By Toni Williams
Ashburton Vintage Car Club built its foundation on the enthusiasm of its members.
From humble beginnings as a sub branch of its big sister, Christchurch, membership at the Ashburton branch has steadily grown since the 1970s and independence to its own branch in 1979.
It now has 250 members.
The Ashburton Vintage Car Club has a clubrooms, museum and parts shed on site at their Maronan Road property, in Tinwald.
Membership of The Ashburton Vintage Car Club is open to anyone who owns, or is interested in, vintage or veteran vehicles.
Members hold regular car rallies, or runs, where they travel to different locations and hold a monthly club night.
The parts shed is open every Saturday from 10am to noon.
It is open for anyone looking to buy vehicle parts, with thousands of products on offer.
The jewel in the crown for the Ashburton Vintage Car Club is its museum.
It was opened in October, 1979 after an enthusiastic committee raised the necessary funds from the sale of pea straw, fertiliser and the raffle of two restored vehicles: a 1928 Dodge 6 Sedan and a 1929 Dodge DA.
The money raised was sufficient to build and then freehold the property.
Some of the members from that time, are still members today; nearly 40 years later.
There are six custodians who look after the club’s special museum.
It’s open on the last Thursday of each month from 2pm to 4pm, or by request.
It costs $5 per person to wander around and have a look at the classics on show.
At any one time there are around 35 veteran and vintage cars and motorcycles on site.
Some of which are very impressive and quite rare older models.
The museum has a rare 1923 Lorraine Dietrich (one of only two in New Zealand), a 1929 Plymouth Deluxe Coupe, a 1913 Unic and a 1906 Cadillac (one of three early models in the branch).
There is also a 1912 Kynloch side valve motorbike which has been in the same family for more than 100 years.
It is one of only two in the world, the other is in Australia.
Each of the museum vehicles are owned by Ashburton club members and loaned for show.
However, there are times when other district’s club members are invited to show their vehicles.
Members of the Ashburton Vintage Car Club host an annual swap meet on the first Saturday of May.
Around 400 stallholders and 4000 bargain hunters converge on the club grounds to look for anything and everything they may need, from car parts and accessories to household goods.
It is the club’s annual fundraiser and also kick starts Mid Canterbury’s annual Wheels Week Plus Programme, which celebrates the many different wheel-based activities and events in the district.
The Ashburton Vintage Car Club will celebrate their 50th anniversary next year as its own branch of the national organisation.
To celebrate the event, it will host the Vintage Car Club’s of New Zealand National Easter Weekend Rally, Planning for the long weekend programme is under way by members in Ashburton.