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A Grand Opportunity

with Greg Stokes

Back on the first weekend of February, a grand opportunity arose for me to display my Model A pickup at the Grand National Roadster Show in Pomona California, USA. This show is the ‘Grand Daddy’ of them all and attracts over 600 vehicles displayed indoors and over 1100 vehicles show up each day to be displayed outside. It has been a bucket list thing to attend all these great USA hot rod events with my own New Zealand built hot rod and the Grand National Roadster Show was no exception. I join a short list of a very few Kiwis who have displayed at this prestigious show.

To recap, my 1929 Model A Ford pickup was built here in New Zealand between 2002 and 2009. I did a majority of the work on it myself with a lot of great help from Dad, family and friends and eventually we showcased the final incarnation of it in the New Zealand Hot Rod Magazine as "Project 29". In 2009 I reluctantly sold it to a guy in Utah, USA and subsequently it passed on to two more owners in Idaho, USA. I never really thought I would see the car again but in 2020 I was able to locate it in Idaho and by 2021 I was able to reach a point where I could purchase it back. Ex pat Kiwi, Squeak Bell of Bakersfield, California picked it up for me and has kindly stored it at his place since then.

To recharge the mind and body last year, I ticked off a few bucket list events in the USA with Project 29 and have a lot of memories to last a life time. Sure, it costs money and time but with the way the world has changed so much over the last three years, we all gotta do these things as we can before it’s all too late. The opportunity to display at the Grand National Roadster Show back in February was an experience I will never forget. Another opportunity arose when I was able to display Project 29 alongside the car of a very inspiring man to me in the world of hot rodding.

Jim "Jake" Jacobs inspired Project 29 and my fun with Model A's immensely (see previous eLocal article titles Model A Madness). Jake is one of the co-founders of Pete & Jakes Hot Rod Parts, worked for Ed Roth in the sixties as well as the now defunct Rod & Custom Magazine. He is a totally humble guy despite his large contribution to the hot rod industry. Most proudly for me, he is a great friend and a genuine one at that. To display our cars together was special - he had just completed the most gorgeous Model A roadster with exquisite detailing. The cars looked great together.

The show runs Friday to Sunday with set up days on the Wednesday and Thursday. We left Bakersfield early Thursday morning and headed down to Pomona arriving around 10am and waited for Jake to show so we could drive in together. Although it is winter in the USA at that time, bright blue Southern California skies were a stark contrast to the images of devastating flooding (pre cyclone Gabrielle) we were seeing online! Set up day went smoothly and it was most enjoyable to check out all the other world class vehicles. Some costing millions of dollars - a stark contrast to my worn in 15 year old build from New Zealand. It was a pleasant surprise to receive a Class Participation Award for Project 29. The feedback was heartwarming also - yep, another neat bucket list event ticked off.

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