Nelson Henry Ford day
Words: Rob Brown
espite winter weather finally arriving in no uncertain terms, the Nelson Classic Ford Car Club was blessed with a nice day for its annual Henry Ford birthday celebration, held on the last weekend of July at the picturesque Rabbit Island venue on the southern shores of Tasman Bay. Thanks to club member Terry Smith, its resident meteorologist, for having a word in the right ears on the club’s behalf — cool south-westerlies were forecast but only towards the end of the event did a breeze come up and cloud begin to enshroud the Arthur Range to the west.
The Henry Ford birthday bash went off well, with over 100 Fords on show and enthusiasts from Blenheim, Westport, Greymouth, Christchurch, and even Invercargill present. As well as acknowledging the great man’s birthday, the day also marked 50 years since the birth of the Cortina MKII, with the line-up of Cortina MKIIS at the event including a Deluxe, GT, GTE, Lotus, and 1600E — so a good cross-section of variants was present.
An improved variety of Fords seemed to be on show this year, with a noticeable presence of hot rods and customs, more Model As, a ‘B’(?), and more American Fords in general, which included a few flathead, V8 powered, and a good attendance of the Zephyr/zodiac folk as always. This was all a very healthy sign that owners aren’t necessarily in hibernation during the cooler months, despite some serious wet weather leading up to the day. But it’s no show without a Model T, and the colourful T Raceabout saved the day with its presence.
Luckily, Jeff Welch was also present with his Starsky and Hutch– replica Torino, so, whenever organizers needed the attention of all present, Jeff was only too happy to help with the use of the period-correct PA speaker system, siren, and lights fitted to the car. It worked a treat!
An unassuming red MKIV Zephyr parked in the lineup caught my eye. It was in unrestored, totally original condition. The MKIV isn’t seen so often these days, let alone an unmolested example such as this.
Club founder member Pat Rainbow baked the traditional large birthday cake for the occasion once again, something she has done for the club since the first Henry birthday bash back in 1997! Yummy as always — thank you, Pat! Pat and her husband, Laurie, were there when the club was formed back in 1994. Thanks also to members and sponsors who donated gifts for the lucky ticket draws, and, finally, a big thank you to the owners who dusted off their classic Ford, especially those who travelled from outside the region to make the day the success it was.
Come join us next July for a picnic and sausage sizzle among the classics and trees on the shores of beautiful Tasman Bay.