Bay of Plenty British Car Show
Sunday December 6, 2015
The Bay of Plenty British Car Club celebrated its 21st birthday with a car show at The Elms in January 2015. Sadly, its 21st year was its last because long-term president — and ex– New Zealand Classic Car contributor — Ron Harvey felt it time to retire, and no one volunteered to take his place. The club was subsequently wound up, with members choosing to disburse remaining funds to St John and The Elms Foundation. Happily, all the clubs that came under the umbrella of the British Car Club have carried on, and, when the opportunity arose to hold another show at The Elms, due to the success of the birthday show, all the clubs were pleased to participate, and so benefit the never-ending task of preserving The Elms as an historic building.
Guess who stepped up and organized this latest show? Ron Harvey, that’s who, helped by Jim Sherlock, Friends of The Elms chairman. You can’t keep good men down.
Rather than just the clubs this time, the show — held on December 6 — was open to all owners of British cars, and almost 60 vehicles found a shady spot under the elm trees. Ron and Jim explained that, given the popularity of the show, they hoped to make it an annual event, possibly reverting back to the January holiday time when tourists abound.
Those entrants present were asked to carry on the tradition of voting for Best Car and Best Club represented, which respectively went to a beautiful and rare 1939 MG WA Tickford and the MG Car Club. Runner-up Best Car was a 1936 MG SA. What a treat to have two rare, meticulously restored and maintained, cabriolet-bodied, large MGS side-by-side at one show.
Most of the well-known marques manufactured in Britain had at least one example on show, including Alvis, Austin,
Ford, Vauxhall, Sunbeam, Triumph, Morris, Rover, Wolseley, Rolls-royce, Riley, Austin Healey, and Morgan. But just as much a star of the show as the cars was The Elms itself. The mission house was completed in 1847 and looks today much as it did then, as do the lawns and gardens, although no doubt the trees are somewhat larger, having had another 168 years to grow.
As my assistant and I sipped tea, served by Friends of The Elms ladies dressed in period costume, it was easy to feel grateful towards the descendants of Archdeacon Brown and all those who played a part in preserving the mission house and grounds. That it has turned out to be an especially suitable place to display classic British cars is something generations of car enthusiasts will be forever grateful for.