Aussie pride: 13th New Zealand Holden Nationals

29 April, 2015

Anzac day is a big deal to Aussies and Kiwis, so, what better time than Anzac weekend to honour the quintessentially ‘down under’ cars manufactured by Holden? That’s how the 13th New Zealand Holden Nationals — hosted by the GM Enthusiasts Club — went, and what a show it was. 

Hosted at the New Zealand Kennel Club in Ardmore, South Auckland, the main display took place inside the large, pillarless hall. Around 75 cars were tidily arranged inside, with even more parked outside. 

Great care was taken by the club to arrange the inside display in a chronological order, starting with the Holden ‘FX’ 48–215 and FJ, moving up to EH and EJ, early H-series (HD, HR, etc), HQ–WB, early Commodores, then late-model Commodores. The range, in terms of both years, and style of car, was broad. 

On the extreme end of that ‘style’ spectrum was Warren Black’s epic Holden Monaro HQ, featured in NZV8 Issue No. 118. Warren, along with Balclutha-based drag racer and friend Roger Binnema, trailered the Monaro from the deep South Island all the way to Auckland for the Holden Nationals. How’s that for dedication? Everything about this car has been done ‘right’ — from the enormous supercharged 555ci big block Chev, right the way through to the handmade sheet metal dashboard, and the bungalow-sized rear tubs housing 20×15-inch rear rollers. The most photographed and talked about car at the event? Without a doubt.

On the totally opposite end of the spectrum, we had examples like Ian and Vickie McDougall’s incredibly original-looking 1948 Holden 48-215 (colloquially known as the FX). Having owned the car for over 30 years, it has been amazingly maintained, and restored to original. 

Some of the entrants were dead set on making it to the show, come hell or high water. One such example is South Auckland–local Jordy, who only just got his car running the night before. His 308-powered Commodore VB has been stroked to 355ci, but as of the night before, he was still waiting on pushrods for the fresh engine. A call to Christchurch’s Cylinder Head Specialists had that problem sorted, then it was a mad dash to get them in, and run the motor in. Mission accomplished, but not without some liberal burning of midnight oil. 

There were plenty of cool Commodores there, as you’d expect. Mike Clark’s amazing VK masters the art of understatement — look beyond the immaculate exterior (well, what there is of it), and it’s an LS1-powered monster built to run 11-second passes naturally aspirated. Mike’s done all the work himself, to a standard worthy of a pro-shop–built car. With only a few more months expected to completion, we can’t wait to see this one finished. 

Kerry and Nicky Horrell’s Torana is a pretty cool thing, too. The car was purchased in 2002, and they later discovered its racing history, restoring the Torana to how it was when it crossed the line in pole position at the 1971 Glenvale 100. 

Oozing just as much old-school cool is Vick and Mac’s gold Holden HQ — an original, unrestored 253 V8 and Trimatic-equipped example. The car’s impressive appearance is topped off by what appears to be a complete absence of rust in all the usual places; a true survivor. 

The displays in the hall were of a high quality, for sure, but there was just as much to do outside, too. Food, drinks, and merchandise were all readily available — as were some pretty choice cars — and so was a good old-fashioned banter with the innumerable friendly folk hanging around the place. It was a truly great event.

Don’t worry if don’t see what you’d like to in this article — we’ll have a full event report in NZV8 Issue No. 122 (on sale June 8) with all the pics and info you could possibly need!

Travelling companion

It’s easy to see why the Morris Minor Traveller was one of the best-loved variants of the Morris Minor. Introduced in 1953, it was equipped with the same independent torsion bar front suspension, drum brakes, and rack and pinion steering as its saloon sibling but, with their foldable rear seat increasing versatility, many Travellers were used as trade vehicles, says Derek Goddard. Derek and Gail Goddard, the owners of this superbly restored example, have run Morris Minors since before they were married in 1974.
“Our honeymoon vehicle was a blue Morris Minor van — it was a rust bucket,” says Derek.

Super Leicht Gullwing

It’s fair to say that nothing much in the classic Mercedes world gets past Mercedes-Benz Club stalwart Garry Boyce so it wasn’t surprising to learn that around 15 years ago he had sniffed out an extremely rare 300SL lightweight Gullwing as well as a 1958 300SL Roadster hiding away in the Waikato. The cars were not for sale but Garry eventually managed to persuade the owner to allow him and his restoration team to take a look at the Roadster. They discovered a very distressed but largely unmolested car. The car was so original that the body had never been off the chassis, meaning most of the parts and fittings were still present and correct, as they had been fitted by the factory.