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New Book Shares Memories Of The Golden Age Of Motoring As Kiwis Rediscover Local Road Trips

In these pandemic days, when Kiwis are rediscovering road trips and domestic travel, the golden age of motoring depicted in Life with Cars: New Zealanders’ motoring memories 1950s–1980s – released this week – serves as a timely reminder of the joys of life on four wheels.

This colourful collection harks back to an age when a vehicle was part of the family — pairing cherished personal photos from the 1950s to the 1980s with the words of the contributors, as told to author and auto enthusiast Stephen Barnett.

Life with Cars tells of holidays at the beach, breakdowns in the middle of nowhere, evading the law, Sunday drives and of course posing on, beside or in the beloved four-wheeled family members. Underpinning the stories are relationships — between owners and their cars, but also between parents and children, partners in life, and young people and their peers — all during a time when cars had character, roads were quiet and petrol was cheap.

Here we are pictured happily alongside our pride-and-joys — British Vanguards, Austins and English Fords; American Chevrolets, Fords and Pontiacs; Australian Holdens, Falcons and Valiants; European Peugeots, Fiats and Citroens; and, from the mid-1960s, the first Japanese models on the scene.

Complete with an appendix profiling all the cars, this is a book that will resonate as Kiwis get in the car and drive this summer.


Stephen Barnett works as a writer and editor. He has written books on social history, popular culture, natural history and children’s fiction published internationally. Steve has a long love affair with cars, travelling many kilometres in his own old car, a 1964 Rover. He lives in Auckland.

Life with Cars: New Zealanders’ motoring memories 1950s–1980s by Stephen Barnett, published by Oratia Books

ISBN: 978-0-947506-74-2 | $49.99 |Paperback with flaps

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