While some people may have a couple of Holdens, the Hillsborough Car Museum is Holden heaven!
We know there are all different types of car fans, petrolheads, and gear nuts. You yourself will probably already be trying to work out which column you fit into. Once you have worked that out, remember that every column can then be filtered by preferences. By this is we mean V8s, rotaries, four-cylinder lovers — you get the idea. Even once that filtering has been done, many fans can still be divided by brand. Now, there’s no need to dive into the history of Holden vs Ford — as we all know, that loyalty runs deep. However, the most hard core Holden fans know that there is an alpha dog in the pack of enthusiasts, that man being Steve Fabish. He’s been collecting Holdens for more than 30 years, taken drives with Greg Murphy, collected all manner of historical memorabilia — you name it — and by his side throughout has been his partner in crime, his wife, Joy, a true Holden enthusiast herself. Together, Steve and Joy have created the Hillsborough Car Museum, a mecca of Holden classics, old trusties, rare to modern, and pristine show cars, which is shortly to open. There’s a personal favourite for everyone in their collection — a collection that contains more than 40 cars and a couple of Kawasaki motorbikes. The collection also includes four cars that have been loaned to the display. These cars belong to Steve’s cousin, a panel beater and a mate, who lives in Hawera. Steve started his love affair with Holdens when he got his first HQ ute at the age of 18, and he has never looked backed. However, the collection actually started with the revered and prize-winning black Monaro GTS, which originally came to Steve in what he describes as “a million bits”. Since its restoration, it has clocked up only 60km, but it has seen a lot of the New Zealand countryside while on the back of a trailer — a trailer that was once pulled by the now-prize-winning 1980 Holden Kingswood, lovingly named ‘KERMAT’. This supercharged 5.7-litre LS1-powered monster is the tow car that became a show car and now sits in pure comfort opposite the other treasures. We believe that even the most devout of Ford
fans would, or should, be willing to put their differences to one side for the day to take a trip to the Hillsborough Car Museum, located on the edge of glorious New Plymouth. At the time of writing, it’s only a matter of weeks before the museum is officially opened, but by no means has it been an easy road for the Fabishes to get to where they are, or where they plan to go with the whole project. The idea for the museum was born out of necessity — various cars owned by Steve and Joy were scattered around various sheds, but the day that all car nuts fear arrived: one of the collection was stolen from the lock-up — namely ‘Blue Thunder’, the ute. Steve quickly reported the theft to the police and posted news about it on the Taranaki Holden Club Facebook page. Due to the diligence of the police and the club, Blue Thunder was recovered within 48 hours — but not before the hoodlums had caused $10K of damage. This event was the spark that lit the flame, as the collection was scrambled nearer to home to benefit from home security and the couple’s watchful eyes. However, by saying “nearer to home”, we’ve made a bid for the understatementof-the-year award. As Joy tells it, there was a car in the garage up on a on a hoist; a car underneath it; four in the car shed; one in the hay shed; and, thanks to some very large living-room doors, the pair were able to squeeze two more in there as well! Thus, it was time to build the ultimate Holden shed and turn it into a museum for family, friends, and the public to enjoy. As luck would have it, Steve runs a successful building company, and one of the in-house designers knocked up plans for the museum based on the design for the chicken sheds the company builds. Plans were then drawn up to add a big water slide to the swimming pool, a minigolf course — in the shape of famous racetracks — and even a track for a fun train! The train holds nine people, and Steve has built it himself, so, of course, you assume it must have a V8 fitted to it — and this just happens to be the next upgrade Steve has in mind, if the current set-up doesn’t cut it. It has already received an upgrade from the original three-cylinder motor. Joy believes that the train is the icing on the cake in proving that Steve was deprived of toys as a child and has proceeded to compensate for it as an adult. Big plans indeed! However, such is life that the
neighbours put forward concerns relating to potential noise, frequency of events, population, and the general tomfoolery that comes from having petrolheads converge on a single location. This led to an 18-month court battle that did not curtail Steve and Joy in the slightest, and, as fortune would have it, they won the case and are allowed to open on weekends, with a view to opening seven days a week in the future. Their intentions haven’t stopped there, as the next phase planned is to open a cafe/restaurant and function room next to the museum. This means that the Holden hard core will probably be begging their other half to tie the knot or to renew their vows at this location of locations — and why not? The location offers both sea and mountain views on a clear day, a bar, family activities, shortly a restaurant, and a whole lot of Holdens on which to feast the eyes. Also, let’s not forget that Steve is currently working on a Holden limo that will be able to transport the prospective bride and groom. Mention to Steve the idea of an onsite go-kart track and you see a twinkle in the eye and a cheeky smile, but it’s probably best to ease the neighbours into that one. Maybe a skidpad and the odd car meet or two as well, if we are very lucky! A 10-minute drive from the centre of New Plymouth will see you arrive to enjoy the museum; all that Steve and Joy ask in return is an unspecified donation and, of course, “Please don’t touch the cars”. The collection itself features the full variety of Holden production, with the oldest car — a Holden FX (on loan) dating back to 1949 — being just one among a pack other vintages that have been purchased for the museum, including
the oldest car in the Fabish collection, a 1953 Holden FX. There are, however, a few in there that might not be so special but are definitely loved; personally, we thought it was touching to see Steve’s former daily runner, a six-litre red Crewman. The Crewman wasn’t simply slotted into the museum for the sake of it; instead, it was repainted, re-signed, and given a nice warm museum to retire to. Its former exhaust pipe has also been replaced and reconditioned and now adorns the walls as a piece of memorabilia and a decoration. We would imagine that Steve’s current daily runner, a 6.2-litre Maloo ute, is hoping to get the same treatment when it reaches the end of its use, but its old exhaust is also already on the wall. The memorabilia doesn’t stop there. Next to the restored exhausts, you will not help but notice the huge and iconic petrol pumps that came all the way from Melbourne. In fact, the couple proudly travel all over New Zealand and Australia in search of Holden gems, as well as visit other car collections and, of course, never miss the Holden Nationals. Not just the old and the treasured are being preserved in the museum — there is also an astonishing number of new models that have never been driven, including the jaw-droppingly menacing 2012, 25-year-anniversary Commodore with its thumping 340kW (456hp) of power. The power battle is, however, won by the GTS Maloo that also has never been driven. Now, we’re sure that, by this point, many of you will have opted to repeat the maxim, “What’s the point in owning it, if you are not going to drive it?” We, too, felt ourselves contemplating how Steve and Joy resist the urge to drive them. But when asked if he ever has a yen to walk in there, point at a car, and say, ‘I’m going to drive that one today’, his answer is simply, “No”. The preservation of cars that are immaculate, undamaged by time and weather conditions, is the underlying theme of the Hillsborough Motor Museum. But, more than that, it’s a museum and car collection that is born out of love of Holdens — something that Steve and Joy have tried to share with a few groups of Ford enthusiasts that they’ve invited to come through. Many loved the effort and passion, while others were
THE 18-MONTH COURT BATTLE DID NOT CURTAIL STEVE AND JOY IN THE SLIGHTEST