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Dunedin turns American

10 March 2017

Dunedin — known as the Edinburgh of the south, largely due to its Scottish heritage — is well known not only in New Zealand, but around the world, for many things. Larnach Castle would have to be top of the list, closely followed by the Royal Albatross Colony, the University of Otago, and, of course, Baldwin Street — the steepest street on the planet. 

But more important to us, Dunedin is well known for its popular USA Day, hosted by Stateside Streeters, on the first weekend of March. For many years, the event was held at Forrester Park in North East Valley, but in recent times has been held at Tahuna Park — a more fitting site with plenty of display space and lots of parking for the public.

This year’s event was held over March 3–4, with the annual cruise taking place on the Friday night for those eager to get out and have a look around. Saturday was show day, with a great turnout of cars and a real mix of hot rods, classics, and muscle cars, plus some bikes and even an old wooden boat. 

Amongst that standouts on display was this 1970 Plymouth Roadrunner Superbird, a very rare car indeed. Belonging to Gary, Cara, and Connor McNeill, this particular bird has a 440 six-pack, heavy-duty four-speed, Dana 60 Trak Pak rear, and is covered in Hemi orange paint, making it one of only 39 Superbirds with these options.

Another cool mopar was Stephen McConnachie’s cool-looking ’34 Dodge. Running with Conrodders Rod and Custom Club, Stephen was one of many members to show their car on the Saturday. Powering the Dodge is a 283 Chev, backed up by a TH350 trans and Ford eight-inch rear.

Also from 1934 was Phil Lukey’s rare 1934 Hudson Tudor. After having 60mm chopped out of its roof height, the Hudson has had its flawless panels covered in Ford grey paint. Sitting under its hood is a Holden injected V8 and four-stage auto, with a Commodore giving up its diff. Other items include MX-6 seats, fast glass, and four-wheel disc brakes.

Another awesome example of automotive artistry belonging to the McNeill clan is this gorgeous ’57 Chevy Deluxe cab pickup. Born and bred in Texas, the pickup has been restored back to factory condition. The engine is the original 235ci and three-speed box, and the pickup is painted in Ocean Green — factory for the time.

Following in the family theme … how cool’s this pair of ’32s?

Another hot rod that wowed the crowds was Wayne and Kim Nicol’s ’35 Ford. Running with the Hurricane Rodders Club in Dunedin, the coupe has not long been finished. Power is provided by a 302 V8 and C4 trans. The Blue ’35 Ford coupe in the background belongs to Wayne’s dad, Barry.

Back in the day, MkIII Cortinas could be found on almost every city street in New Zealand, but none were as tough as Murray Holgate’s slick-wearing model. Having been converted from a four-door to a two-door, an XD Falcon gave up its front subframe, which has been neatly grafted in. Now sitting between the front struts lives a very healthy five-litre Ford Motorsport V8, which is good for 600 horses!

Not as wild, but equally as eye-catching, was Brian and Sue Dowdall’s unrestored ’71 Dodge Challenger R/T, which still looks as good as the day it left the factory. Power comes from a 440 fitted with a 780cfm Holley, backed by a TorqueFlite 727 trans and 8¾-inch diff.

Clubs were well represented, and a sprinkling of stalls lined the outside of the arena. The weather was a bit overcast, but was warm for the start of autumn. If you have not yet attended the show, put it on your to-do list for next year, and while you are at it, enjoy everything that Dunedin has to offer — you won’t be disappointed.