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American Invasion: Trentham American Vehicle Day 2018

11 April 2018



Wellington had the summer of its life earlier this year with high temperatures, calm — yes, calm — conditions with not a skerrick of rain in sight, and beautiful weather. As our author wrote this in late February, the wind had started up, the temperatures had plummeted, and the weather gods seemed to have exited stage left. However, the weather was shining bright for the annual American Vehicle Day in Trentham, Upper Hutt, hosted by the great folks at the Moonshine Rod and Custom Club. 

Always on the calendar as a must-see on the first Sunday of February, the crowds were slightly down on last year’s event, largely due to competing vehicle events. However, by mid-morning the crowds were huge and there were plenty of vehicles on display. The cold drinks and ice cream merchants would have been making money faster than Google! 

Used as a fundraising event, this year’s gate takings were going to the local Te Omanga Hospice which is rebuilding due to seismic issues. Over 450 cars were on display with clubs grouping together in strong displays of camaraderie. This year also seemed to offer a distinct shortage of Camaros, perhaps put off by the massive number of Mustangs that came a calling? Models of Mustang were everywhere, from the original design of the mid-1960s through to the recent new right-hand drive versions.

Two Mustangs of note were red Shelby Super Snakes. One was a 2016 fastback model, and the other 2017 convertible. As we understood it, to obtain one of those beauties meant importing a new Mustang from the USA and then sending it on the next boat back to the USA to be delivered to the Shelby factory in Las Vegas. It would seem that Ford USA could not handle pulling a right-hand drive version off the production line and trucking it west.  

For fans of the ‘Mopar or no car’ variety, there was plenty on offer with 1960s Dodge Coronets and Road Runners, Challengers, a Viper, and even a modified 1952 Dodge Coronet convertible. We counted at least five Chargers from the 1968–70 shape scattered around the show. These cars attracted plenty of attention, as they always do, and on a number of occasions the timeless “They don’t make ’em like that anymore!” could be heard.

There were plenty of unusual cars on display, too, including a Mercury Marauder, Rambler Rebel, Mercury Monterey, a gorgeous 1952 Chevy tudor, and a Pontiac Tempest GTO.  

Then there was the display of amazing tails — a ’58 Chev, ’58 Fairlane, ’59 Galaxie, ’59 Cadillac, and a ’60 Impala.  

Also on tap were numerous replicas rods from the 1930s, including the ubiquitous ‘Deuce’ — does two side-by-side make a quad? And there were at least three mid-’60s Chev Impala coupes with proud owners standing nearby and only too willing to talk about their long, long babies.

Well done to Danny Neilson and the team at the Moonshine Rod and Custom Club. Another great show we can’t wait for next year, and that you would do well to jot down on the wall planner.