2015 Cambridge sending scarlet woman and a world record holder to CRC Speedshow

Cambridge hot rodders are busy preparing for New Zealand’s biggest automotive show, the CRC Speedshow held in Auckland, where the results of their imaginations and practical skills will be set against New Zealand’s best next month.

2015 - Cambridge hot rodders are busy preparing for New Zealand’s biggest automotive show, the CRC Speedshow held inAuckland, where the results of their imaginations and practical skills will be set against New Zealand’s best next month.

The 2015 CRC Speedshow will attract tens of thousands of fans, and the special celebration of all things ‘hot rod’ with the Teng Tools Grand National Rod & Custom Show, offering a hand-picked selection of around 40 of New Zealand’s best hot rods and custom made motorbikes.

Cambridge is represented at this national show with three world-class entries including Craig Houtson’s 1928 Ford Tudor, Daryl and Tristin McCoard’s 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air and Martin Benett’s 1937 Ford Pick Up.

Cambridge’s Craig Houston’s love affair with a scarlet woman of the past 37 years has turned quite a few heads in its time.

His beloved ‘Lady A’ is a red 1928 Ford Tudor hot rod, and it supposedly has the unmatched distinction of holding the title of being the only car in New Zealand to win all three facets of the sport in the same year, the National Hot Rod Show, the National Drags and National Street Rod. 

“I’ve been in shows all over New Zealand, but haven't done one for a few years so I just decided it was time again.”

A whole new generation of budding car enthusiasts will get to see the car for the first time at this year’s CRC Speedshow.

“Lady A has won too many to name.  She was originally built by me in 1978, rebuilt twice times since and has been shown and driven for past 37 years – she’s still a top car.”

“I've won countless awards with all my cars, but the best moment or achievement would be the fact that ‘LADY A’ won all three titles in the same year.”

Lady A’s modifications include a fully-built chassis incorporating Jag rear end, fully chromed and E type Jag torsion bar front end. 

As a kid of 14 years, Craig remembers becoming interested in hot rodding from reading USA hot rod magazines, and playing with slot cars.

He started building hot rods himself in the 1960s, and still continues working on all parts of a rebuild himself, except the upholstery.  Now in his early 60s, Craig happily works on hot rods every day from home.

“My wife Rhonda and I have done about 200,000 miles in the 355 Chev powered car and the couple have been to the famous Bonneville Salt Flats in the USA a few times,” says Craig. 

Craig is part of the team called “Kiwi-A Salt” that holds the current XF/BFRMR world record in a car purpose built for racing on the salt: a rear engine model T Ford bodied roadster powered by a Ford side-valve vintage engine.  It is a MPH record which the team achieved in 2008.

“I love not only hot rodding but salt flat racing and drag racing as well,” Craig smiles.

Meanwhile husband and wife team, Daryl and Tristin McCoard, also of Cambridge, will be showing a restored car that’s been a life-long dream in the making.

The turquoise and Indian ivory coloured 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air, has been in the family since Daryl bought the car for $1,700 when he was just 19-years-old. It was in a back lawn in a wrecked state in Orini, a rural area east of Huntly.

Now at age 50, Daryl remembers that time well.

“There weren't many American cars around New Zealand at that time, and this is a New Zealand new right hand drive vehicle. The car stayed dormant for a number of years while I gathered parts and saved money, had a family and bought a house,” he says. 

The concept of the car is a ‘sleeper’; it looks original but has a modified engine and running gear. Lurking beneath the hood is a 350 Vortec engine boasting 400 horsepower with roller rockers, roller cam, 700R4 with overdrive into a 12 bolt limited slip engine true track. It has a front end and rear end sway bar, and front end disc brake. 

“I entered CRC Speedshow to show other people what can be done with cars, and thought it would be fun.”

The car with ‘FIFTY5’ on its registration plate has been on the road for seven years and the McCoards have had lots of fun in it. Daryl is in the Te Awamutu Rod and Custom Club, and enjoys friendships with like-minded people and their cars.

As a panel beater, he’s always enjoyed restoring damaged or wrecked cars back to their former glory. His proudest moment so far; driving the 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air down the road and getting it to run really smooth and quiet just like a new car, he says.

“A lot of hot rodders pay other people to restore their cars, but I have had a great deal of satisfaction from doing most of it myself.”

He’s currently restoring a 1956 Chevy sports sedan hard top and says: “They say your second one is the best, so watch this space!” 

Finally Cambridge’s Martin Bennet, has been captivated by cool cars since his boyhood. “When I was 13, I saw a purple 1934 Ford coupe drive through the main street of Upper Hutt.  That car was owned by engineer, Keith Whiting, and that car is now ‘Sugar’, a very famous New Zealand hot rod,” he says.

At 14-years-old, his Dad bought a 1952 Morris Oxford.  The two fixed the rust, painted the car an iridescent blue, put wide wheels on and covered the seats in leopard pattern covers.  At 18, he customised a Mark II Zephyr and began drag racing at Port Road, Seaview, Wellington in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

This is Martin’s second time at CRC Speedshow.  Last year the entry was voted second in the Custom Pick Up category.

He loves planning each project and says: “I probably enjoy the build more than driving the finished car but going to events with my own build is great too.”

The Poison Ivy green 1937 Ford Pick Up is powered by a 402ci Chev motor, and has been chopped, channelled and sectioned.  The build included a custom grill, chassis and dashboard, 4 bar rear, T400 transmission, and a 9" Currie diff.

CRC Speedshow director, Ross Prevette, says he’s excited for the fans this year and says the calibre of cars from Cambridge is impressive.

“Cambridge is definitely punching above its weight in terms of prestiougs show vehicles. We’re fortunate to have three prime examples coming up to Auckland for the CRC Speedshow this year. Show-goers can also vote for their favourite car or motorbike known, the people’s choice award, with both the award winner and one lucky voter taking home some great prizes, courtesy of our sponsors like Teng Tools.”

The ninth annual CRC Speedshow takes place at Auckland’s ASB Showgrounds over the weekend of 18 and 19 July 2015.  Tickets are available at the gate and from the show website www.speedshow.co.nz.

More information about the 2015 CRC Speedshow can be found on the website; www.speedshow.co.nz