One journey over, another to begin

Ken Rapley with his restored 1952 Willys Jeep station wagon in Mosgiel yesterday. Photos by Craig...
Ken Rapley with his restored 1952 Willys Jeep station wagon in Mosgiel yesterday. Photos by Craig Baxter.

A Mosgiel man has just completed a 33-year journey with a Jeep.

Ken Rapley bought the 1952 Willys Jeep station wagon just before he married wife Lyn in 1980.

''It was something I got to one day cart the kids around in. But I only drove it for about a year and the motor went. It's been stored ever since,'' he said yesterday.

A family wedding in Nelson in February was the motivation to finally finish the restoration project, which was completed last week.

''I thought it would be a good chance to do a trip around the South Island in it, although, when I told my wife she just laughed,'' Mr Rapley said.

''I don't know how much I would have spent on it over the years, but there wouldn't be much change out of $25,000. And that's without the labour. I had to make a lot of things for it.

''I went through a few phases with it where I just wanted to push it off Blackhead. But it's very satisfying now that it's all done. I hope it will be in the family forever.''

The American-made 2WD vehicle was the first all-steel station wagon designed as a passenger vehicle and more than 300,000 were made between 1946 and 1965.

''Apparently, the Little Sisters of the Poor in Dunedin used to have a chauffeur-driven one, which all the nuns would get around in.''

The vehicle had a comfortable travelling speed of about 85kmh, Mr Rapley said.

''If you go any faster than that, you have to hang on.''


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