Russell Greer took Charlie Stanton for a ride in his Stanton Corvette, which Charlie helped build, on his 100th birthday at Summerset in the Sun last week. Photo: Jonty Dine.

‘Speed’ celebrates a century in style


Charlie Stanton has packed a lot of living into his 100 years.

“I survived the war and 23 years of motor racing, then 38 years of gliding, and I survived that too.”

The Nelson resident served in Africa and Italy during WWII, liberating Rome from German occupation in 1944.

Serving as a truck driver during the war, he earnt himself a reputation for his skill and was given the nickname ‘Speed’.

After returning to New Zealand, Charlie and his brother built the famous ‘Stanton Corvette’ with a Gipsey Major purchased from the war assets board for ten pounds.

The car would hold the New Zealand land speed record of 175mph (282kph) for 12 years.

This success led to him being contracted by Bruce McLaren to work in England, with one of his engines winning the Formula One World Champs.

He then took his passion for engineering to the skies and built his own glider, which he flew until retirement at 85, as the second-oldest pilot in the country.

Charlie’s incredible life was celebrated at Summerset Village last week at his 100th birthday party.

Surrounded by family and friends, Charlie was even reunited with his beloved Corvette after 15 years and treated to a rapid ride around the block.

“That was terrific, just like I remember. Took me back a few years.”

When asked what the secret to longevity is, Charlie says it’s simply to ‘live’.

“I wouldn’t have a clue, I’ve just always believed that whatever happens, happens.”