Adelaide’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.
The 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.
The 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.
So 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.
After 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.
Zippel 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.
As 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.
This 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.
The 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.
… 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.
And 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.
But 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!