For the most part, TV and movie production companies don’t put much thought into the cars they use as far as period significance and any modern enhancements that may be on show. Think the Lamborghini Aventador poster in a shot in Dallas Buyers Club, which was set in the 1980s, or a DeLorean with a dubbed V8 noise (or perhaps even a DeLorean capable of hitting 88mph).
A certain exception to this is the Kiwi TV programme Westside, which aired on TV3. With a little help from our mates at NZV8, the production team put a lot of effort into ensuring the cars used by Ted West and his team were those that the fictional crime family would actually have been cruising in way back when.
The first car we’re featuring in our series on the cars of Westside is this perfect HZ Sandman, complete with logos for Ted West’s ‘legitimate’ locksmith business. Enjoy!
1978 Holden HZ Sandman
“When I was a kid, the Holden Sandmans were the coolest cars around,” Dave Blyth remembers.
Dave started off with the essential Escort panel vans, but a Sandman always seemed like a distant fantasy. The fact that he now owns one is definitely a big life goal crossed off the list. The opportunity to own his dream car arose around seven years ago, and Dave jumped at it.
The Sandman had been restored in the ’90s, so it was in pretty good nick, and all the problem rust areas had been well taken care of. But the decals were fading, it was on the wrong wheels, and the engine bay contained far too many chrome dress-up parts.
Tidying the Sandman up has been an ongoing mission for Dave, who has sorted a full set of original Holden Rostyle alloys, tidied up the interior — note the aftermarket steering wheel, as Dave finds the original too big — refreshed the engine bay, and taken care of the bodywork, paint, and decals.
“It’s a driver, not a show car,” Dave points out, and he’s never taken it off the road for any of work he’s done to it. After all, it’s a slippery slope down into the obsessive realms of full restoration, and he’s got a genuine Falcon XA GT for that.
The Sandman runs an original Holden 308 V8, with M21 four-speed manual gearbox and a Salisbury 10-bolt diff. Inside, the Sandman-spec GTS interior is all there, in very well maintained condition. The party area has been reupholstered, too, with an integrated storage compartment, as well as ample space for a kip. Dave’s driven the old Holden up to Kumeu a few times, crashing in the back, and it does just fine at that.
He was first approached by the producers for season one of Westside, but they only wanted the Sandman for some episodes, and Dave couldn’t justify the time or travelling required to bring the car to and from Auckland. So Ted West started off in the old Escort panel van, much as Dave did in real life, moving up in the world to bigger and better things in season two, where the Sandman is a permanent fixture in the show. It might have taken Ted West a season to graduate from an Esky to a big boy wagon, but at least Dave’s methods for acquiring his dream car were more legitimate.
Vehicle driven by: Ted West
Kingpin of the gang, husband to Rita and father to Wolf, Ted West is Outrageous Fortune’s Grandpa in his prime. A legendary safe cracker and principled career criminal, Ted’s tempestuous romance with Rita is set against the background of great social upheaval in 1970s and ’80s New Zealand.