Bay of Plenty Bri­tish Car Show

Sun­day De­cem­ber 6, 2015

New Zealand Classic Car - - Letters - Words and pho­tos: John Mctav­ish

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.

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