The Dodge, one of six imported to New Zealand new in 1961, was the firm's main hearse in Dunedin between 1961 and 1973. In 2009 we added an identical vehicle (from Auckland) and the Dodge is now fully restored to near its original condition. It is a lovely choice for a traditional-style funeral.
The Dodge arrived in Dunedin in May 2009 was collected from Jeffs Haulaways yard. It was in better than expected condition – very original condition. We evaluated the engine and running gear – which were given a clean bill of health by K G McLeod's – other than a bit of brake work, and a slight diff leak.
The panel and paint was surprisingly good and we elected to at some stage fix some screw holes in the front guards, remove the tow-bar, fix a mirror, re-chrome the air-vents and rear bumper, and paint the rear door. The rear door handle was quickly fixed by Clements and Stephens. We will remove the crosses front and rear.
Inside we have replaced all the internal carpets and door surrounds and added a new casket clamp.
But ultimately the Dodge was ready for use upon arrival and has already been used on a number of funerals. We have had much reaction in our travels, parking it out the front, and when it has been at its carers.
It is a 1961 Dodge Seneca. Six were imported new to New Zealand from Canada where they had been converted to right-hand-drive. Hope and Sons was an original owner, but this is not our actual one. We sold ours in about 1973 when we started using Valiant Regal station-wagons as hearses.
We are pleased to be able to return a bit of classic Dunedin yesteryear to its former glory and make the Dodge available to our funerals.