Dream Shed: family values

Posted in Cars, People
If the family that plays together stays together, the Etheridges have got a lot to look forward to

Tony and Anna Etheridge have both been around cars for as long as they can remember. For Anna, it was a family thing — her older brothers Lloyd and Wayne having cars from a young age meant she grew up with it. For Tony, the need for speed saw him own and build all sorts of cars, starting with a T-bucket he built in the lounge of his flat back in the '80s.

Since then, the pair have owned a range of interesting machines, none more standout than their chopped, tubbed, and blown Camaro, as seen on the cover of NZV8 Issue No. 51.

With the Camaro being more of Tony’s toy than Anna’s, she decided to get herself a hot rod, a 1932 Tudor sedan, which is also a very well-built machine, once owned by the late Pete Dore. With neither car being particularly family-friendly, and with two young boys to think about, a family car was soon also purchased, although that’s recently been sold to make way for the latest additions … a pair of drag cars.

After sharing driving duties in friend Dean Cadman’s wild Willys Coupe, and racing his own Camaro, Tony got the drag racing bug back, so started to hunt for a new car. After racing his T-buckets many years ago, including gaining a national record around 1992, whatever car he chose to compete in was going to have to be pretty serious. 

A ’97 Pontiac Trans Am was found locally, but, as with every other car that enters the garage, running or not, Tony couldn’t help himself but strip it apart and rebuild it. During the build the engine was removed, which led to Tony thinking he could just as easily drop a different motor back in.

As it happens, the 604ci Dart–based big block Chev he wanted came as part of a complete vehicle; Pete Meo’s old Chev Vega. The plan at the time was to pull the motor and sell the Vega, until Anna took a liking to the car and the decision was made to keep it. The 540ci big block that came with the Pontiac has now been fitted, and Anna is looking forward to taking the car down the strip.

Whether Tony thought about it at the time or not is up for debate, but the addition of the second drag car led to another issue, and that was how to get both cars to the track. Till then the tow vehicle had been a six-litre Vortec–powered Camper, but with two cars, that was never going to work. Well-known drifter ‘Mad Mike’ Whiddett had his transporter for sale, which was designed and built to transport two cars, and not only that, he’d made it look awesome, too — just the thing Tony was after!

As you can imagine, with so many projects on the go, there’s a pretty cool workshop area and, of course, a dedicated bar area, too. While the bar is good for hanging out, the family spend just as much time together in the garage, or working on the cars. As you can imagine, with the boys growing up in such an environment, they’ve inherited their parent’s passion … and as such, a Junior Dragster is also part of the collection.

While not competing anymore, Tony’s need for speed has seen him compete in the Race to the Sky on Superquads no less than eight times, finishing as high as top in class and eighth overall. So, as you can imagine, there’s a few quads around, including Tony’s custom-built GSX-R 1000-powered race machine. 

With so many different cars on the go, it’s amazing that anything gets completed, but thanks to the whole family’s involvement, as well as help from friends, family and staff member and chief polisher Jason Birmingham, they do. And as long as everyone involved is having fun, things look set to continue. Not a bad family to be a part of, huh? 

The Etheridges' shed was featured in NZV8 Issue No. 81 (February 2012). You can grab a copy here

Todd Wylie

Todd Wylie has been involved with NZV8 magazine since before the first issue was printed, and has been the editor for the last eight years. Growing up in the heyday of the Jap-import scene, he's not adverse to Japanese vehicles, having worked for NZ Performance Car previously, as well as owning a few well-known examples. These days he cruises at a slower pace in a 1956 Cadillac Coupe and dreams of building a Model A tudor.