Topic: Crazy about cars

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Hauraki Herald reporter Jill Cleave meets a Ngatea identity and finds out the reason behind his collection of old cars and tractors. Her story appeared in the Hauraki Herald on 25 January, 2011.

ERNIE Martinovich was born and bred on the Hauraki Plains and is known far and wide for his love of his old cars and machinery.The 80 year old still owns the second car he ever bought, a 1930 Morris 10. 

''I bought it for £30 and a dozen of beer,'' he said.  When asked why he never sold it he simply said ''because I love it''.

Ernie is well known for not selling cars. He has 12 cars in garages on his Ngatea farm, three tractors from the early 1900s and several other pieces of old farm equipment.  Naturally he has a story to tell about every vehicle.

''My father gave us the 1939 Plymouth 50 years ago when we (he and wife Maureen) married.  We used it as a wedding car and bought our babies home in it,'' he said.

''How can you sell memories like that?''

The Plymouth still runs and Ernie said he had never spent a penny on repairs for it.  He also has two 1955 cars, a Desoto and a Dodge.

''Both of those cars have been used for weddings all over the place,'' he said.

A more modern car in Ernie's fleet is a 1999 V8 Ford Fairlane which was used to ferry former US President Bill Clinton and his secretary Madeleine Albright to and from APEC Summit meetings held in Auckland in 1999. Ernie said organisers were told Mr Clinton wanted a white 1999 V8 Ford Fairlane while he was here.

''I had the only one in the country at the time so they hired it for a week.''

Ernie's latest acquisition is a 1982 Cadillac Deville which he first saw in a street parade in Paeroa.  Maureen said as soon as he saw the for sale sign in the window, her husband had to have it.

''It's a beautiful car and we go out to car shows in it,'' she said.

Ernie waxes lyrical on the car - which had just 27,000 miles (43,000km) on the clock.

''And the interior - velvet, all velvet. Beautiful car,'' he said.

In the gardens of the couple's homestead, Ernie points out machinery of interest - a horse drawn concrete mixer believed to have been used to pave the streets of Thames 100 years ago, a 1930 vintage tractor with hay rake entwined with roses and a horse-drawn hay rake.

 ''These were all in sheds around the farm until my girl (wife Maureen) decided to use them in her garden,'' he said.

Ernie is not sure what will happen to his collection.  However, he hopes it will be preserved for future generations.

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Crazy about cars

First Names:Ernie
Last Name:Martinovich
Place of Birth:Hauraki Plains, New Zealand