Sunday, February 24, 2013

Finish line highlights

Final car show in Hagley Park (© Eventful Woman 2013)
We did it! We drove from Auckland to Christchurch in a classic 1966 P5 Rover, MkIII, coupe. Not once did our Rover or our MGB team mates 'fail to proceed' (what we call breakdowns). There were a few niggles, like our chuffing exhaust, but nothing that stopped us.

Our thanks to our team mates (Brad & Dad and Sir & Madam) for their help and support throughout. We have the greatest respect for Sir and Madam who made the entire journey while topless - that's the car I'm talking about!
Sir and Madam in the topless 1964 MGB (© Eventful Woman 2013)
The finale dinner was a dress up affair and everyone looked as splendid as the cars. Brad easily scooped the prize for being the youngest driver, which was presented by The British High Commissioner, Vicki Treadell.
Youngest driver, Brad, with Her Excellency, Vicki Treadell
 (© Eventful Woman 2013)

Brad with his prize (© Eventful Woman 2013)
Three generations of MGB owners: Brad's Dad, Brad, Brad's Granddad
(© Eventful Woman 2013)

The three generations in their MGB's also got honourable mention - Brad, his Dad (Grant) and his grandparents (Sir Alf and Madam Rosie). In fact, Brad bought his MGB GT from his Granddad.

Mayor Bob Parker made a stirring speech about resilience and the importance of celebrating life and all good things, especially as that night (22 February) was the second anniversary of the horrible and destructive Christchurch earthquake.
Mayor Bob Parker (© Eventful Woman 2013)
The GREAT British Car Rally raised funds for four charities:
British High Commissioner, Vicki Treadell was auctioneer at the finale dinner. (© Eventful Woman 2013)
While the full total of funds raised is still to be calculated, over $5,000 was raised during the auction at the finale dinner.

We had one final car show on the day after the finale dinner. Christchurch turned on a great day, there was with music, balloons and ice creams. Mayor Bob Parker arrived in his MG and the local British cars swelled the ranks.  There was more gawking and drooling from appreciative locals.

For more photos of the cars:

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Cruising to the other side

The ferry cruising in to dock was a welcome sight
(© Eventful Woman 2013)
I was grateful I wasn't topless - either the Rover or myself - when we lined up for the Wellington to Picton ferry on Thursday. Two hours of scorching heat with no shelter is not ideal for either face or paintwork, but there was plenty of conversation with our rally companions to pass the time.
Everyone had a good yarn while waiting for the ferry
(© Eventful Woman 2013)
At last the ferry arrived and we were waved on board. Parking was tight and I was grateful we were mainly with fellow ralliers, who took care not to crash open their car's doors into the other vehicles squeezed alongside.
Eve admiring the view (© Eventful Woman 2013)

The sailing was beaut - blue skies, flat seas and all of the promise of an exciting drive once we docked.
Heading for the South Island (© Eventful Woman 2013)
Many Picton locals stood on corners to enjoy the spectacle of nearly 100 GREAT British cars unloading and then roaring past on their way to Blenheim.

More blue skies greeted us the next morning. The weather on this rally has been sunny and warm - not one day of rain.

The breakfast that awaited us at Drylands Winery was spectacular - bacon, sausages, mushrooms, hash browns, croissants, fruit, cereal, OJ and plenty of tea and coffee. Several South Island ralliers joined us at this point and there were different cars to gawk at.
Mk I, Zodiac Station Wagon (© Eventful Woman 2013)

A mini-sized mini (© Eventful Woman 2013)

Our MGB team mates (Brad & Dad and Sir & Madam) have been a great hit with the British High Commissioner, Her Execellency Vicki Treadell, because she had also owned a MGB in the past.
From L-R: Sir Alf, Madam Rosie, HE Vicki, Brad's Dad Grant, Brad (© Eventful Woman 2013)
All too soon it was time to leave the Drylands Winery and I reluctantly waved goodbye to the bacon. The Rover was 'fed' more 95 octane and we were on our way to Kaikoura. Of course, we stopped on the coastal road to "oooh" and "aaah" at the seals and their gorgeous pups.
Seal pups, so cute (© Eventful Woman 2013)

I'm sure this seal barked "Wow, look at that fab Rover." Is that a seal of approval? (© Eventful Woman 2013)

Find out what happened in Kaikoura: 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Fabulous Rover coupés

The 'belles of the ball' at Tui Brewery
Forget about the Tui girls. The real belles at the Mangatainoka Tui Brewery were the three Rover coupés. What a pleasure it was to discover these two other gorgeous Rovers among a whole fleet of fine British cars on the GREAT British Car Rally.

Of course we quickly found each other in the throng. With our 1966 P5, 3-litre, MkIII (photo above) is the pristine white 1972 P5B, 3.5 litre (owned by Graeme & Paku), and a smart 1964t P5, 3-litre MkII (owned by Norman and Carleen).

With these beauties on display, hardly anyone looked up at the Tui gals in the windows of the brewery.
Some ralliers were distracted by other things at the brewery.

The Rover coupés motored in convoy to our next stop in Masterton. We were a dazzling sight on the road, especially with Paku waving the Union Jack from the passenger window to the cheering crowds. Graeme claimed that one onlooker was so overcome by his P5B that he actually bowed to the car. YEAH RIGHT, is what I say.  We didn't get any bowing, but we did get lots of thumbs-up signals and swooning.
Travelling in convoy. Paku on flag waving duty.
Masterton turned on a great show for us as nearly 200 British cars parked 3-across in the main street. The whole town was dressed for the occasion - colourful bunting, people in costumes, several live bands, while the most un-English summer sun blazed down on us.
A beautiful Riley in the main street of Masterton

A lovely P4 Rover 90 in Masterton


TH and I had hoped to give our Rover her head over the Rimutaka Hill to Wellington. Sadly, there were several stretches of road works and we had to stop at least twice for the STOP/GO man. Still, it gave us more time to admire the many cars on the rally.

On the Rimutaka Hill
We motored in Wellington just in time for a quick shower and change for our reception in the Banquet Hall at Parliament. The dress code was 'smart casual' and the ralliers sure turned out in style. I'm sure they'll look even more fabulous for the finale dinner in Christchurch. Maybe I should have packed my 'backless evening straps'?

Find out what happened the next morning in Wellington:

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Hazards on the road to Napier

Winding roads from Gisborne to Napier
"Look out for goats on the road", the Rally Director informed us at this morning's briefing.  I initially wondered if he meant idiots behind the steering wheel or the 4-legged animal variety. Turned out he meant the latter.

Goats on the Wairoa to Napier road
We only spotted three goats and they wisely kept to the edges of the road. Classic British cars are big, glorious and heavy.  I know from earlier economy runs that our Rover, with driver, passenger, luggage and a fully-laden picnic hamper weighs 1.7 tonnes. So, while the word "wise" is not normally applied to a goat, I'm sure even these simple creatures understand that tonnes of shiny and glorious metal would do far more damage to their thick skulls than from a 'tin' Jap car.

Speaking of goats, three drivers in the rally were served with speeding tickets today.  They were ALL Jaguar drivers - one of whom was very high on the list of participants. Without naming names, here's a clue - not even diplomatic immunity got her off the charge. However, as well as paying the fine she generously offered to pay double the amount - once to the appropriate policing authority and then the same again to the charities that the rally is fund raising for.

There were a number of hazards on the road today:
Look out for cows
Look out for out-of-control trucks
Look out for big busted women (and out-of-control male drivers)
The weather has been glorious and perfect for open-topped touring. We finished the day with a car display in Marine Parade in Napier. Throngs of people showed up for the usual droolling, while we sipped fabulous local wines and tapped our toes to the Twin City Stompers playing Dixie jazz.  

Bertie's "What ho" Austin

Our P5 looking fabulous on display

Twin City Stompers
Eventful Woman and Lotus Elise drivers Simon and Chrissie
Find out more:

Monday, February 18, 2013

The great road to Gisborne

Line up in The Strand, Tauranga
Nearly 200 British cars lined up in The Strand in Tauranga this morning, metal and chrome gleaming in the sun. The energy taken to polish this lot could have powered a large city for years.

1957 Austin A35 Pickup with pedal car on top
Dolphin drain covers in Tauranga
 Admirers and 'droolers' trooped up and down The Strand. With all of those tongues hanging out the street was nearly awash with drool. I hoped it wouldn't block up the drains or pollute the sea too much. Most city streets in NZ have warnings about dumping rubbish down the drains, but the fine City of Tauranga has cute dolphin images on the drain covers as an extra reminder. 

Like our departure from Auckland, there were plenty of admiring onlookers to wave us away.  Throughout the rally there has been small fan clubs on nearly every street corner of every town - cameras rolling, Union Jack fluttering, a zillion thumbs-up signals. When we stopped at a school pedestrian crossing, one of the kids called out "Hey, Miss, toot your horn".  The Rover's blaring two-tone PARP was greeted with whoops of delight.

Ralliers enjoying school kids performance

Whakatane turned on the brilliant welcome that we remembered from the 1997 rally - blazing sunshine, plenty of onlookers (more drool), and the local Intermediate school kids dazzled us with their Maori action songs of welcome.

We stopped at Opotiki for a last top of of the tanks before tackling the winding gorge road to Gisborne. 
Sir Alf filling up his MGB

Madam Rosie as navigator

Brad with his MGB GT

Brad's Dad

What a delight following our team mates in their MG's as they swooped around corners and zipped up and down the hills. It was a warm day and we emulated the 'wind in the hair' feeling by opening all of the vents and windows in the Rover.  Nothing, just nothing beats the freedom of a classic car on a good stretch of road.
MGB handles the corners with ease
The MGs close the gap between themselves and a Jag and, not long after this shot, zoomed past it.
Around 30km out of Gisborne, the exhaust mounting strap broke on Brad's MGB GT. Brad's Dad soon had that fixed with wire. Several other rally drivers pulled alongside to offer additional help. That's the terrific thing about this rally - no one is in too much of a hurry and it is great to know that help and know-how is only as far away as the car behind you.We were on our way again in minutes and cruised into Gisborne right on schedule at 5pm.

As well as Brad & Dad and Sir & Madam MGs, there are a lot of MGs on this rally. At some point we were followed 5 of them, all lined up in a row.  Magnificent. 
Following the MGs
Our Rover/MG team of 6 had a 'slap-up' feed out on the town tonight.  We are fortified and ready for the Gisborne to Napier leg tomorrow.

Find out more:

Sunday, February 17, 2013

First leg under our belts

Eventful Woman backing into her start position at the rally
TH, the Rover and I completed the first leg of the GREAT British Car Rally in style and in glorious sunshine, motoring from Auckland to Tauranga.

Vicki Treadell - British High Commissioner to NZ and car nut
Around 150 British cars cruised into Auckland's Domain around 9am this morning.  After speeches, scones with jam, a cup of tea and then, clutching a packet of English crisps (potato chips, as us Kiwis call them) for a roadside snack, the first car was flagged away at 12 noon. An admiring crowd of onlookers clapped and cheered as each car took to the streets. Of course, I was into my packet of crisps before we hit the Southern Motorway.

Our P5 Rover was made 1966, so our trip was accompanied by 60s music belting out from TH's MP3 player. Of course, there was no such thing as MP3 players in the 1960s. And, they were rather uncommon 15 years ago, when we motored in the LINK All British rally in 1997. However, this is 2013 and we might as well have the fun of both ends of the time scale. Classic British motoring and modern conveniences.

Some things don't change - our Car No. 281 is the same as for the LINK rally

On the road nearing Paeroa

All of our ROVER/MG team made it to Tauranga and in great shape.  Brad & Dad in their MGB GT and Sir & Madam in their 1964 MGB Roadster. It was stinking hot when we arrived in Tauranga - pity modern conveniences don't extend to air conditioning.  However, the swimming pool at the motel was a great hit.

World-famous L&P bottle
Karangahake Gorge
Display of cars at Tauranga
Rocket-like tail light of a 1951 Allard P1 Roadster