Strag­glers sup­port­ing char­ity cruise

Waikato News - - COMMUNITY - By Ge­off Lewis

Cam­bridge-based Strag­glers Rod and Kus­tom club mem­bers Jon Robben and Aaron Tucker love their cars.

But be­ing part of the club is not just about ma­chin­ery — it’s also about the peo­ple they meet. Both plan to take part in this year’s Frank­ton Thun­der au­to­mo­tive fes­ti­val.

Jon and wife Mar­lene’s all-steel ‘30 Model A Ford pickup was built from the ground up and has be­come a head-turner at meets and shows since its com­ple­tion three years ago. The old Ford be­came the fo­cus af­ter the cou­ple re­alised they had far too many projects.

They said it would be a good idea to get one fin­ished. Mar­lene had a love of vin­tage cars so the ‘A’ was a com­pro­mise.

What makes the Robbens’ Ford un­usual these days is the al­lo­rig­i­nal steel body — in­creas­ingly hard things to find in any sort of con­di­tion.

Jon called on a few of his friends to help with as­pects of the build.

“It started with a pile of junk,” he says. “The body was in four pieces with no roof — the orig­i­nal ve­hi­cles didn’t have a steel roof.

“The front comes from a Tu­dor and the back (of the cab) from a sedan.”

The project started in 2007 and the ‘A’ runs a mild 350 Chev backed by a 4L60 HSV trans­mis­sion and Jaguar in­de­pen­dent rear.

It gets 15 sec­onds on the quar­ter and Jon and Mar­lene make the most of the busy sum­mer sea­son with events most week­ends.

“It’s re­ally some­thing for Mar­lene and me to get out and have fun with,” Jon says.

“The club is all about the peo­ple. It’s a great so­cial lev­eler, there are so many tal­ented peo­ple and we all speak the same lan­guage.”

Fel­low Strag­glers mem­ber Aaron Tucker, 33, also has a shed full of projects. He can trace his love of ‘58 Chevs back to an old un­cle.

“I had an un­cle in Cam­bridge who had a ‘58. I got to drive it now and then and fell in love with it.”

These days Aaron has two ‘58s. One he’s owned for 10 years came in from Cal­i­for­nia.

“An­other un­cle of mine was in the US. He called me and said, ‘I’ve found a car you’ll like’, I thought, ‘Do I want to buy a car I haven’t seen?’ But once I’d seen the pic­tures I knew it was a bit of me.”

This model is pow­ered by the ven­er­a­ble 283 backed by a lessusual three-speed man­ual shift con­verted to floor change. Aaron likes the low-ride look but af­ter an in­ci­dent ‘beached’ on a kerb, he de­cided to in­stall airbags.

His sec­ond ‘58 was a rare barn­find ad­ver­tised on Trade Me.

Aaron replied im­me­di­ately and got from Hamil­ton to the ru­ral Te Kuiti prop­erty in two hours — ahead of a gag­gle of other hope­fuls.

“There was no mo­tor and the front sheet metal was off, the front screen was out and the bon­net had a hole in it where some­one had tried to put a blower.

“A va­ri­ety of com­po­nents in­clud­ing a new bon­net were se­cured from friends and con­tacts and the project fin­ished in 2017. “The ‘white’ model is again pow­ered by a 283 with 350 TH trans­mis­sion. The twin ‘58s are pop­u­lar as wed­ding ve­hi­cles.

Frank­ton Thun­der 2018 will kick off with the Thun­der Cruize Toys for Char­ity drive and ride-in from Cam­bridge to Hamil­ton. The drive starts at the Cam­bridge Race­way, Tay­lor St, at 8.30am on Sun­day, March 4. The fes­ti­val is held in and around Com­merce St, Frank­ton. The char­ity this year is St Vin­cent de Paul. There will also be dis­plays of clas­sic and cus­tom cars, hot rods, mo­tor­cy­cles, tat­too com­pe­ti­tion, bur­lesque, Miss Frank­ton Thun­der, mu­sic and retro mar­ket.

Strag­glers Rod and Kus­tom mem­bers Aaron Tucker (left) and Jon Robben.

Jon and Mar­lene Robben’s Model A Ford (fore­gorund) and one of Aaron Tucker’s 1958 Chevro­lets.

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