You have to have something pretty special to get people out of bed early on a cold, wet Sunday morning in the middle of winter. The 55 members who fronted up to Garry Boyce’s garage on a recent Sunday obviously thought they were on to something good and so it proved as they munched into ham-filled croissants and pushed the buttons on the coffee machine. Garry had organised a Garage Raid and the prospect of gaining entry to hidden treasures around Auckland was an opportunity too good to miss.
I looked in vain round Garry’s garage for something that I had not seen previously. I failed to notice a chunk of honeycombed metal resting on a small table and it was to this unpromising object that Garry drew the attention of the assembled company. The object was a portion of a radiator core that had once sat in front of a legendary engine, which had sat inside the body of a famous Mercedes-Benz race car. The racer had been sent to Auckland for restoration and this old radiator had to be totally replaced with a facsimile of the original. Garry’s detailed explanation of the manufacture of this difficult piece kept us all highly entertained. The reject part was no longer required but was offered to Garry at the scrap metal price currently ruling on the Auckland market. The car was subsequently exported back to Europe and housed in a building that later caught fire causing the total destruction of the famous automobile. All that is left is the piece now residing at Parnell; a superb legend woven round something that wouldn’t merit a second glance unless you knew the story.
Time to move down the road to seafront Parnell. An enormous gate (too high to get over, too wide to get round and too low to get under) blocked our path; think of a drawbridge gate in a castle. A switch released electricity that swung the gate smoothly open and revealed a basement garage with turntable. A giant Hummer was keeping a watchful eye on a collection of Italian cars. The Hummer had an Auckland City Council parking ticket attached to its windscreen, trophy of a recent skirmish with a Parking Warden. The Italian cars had little pictures of prancing horses on their front ends and were much admired by those who know about these things. Upstairs was a fully equipped workshop where amazingly complex pieces of work in progress were being progressed. A further garage revealed two Bugatti cars; one an original and the other a recreation. An interesting aside we learned here was that due to the French Government refusing to pour money into the marque, the Bugatti name gradually declined as competitors received money from their respective governments to stay at the forefront of motor racing.
After lunch, we proceeded to an interesting old brick building which turned out to have been the original assembly plant for Ford Model A and Model T vehicles early in the 20th Century. Gantries and overhead cranes were still visible but the cars resting on the carefully maintained floor did not carry the Ford oval. Once again, prancing horses and other high powered cars of Italian origin were interspersed with the odd Porsche. History was shrouding the building and everything residing within it.
To finish the day we drove out to Bucklands Beach and found a large collection of Mercedes-Benz vehicles along with a couple of cars of Bavarian origin. The cars were all shoe horned in to a collection of carports and sheds, and parked with amazing precision so that it was almost impossible to move around them. There were some very nice examples of mainly semi exotic cars dating back to the 70’s and the owner didn’t mind collecting several examples of very similar cars. There were two or three SEC coupes which looked particularly enticing plus a 1990s 500SL with its hardtop on and less than 20,000 miles on the clock.
An excellent day’s work and many thanks to Garry and to our three hosts who welcomed us so graciously.