Wilson's Classic Sports Cars was established in 1989 by Roger Wilson.
His aim was to give other people the same satisfaction and fun of
owning and driving the kind of car that drew appreciative attention
wherever it went. He had experienced this pleasure in his twenty year
involvement in the early Hot Rodding scene. Having built and driven
evermore technically advanced early Fords he enjoyed the workshop
camaraderie and social side of seeing the country at numerous rod runs
Offered voluntary severance from TVNZ he decided that the world was ready for a non macho sports car. Mazda thought the same thing and made the hugely successful MX5. He spent a lot of time tidying up an early kit car Mistral sports car body and had a set of moulds made. Great fun and a little anguish were had racing number 360 the first car produced but apart from an alloy V8 powered commission it became obvious that he needed a product that more potential customers wanted.
In the mid 1990's he began the lengthy development process of creating a torsionally rigid Cobra replica/lookalike that handled as well as it looked. Working from home he built nine cobras to varying stages of completion, incorporating many modifications and refinements to perfect his design. Late in 2008 he knew the car was ready for a limited production run and decided to establish a larger 600m2 workshop in conjunction with his friend, skilled mechanic, talented driver and chassis/suspension set up expert Dave Samson.
The plan is to mainly build turnkey Cobras to customers' specifications but also diversify back to Roger's roots and create beautiful Hot Rods and hopefully the occasional Mistral.
Roger's interest in cars was roused by his brother Cliff Wilson's 1933 Ford 3 window coupe and his 1934 Ford 5 window coupe.
In 1969 he purchased a rough but mobile 1934 Ford pickup and joined Rod benders Hot Rod club. He then purchased and rebuilt a 1932 Ford Roadster fitting a 283 twin? Chev, boywraner T10 gearbox, 57 Chev diff, and MK111 Zephyr front disc brakes.
This car was one of the first stock bodied rods to receive an OHV V8 in NZ and is now owned by his brother Cliff who is also his agent for the RWC 427sc.
In the early seventies a very rough
1932 Ford 5 window coupe was rebuilt with a semi space frame internal
chassis. This car featured in 283 cubic inch Chev, Turbo Hydro 350
automatic, Chev 10 built 5-link diff with watts linkage and MKIV
Zephyr discs and Vauxhall Victor independent from suspension.
Roger has always believed that any car he builds is created to be driven daily, not a trail queen. His 5 window amassed a considerable mileage, taking him to work and many Rod Runs around the country several trips to the top of Cape Reianga and to the bottom at Bluff.
With minor changes it is still clocking up the miles with new owner Harry Orpwood.
Inspired by the song Convoy "Obelix',
his 1934 ford pickup was styled as a small scale Kenworth of the late
Using a scratch built truss ladder chassis it had another 283 cubic inch Chev, 3 speed Chev Blazer gearbox, and transfer case, Toyota Land Cruiser front diff with 12" Camaro disc brakes adapted, Pontiac power steering box and Chev 10 bold diff equipment with HQ Holden front discs.
In 1989 he was offered voluntary
severance from TVNZ where he worked in the scenery department and
established Wilson Classics Sports Cars with the aim of building
Mistral sports cars to be used in classic car racing and for fun
A set of moulds were taken of a freshened up original Mistral body.
These stylish wee cars are a late 1950s English sports car designed by RAF fighters pilot Bill Ashton. They were made by Microplas Company in Surrey, sold in GB, USA and Germany, and made under licence in NZ by boat builders Weletex Christchurch and Emesley & Foxton in Dunedin.
The first Mistral
built was created as a period replica of a car which could have been
built in the mid 1960's. Loosely based on the early Cobra ladder
chassis it utilised twin 3" tubes 22 ½ " apart suspending a Triumph
Herald front suspension, 1500 Mark 1 Cortina motor and box with a Mark
1 Cortina diff modified with 5 link suspension and Koni shocks all
Torsional rigidity tests during chassis construction showed the basic ladder chassis to be woefully inadequate so a tubular space frame backbone was added which was connected to a tubular safety cell around the driver's compartment incorporating intrusion bars and burst proof locks.
Stiffening the basic chassis like this enabled the suspension to be tuned to a point where the car was able to out handle all the front engine sports cars it raced against in street and circuit races including the nimble lightweight Lotus seven brigade.
Several successful seasons followed
with the 360 being driven and developed by 265 Chrysler powered Viva
legend Dave Samson. These included some great battles around the
streets of Lyttelton, Waimate, Queenstown, and Dunedin against
Corvettes, Jensen Healey, AC ACE, Austin Healeys, TR6, Lotus sevens
MGBs and MGCs etc
360 took part in circuit racing at Ruapuna, Levels, and Wigram successfully over many seasons.
Commissioned to build a V8 Mistral bought it
direct Leland P76 4.4 litre alloy motor and adapted a Toyota five
speed gear box connected to a Mazda RX7 diff. A Vauxhall Victor front
suspension was used again with Koni shocks all round. This car also
handled extremely well and on one memorable occasion beat a big block
powered Almac Cobra at a bent sprint at Wigram airbase. The 1500
Cortina Mistral driven by Graham Blewett (Roger's stepson) Dave was in
the red Mistral also beat the yellow 302-powered Cobra in the photo