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
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_ email@example.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.