Who are the Carnales?

Posted in People
With an interesting mix of low-riders and bombs, we needed to find out more about this family-friendly crew

Carnales is a Spanish word that means ‘brothers’ or ‘a close group of friends’. You don’t call all of your friends carnal, just someone close to you, someone you trust. This meaning sums up Carnales and its members. 

The central North Island–based group of friends formed the club three years ago. In that time, the number of members has grown by just three, to 13, with a total of 19 cars among them. The aim was never for the club to get big. Besides the members profiled here, the others include Justin Ferris (’67 Chev Impala), James Hope (’64 Chev Impala convertible), Jason Walsh (1939 Chev Master 85 sedan), Josh Nicholls (’68 Chev Impala), and Dan Jones (’63 Bel Air station wagon). 

“We don't want to grow out of control. The club set the limit of how many members could join, along with certain criteria for the members and the cars. Too many members would mean a threat to our core values; we’re not about to lose sight of the passion for low-riding,” says member Kenny Harrison.

“Carnales is a car club, but the quality of each member comes before the quality of his/her car,” adds fellow member Chris Harrison.

“Simply put, the Carnales car club is a true low-rider club. We’re not out there to outdo or to be the biggest and baddest; that’s not our style. We’re doing it for the cause and doing it right; it’s our passion,” continues Kenny. “Beyond the glamour and notoriety of long-standing car clubs, this club is one that is all about the passion for creating the perfect custom car to cruise in on a sunny summer weekend. We don’t low-ride to outdo other clubs; we low-ride because we love to low-ride.”

With a diverse range of cars — from classic ’30s–’40s bombs to later model ’60s–’70s styling from the GM range — the club follows the southern California low-rider style. A big influence has been the low-rider styling of the ’70s to early ’80s.
Simply put, the Carnales is a group of like-minded people who simply love doing what they do, as do we.

William Ardern and and Sarah Ardern-Jones
1937 Chev Master

William and Sarah have owned their 1937 Chev Master for four years now, after selling their ’33 Ford coupe to fund a house purchase. With Sarah being the daughter of well-known Chev builder Don Jones of Jonesy’s Garage fame, and with William working for Don, it was inevitable that they’d end up with a Chev at some stage. 

Since purchasing the car, William’s done a whole bunch of work on it, including the custom paintwork. With reversed eyes on the reset springs and some lowering blocks, the car sits down nice and low over its 14-inch wires with no need for hydraulics. Under the hood is a 216ci six cylinder with split manifold and twin pipes, and inside you’ll find a full mint factory leather interior, just the thing for carting the young family around. 

While in theory the car’s finished for now, William’s quick to mention that there’s always room for improvement. 

Chris Harrison
1938 Pontiac 6

Chris picked up his 1938 Pontiac 6 four years ago, on the premise that it was relatively cheap at the time, as well as being quite rare. The main objective so far has been to accessorize it with as many factory options as possible, which includes a sun visor, triple spotlights and passing light, dummy spotlights, Thermador air-conditioning unit, breezies, headlight visors, and the all-important siren. 

The interior is mostly stock, with Mexican blankets covering the 76-year-old rear seat and again a bunch of rare accessories such as a GM vanity mirror, GM dash fan, Hull compass, hat holder, smoking pipe and holder, Pres-A-Lite cigarette lighter, torch and holder, and traffic light viewer.

Under the hood is a 223ci flathead six with custom-made split exhaust manifold and triple carbs. Like many other of the Carnales’ cars, the suspension is static, with just reset springs all round. With a set of 15-inch Cadillac rims with crossbar hubcaps and whitewall flappers, the car looks the part, even if Chris is keen to pull it off the road for a full panel and paint and to fit airbags at some stage. 

For now, though, he’s busy building a ’59 El Camino, and if it’s anything as good as the Pontiac, we can’t wait to see it. Chris mentions, “The best thing about Carnales is that we pride ourselves on being a family-orientated bunch of good mates who share a passion for old-school traditional bombs and low-riders and love getting out there and doing it.”

Don and Gloria Jones
1937 Chev Sedan

Don and Gloria Jones are the perfect example of how family friendly the club is, being the parents of fellow club members Dan Jones and Sarah Ardern-Jones. As they’ve owned their ’37 Chev sedan for 42 years, it’s easy to see why Don has become the go-to guy for parts and knowledge at his business, Jonesy’s Garage. 

A ¾-race-spec 216ci straight-six powers the car, but it’s the cool custom lace paintwork and draylon velvet interior that get more attention. 

Fergus Hope
1973 Chev Monte Carlo

Fergus has been around the low-riding scene in New Zealand for many years, owning a bunch of other cars in his time, including ’79, ’80, ’81, and ’83 Cadillacs.

He’s owned the Monte Carlo for six years, and, looking at it, you’d think the car was finished, but Fergus assures us it’s anything but. With hydros and 13-inch wires along with flake paint, the car gets plenty of attention wherever it goes, yet by the sound of it a new paint job and interior are on the cards. The stock 350 small block will remain as is, as a car like this is all about style, not speed.

Grant Harrison
1937 Nash Lafayette 400

Grant says that it’s the lack of politics and pressure that he enjoys most from being part of Carnales. 

He comes from more of a hot rodding background, so his ’37 Nash is a touch different to the rest of the club cars: he’s also after performance. 

Having owned his car since 1992, and having had it on the road since 1994, he’s seen it through a number of different stages, but for now at least a 350ci small-block Chev with gear drive, tunnel ram, and 600cfm Holley carb powers it. Underneath is a Holden HG front suspension setup with HQ discs and a 9-inch diff fitted with HQ axles and housings to keep the same stud pattern all round. 

All the mechanical, panel and paint prep was done by Grant himself, with upholstery and final paintwork done by fellow club members, Bryan ‘Scotty’ Scott and Darin ‘VeeDub’ McKinley from his former club, Surf City Rod and Custom in Gisborne.

Kenny Harrison
1946 Chevrolet Fleetmaster and 1978 Chevrolet Camaro

Eleven years ago, when Kenny was offered a ’46 Chev Fleetmaster for nothing, there was no way he was going to turn it down, especially as it was going to be crushed if he didn’t take it. Having grown up with a dad (Grant) who was heavily into the car scene, it was only ever a matter of which style he would choose rather than whether he’d be into cars at all.

Over the years, Kenny’s done a heap of work on the car himself, with help from Grant and brother Chris when needed. The car’s been lowered one inch up front and two inches in the back, and fitted with a range of accessories, including a Fulton visor, Artillery wheels, Fleetline trim, and factory option flying lady hood ornament. Currently, there’s a single carb’d 216ci Chev straight-six powering it, which Kenny plans to convert to a later model open-drive gearbox and diff to help with the open-road cruising speeds.

Having always been a fan of the second generation Camaros, and wanting to build something different from the ’70s and ’80s low-rider style, a 1978 Camaro was an obvious choice for Kenny when he was looking for a second project. Since buying the car three years ago, he’s converted the rear end from leaf springs to a four-bar with Panhard that runs a 24-volt hydraulic set-up. Body wise, he’s removed the rear spoiler, added a bunch of pinstriping, and fitted 14-inch 45-spoke reverse Truespoke wheels on 175/75R14 whitewalls. Future plans include a more complex paint job, a few body mods, and a full green velvet interior.

In the time since we published this feature, Kenny's completed his Camaro, and we'll have a full feature in an upcoming issue — keep an eye out for it!

Mike Harrison
1957 Chevrolet Bel Air

Mike’s New Zealand–new ’57 Bel Air has been in the family for more than 30 years, and was the perfect family-friendly car to modify. While the stock 283 is still under the hood, the car no longer looks like it did, thanks to King Springs in the front and re-arched leaves in the rear. With it being 12 years since the car’s last tidy-up, Mike’s been collecting parts, including a set of Truespoke wheels and spats to be fitted when the car does come off the road for paintwork.

Being into all sorts of vehicles, Mike’s recently sold a traditional style Model A. He also has a vintage sprint car in the shed. 

Warren Larsen
1939 Chevrolet Master Deluxe

Warren has owned a mix of cars, including an EH Holden station wagon, an HK Holden ute, a Mark III Zephyr, an XP Falcon coupe, and a 1957 two-door Chev station wagon, and always wanted to add a bomb to his list. Having picked up the ’39 just two years ago, that dream has come true, and the car is now one of the best examples around. 

The stock 216ci six has been rebuilt with a split manifold and straight pipes. Depending on Warren’s mood, the car can be found on either Dayton wires or Artillery wheels, and has a range of pinstriping gracing its body. As we’ve come to expect, original accessories such as town and country horns, Push-o-matic cigarette lighter, spotlights, passing light, Fulton visor, side and centre overriders, and a grill guard have been fitted. Warren’s thankful for the help he’s had along the way from the team at Rocket Speed Equipment, and is well aware that it wouldn’t be possible without a very understanding wife and patient children.

Of the club, Warren says, “The best thing about Carnales is the people. Everyone is more than willing to help out with whatever project is going on — be it house painting or pushing the ’39 when I run out of gas. Everyone is there to lend a helping hand if something goes wrong or someone needs something. We all enjoy using our cars, and you couldn’t find a better bunch to kick back with or bounce ideas around with.”

Photos supplied by Kenny Harrison and Kelvin Taylor.

This article was originally published in NZV8 Issue No. 108. You can pick up a print copy or a digital copy of the magazine below: