Historic Muscle Cars
Words: Steve Holmes
istoric Muscle Cars (HMC) and Historic Saloon Cars (HSC) will make their debut at the MG Classic at Manfeild as this issue of New Zealand Classic Car hits the shelves. A good field of both big-banger HMC and nimble HSC cars are expected to make the journey, and the event promises to be a huge amount of fun for everyone involved.
In the meantime, HMC/HSC had its opening event of the 2016/’17 season at the one-day Thoroughbred and Classic Car Owners Club Spring Classic at Hampton Downs on October 8. This fixture is usually used as a season shakedown for many teams to test any changes made during the off season or to try out new builds or purchases. The fields at this event are invariably a little smaller and have fewer spectators, making it more relaxed and less pressured.
The latest new car to make its HMC debut was David Wood’s very cool Dodge Aspen. This car has been in the build for the last 18 months or so, specifically for HMC. Resplendent in ‘Petty Blue’, and adorned with a large ‘43’ on each door, it captured the ’70s Nascar theme perfectly. ‘The King’, Richard Petty, never actually raced an Aspen in Nascar, but he did put his name to a limited-edition run of Plymouth Volare road cars that was produced by Chrysler in 1978, with the Volare almost the identical twin to the Dodge Aspen. Wood wanted to build a cool car that was different, specifically to race in HMC, and, with his fantastic new Aspen, he has achieved just that. The bright blue Dodge had a crowd around it all weekend.
Another newbie to the HMC/ HSC ranks at Hampton Downs was long-time historic Formula 5000 racer Poul Christie, in his magnificent MKII Cortina Lotus. Christie actually entered the Cortina to run with HMC/ HSC at the Gulf Festival back in January, but mechanical issues ruled him out early on, so this was really his first proper run with the group. The Cortina is a work of art, featuring Lucas sliding-block fuel-injection, and Christie is looking forward to enjoying more outings with HMC/HSC.
Beyond the MG Classic, the annual New Zealand Festival of Motor Racing (NZFMR) at Hampton Downs is also gearing up, and it’s looking likely that a squad of cars from the Australian Trans-am Series will make its bi-annual trip to New Zealand. Although it’s still some months away, it’s probable that the first weekend will be held on the current short track, with the second weekend taking in the newly completed extension.
And, once the teams have got over the excitement of the festival, HMC/HSC will make its first foray to the South Island, to run in the Timaru and Teretonga Classic events in February. Although the grids won’t be as large as those in the North Island, the number of cars heading south is increasing gradually, and those cars will be joined by a handful of local vehicles. The intention is to put on a great show for the local punters and help build interest in racing period-correct pre-’1977 historic saloon cars in the South Island.
We’ll have more details in the coming months on both the NZFMR and the HMC/HSC South Island tour.