renault760 wrote:Hi Gavin, another NZer! It doesn't sound like the car holds any fears for you. Do you drive on the left out there? What's the "old car scene" like? Enjoy the car!
A question that deserves a (rambling) answer.
NZ drives on the left.
From 1939 until 1985, the importation of cars was (for various reasons and by various means) strictly controlled by the government and new cars were highly taxed, so there was a culture of keeping old cars on the road by mend and make do. I recall that in 1985, the average age of a car in NZ was more than twice the average age in the UK. There was also bias in the import system during those years which strongly favoured British and Australian source cars, and/or locally assembled CKD kits. Importation of used cars was very restrictive. The import licencing system encouraged the importers to bring in low-spec cars with few options (because the licencing was dollar value, not per unit.
So at the beginning of 1986 the roads were mainly populated by Holdens, various BMC, Ford (UK and Aus) and Rootes models, fairly evenly distributed in age from the mid 1950s. There were also a fair number of locally-assembled post 1968 Japanese cars.
Then in 1986 the government changed the rules, removed most of the restrictions on import of new cars, and significantly removed restrictions and most taxes on importing second had cars. From that point, the country was flooded with imports of used cars from Japan, and most of the existing national fleet looked suddenly unattractive.
Today, old cars are a fairly rare sight, but each day you will see a few random and sometimes surprising survivors, like a 1950s Hilman Minx, or a Triumph Dolomite Sprint, or a Vauxhall EIP. There are still certainly more of these old cars around than in the UK. In some parts of the country the old cars are still often rust-free.
French cars of any age have always been rare. When I was growing up, the only French car I remember was a Peugeot 403 that had been specially imported for a disabled driver, because he required a hand operated clutch, and British cars had hydraulic clutches that were more difficult to adapt.
XMs were imported and sold by dealers in small numbers, I would guess only about 50 in total, there being (a few) more BXs and Xantias imported at the same time (they were expensive and poorly equipped compared to the Japanese competition).
There were probably as many came in as used imports from Japan, usually better spec'ed than the officially imported ones. Around 2005 the safety rules were tightened, and the import of XMs and Xantias was prohibited, so that source dried up, although there is an exemption for personal imports of cars more than 20 years old, so I could take one back now.