HOLDEN Heaven

While some peo­ple may have a cou­ple of Hold­ens, the Hills­bor­ough Car Mu­seum is Holden heaven!

NZV8 - - DREAM SHED -

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

WORDS AND PHOTOS: LEWIS GARD­NER

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