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Renaulternative lifestyle

The owner of our feature cars, Kimball Gaitely, says he has owned around 200 cars, up to and including Ferraris and similar exotica, so we should take note that he has no fewer than four Renaults in his collection.
The three we lined up to feature in this issue show amazing breadth and flair, just in that vast conglomerate’s sports car output. Perhaps that in itself suggests a reason Kiwis have found it hard to get a handle on the brand’s identity, beyond its Frenchness.
While Renaults, among many other marques, have come and gone in Kimball’s collection, the GTA has been a fixture.
“It’s just such a clever design,” he says. Its polyester and fibreglass body makes it lighter at 1220 kg than its Porsche 944 rival. While not notably wind-cheating in appearance — its square front looks bluffer in photos than it does in real life, it was also aerodynamic for its time, with a touted drag coefficient of 0.28. Its integrated bumpers helped. Its predecessor A310 had conventional bumpers, although Renault had pioneered the integrated concept in 1971 on its Renault 5.

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Slot car racing — part two

No story reflecting on the history of New Zealand slot car racing would be complete without a nod to the amazing resilience of the Henderson Miniature Motor Racing Club. Started in 1962 in a barn in Swanson, the club then leased land from New Zealand Railways by the railway tracks on the western line approach to Henderson, Auckland, and club members built their clubrooms. The club has never stopped, nor has it left this venue. In the early days at Henderson, Russell Philpott was a revered stalwart of the club. Frank Hellawell remembers him as a great organizer and leader.
“There was racing five days a week for juniors and seniors — fabulous times,” he said.
Sure there have been many barren times in later years, when support has dropped to bedrock, but somehow the club has kept going and continues to thrive. It is also one of the few in the country to boast a permanent drag strip along with its challenging main track.

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When slot cars ruled the room

To this impressionable youth, the entrance to Aladdin’s çave was the ‘Pit Stop’, two floors above the Regent Theatre on Auckland’s Queen St. It was an oasis of multi-lane wooden slot car raceways, the walls emblazoned with motor racing art and adverts, with hypnotically attractive model race cars in brightly lit glass cases blasting out in the subdued ambient lighting.
The Pit Stop was a mecca for boys and young men in the mid to late 1960s. A twilight wonderland, it attracted us like moths to a naked bulb, glittering with state-of-the-art dayglo/metalflake sleek racers and hot on-track action.

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1927 MERCEDES SUPERCHARGES BEACH RACING

Home Kidston did a lot more than tackle the Muriwai sands during his New Zealand adventure nearly 90 years ago. Donn Anderson uncovers the fascinating story behind the Kidston family and a special Mercedes-Benz.
Home, or “HK” as he was often known, added a dash of international flavour when he arrived with his exotic German machine on the Muriwai beach sands in March 1934 for the annual championship organised by the Muriwai Motor Racing Club Limited. The supercharged Mercedes created high interest but had spark plug problems and was unplaced in four races. Kidston said the Roots blower only came in “when you put your foot down and if you held it for too long the plugs became incandescent”.

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The evergreen Land Rover

The very reason Rover decided to invent them in the first place, to create a four-wheel drive, go-anywhere vehicle that would be a boon to post-war farmers aiming to mechanise and increase production, made Land Rovers a smash hit with country cousin New Zealand, which was rapidly climbing the international prosperity rankings on the sheep’s back.

Certainly Philip Parker, who has spent almost all of his life on farms, says for decades they were as central to his existence as gumboots. “We’ve always had Land Rovers: Series 2s and Series 3s. I feel a bit strange if I don’t have a Land Rover in my life,” he says.
So, he’s got the emotional attachment and a deep understanding of the affection and nostalgia that’s driving the current surge in interest, but he’s also making a hard-headed investment. He’s so convinced of the inexorable rise in the value of Land Rovers that he decided on a patient, open-cheque-book approach to restoring this Land Rover. “After $30,000, I stopped counting,” he says. “I always knew it was going to cost a reasonable amount, but the cost of anything was never going to present a barrier in the end.”

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Video of 1963 Datsun Bluebird as featured in the July/August issue 388

Our car was found stored in a shed in Warkworth. A project car, it had spent three decades waiting for the proverbial full nine yards. During that time, a few bits had been attended to: new tyres, new brakes, but not much else. When the new owner took the car he was able to start and even drive the car, although it was trailered back to Auckland. The owner reports many wows and thumbs up on the drive back to Auckland.
In this short video, the Datsun’s owner talks about the five year restoration process.

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1952 Cadillac Series 62 — celebrating 50 years

Whether it’s the art installation Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas, where 10 Caddys are buried nose first in the ground to showcase the evolution of finned rear ends, or recognising famous owners from yesteryear, these cars hold a special place in US folklore. Famous owners include Elvis Presley, Al Capone, Marilyn Monroe, and US President Franklin D Roosevelt.
For Taupo-based Cadillac enthusiast Kevin Cotton, his 1952 Cadillac Series 62 was a journey in itself. Kevin’s father Lloyd was the one who planted the seed of Cadillac ownership, having a ’52 himself when Kevin was a boy. A flick through an old photo album confirmed the Cadillac brand was number one in the Cotton household, and it has continued to be for Kevin.

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Honda NSX video

Honda decided it needed to capitalise on the success of its passenger cars and its Formula 1 triumphs and release a sports car that could rival the Europeans. It wanted a halo car that could offer improved reliability for a lower price than existing rivals but, in the Honda fashion, it would be usable, fun to drive and easy to maintain. Starting in 1984, Honda developed a concept sports car called the HP-X – standing for Honda Pininfarina eXperimental. It had a mid-engine 3.0 litre V6 with rear wheel drive.
As the vehicle concept developed, the name changed to New Sportscar eXperimental – NS-X for short. Honda eventually settled on NSX, with no hyphen. The NSX was developed by Honda in Japan and was inspired by the F16 fighter jet. Ayrton Senna had input into the final stages of development. The NSX was the first mass produced car to feature an all-aluminium body.

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Kombined Affair

We recently caught up with VW enthusiast Steve Fejos, son of Hungarian parents who arrived in New Zealand as refugees after the ’56 uprising. Being European Steve was naturally attracted to European cars, especially the more affordable VWs. “We must have owned at least 20 Kombis and Beetles over the years,” says Steve. “My father was a handyman and was always doing things — buying, selling, and doing work and repairs at his property, so the Kombi was the ideal work horse he needed.”
As a young boy, under 10 years of age, Steve always liked to tag along with his father. Kombis in the 1960s and 1970s were usually rust buckets, but that didn’t deter his father from buying one every year and spending the winter months ‘doing it up’.

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NZ Classic Car July/August 2023 issue 388, on sale now

The July/August 2023 issue 388 has a couple of stunning supercars featured and the story of a truly unique restored 1963 Datsun, the first model Datsun sold in NZ.
A quarter of a century before boy racers put their caps on back to front, reclined their seats and drove their cheap Japanese imports through town we saw an altogether different cheap Japanese import here in NZ.
Our cover car this issue was found stored in a shed in Warkworth. A project car, it had spent three decades waiting for the proverbial full nine yards. During that time, a few bits had been attended to: new tyres, new brakes, but not much else. When the new owner took the car he was able to start and even drive the car, although it was trailered back to Auckland. The car has undergone a complete restoration by the owner where he undertook every stage of the restoration himself apart from the engine reconditioning. A stunning classic car is the result of all this effort.

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Lemon squash

Manawatu’s Bryan Menefy is passionate about his Fords. A shed full of them proves he’s serious, but it was the fire-breathing Aussie V8s hurtling around Mount Panorama in Bathurst, being wheeled within inches of the concrete walls by Dick Johnson and John Bowe, that really grabbed his attention. But they too were well out of reach at that age.
Not wanting to give up on his dream, Bryan set about working his backside off to fulfil his desire to surround himself with the things he loved — trucks, music, and a shed full of Fords!

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Viva Pescara

Denny Hulme’s victory in August 1960 wasn’t the only reason I was drawn to Pescara, Italy — though it was a contributing factor. There’s not another country that better combines my wife’s love for art with my mild obsession with the motor car; add in our shared fondness for history, architecture, beautiful scenery, food, and wine, and it isn’t hard to see why this Italian town is on the list.

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Tribute to the master

Besides routinely building some of the world’s most desirable cars on its production lines, and some of the world’s most successful cars in the crucible of motorsport, Formula 1, Ferrari occasionally sets out to build something a bit special — a limited-edition model that makes a statement to the motoring world.
There are currently five of these models, the 288 GTO (presented 1984), F40 (1987), F50 (1995), Enzo (2002–2004), and LaFerrari (2013). The one they decided to name after company founder Enzo Ferrari had better be good.
Many of these landmark cars have made the most of the prancing horse’s extensive F1 experience. This car makes this connection explicit, offering a car tantalisingly close to a full-throated F1 car. It even goes beyond, offering technology that wasn’t allowed in F1, such as active aerodynamics and traction control. As a result, Ferrari produced what is now by consensus seen as the world’s first hypercar.

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The one and only – The Sierra Cosworth

For most car-conscious folk of a certain age the sight of a whale tail still has its own magic.
No mere spoilers, these excessive peacock-fan displays signal a car with too much power to be held on the road by the weak fundamental force of gravity. Porsche 930 turbos needed them to correct the wrong-headedness of having all that power thrusting from behind the rear wheels and Sierra Cosworths also needed them for genuine road-holding reasons.
When Ford launched the bravely rounded Sierra in 1982 to replace the boxy Cortina, its blobby shape and expressionless face wasn’t universally loved.

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Taupō welcomes back the classics

Historic Muscle Cars and Saloon Cars president Tony Roberts was delighted with the success of the sixth edition of Taupō International Motorsport Park’s Historic Grand Prix held over the weekend of 21–22 January 2023.
No doubt Tony would have been chuffed even without his win in Class A in the SAS Autoparts MSC F5000 Historic GP race driving his McLaren M10A, the feature race for the meeting. Taking top honours was Brett Willis, winner overall in his Lola T332, after finishing second and third in the first two races and winning the feature race.

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Supercars by the sea

Summer Supercars by the Sea had a million dollar harbour backdrop for cars worth maybe 20 times more than that, parked along Wellington’s Te Papa promenade on Sunday 22 January. The capital’s anniversary weekend car show ran between 10am and 12.30pm.
Around 60 supercars graced the concourse for the Wellington Sports & Supercar Owners’ second show. Last winter’s show was at the nearby Odlins Plaza but the new venue for the summer event enabled an improved display, and easier access for visitors to get amongst them.

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1955 Chevrolet Pickup – Four-by-four for town and country

The half-ton truck here is a four-wheel drive 1955 Chevrolet owned by Murray Robinson, a car enthusiast who has owned many American cars, following the footsteps of his parents who have owned even more. Murray’s first car was a 1952 Chevrolet which he still owns. He also owns a 1956 panel truck that featured in the Daily Driver section of an earlier issue of  New Zealand Classic Car magazine.
The ’55-’59 Task Force pickups and trucks which also featured a panel van and station wagon in the range have always been popular and downright cool.

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Big jump at Cromwell

Kicking off the event, the Alpine Street Machines’ Friday cruise to Bannockburn and back on the Friday was easily the biggest in the event’s history. Some 380 cars created a wondrous spectacle for unsuspecting fellow road users that day, potentially tempting some to take a closer look in Cromwell over the weekend.
Saturday’s car show, organised by the Southland Ford Falcon Club at the Alpha St reserve, drew perhaps a thousand or more gleaming examples of interesting cars and applied restoration skills. Chrome and flashing paintwork dazzled the eye in the bright Central Otago light everywhere you looked. It really looked as if everyone with a classic or a hot rod from across the island had seen the forecast for great weather and headed for Central Otago.

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Dub day afternoon

A Volkswagen show happened on Sunday December 11, exactly a fortnight before Christmas. Wellington’s fifth annual biggest little VW show again took over the car park for the day at the Parrotdog bar, Lyall Bay, in 2022. Classics from the greater Wellington region and beyond graced the concourse.

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NZ Classic Car May/June 2023 issue 387, is on sale now

Our cover story this issue is on the remarkable Imp. The car first came out as a Hillman in the 1950s and, as with many cars of that era, it also morphed into other versions over the years. The Imp featured in this edition of NZ Classic Car is a Sunbeam and is a real stunner. Enjoy this article where you will learn the history of Imp and The Rootes Group and enjoy this pristine example we discovered in the Deep South.
“Our featured Sunbeam Imp is a survivor now in Gore in the care of Russell and Marlene Newland. A member of the Gore Vintage Car Club, Russell bought their car from fellow member Bill Sheddan in 2021. A keen collector of all things Sunbeam, Bill purchased the little gem from retired Christchurch aircraft engineer Robert Tudehope in 2009. Restored by Robert, the Sunbeam is a 1970 Mark II model now being brought back to top condition”

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Hey, good looking – 2007 Alfa Romeo Spider

I am glad to say that Alfa has conquered its demons and improved immeasurably in both reliability and rustproofing — and the brand’s reputation has almost caught up to this fact.
This was further confirmed on a recent trip to Napier, when Ian MacPherson invited me to see his 2007 Alfa Romeo Spider. In coupé form it is known as the Brera, itself a great-looking car, but the muscular lines of the Spider could well be proof of the old adage that less is more.

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The greatest American hero

There won’t be many people of a certain age who haven’t seen an episode of The Dukes of Hazzard — in the US its popularity was second only to Dallas — and fans of car stunts will surely have seen quite a few of them.
It’s fair to say that ahead of James Bond’s Aston, Bullitt’s Mustang, and even the talking Pontiac Firebird also featured in these pages, the General Lee is the most famous film and TV car of them all, not least because of repeated exposure over 147 episodes in seven series, two films, and, of course, every episode’s signature stunt — the General Lee hitting a ramp and flying free as a bird, accompanied by triumphant driver Bo Duke’s “Yee-haah!”

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Unpublished photos from issue 385 – Edsel Bermuda

Often we we feature a car in the magazine, there are just too many photos to squeeze in on the allocated pages, but these photos are often just too good to not be enjoyed. Here are our unpublished photos from issue 385, the January/February edition of NZ Classic car.

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Pinnacle Porsche

Is this the ultimate Porsche 911? Porsche has made a virtue of keeping the 911 true to its origins, with a policy of evolution, not

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Cat Scratch Fever

Jaguar’s iconic 3.8-litre Mark II saloon provides stunning performance and comfort for four, and its tuneable engine made it a favourite in saloon car races around

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Escort services

Ford’s simple Escort proved amenable to the ministrations of tuners, racer and factory rally teams, spawning a huge aftermarket tuning industry. This heavily reworked 1968

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The other Japanese rotary

Suzuki’s magnificent failure, the rare rotary-engined RE5, makes an eye- and ear-catching alternative to the now traditional inline fours that revolutionlised motorcycling By Ian Parkes

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