Classic car Marlin polishes up well for Mark

By James Fuller

There was a nervous month-long wait for one classic car enthusiast as he eagerly anticipated the arrival of a vehicle he had not seen firsthand.

Mark Spackman said he purchased his 1965 Rambler Marlin Fastback on "faith and trust" and photographs. It arrived in New Zealand on Friday after 32 days in transit from its former home in Lehighton, Pennsylvania, USA.

"All I'd seen was pictures so there were plenty of worried smiles when it arrived. When it came in it was absolutely filthy, with grime, dust and oily stuff all over it. It looked terrible but it cleaned up nicely.

"It's always a bit worrying when you haven't seen the vehicle. You've paid good money for something on faith and trust," said Mr Spackman.

He paid US$9500 (about $11,300) for the unique piece of automotive history.

"It's the only one I know of that's on the road in New Zealand.

"There were only 10,000 made over a period of three years from 1965 to 1967 so there's not many anywhere anymore. I'm very pleased with it."

Mr Spackman's vehicle was one of 48 taking part in the annual Bay of Plenty Vintage Car Club Anniversary Weekend Rally yesterday. He said there was a story behind the car's distinctive design.

"When Rambler were designing this car the designers had it looking more like a Mustang Fastback, sloping right from the windscreen back.

"But Rambler's general manager at the time wanted a back seat that he could sit in with his hat on. And he was quite a tall man. So they had to alter the car's lines to accommodate that."

Mr Spackman has been a member of the BOP Vintage Car Club for more than 20 years and owns two other classic cars, a 1929 Hudson Sedan and a 1922 Hudson Speedster.

Irene Hill, who has been a member of the BOP Vintage Car Club for 10 years, said the day had been a terrific success.

Mrs Hill is organiser of the club's next big event, a rally held over Jazz Festival Weekend, Easter Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday would see a parade of "brass and nickel and old cars", she said. "Chrome came out in 1928, so most of the cars in this parade will be pre-1928. They're real oldies, they're antique cars."

The oldest car of the 28 which took part in last year's event was from 1903.

"We have an open day on the second day, Easter Sunday," said Mrs Hill. The day would be open to pre-1982 cars to attend.

"Because it's called the vintage car club a lot of people don't realise a 1982 car could belong.

"A car has to be 30 years or older.

"We're looking for a 1982 car to be on display so we can say to the young ones, look this is what youre parents were driving you around in."

Anyone interested in entering their vehicle in the parade should contact Mrs Hill on (07) 573 5432.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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