Me & My Car: Hot rod hero
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Aaron Carson has curated a display of his favourite muscle cars, hot roads and motorcycles for the Auckland City Limits music festival.
What are you driving?
A 1923 Model T Ford Roadster built from scratch in the style of a late 1950s hot rod. My friend Chris Piaggi had the chassis mocked up in his workshop and I bought it in 2007 spending the next seven years finishing it.
It’s powered by a mechanically fuel-injected 289 cubic inch Ford V8, and it’s got a c4 auto transmission with a full manual reverse valve body. (That means it operates like a manual gearbox but it’s an auto.) The colour was custom-painted by my friend Dale, with 13 coats of paint and metal flake.
Why this car?
I love traditional hot tods built with the correct parts and styling. The aesthetic is just as important as the performance. In reality, it handles terribly; it’s a ridiculously over-powered go-cart. Nothing on the vehicle is stock, it’s all custom.
How does it fit your personality?
It’s completely impractical but a lot of fun to drive, dangerous yet well cared for. It’s a complete paradox, let’s just say there are parallels.
Who else drives your car?
It’s tricky due to the vintage fuel injection and it has a lot of idiosyncrasies. Short answer, no one.
What do you always keep in it?
A key ring Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top gave me.
What else do you have in your garage?
A 1973 Camaro Z28, and a 1970 Karmann Ghia that is my wife’s car.
First car you owned?
My first car was a 1972 HQ Holden I started my first job at 18 and my mother and I went to the auctions and bought it. The motor blew within two weeks. My brother and I fixed it on the driveway then I rebuilt it using a rare crashed Commonwealth Games limited edition HQ. It was my first car,
a pain in the arse but I have fantastic memories of the freedom, experiences and friendships associated with it.
Who taught you to drive?
My father. He could drive anything — cars, trucks, buses — whatever. He told me three things: know the width of your vehicle, use your mirrors, and a miss is as good as a mile!
Who started your interest in cars?
Magazines. I would read old American Hot Rod magazines (my parents owned a stationery shop when I was small) and I was just obsessed. I would draw and draw and draw these cars I’d seen. They just resonated with me. I was never interested in European or English cars (although I appreciate them now), just hot rods and drag cars.
Any cars you have regretted selling?
I had a 55 Chevy when I was 21 that I wish I’d kept. It’s the same as guitars and bicycles though, I usually sold them to buy something I wanted more, so it doesn’t matter.
Favourite racing driver?
Jungle Jim Liberman. He knew how to put on a show.
Favourite movie car scene?
That’s easy, it’s from the 1971 film Two-Lane Blacktop. They are driving through a canyon — Dennis Wilson, James Taylor and Laurie Bird — in the baddest 55 Chevy of them all. There is no dialogue in the scene, just the sound of a big block chevy engine and a manual gearbox whining through the gears and a long panoramic shot.
Great day trip out of Auckland?
I love Hawkes Bay. Driving through the country in that area feels free.
Do you judge people by what they drive?
No. If it’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that you just never know what the hell is going on in people’s lives — let alone in their garages.
What irritates you most about other drivers?
That they exist. I like to be alone on the road.