NEW ZEALAND CLAS­SIC CAR ED­I­TO­RIAL Chang­ing Times

New Zealand Classic Car - - Editorial -

As Auck­land’s vo­ra­cious ap­petite for ad­di­tional hous­ing con­tin­ues un­abated, the city’s skyline is con­stantly shift­ing and chang­ing as more high-rise residential build­ings con­spire to blot out the sun­light from the street be­low. While I’m not to­tally against the re­moval of some less-than-hand­some older build­ings, I don’t par­tic­u­larly care for a few of the mon­strosi­ties that are sprout­ing up within the Auck­land area.

Re­cently I was taken on a brief tiki tour — in a Porsche Speed­ster replica — around a new sub­ur­ban hous­ing de­vel­op­ment. While I ac­cept that Auck­land’s ever-grow­ing pop­u­la­tion needs some­where to live, I’m rather glad I don’t have to re­side there — the build­ings in the area we toured looked like they’d been com­mis­sioned by the Depart­ment of Cor­rec­tions.

The latest ca­su­alty of Auck­land’s build­ing boom is 483 Queen Street, in the heart of the city. That ad­dress doesn’t mean any­thing to you? Let me ex­plain.

As some read­ers will be aware from past ed­i­to­ri­als, I’m stuck in a time warp when it comes to mu­sic — much pre­fer­ring old-school vinyl records to down­load­ing dig­i­tally mas­saged tunes. As such, Real Groovy is, quids in, my favourite re­tail shop — odds are, you’ll find me there brows­ing through the record racks at least once or twice a month. Where is Real Groovy lo­cated? That’s right, 483 Queen Street.

Alas, the de­vel­op­ers are mov­ing in and the build­ing is slated for de­mo­li­tion, the site to be used for a residential apart­ment block plus the oblig­a­tory ground-floor re­tail com­plex. Bug­ger!

Real Groovy, which has been at 483 since 1991, is cur­rently on the search for new premises.

Of course if you’re not in­ter­ested in records and, like Henry Ford, reckon that history is bunk, you won’t care too greatly about the even­tual loss of 483 Queen Street. How­ever, for mo­tor­ing en­thu­si­asts the loss of this build­ing means the re­moval of yet another part of New Zealand’s au­to­mo­bile her­itage. You see, the build­ing in ques­tion was once home to Camp­bell Mo­tors, which orig­i­nally shifted its car busi­ness there in 1945 af­ter the US Navy had fin­ished us­ing the premises for mu­ni­tions stor­age.

In Mark Web­ster’s ex­cel­lent book on lo­cal car pro­duc­tion, Assem­bly (Reed Books, 2002), he quoted Hugo Bed­ford, later head of Camp­bell Mo­tors, on the com­pany’s move from Rut­land Street to Queen Street, “All the equip­ment was trun­dled up Queen Street, on a Satur­day morn­ing in trol­leys. There wasn’t a car in sight.” In 1945 Auck­land’s pop­u­la­tion barely ex­ceeded 250,000.

Camp­bell Mo­tors, con­ces­sion­aire for Re­nault and Peu­geot, amongst oth­ers, main­tained its main show­room at 483 un­til the end of the ’70s. It was owned by the Web­ster fam­ily (no re­la­tion to Mark), and NZ Clas­sic Car read­ers will know the com­pany’s cur­rent co di­rec­tor, Don­ald Web­ster, through his Targa ex­ploits in a Group 5 Alpine Re­nault A110. Although Don­ald prob­a­bly isn’t too happy about selling the build­ing that once con­tained his fa­ther’s car deal­er­ship, busi­ness or mar­ket pres­sures were pre­sum­ably be­hind the hard de­ci­sion to sell the premises to the de­vel­op­ers.

That, alas, is progress.

WE MEET UP WITH THE FER­RARI 458 SPECIALE, THE FASTEST VER­SION OF THE PRANC­ING HORSE’S MOUTH-WA­TER­ING 458 ITALIA FORD’S DELUXE SE­RIES OF FLAT­HEAD V8–POW­ERED

PRE-WAR COUPES AND CON­VERT­IBLES HAVE AL­WAYS BEEN A FAVOURITE AMONGST CLAS­SIC-CAR EN­THU­SI­ASTS AND

HOT ROD­DERS ALIKE AN HIS­TORIC KIWI ONE-TWO AT THIS YEAR’S

FA­MOUS 24 HEURES DU MANS

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