Couple's panel van choice of the people

23:40, Jan 19 2014

Invercargill couple Roger and Diane Whyte were rewarded after two years of blood, sweat and tears when they won the people's choice award at the Cromwell Classic Car and Hot Rod Festival on Saturday.

Their winning vehicle, a 1978 XC Falcon panel van, impressed the hundreds of people who attended the annual show, who voted it as their favourite vehicle from more than 700 cars and motorbikes.

It was also chosen by the judges as one of the top 10 vehicles at the show.

Mr Whyte, a mechanic, said he had always had a dream to restore a car to enter in shows and he was delighted other people appreciated the work he had done on the van.

"I wanted to build a ‘wow factor' car."

He bought it in Geraldine two years ago and stripped it down and sandblasted it from the bare metal.


The couple took a while to decide on an exterior paint colour but, after finding a colour they liked at the Americana car show in New Plymouth, they opted for green.

The inside of the van was customised and included handmade door panels, Mr Whyte said.

His wife was also delighted to win the award and said it was "lovely" her husband's hard work had paid off.

And the panel van won't just be sitting in the shed to be admired - the couple plan on taking it on a road trip to the North Island at the end of March.

The car show, in its 19th year, was organised by the Southland Ford Falcon Club. Secretary Tena McCarthy said it continued to grow in entry numbers each year, with 710 vehicles entered this year.

The club was grateful for support from the Cromwell community and, as a token of its appreciation, donated $1500 to Cromwell St John.


The Southland Times