February Zippel Cruise

DSC_0032Adelaide’s Zippel cruises have become somewhat legendary in car circles. Strictly for American cars and their owners only, the meet point, route and finish point of the Saturday night cruises are a closely guarded secret, only distributed to verified owners who have joined the Zippel Cruise Nights club.

DSC_0097The cruises run monthly during the summer and have done so for the past 24 years. The police are notified of the route, and the secrecy is designed to keep hoons and public spectators away. Zippel cruises have had over 400 cars on some runs, so it’s really important that it remains an underground thing to avoid it getting out of hand.

DSC_0100The first time I encountered a Zippel cruise was last year when we went to see a movie at West Lakes. We pulled into the carpark and it was completely full of American cars. It was like nothing I’d seen before, and I was almost speechless. It took a few months of sleuthing to find out what the gathering was and to get the contact details of the cruise organiser, Grant Zippel, and then quite a bit of fast talking to convince him to share the route for the next one with Any Given Reason.

DSC_0033So with a non-disclosure promise akin to top level military papers, yesterday Grant kindly emailed me the route for last night’s cruise. Starting with a 6pm meet at K-Mart Firle, the route headed north to Montague Road before turning back toward the city, finishing the other side at the Castle Plaza Shopping Centre.

DSC_0010After careful consideration I chose a viewing spot just out of North Adelaide where I would be able to get some nice sunset shots. And I completely misjudged when the cars would arrive, and watched the most incredible sunset in amazing photographic conditions with nary a muscle car to be seen. Right place, yes. Right time? Nope.

DSC_0034It was dark by the time the cars started to roll through, so I headed down to the Port Road intersection to watch the cars round the corner.

DSC_0046And what an eclectic range of cars it was, ranging from old school hot rods to the latest American muscle cars. The lion’s share of the pack was made up of 60’s and 70’s American coupe’s.

DSC_0135Zippel cruise nights are very heavily inspired by the American cruising culture, which involves cruising between locations and then stopping so everyone can check out the cars. The cruise finished at Castle Plaza and everybody stuck around for several hours afterwards.

DSC_0129As you’d expect with any American hot rod inspired cruising scene, fast food is involved, and the runs usually start and finish within close proximity of a Hungry Jacks. The famous neon lights just added to the atmosphere.

DSC_0122There was a trio of DeLorean’s, one fitted with a flux capacitor. I don’t think it actually worked, though.

DSC_0127DSC_0126This genuine RS Camaro looked hot. The 22″ wheels are surely aftermarket, but they have an OEM look to them and this Camaro looked super smooth rolling down the road.

DSC_0117DSC_0118This is cruise organiser Grant Zippel’s super rare 1948 Chevy Aerosedan. It looks like something straight out of Grease, and believe it or not but it’s stock standard! It looks like a nicely finished custom.

DSC_0139The Mustang II was never a great commercial success, it had a very hard act to follow, but being a Cobra this one has a little more cred. In isolation, I think they’re a nice looking, compact sized car. Very cool.

DSC_0124And in a very similar vein from the other camp, the Chevy Monza. This one seemed to be packing a little more punch than usual.

DSC_0113Usually a blurry shot is the result of the camera moving, however in this case it was a result of the car moving. This bagged lowrider was performing tricks for the gathered crowd.

DSC_0144Custom rockabilly isn’t just a hobby, it’s a lifestyle and these guys had the clothes, hair and tats to match their cars. Awesome dedication.

DSC_0149The cruise wasn’t just for customs, there were a stack of mint condition, stock standard muscle cars. Almost every car I saw was either modified, or in immaculate original order.

DSC_0142Some of the cars, like this Cuda, are far too rare to consider heavily modifying.

DSC_0130The variety was huge. From pickups…

DSC_0138… to traditional rods…

DSC_0140… and even a Chevy Blazer. It’s funny how these cars are painfully common in the States, but they have a certain charm about them in Australia. Just something different, I guess. Interestingly, this one was riding on 3-piece Simmons rims.

DSC_0131And my favorite car of the night? This 1955 Packard Caribbean. The photo does a poor job of replicating the sheer size of this thing, it was huge! The owner is a container ship captain for a living, so I’m guessing he feels at home behind the wheel.

DSC_0133But it was in simply stunning condition, and it had a presence matched by few cars. And with less than 500 built, they are highly prized by collectors both in Australia and in the States. Hey, if you’re going to go big, you might as well go huge!

DSC_0148The next cruise is scheduled for March, and the route will remain a complete secret until the day. Fingers crossed that with enough sleuthing, Any Given Reason will be there to show it to you!


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  1. Joe February 10, 2013 Reply

    "… and even a Chevy Blazer. It’s funny how these cars are painfully common in the States, but they have a certain charm about them in Australia. Just something different, I guess."

    I was thinking this just today, but replace Chevy Blazer with Corvette C6 Z06. Living in the US for a few months found me tired of most American muscle cars (Challengers, Corvettes, Camaros, Mustangs), but now that I've been home a while, there really is something special about seeing one, something kind of close to the affection you have for the memories of your travel.

    Great article and great photos, as always.

  2. Viano Jaksa February 11, 2013 Reply

    Once again - awesome read. Thanks for the sleuthing, the dedication, the prose and the pics. Great stuff. My wife's grandpa only had Packards during and immediately after the War; many hours spent listening to his stories of driving around country SA for his hotel-broking business. He loved them and seriously missed them when they were no longer part of the Australian motoring scene.

  3. Tom Gilbert February 11, 2013 Reply

    Great blog Andrew and some superb pictures. Yes, make sure you get onto the next one!

  4. Zippel Grant February 16, 2013 Reply

    You referred to my Aerosedan as a 'FORD'!!! Are you kidding?

    • Andrew Coles February 26, 2013 Reply

      Sorry Grant, I believe that mistake carries the death penalty! Has been changed now.

      As mentioned, I'm still learning my American car history. Though I'll happily sit and discuss the intricacies of Porsche 911 models or the different engines found in old Alfa's if you like!

  5. Zippel Grant February 16, 2013 Reply

    Also, you stated I've had up to 900 cars attend. Sorry 405 maximum.

    • Andrew Coles February 26, 2013 Reply

      And sorry about that mistake too - in my mind it felt like 900 cars!

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