium European marques. When someone needs servicing and repairs for such a premium brand of vehicle, it’s only smart that they go to the company that has the technology and experience to do the most efficient job possible. Kevin Burt Ltd has that team.



With 43 years in the industry and more than 80 years of experience combined, it’s a well-oiled machine of experience. The team is well trained in all areas of servicing and repairs on Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi vehicles. They have a passion for the brands and the experience to recognise the issues. With cars that are world leaders in technological development, the engineering is second to none. That is why they enjoy working on them. They are the specialists in Christchurch. It’s a workshop first and foremost with sound qualifications in automotive engineering. They embrace new technology and are constantly updating their model-specific diagnostic machines.

Servicing over 2000 vehicles a year, they have shown the South Island that reliability, experience and service go hand in hand to making the all needed service or repair something that gets done properly and efficiently, the first time.
Kevin says, “on numerous occasions we repair vehicles that have been taken to other ‘specialist workshops’. More often than not that workshop has been unable to arrive at the correct diagnosis to repair the vehicle for the owner.”

So, when your BMW, Mercedes-Benz or Audi needs some help, you know who to call, 324-328 St Asaph Street, phone 03 365 0531.


The Drive for Good: Archibald Motors

Charity initiative Drive for Good ended in style at Archibald Motors, with three local charities taking home a share of $100,000 at a vibrant celebration in the showrooms on Tuam Street. Seven more charities were gifted equal shares in $50,000. Cantabrians clearly relished the chance to show support for their chosen charity, with more than 21,000 votes cast by the public during the three-month long initiative.



Archibald’s Managing Director John Fairhall was full of praise for the way the organisations had engaged with the initiative. “It has been an honour for us to get to know the ten charities better and see the work they do to make Christchurch a healthy and happy place to live,” he says. With a final tally of 4,512, The Champion Centre was the recipient of the greatest number of votes, earning a staggering $50,000 for the charity. Canterbury West Coast Air Rescue Trust and Ronald McDonald House South Island received second and third place respectively, each receiving $25,000 towards their causes.

Although I was there for the charity event, the well-placed array of Porsche, Jaguar and Range Rovers caught my eye. After all I was sitting next to a Range Rover Sport SVR, with its Yulong White Metallic with Carbon Exterior Kit and Panoramic Sunroof flexing its carbon fibre exterior and stunning 22” 5-split spoke gloss black alloys. It took my attention substantially after formalities had ended. Kudos to you Archibald’s, you are an automotive company with a Cantabrian heart.


BMW X4 M40i

Tiger under the hood: BMW X4 M40i

My first car was a 1957 Morris Minor – 800 side valve, split windscreen, 0 – 100… never. My friend Geoff Mahon and I rebuilt her from a wreck in someone’s yard. I once dreamed of having a BMW.


 BMW X4 M40i


As I was pushing the new X4 M40i around the Port Hills, I flashed back to driving my first car up to Sugarloaf. Man, what a machine the X4 is. Its sleek lines and technology are both beautiful and fantastic to drive, I mean fantastic.

With power and style, this 8-speed, 4-cylinder, 265kW with 500Nm beast gives you great power at the touch of the accelerator. Gone are the days of horse power and engine size. Here is the finely tuned aggressiveness that is enhanced by engineering and refinement. Its starting price is a cool $126,500. I love my job.

BMW keeps pushing the technology and vehicles forward; better and better. My next drive will be the exceptional 3 series up in Auckland. With the 330i at 190kW and 400Nm, it will have a little bit less grunt than the X4, but it’s a sedan built for a comfortable city drive. Priced at $89,900, it is coming in at an accessible price range, offering bang for your buck and a great addition to the range that BMW is excited to show the New Zealand market.




Straight after I get back from Auckland, I’m in the X5, which I’ve already had some great time in and it will be interesting to re-acquaint myself with it again however, my favourite car from the X range, the X2, is back, badder than ever with the new X2 M35i, turbo-charged 225kW 450Nm. How can they make something so good better? Give it a whopping power increase with 84kw and 170 more torque, that’s how! It’s the old X2 on steroids!

The range is moving forward with an exciting Z4 and the incredible 8-series yet to be unveiled. Christchurch will be able to see these cars as they come in at the new showroom at 107 Moorhouse Avenue. It will house everything a Bayerische Motoren Werke fan will want to see and more.

After being provided with lessons from some of the best automotive drivers in the industry and being given track time and vehicles far beyond my wildest dreams, I never take it for granted.

Geoff passed away some years back now and I often think of my mate and I working on that tiny engine into the early hours. I wish he was here to hang out and talk about the latest models to hit the highway. He would love these new BMWs. But I’m very grateful that I can at least share these experiences with you.



Christchurch BMW

A Luxurious Location: Christchurch BMW

There is a new home of the ‘Ultimate Driving Machine’. With the opening of the new showroom at 104 Moorhouse Ave, Christchurch BMW is bringing Canterbury not only a luxurious location to browse dozens of prestigious cars in comfort in light fashionable surroundings, but also a place you can grab a fresh cup of coffee from the barista in the customer coffee lounge and sit down to discuss your requirements on your next purchase with one of the knowledgeable, helpful staff the company is well known for.


 Christchurch BMW


Christchurch BMW understands that purchasing a vehicle involves how a vehicle makes you feel, its quality and a trusting relationship with the people standing behind it, not just as it relates to BMWs, but also its sister brand, MINI.

With the first dedicated MINI showroom in the South Island, 104 Moorhouse Ave is a great location to view your next car. Why would you go outside in the weather when you can view the beauty of an M car in its own designated area?

With the service area located on site and service being their keyword, Christchurch BMW is there to meet and exceed your expectations on purchasing and maintaining your next BMW and/or MINI. The staff know they are selling one of the world’s best driving machines and they are proud of not only the cars, but also the new showroom. So they await your drop-in to share in your next BMW adventure.


Contact them on or call 03 363 7240. BMW is… the ultimate drive.