Upper Hutt car drawcard for centenary
A vintage car that once belonged to the Shah of Persia, but now spends its days in Upper Hutt, has made a rare appearance on Wellington’s waterfront.
The 1931 Hispano-Suiza, the only one of its kind in the southern hemisphere, would have been twice as expensive as a RollsRoyce when it was new.
It is now in the care of Bristol Motors owner Dave Wilkens, who restored it and looks after it for its anonymous owner in Wanaka.
‘‘He leaves it with us and takes it out on road trips. We do the general maintenance that is needed and I get to drive it around,’’ Wilkens said.
The Hispano-Suiza joined a new BMW i3 and an electricpowered Tesla S on the waterfront on Thursday to promote the Motor Trade Association’s upcoming centenary in April, when some of the rarest classic and vintage cars will be on display alongside some of the modern’s industry’s finest.
‘‘It’s the only J12 HispanoSuiza in the country, so we consider ourselves very lucky to work on something like this.’’
The car is believed to be one of only nine open-top examples of the European-built car remaining.
It was a ‘‘stunning and beautiful car’’, made even better after a full restoration, he said, although that had been no easy task.
‘‘Getting parts and information was quite difficult. There was a lot of time spent on the internet and obviously looking at original drawings and things like that.
‘‘We ended up having to make a lot of parts for the car.’’
New Zealand’s Motor Trade Association (MTA) began in 1917 when a group of Manawatu garage owners got together in Feilding to set up a retailers association.
Chief executive Craig Pomare said the anniversary deserved to be marked in style with a range of public events showcasing the history of motoring in New Zealand, as well as a look at where the industry is going.
‘‘It will all just show how far we’ve come in the past century, from the Suiza to the Tesla – it’s phenomenal.’’
The MTA’s ‘‘Car Show of the Century’’ will be held at Wellington’s TSB Bank Arena and Shed 6 from April 28-30.
Dave Wilkens with the 1931 Hispano-Suiza he began restoring about eight years ago.