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New Zealand Classic Car - - Preview - Pho­tos:

ho could have fore­seen, at about this time back in 1972, that a com­pe­ti­tion between a hand­ful of car clubs at Corn­wall Park’s sunken gar­dens in Auck­land would have flow­ered into the huge spec­tac­u­lar now staged each Fe­bru­ary at Eller­slie?

Like that first in­ter-club com­pe­ti­tion, the New Zealand Clas­sic Car In­ter­mar­que Con­cours d’el­e­gance still fo­cuses on pre­sen­ta­tion, ap­pear­ance, orig­i­nal­ity, and ex­cel­lence — it’s the only New Zealand car event at which en­tries are judged to in­ter­na­tional stan­dards.

But it’s also the coun­try’s largest cel­e­bra­tion of clas­sic cars and our in­ter­na­tion­ally ac­claimed restora­tion in­dus­try, with some ex­hibits and en­tries worth more than a clutch of Auck­land houses at an auc­tion.

Back in the day, MG was the first win­ner of the In­ter-club Chal­lenge Shield, with hon­ours also go­ing to the Alvis, Stude­baker, Jowett, Ri­ley, and Citroën car clubs. Th­ese days, win­ners are, ar­guably, more ex­otic, if not pricier — a pride of Porsches hav­ing taken club team hon­ours to host the show in 2016 and 2017: the win­ning club each year hosts the sub­se­quent event, sup­ported by the 10-strong or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee rep­re­sent­ing found­ing and other lead­ing clubs. And now there are about 800 — not just dozens — of clas­sics and new ve­hi­cles on show each year.

For the first time, the show’s lo­ca­tion for over 30 years will be re­flected in the Clas­sic Cover In­sur­ance club­dis­play com­pe­ti­tion theme: “A Clas­sic Day at the Races”.

Eller­slie be­came the show’s venue in 1982 when Porsche took hon­ours af­ter Jaguar and MG’S decade-long stran­gle­hold on the shield and moved the event from Corn­wall Park. Some of the first com­mer­cial ex­hibitors are still there to­day, al­beit with­out the pop­u­lar deal­er­ship hospi­tal­ity tents host­ing clas­sic brews as well as cars, which re­sulted in some miss­ing what else was on dis­play …

It’s pos­si­ble some cars from that first event may ap­pear in the Sur­vivor’s Class: a com­pe­ti­tion for up to six un­re­stored

ve­hi­cles at least 35 years old, with orig­i­nal body­work, paint, and up­hol­stery. Launched four years ago, the cat­e­gory show­cases cars still in reg­u­lar use that look al­most as good as the day they rolled off the pro­duc­tion line.

As in pre­vi­ous years, there’ll be the sharp con­trast between the clas­sics and the line-up of lat­est mod­els from deal­er­ships, fea­tur­ing tech­nol­ogy we only dreamed about in 1972. The clas­sics will cover just about ev­ery mar­que seen in New Zealand since early last cen­tury — from the horse­less car­riage to Alvis, Austin, Citroën, Corvette, Holden, Jaguar, Mus­tang, Mini, Fal­con, Volvo, and more. This year, there’ll also be line-up of leg­endary New Zealand–pro­duced Trekkas, cel­e­brat­ing the car’s 50th an­niver­sary. The lat­est ar­rivals, some newly re­leased, will in­clude of­fer­ings from Alfa Romeo, As­ton Martin, Audi, Bent­ley, BMW, Chrysler, Fiat, Jaguar, Jeep, Lam­borgh­ini, Maserati, Mini, Porsche, Rolls-royce, Volvo, and more.

It’s also a good place to catch up on what’s new (and old) in books, ac­ces­sories, Meguiar’s car care, ve­hi­cle groom­ing, paint restora­tion, clas­sic car sales, and the es­sen­tial in­sur­ance from Clas­sic Cover.

Af­ter so many years, it’s been a chal­lenge for or­ga­niz­ers to en­sure that the event won’t just be a re­peat of pre­vi­ous years. In 2017, the lay­out and po­si­tion­ing of many ex­hibits will change, as Eller­slie is set to un­dergo devel­op­ment and host the Pop-up Globe theatre where some dis­plays were pre­vi­ously. Ad­di­tion­ally, with fu­ture events in mind, or­ga­niz­ers want to at­tract younger en­thu­si­asts, whose def­i­ni­tion of ‘clas­sic’ en­com­passes more re­cent and Ja­panese ve­hi­cles, as op­posed to mar­ques that have ceased pro­duc­tion — that is, suc­cess­ful males aged 25-plus: to­mor­row’s clas­sic and new pres­tige ve­hi­cle own­ers. The or­ga­niz­ers are of­fer­ing ad­vice to help set up new clubs if they’re not al­ready catered for by an ex­ist­ing group.

Some­thing else that’ll be dif­fer­ent: chil­dren’s char­ity Gob­a­bygo will re­turn to dis­play elec­tric ride-in toy BMW cars that it do­nates to chil­dren with im­paired mo­bil­ity. The cars en­cour­age in­ter­ac­tion with sib­lings and friends, de­liver ther­apy ben­e­fits, and help chil­dren de­velop spa­tial aware­ness and re­lated skills in a way that’s im­pos­si­ble when they are not in­de­pen­dently mo­bile. Gob­a­bygo is run en­tirely by vol­un­teers and re­lies on do­na­tions to pay for cars and adap­ta­tions to op­er­ate. Once again, there’ll also be the pres­ence of ra­dio sta­tions The Sound, Ra­dio Live, and Magic FM.

As well as the host­ing club and or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee, dozens of vol­un­teer work­ers are in­volved — rang­ing from judges to gate­keep­ers and those be­hind the scenes — who will make sure it all goes to plan. Con­ti­nu­ity, pro­ce­dure, and judg­ing will be over­seen by the Thor­ough­bred and Clas­sic Car Own­ers Club (TACCOC), and hon­ours will range from the cov­eted In­ter­mar­que Team Shield to the Mas­ters Class awards for in­di­vid­ual ve­hi­cles and the Clas­sic Cover In­sur­ance Best Club Dis­play — with a Meguiar’s Peo­ple’s Choice Award for the lat­ter.

An at­trac­tion lit­tle-known to those out­side the wider clas­sic car fra­ter­nity is the Meguiar’s Tours d’el­e­gance, which hap­pens each year on the Satur­day of the show week­end. It in­volves up to 200 clas­sics tour­ing to Saint He­liers from six de­par­ture points around the Auck­land re­gion. De­par­tures this year will start from West­gate, North­cote, Green­lane, Pa­pakura, Pukekohe, and Al­bany and will con­verge af­ter a 100-kilo­me­tre drive to tour along Ta­maki Drive and pic­nic in Saint He­liers, with a Homage prod­uct for the best pic­nic pre­sen­ta­tion.

It’s a won­der­ful week­end that will al­low you to rekin­dle mem­o­ries of the cars you grew up with or spent your mis­spent youth long­ing for.

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