CLAS­SIC ALPINE TOUR

New Zealand Classic Car - - CONTENTS - Words and pho­tos: Paul Hal­ford

The Clas­sic Alpine Tour (CAT) was held the week­end be­fore Easter, which worked in per­fectly with Warbirds Over Wanaka, al­low­ing par­tic­i­pants to take in both great events while they were in the re­gion.

Or­ga­nizer Paul Hal­ford said that the event was “a car tour and so­cial get to­gether for the own­ers of Eu­ro­pean cars that show merit of de­sign and en­gi­neer­ing”.

In to­tal, 42 cars were ac­cepted for en­try, with the se­lec­tion process tak­ing sev­eral months and in­ter­ested par­ties able to sub­mit up to three en­tries for con­sid­er­a­tion.

The en­tries were in­deed di­verse and in­cluded mar­ques such as Alfa Romeo through to Za­gato plus a fab­u­lous se­lec­tion of open-top cars in­clud­ing a 1926 Bu­gatti Type 35B Grand Prix and gran tur­ismo cars such as a Ferrari 275 and a Mercedes 300SL.

Cars were driven from all parts of the coun­try — from Auck­land in the north to In­ver­cargill in the south — with some clock­ing up in ex­cess of 4000km over their round trip. The fur­thest en­trant trav­elled all the way from the UK driv­ing a Lan­cia Aure­lia GT.

The event kicked off on the Fri­day night with a cock­tail party at Thurlby Do­main, the orig­i­nal site of a home­stead built back in the 1880s. Mayor Jim Boult (a car en­thu­si­ast him­self) wel­comed and opened

the event as­sur­ing the par­tic­i­pants that they would see some of the best vis­tas in the world and won­der­ful roads on which to stretch their cars legs. He wasn’t wrong. Af­ter snow had fallen on the Wed­nes­day night, the sun came out to bathe the cars and en­trants in the best pos­si­ble driv­ing and tour­ing con­di­tions.

Satur­day morn­ing saw the cars away af­ter a brief­ing and a mov­ing Scot­tish bag­pipes wel­come that drifted out of the early morn­ing mist. The day con­sisted of tour­ing the fa­mous Coro­net Peak Hill Climb course and to the Dart River in Par­adise Val­ley be­fore re­turn­ing to Glenorchy for lunch. Then the cars toured back along­side Lake Whakatipu to the Queen­stown fore­shore where they went on dis­play for the El­e­gance on the Lake show. Tourists from around the globe mar­velled at the un­ex­pected find on their trip.

A fine din­ner for 80 peo­ple was held at the his­toric Gant­leys Restau­rant with the finest Cen­tral Otago wines pro­vided by Rock­burn.

Sun­day saw the cars head over the Crown Range and tour through Wanaka and out along­side Lake Hawea to the neck where Lakes Wanaka and Hawea meet.

Lunch was a char­ity af­fair at Hawea Flat School that saw the par­tic­i­pants present to the school a do­na­tion of $2K to as­sist in the school’s ac­tiv­i­ties. The prize-giv­ing was held in the school hall, with many prizes given for both wel­come and not-so-wel­come achieve­ments by the en­trants. The Spirit de la Tour tro­phy was awarded to the el­e­gant 1924 Bent­ley 3 Litre Speed Red La­bel with coach­work by Park Ward. The car had been driven from Palmer­ston North by its own­ers, Lewis and Ker­ryn Townsend.

The Sun­day and the com­ple­tion of the CAT saw some of the cars cir­cu­late around High­lands — another un­ex­pected sur­prise.

All in all, it was a very spe­cial event for very spe­cial cars and their car­ing cus­to­di­ans.

Watch out for the fol­low-up event in March 2020.

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