Com­ing up roses

Bay of Plenty Vin­tage Car Club An­nual Car Show and Swap Meet

New Zealand Classic Car - - Nationwide News - Words and pho­tos: John Mctav­ish

Ev­ery year, my as­sis­tant and I come away from this show and swap meet prais­ing the event as the best so far. The or­ga­niz­ers have the knack of each year of­fer­ing an in­cre­men­tal im­prove­ment with­out sac­ri­fic­ing what has be­come tra­di­tional. New this year were ice creams for the kids, and, as my as­sis­tant and I didn’t qual­ify by a sub­stan­tial mar­gin, we were more than happy to in­stead par­take of the tra­di­tional home cook­ing avail­able at very rea­son­able prices in the club house. The at­mos­phere in the club-house-turned-tea­rooms reeked won­der­fully of a gen­tler time, be­fore the Women’s Divi­sion Fed­er­ated Farm­ers be­came Ru­ral Women New Zealand, when ladies lorded it in the kitchen and it was the done thing for men to hold the door, even though ev­ery­body knew the ladies were per­fectly ca­pa­ble of look­ing af­ter them­selves.

At the risk of be­ing un­duly parochial, I can­not imag­ine there is a more spec­tac­u­lar lo­ca­tion for a vin­tage car club in New Zealand. The view from the Cliff Road site across the up­per reaches of Tau­ranga Har­bour is some­thing to be­hold. The Bay of Plenty (BOP) branch is for­tu­nate enough to oc­cupy what used to be the bowl­ing green next to Tau­ranga City’s Rose Gar­dens. The roses were in bloom, so it was no trou­ble at all to spend a lit­tle bit of time ap­pre­ci­at­ing the flow­ers, as a sort of quid pro quo for my as­sis­tant spend­ing con­sid­er­ably longer in­dulging me as I drooled over beauty of the au­to­mo­tive kind.

I nearly had my as­sis­tant con­vinced that we should sell the house and in­vest in the pris­tine 1964 VW camper van and live a life of care­free ir­re­spon­si­bil­ity. Given that Tau­ranga’s prop­erty val­ues are head­ing for the strato­sphere, just as they are in Auck­land, we might have had enough left over to ‘in­vest’ in a cou­ple of clas­sic cars. From the cars on show at Cliff Road, my picks would have been the alu­minium-bod­ied 1927 Rolls-royce made in Spring­field, Mas­sachusetts, and the red 1954 Buick Road­mas­ter. Alas, my idea got no trac­tion what­so­ever, de­spite me em­pha­siz­ing the ‘in­vest­ment’ as­pect of my scheme — this no doubt in­flu­enced by the ra­di­ant blooms only a fra­grant smell away and con­stantly re­mind­ing my as­sis­tant how loathe she would be to give up her trea­sured gar­den for life on the road.

As usual, I ne­glected to count how many mo­tor­bikes, cars, and trucks were on show, but, all up, it had to be around 70, maybe more, in­clud­ing the in­ter­est­ing trucks that served to dis­play wares on of­fer in the swap meet part of the show. The in­ter­est­ing thing about the BOP Vin­tage Car Club Swap Meet is that it is not just about au­to­mo­tive para­pher­na­lia. You could just as eas­ily have snapped up a porce­lain fig­urine as a Ford V8 diff — how demo­cratic is that? Like the roses next door, the va­ri­ety of stuff for sale was guar­an­teed to keep the less ar­dent petrol­heads happy. I came away $20 poorer but im­mea­sur­ably richer for the ac­qui­si­tion of five sealed-beam headlights that might fit my Alfetta GTV. I re­al­ized later that my as­sis­tant had ap­proved this pur­chase be­cause she was in­ter­ested in some an­tique gar­den tools and was con­cerned that the fis­cal bal­ance should be main­tained.

The show is not judged, but, had it been, the judges’ task of try­ing to de­ter­mine which of the ve­hi­cles was more wor­thy than the oth­ers would not have been en­vied. How­ever, my as­sis­tant and I set­tled on the 1939 MG WA Tick­ford drop­head coupé as our best in show. This looked like an im­mac­u­late restora­tion of a car from a mar­que nor­mally as­so­ci­ated with light­weight sports cars. To that time, it was the heav­i­est and largest model built by MG. With a tuned 2561cc over­head­valve six-cylin­der en­gine of Mor­ris ori­gin, it was prob­a­bly the most pow­er­ful as well. World War II halted pro­duc­tion of the WA, and it was not re­sumed at the end of hos­til­i­ties six years later.

Re­plete in ev­ery way — with the sight and sound of clas­sic ve­hi­cles, smell and beauty of the roses, and the taste of sweet and savoury in the tea­room — my as­sis­tant and I called it a day. We agreed that the or­ga­niz­ers should again be well sat­is­fied with their ef­forts, and, if asked, would be able to say that ev­ery­thing had come up roses.

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