A temporary switch from two wheels to four will provide an eye-catching backdrop for a West Otago Anzac commemoration today.
West Otago Vintage Club vice-president and motorbike enthusiast Dwain Devereux is more used to restoring his two-wheeled favourites, some 30 of which grace the club’s Tapanui museum.
However, an offer that was “too good to refuse” led to a sideways expansion of his ambitions, and the adoption of a 1942 military Jeep — now restored and set to feature as part of the town’s Anzac Day commemorations.
Mr Devereux said his fondness for vintage machinery had led him astray once again, on receiving notice of a local clearing sale two years ago.
“A local guy I know mentioned this clearing sale and suggested I come along in case there was anything of interest.
“Well I thought I’d better not as I have quite the collection of motorcycles and projects already. So I asked him what time it was, and he said 10am, when I’m usually a bit busy with work, which I told him.
“He said, ‘I’ll open early for you’, so before I know it, I’m there at 8am looking at this Jeep. And here we are now.”
Mr Devereux said he had chosen his moment carefully to let wife Judith know there was a new adoptee in the fold.
“Fortunately, we had visitors for tea, so I announced it then, which softened the blow.”
The intervening restoration had gone smoothly, thanks to the help of friends and specialists, and had been completed just in time for this year’s Anzac commemorations, he said.
The Jeep, which would have been used “somewhere in the Pacific theatre”, would serve as a military backdrop for today’s proceedings, although he hoped soon to give it a closer local Anzac connection.
“We’re looking for a local family who may have a photo of their Anzac relative in or alongside one of these Jeeps, which were very commonplace as personnel transport during World War 2.
“Each Jeep has a unique number painted on the bonnet, so we’d like to personalise it with that local connection, if we can track someone down.”
The Jeep would head for the vintage museum following its Anzac outing, he said.
“We’re in the process of expanding and enhancing our museum experience at present, hopefully with a more hands-on feel, so I’d love to see it taken out for a spin from time to time,” Mr Devereux said.