A 16-year-old has been arrested in Whanganui after a rare truck was destroyed before Vintage Weekend festivities kicked off.

Cars from the Vintage Austin Register of New Zealand were broken into and burgled overnight Friday at the Ad Astra Hostel, near Whanganui Girls' College, where they were parked.

The 16-year-old is expected to appear in the Whanganui Youth Court this week.

A rare and original vintage Austin truck was destroyed in a Friday night blaze fire officials are calling deliberate.

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Another rare vehicle parked next to the truck was burnt and blistered, but is thought to be salvageable.

"We have referred that to the police," said Whanganui Fire Station senior officer, Doug Bennett. "It did appear other cars there had been interfered with as well. Not as far as fire goes, but there were doors open and bits and pieces which was unusual for that time of night.

"We got a call to the hostel on fire rather than the two cars. It was pretty severely damaged that wee ute."

He said there was no damage to the building and no one was hurt "apart from one guy's heart broken," Bennett said.

Police received a report Saturday morning of fire damage to the two vintage cars that were parked at the hostel.

"The cars appear to have been set alight late yesterday evening," a spokeswoman said.

"Police are following lines of inquiry including working to access CCTV footage."

The Wanganui Vintage Car Club's club captain, Frank James, said the owner of the destroyed Austin truck was part of an Auckland-based group of enthusiasts.

"They wanted to come to Whanganui to have a get-together as they do on a yearly, bi-yearly basis. They thought what a great place to come and take in part of Vintage Weekend in Whanganui as well," James said.

"So that was a very sad incident. They're pretty upset ... it's one of those things we always wish would never happen in our city particularly when we've got lovely visitors in town but elements of our society don't quite see the world the way most of us do unfortunately."

Whanganui came alive on Saturday with several events attracting thousands of people to the central city, including a display of vintage cars that stretched three city blocks.

Organisers were forced to cancel one event, an outdoor movie, due to high winds, which reached 30kph during an otherwise fine day.