Rodders meet steam power

Posted in Lifestyle

The crowds were out in force along Whanganui’s riverside, and over the historic Dublin Street bridge, to watch the relaunching of the PS Waimarie riverboat. It has spent some time on a temporary slipway while receiving its quinquennial (five-year) marine survey.

But you don't really want to hear about riverboats, you want to hear about the cars put on display by the local Wanganui Road Rodders club. The club was hosting members of the New Plymouth Rodders Club on a tour of local points of interest, as well as making the most of having a semi-sunny day to use their rides.

Typically for a group of petrolheads ‘points of interest’ meant that they went to see Willy Pelzers’ workshop — home of the prolific and highly modified 1948 Chevrolet cabover — and then they followed that up with a visit to Richmond Harding’s hanger to see his lustrous collection of aviation memorabilia.

But first on the agenda was witnessing the relaunch of the PS Waimarie — even though the rodders did steal some of the spotlight from the relaunch. Whanganui bought out some of its big road-legal hitters, and sitting away proudly in the middle was Brian Luty’s gleaming yellow 1934 Chrysler Coupe. It was peacocking its chrome 350ci Chev engine in an attempt to outshine the jaw-dropping design of Rob Sklenars’ 1934 Ford.

Mustangs, Corvettes, and Pontiacs filled the space, and caught the eyes of many, but the sheer size of the 1955 Oldsmobile Super Deluxe Holiday Coupe meant that it was something that could not be missed. The beautiful beast is owned by Doug and Gillian Hooper who were instrumental in the organizing of the tour and hope to take some local rodders up to New Plymouth at some point.

I realize that a fair portion of this write-up has been dedicated to cars from the 1930s — a period of cars that I’m afraid is not normally at the top of my favourites list. However, I believe I can point out the cause simply by pointing the finger at Mark Blenkisip for displaying his 1937 Ford Coupe with a 350ci Chev engine. The elegant black machine kept drawing me towards it like gravity and then I realized! It’s the whitewall tyres; they just work on this car, end of story.

The story, however, did not end there for the rodders, the New Plymouth contingent stayed for the evening and attended the regular Sunday morning Petrolhead Breakfast at the always-accommodating local favourite Caroline’s Boatshed Bar and Eatery. So once again another successful car bonanza in the little petrolhead town by the sea.