If you’ve been to the Street Rod Nationals in the last few years, or any number of smaller (mainly Auckland-based) events, you may have seen or heard of Trouble Bound. While they may look and sound like the kind of people your mother warned you about, the reality couldn’t be any further from the perception.
Ask any of the 15 financial members how it all began, and essentially you’ll get the same answer: it just kind of evolved. The basis being that most of the group were already mates, and with over 70 per cent of the club being second generation hot rodders, most have known each other since they were knee-high to a hub cap.
Names such as Leckie, Hornblow, Adlington, Watkins and Rainbow are familiar ones in local hot rodding circles, and many will remember the kids that wore those names years ago. Now in their early 20s through to their early 30s, those hot rod kids have grown up with petrol in their veins, and while they love to party hard, they’re extremely passionate about keeping the hot rodding scene alive.
It was that passion that saw them make the move from a group of like-minded mates who hung out together, to an NZHRA affiliated club. As member Mike Watkins says, “We were a group of mates that grew up together and were in different clubs, but we were almost a club within a club, so we took the next step. We wanted to be affiliated, as if you’re in the sport, that’s the way to go, you know? If it weren’t for the NZHRA you wouldn’t be able to have these cars on the road, so you’ve got to support them.”
That shift to become affiliated was remarkably well supported, with various older hot rodders heading along to the NZHRA delegates meeting to prop up Trouble Bound’s application. Mike Watkins jokes that the only hurdle was that his dad’s the president of Pukekohe Hot Rod Club, so of course his dad would have preferred him to stay a member of that club instead.
The Trouble Bound name was spawned after what has been described as an ‘epic’ drinking session aboard the Interislander ferry on the way home from Muscle Car Madness in Rangiora. Shane Adlington, Jack Rainbow, Liam Dunn and their partners had headed down to the event, and the lightning bolt was first drawn on one of the ferry’s sick bags on their way back. Not long after, the group were in a Wellington tattoo shop and that lightning bolt became permanent in ink.
The secondary logo, which bears a striking resemblance to a lion that’s seen on the side of a red can, came about some time after. No one’s too sure how, but our guess is it’s something to do with the beverage of choice at the club’s HQ. Shane Adlington tells us, “Apparently it’s changed 10 per cent so we can’t get sued. It’d be good to have something more car-orientated and less gang-looking though,” he laughs, knowing it’s a bit late now as that logo is tattooed on a number of members too.
While they all have a love of similar vehicles, the club isn’t just about cars. They often end up away on holidays together without the cars, and all have similar tastes in other things too. Of course, they do all like to party, and with members Jack Rainbow and Grant Precious already flatting together prior to the club existing, and their house being a bit of a party venue, it was only natural for it to become the club’s HQ.
Those parties are reminiscent of the days of old, as Watkins tells, “The parties when we were kids were pretty crazy, and we were never allowed to repeat any of the stuff that went on. But then things changed and the parties started finishing earlier and earlier. We didn’t set out to revive that; we just wanted to go out and have a good time. I think they [their parent’s generation] love seeing us now though, from watching us as little kids to being really involved in the hot rodding scene.”
With that said, the general feeling amongst the club is that they don’t see themselves as the youngsters. “We’ve already been doing it for 20 years; we already know everyone,” being the common reply. While the members range in age from early 20s to early 30s, there’s no age cut-off as such, but they’re not actively looking for members either. “We prefer people that are going to fit in, or people that are already sort of hanging around,” mentioned Watkins. “I guess if they’re 40 and they’ve got a mind of an 18-year-old like the rest of us, they’ll fit in well!” he laughs.
The friendly rivalry with the Scroungers Car Club, which sees a cardboard cut-out of well known hot rodder Mike Roberts tagging along to plenty of club outings, keeps them entertained, but it’s all in good humour.
The current club president is Shane Adlington, but there are no politics, no hierarchy and generally no bullshit, and that’s the way they’re keen to keep it. While Shane says he’s the president as he’s the only respectable one, the other members suggest it’s because he talks the most, so they figured they’d put it to good use.
The plan at this stage is to keep on going as they have been — having a good turnout at events like the Street Rod Nationals, as well as at local events — and while they’d like to run some of their own events too, (besides the annual open day at Kylo's panel shop they already run) there are no immediate plans in place.
“We’re all just a big family, I guess. We help each other out when we need it. I feel like when hot rodding began, you sort of had your group of mates and you formed a club. That’s how it all started and that’s what we’re doing — just 50 years later,” surmises Watkins.
We can only hope in 50 years time, they’ll still be doing the same thing!
Mike Watkins: 1949 Ford Spinner
Mike’s owned his Spinner for over five years now. He found it in rural Colorado and brought it over. It was going to sit while he helped his dad, Rob, build a Ford Bonus pickup, but it jumped the queue … and the Bonus is still not done. The car has had a full body-off rebuild, with Mike saying he did the dirty work, his dad did the good work. The current 302 Windsor isn’t really his dream motor, but it’s something that became available during the build. “Heaps of Dad’s friends helped me out with parts and good deals, and I couldn’t have done it without them. I just wanted it to be simple, lots of chrome and a nice straight body,” says Mike.
Kristen Courtney: Model A pickup
Kristen comes from a family of restorers, so if she’d chopped up a good car she wouldn’t have heard the end of it. Instead, she built her pickup from a pile of parts. With help from her dad and uncle to get the project started, and help from the Adlingtons, Hornblows and Dave Graham to get it on the road, she couldn’t be happier. Surprisingly, under the hood is a four-banger.
Kirsten says she knew quite a few of the other members from bands and the music scene before getting involved. “They’re just a good bunch of mates; it makes no difference if you’re a boy or a girl,” she says.
Kylo Leckie: Model A roadster
Based in Hamilton, Kylo considers himself more of a social member, and like most he comes from a hot rodding family. His roadster was converted to mechanical injection the day before the shoot, and he can’t wait to take it down the drag strip to see what it’ll do. He’s also got a very cool Lincoln, which is far more family friendly.
Shane Adlington: Model A roadster
Shane’s first car was an XP Falcon coupe, which made way for a ’62 Galaxie on airbags. He’s owned his roadster for nine years, buying it as a stocker, and driving it that way for six months before starting the build. The original plan was to run a hot four-banger, but after selling the Galaxie, he realized he needed more power. The Ford F100 diff and brakes came out of his dad’s truck, which happened to be imported with a 350 Chev sitting in the tray — he conveniently acquired that too. “I find building cars like therapy; it’s so different to what I do during the day. Dad’s got a good workshop, so I can hang out there, and he’s usually got something on the go too,” says Shane.
Karlis Skuja: 1972 Chrysler Charger
Karlis has owned his Chrysler Charger for seven years, and built it up with the help of a few friends. It runs a 265 straight-six, with triple Dellortos and some mild headwork. “It sounds and goes like a V8, so it’s all good. No one cares that it’s a six,” he says.
Grant Precious: 1954 Chev Bel Air
Grant’s ’54 Bel Air is a work in progress, sitting on the floor thanks to airbags and an Art Morrison front clip. The long-term plan is to rip out the small block Chev and drop in a 409 big block. Eventually it’ll end up with paint on it, but for now, the goal is to get it on the road and legal.