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Bulk muscle at the American Muscle Car Show

27 March 2017


While Santa and the Easter Bunny may get us excited once a year, the American Muscle Car Club’s show only happens once every three. The wait is well worthwhile though, with the club always putting on one of the best events you could ever ask to attend. This year, the 13th running of the show, was sponsored by Galaxie Electrical, and, as always, brought jaws to the floor and bulges to the pants of most who attended. 

From the moment spectators entered the doors of Henderson, Auckland’s Te Pai Event Centre, they knew they were in for a great array of cars, covering almost all muscle car manufacturers.

The club, known for their dedication to true muscle cars, are pretty picky when it comes to what cars can go on display, and do their best to ensure that vehicles seen there before are generally not shown a second time around, with a few worthy exceptions of course. With tough criteria in mind, there was a distinct lack of big wheels, lurid audio systems, and LS conversions — the majority of vehicles were far closer to how they rolled off the production line many decades ago. 

This left an array of more than 70 cars, each different to the next, and each with a unique story to tell. Of course, with the rarity of some vehicles on display, if you didn’t know exactly what you were looking at, you may have missed something truly special. 

Rodney and Zeta Holland’s first-generation Dodge Charger being a case in point. The car was completed for the event with just moments to spare after an intensive rebuild, and while it’s clearly flawless, as we’d expect from the couple, there’s more to it than that. 
Just 250 four-speed 426 Hemi-powered chargers rolled off the production line back in 1966, making it an extremely rare and valuable vehicle. That poweress was only added to when you discover the vehicle is matching numbers, and retains its original interior. 

It wasn’t just Mopar fans that had rare gems to admire, as Mustang fans got their fair share of rarities, too. Included in the handful of various Shelbys on display was a ’68 GT350. Not just any GT350 however, this car was one of 224 Hertz rental cars of which not just anyone could hire, being reserved for those with a healthy bank balance. 

Chevrolet fans weren’t left out either, with a number of rare machines to drool over ranging from low-mileage L78 Camaros through to Dave Loose’s unrestored — yet amazing — 427ci 425hp ’66 Corvette, and all manner of machines between.

While there were a handful of owners with multiple vehicles on display, it was the Pegler brothers, Robert and Andrew, who truly took the cake, with no less than six of their impressive collection spanning the width of the back wall. The big drawcard being the Nascar-spec Torino Talladega featured in NZV8 Issue No. 143 our last issue, although it wasn’t alone, with another road-going Talladega, a Mercury Cyclone, Dodge Daytona, Buick GNX, and Ford Starliner all polished to perfection.

Speaking of ex NZV8 feature cars, there were plenty on display, including Steve Keys’ Thunderbolt, Mark Barton’s day-two-styled L72 Biscayne, Josh Dalton’s Nova, and Phil Wright’s Chevelle. It was Josh’s ’67 Nova that was drawing admiration though, and rightly so, being up off the ground with mirrors below showing off the vehicle’s detailed undercarriage. We know Josh drives the car on an almost daily basis, so can’t begin to imagine the work that went into preparing the car. 

Likewise, Ian Neary’s Eruption Plymouth GTX was also looking at its best with a fantastic display, and it was pride of place near the front of the building. While clearly not built in a traditional muscle car style, the street machine– / pro-touring-style GTX was one of the most photographed vehicles on display. Being the first time most people had seen the car in the flesh, Ian was inundated with questions and compliments all weekend long, and not too surprisingly took home the award for People’s Choice.

Member’s Choice, which is potentially the more sought-after award went to Mark Barton’s Ford 300 (as seen in NZV8 Issue No. 124), while Best Ford was awarded to Graham Hamilton’s Mustang convertible. Best Chev went to Glenn Ripley’s 1968 Camaro L78, and Best Mopar unsurprisingly went the way of Rodney and Zeta Holland’s Charger.

With so many top-level vehicles on display, we’re already looking forward to the next one, and thankfully we’ve only got three years to wait. While that may be a while, we already know the next show will be well and truly worth it.