Wheel alignment

Sunday 28 January 2024

Wings and Wheels 2024

What with cancellations due to Covid and the tropical storms in NZ last year, I've missed attending Wings and Wheels at Thames until now.  The location is only an hour down the coast too.  What a great day it turned out to be, with excellent organisation and everyone chilled and simply there to have a good time.  As I've remarked previously, there appears to be little or no snobbery or a hierarchy among NZ classic car owners which leads to some great discussions.

Even better, any classic cars or light aircraft owners were admitted to to the airfield for free and had a ringside seat for all the activities.  Can't be bad, can it?  The weather was warm and dry, although rain was forecast later in the day.  The following photos are only a small selection of the zillion I took and the sheer variety of vehicles and aircraft was guaranteed to avoid boredom.  Even Mrs James was moved to remark that she had a wonderful day out!

Great retro poster and pilot information

After we'd been directed to a parking spot between a Model T brewery delivery vehicle and a supercharged Model T bucket hot rod belonging to a middle-aged woman, we noticed something a bit different parked about 50 metres away.  This was a rolling chassis powered by home made pulse jet engines running on LPG, very similar to the WW2 German V1 flying bombs.  Even better, there was to be an engine run every hour!

Not something you see every day!

Starting it involved the use of a leaf blower to get the air and LPG circulating.  The noise and particularly the frequency was unbelievably loud and actually vibrated the bones and organs inside the body.  Pretty unpleasant but nonetheless impressive.

We have ignition!  Note all the fingers in ears

Being local, we were quite early and it was enjoyable to watch other classics drive in over the next hour.  A line of vehicles from the Austin Healey Club made for a great sight.  They sell for serious money, especially the rarer 100 series models.

Various Austin Healey models driving in

An Austin Healey Sprite with aftermarket bodywork

There was a pretty even split between British and American vehicles and with a population of ~ 5 million in NZ, I'm always amazed at just how many classic vehicles there are lurking in sheds around the country.  You can add light aircraft too, judging by how many private aircraft were arriving for the show.

Citroen with forward opening front doors

  Ford Cosworth Sierra RS500 - a rare beast

Ford Corsair GT - haven't seen one since leaving the UK in 1975!

Dodge Challenger R/T - shades of the cult movie "Vanishing Point"

A Packard Special which would look at home in a Mad Max movie

Ridiculously wide tyres on this Stingray

Plymouth Barracuda - yummm!

A Dodge 6

Supercharged Holden Monaro towing a racecar

Superb retro caravan

Jaguar XK150

Heaps of E-types on display

Mrs J and a certain MGB GT!

1952 Morris Minor - 918cc side valve, I think

We simply ran out of time to look at some of the vintage bikes which were at the other end of the airfield but a bike on the back of a ute (pick up truck) near us caught my eye.  This is the Honda XR500, first introduced in 1979.  This particular bike looked like it had never been ridden.  Whether it was new or flawlessly restored was hard to tell but I'd imagine that it would fetch a premium if ever sold.

Honda XR 500 trail bike

So many other vehicle photos which deserve to be posted but it's the turn of the aircraft now.  When we arrived, there were already lots of planes parked up but there were a constant stream on final approach. A quad bike customised to look like a mini-hot rod was tasked with guiding them to an allocated parking spot.  As a point of note, the pilots of the WW1 replicas and WW2 Warbirds could pretty much be described is "mature" with plenty of grey hair on display.  I found this strangely reassuring!

A Corsair taxiing to its designated spot
Arty shot of Yak tail fins

A couple of biplanes of unknown make, both of them in flawless condition........

In magnificent condition

The Warbirds Havards then put on a formation flying and aerobatic demonstration which was really impressive, especially against the ever-lowering cloud base.

Havards ready for takeoff

Formation loop

Barrel roll with smoke

There were also some WW1 German and British replicas flying.  For me, they clearly illustrated the fragility of combat in those days.  These photos scale up well.

Albatross, Triplane and Bristol Fighter

Albatross low pass

The Fokker Triplane

After the demo by the WW1 replicas, the weather was closing in and although there were to be demo flights by other aircraft, we didn't want to be trapped with every attendee trying to leave at the same time onto an arterial road which was already packed with long weekend traffic.  A reasonable number of people had the same idea but getting out was no hassle at all.  It was also great to meet up with Peter, the organiser of the MG Owner's Club for the Bay of Plenty region. He had driven up with a number of members. Where we live is a long way from the regional bases so we don't often meet up with other members.  What an excellent day and looking forward to next year!


  1. What a drool worthy event, and nice shots of the vintage planes. Amazing machines. However, my favourite pick would I have a say in it would be the retro caravan. This is a gem you really don't see every day. Thanks Geoff, for sharing. Cheers, SonjaM

    1. Hi Sonja - I'd have to agree with you. I don't know how long it took them to clean it but there wasn't a speck of dust anywhere. I'd happily own something like that rather than a modern one.

  2. What a great day out, even better when the missus doesn't complain. Car & planes. Those old WW1 warbirds would be a bit of a sight. Only thing missing is some bikes, but you can't have everything. Thanks for sharing Geoff.

    1. Hi Steve, it's got to be a good day when the boss enjoys it too! Sorry about the lack of bikes but it was quite a haul to where they were parked. Just too much to see and do!


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