It's a typical Wednesday evening in Hamilton but for some vintage car enthusiasts, it's work time - or "play-school" according to Waikato Vintage Car Club member, Alan Julian.

The hobbyists are volunteering their time to build a replica 1912 T-Ford from the ground up.

"It's a labour of love," club member Reece Burnett said.

"The Friends of the Gardens are paying for the materials and the vintage car club is managing and doing the work."

When it's finished the iconic car will be displayed at the Hamilton Gardens as part of a feature garden dedicated to the life and work of short story writer Katherine Mansfield.


"Director of the Gardens Dr Peter Sergel decided it would be nice to have a car that looks like it has just turned up for tea and tennis," Virginia Graham, president of the Friends of the Gardens, said.

"It's going to be placed in the Katherine Mansfield garden on the gravel drive which leads up to the villa, and you will be able to see it just to the right of the villa there. It will be a permanent fixture there, it won't be moved anywhere."

"It's going to sit outside all the time," Burnett added.

"So instead of having a wooden body it's got a plate steel body which is galvanised and the chassis is galvanised so everything has been galvanised.

"And in place of leather, the seats will be fibreglass."

Most parts of the Model T Ford have been cobbled together from around the country - but some have come all the way from America.

"We've tried to make it future proof from a weather point of view," Burnett said. "We've got kids on it so we tried to make it as strong as possible, because kids are going to slide on it and jump on it."

"We also expect for it to become a very popular venue for wedding photographs so you can imagine the bride and groom sitting up there and having their photograph taken," Graham said.

It's taken a community of volunteers and businesses ten months to get the car nearly completed. It just needs to be painted and for the seat and cover to be put on in the next few months. These committed car enthusiasts say it's been well worth the countless hours of work.

"There are things you do for a reward like being kind or whatever," said club member Murray Ashby. "But to do something that's actually voluntary, it's a feel-good thing. And we've got skills that are probably a dying skill."

And that's their ulterior motive, using the Model T replica to bring some young blood into their much-loved club.

"People will go along to the gardens and they will see the (car) and there will be some recognition that we need more young people in the vintage car club movement. And with a little bit of luck that could be a little bit of advertising if you like," Ashby said.

"Who knows, maybe 50 years from now, someone might even try to get this car started again!"

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