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He Banks Penin­sula Branch of the Vin­tage Car Club was formed in 1978. Not long af­ter this, an an­nual off-road trial event was es­tab­lished for fun in a bring-what-you-like ve­hi­cle. Over the 30-odd years this has been run, mem­bers have de­signed and con­struc

New Zealand Classic Car - - Nationwide Events -

1936–’38 Mor­ris 8 grille with the ver­ti­cal cen­tre sec­tion re­moved. Very nice. This was the only Mor­ris part of the build, as the me­chan­i­cals were all from the later-model Ford 10, the E93A. It even had the blue oval Ford em­blem badge at­tached.

Thirty-six en­tries were re­ceived this year, with at least five fe­male driv­ers, and ages var­ied from those in their teens to 80-yearolds. By far, the ma­jor­ity was in the, let’s say, ‘re­tired’ age group.

The course at Balcairn in­volves five dif­fer­ent test routes. Cars run one at a time over a marked course. All have a stop/start at an in­cline. Run­ning back­wards here means a loss of points. The ‘rid­ing me­chanic’ (pas­sen­ger) tries to help by rock­ing/jump­ing around to gain more trac­tion, which oc­ca­sion­ally does help. If a car only just man­ages to get to the top, usu­ally with tons of wheel spin, it receives a great cheer and ap­plause from the many spec­ta­tors.

Avon Hyde, prob­a­bly the most re­spected race driver in the South Is­land since the 1960s, won the day over­all, hav­ing also won the se­ries in 2014. He has raced many cars over many decades — you name the class, and Avon has prob­a­bly com­peted in it. No mat­ter what class or what car, and he has built many, Avon has al­ways done well. At one time, he was great truck-rac­ing mates with New Zealand’s only For­mula 1 win­ner, Denny Hulme. At 73, Avon has re­tired from se­ri­ous rac­ing, but you can’t hold him down. Avon has his cur­rent trial car for sale, as he is build­ing yet an­other. If in­ter­ested, con­tact me at stan­car_ nzcc@hot­mail.com.

The events are a lot of fun for lit­tle out­lay, with the cars all bits of this and bits of that — they keep you guess­ing. All very in­trigu­ing and in­ter­est­ing. I don’t know what the reg­u­la­tions are, but a lit­tle sports spe­cial built around a 105E Anglia may go well!

No mat­ter how many times you’ve at­tended, or what­ever the un­pre­dictable weather, the thrill of an­tic­i­pa­tion doesn’t lessen as you round the last cor­ner of the coun­try road that leads to par­adise — the Par­adise Val­ley Race­way, that is. The im­pres­sive spec­ta­cle of rapidly fill­ing car parks, with the vol­un­teer po­lice and Ulysses Mo­tor­cy­cle Club mem­bers pre­par­ing to open the over­flow-park­ing pad­docks, is the first sign that there is some­thing ap­proach­ing petrol­head nir­vana hap­pen­ing here.

Roger Nel­son, Ro­torua Vin­tage Car Club ( VCC) com­mit­tee mem­ber and Ro­torua VCC 36th An­nual Swap Meet and Car Show or­ga­nizer, was a lit­tle pre­ma­ture early in the day when he an­tic­i­pated at­tendee num­bers would be down to around 3000 due to the bit­ter southerly wind, bear­ing show­ers. Later, when the need to open up the over­flow car parks in­di­cated the num­bers of afi­ciona­dos pass­ing through the gate would be closer to 5000 as usual, he cheered up suf­fi­ciently to con­sent to hav­ing his photo taken.

This event is the fundraiser for the club, with its other ma­jor event, sup­ported by the pub­lic, the an­nual Lake­front Car Show, held each Jan­uary. Pro­ceeds from this year’s Lake­front show went to St John New Zealand, and the fact that al­most $1K was raised at­tests to the event’s grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity.

Roger ex­plained that some 200 stall­hold­ers were dis­play­ing their wares, although by no means was all that was on of­fer au­to­mo­tively ori­ented. For ex­am­ple, there were house­hold items, clothes, and bric-a-brac, and you could even buy an Eif­fel Tower — two, ac­tu­ally. But, if you didn’t want a match­ing pair of tow­ers, there was sure to be that elu­sive car part wait­ing to be lib­er­ated some­where among the piles of au­to­mo­tive trea­sure.

All this bar­gain hunt­ing was ex­haust­ing, and the sus­te­nance re­quired was avail­able at the con­ve­niently sit­u­ated hot-food and drink out­lets, in­clud­ing Lord of the Fries — con­ve­niently sit­u­ated be­cause the food carts are at the lower level of the steep path that leads to where the show cars are, on the up­per level over­look­ing the speed­way track. Thus for­ti­fied, it was worth the trek, be­cause there were so many in­ter­est­ing ve­hi­cles to pore over that there was hardly space enough to ac­com­mo­date an­other. All the ve­hi­cles on show were note­wor­thy — some more than oth­ers, such as a 1988 Pan­ther Kal­lista, a 1959 Ed­sel Pacer, and a 1951 As­ton Mar­tin Lagonda sa­loon. The As­ton Mar­tin, with its Wal­ter Bent­ley– de­signed twin-over­head-cam 2.6-litre en­gine, must be among the rarest cars in New Zealand, if not the world. On later check­ing, this car turned out to be the very one bought brand new in 1951 by my com­pan­ion’s grand­mother!

Hav­ing ad­mired each and ev­ery one of the ve­hi­cles on dis­play, there was noth­ing left to do but make our way back down the path to the swap meet for a fi­nal quick go-round in case we’d missed a bar­gain. We hadn’t, but there was still plenty left for oth­ers.

Af­ter 36 years, the team from the Ro­torua VCC cer­tainly has the run­ning of its event down to a fine art. Even if the bar­gain com­po­nent you are look­ing for re­mains elu­sive, it is a lot of fun search­ing. All credit to Roger and his team of VCC mem­bers, off-duty po­lice peo­ple, and Ulysses Club mem­bers for al­low­ing us to ex­pe­ri­ence par­adise for an­other year.

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