Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 21

Thread: Vampire VK were is it now

  1. #1

    Vampire VK were is it now

    When i was a young kid living in Wanganui early 70s bout 7 or 8 i use to go to my grannys often.She had a neighbour who was building something remarkable.It was low,sporty,had doors like a spaceship(being7-8) i found out later these were gull-wing doors.It was a metallic bronze and i would peer over the fence every time it was out of the shed.Sometimes lucky to see it driving down the road with me watching its every move.Were is it now i presume family still have it.Does anyone have any info or pictures of this car.I have a couple from NZ Hot Rod July 72 taken at the NZ Motor Transport Show in WanganuiName:  phpxABrGcPM.jpg
Views: 1703
Size:  97.7 KBName:  php51bkWpPM.jpg
Views: 1641
Size:  97.0 KB

  2. #2
    Also from NZ Hot Rod August 76Name:  phpDOMx46PM.jpg
Views: 1629
Size:  115.1 KBName:  phpGKBgnBPM.jpg
Views: 1602
Size:  116.2 KB

  3. #3
    That thing is wild! Greg Stokes might be able to help, he is a wealth of knowledge on NZ hot rodding history, although I'm not quite sure if this falls directly into the category of a hot rod.

  4. #4
    The last time I spoke to Vince he said he thought the car was still in the Manawatu area.

    I have a couple of colour slides somewhere. I will get these scaned when I find them.

  5. #5
    Hey that will be great briteyes will look good in colour.

  6. #6
    Get any further with this?

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by briteyes View Post
    The last time I spoke to Vince he said he thought the car was still in the Manawatu area.

    I have a couple of colour slides somewhere. I will get these scaned when I find them.
    Any chance of finding those coloured slides yet briteyes,that car looked amazing in that bronze colour.

  8. #8
    Glad to see that this is still alive,would like to see some photos Bernard.

  9. #9

    Vampire VK

    Hi, I am having difficulty posting the article - It is in pdf format and approx 1.3MB. Can I e-mail the article direct to you? My e-mail is


    Bernard Mathews

  10. #10
    Ok mate i have your email,i will message you. . . i go into a site called shrinkpictures and i shrink all my photos in there before i post them on here.

  11. #11
    Hey Guys,

    Bernard's Daughter here, I have re-sized the images for him (makes them unreadable). So I will upload them and I will retype the article to go with it (so you can actually read it!)

    A Local Inspiration

    By Donn Anderson, Motorman, January 1973

    New Zealanders have produced some original motor vehicle designs, and a few have actually been put into practice. One of these is the Ford Cortina-powered Vampire VK, mechanically designed and constructed by Vince Keats, with body design by Nick ten Grotenhuis.

    First exhibited at the Wanganui motor show early last year, and then at the Auckland motor show in November, the two-door Vampire is a six year project by two Wanganui men. Vince, a vehicle inspector with the Ministry if Transport, wanted a car suitable for car club competition - but the Vampire turned out to be something better than just a back yard special.

    Nick, born in Holland and now a naturalized New Zealander, designed the unusual looking car which is the first of his many automotive shapes to appear in the flesh. Grotenhuis is a staff engineer with NZ Railways in Wanganui and in his spear time he designs cars.

    This is nothing new for Nick - he began his hobby more than ten years ago. In 1963 he felt that the Rolls Royce Silver Cloud was stake in appearance, so he forwarded a revised body design to Rolls Royce. The British company declined use of them, pointing out that economics of motor body building did not allow the company to take much interest in freelance designs of the kind Mr Grotenhuis had submitted. But little more than two years later, the new Silver Cloud hit the market - and it resembled the Grotenhuis design remarkably.

    Four years ago Grotenhuis discussed racing car design with Bruce Mclaren and some of his early drawings were certainly ahead of their time. Aerodynamics greatly influence Nick's designs - including the Vampire - and the Wanganui man was drawing Tyrrell-type nose sections as long ago as 1967.

    He designed the nose for the Begg FM4 which Garry Pedersen unfortunately wrecked at the October Pukekohe meeting. And he came up with a much more modern body for the ill-fated ANZIEL Nova fiberglass family car which almost got off the ground in 1968.

    Grotenhuis met Keats in 1966 and the pair got together on the Vampire project, the car finally appearing last year. Nick believes that with a number of modifications to make it more practical for road use, the Vampire could be put into production with a Cortina 1600 GT engine for about $4,000. "For a little extra it could probably be offered with an optional 2000 Cortina GT engine," he says.

    The Wanganui engineer said the Vampire's body design is the result of a series of mathematical curves. It is aerodynamically efficient, with little wind noise at high speed. Despite the relatively modest 1500cc pushrod Cortina engine with its twin 40 DCOE Weber carburetors, the 13ft 2in long car will exceed 110mph - an indication of its efficient wind-cheating shape.

    the Vampire has a full tubular frame chassis and is immensely strong, with 3in tubing used in places. Unusually, the bottom half of the body, and the center and rear sections are made from steel, while the top half of the shell is fiberglass. The car is very rigid and sturdy and the steel bulkhead behind the occupants has a strong tubular in the event of a rollover.

    Body finish is superb, and the iridescent brown paintwork can't be faulted. Immediately apparent are the gull-wing center-hinged doors which Grotenhuis admits would need modification before production was considered. There is a cable arrangement for the doors on the prototype but they don't open far enough.

    As usual with a one off, some compromised have been made, Keats and Grotenhuis found it was too expensive to have a rear screen made, so they fitted louvers on the prototype which severely restrict rearward visibility. Naturally if the Vampire want into production it would have a rear screen. The front windscreen is from a 1964 Humber Sceptre, and the headlights are the Escort/Avenger squarish type. The fabricated fiberglass grille is finished matt black.

    Grotenhuis says he originally wasn't interested in cars. "I have always been interested in aircraft design and I guess I am still an airplane nut." Not surprising, then, that the Vampire uses one or two bits and pieces from a P40 RNZAF Curtis Kittyhawk plane.

    The car sits on 13in Dunlop D4 wheels and Aquajet radial tires. The track is 4ft 5 in, wheelbase 7ft 6in, width and height a mere 3ft 7 in. Part of the suspension is from an early 1.5 Brabham once owned by Graeme Lawrence. At the front there are unequal length non parallel wihbones with coil springs and double acting shock absobers.

    Rear suspension consists of traverse straight top and wishbone lower links, with two longitudinal radius arms. Disc brakes are used all round.

    This racing suspensin is far too firm for a road car as we found during a short drive. Occupants feel every bump, and the car is only comfortable on really smooth surfaces. At the same tiem the Vampire is a neitral handler with high cornering powers.

    A wide sill and low-opening door makes access extremely difficult, and once inside there's barely room for two people. Obviously a lot of work would have to be done to the interior before production was considered. Grotenhuis designed the aircraft style instrument panel which can be read without the driver scarcely lowerign his eyes from the road.

    A pair of matching dials house the 8000rpm counter and 150mph speedo, with smaller accompanying temperature, oil and fuel gauges. Pedals are angled towards the center, and the door catches are located under the facia. Another catch releases the exterior petrol filler.

    Engine and transmission noise is high but some sound proofing would be beneficial. The rack and pinion steering is direct, and both gear-leaver (located on the right) and handbrake are found in small wells. Transmission is provided by a modified Volkswagen gearbox which is reversed and inverted. There's a single dry plate clutch and the car does 16mph per 1000rpm in top gear.

    Two interior catches release the complete rear section to give easy access to the mid-mounted four cylinder engine, gearbox and suspension. The battery is rear mounted, while the radiator is found at the front. These's little storage room in the Vampire - practically none in the passenger compartment apart from a small glove compartment, and only a small boot at the front.

    Considerable design and work has gone into the Vampire, and the unique shape makes the car an eye-catcher anywhere. Gary Hutchins made a great job of finishing and painting the vehicle.

    Is production of a GT-type car viable in New Zealand? It's debatable. But what isn't in question is the fact that this Wanganui team have produced in the Vampire VK an original sports which is another tribute to Kiwi ingenuity.

    Picture 2: Vampire's interior dimensions are tight but most controls and instruments well placed. Entry and exit is difficult

    Picture 3: Grotehuis shows Anderson the front luggage compartment. In production rear window would be glass, not louvers.

    Picture 4: Cortina pushrod engine sits snugly in rear. Note part of the sturdy frame in foreground.

    Picture 5: Back in 1967 Grotenhuis designed an alternative body for Formula 2 McLaren M4A FVA open wheeler. Some of his early drawings show advance thinking.

    Name:  Dad's VK Info Pg 1.jpg
Views: 942
Size:  53.8 KBName:  Dad's VK Info Pg 2.jpg
Views: 940
Size:  46.0 KBName:  Dad's VK Info Pg 3.jpg
Views: 919
Size:  47.5 KB
    Last edited by Bernard Mathews; 06-27-2014 at 03:12 AM. Reason: Tried to reattach the pictures

  12. #12
    ok so it would let me put the pictures in with the typing... but anyway here are some attached pictures that I took a few years

    Steph (Bernard's Daughter)

    Name:  Back Shrink.jpg
Views: 944
Size:  88.7 KBName:  Front Shrink.jpg
Views: 948
Size:  100.1 KB

  13. #13
    Its a interesting read about the Vampire VK,i saw it as a small child while living in Wanganui and it has taken all these years to find out the ins and outs of the car....I will never forget the first time i saw it in its metallic bronze paint.Glad to see it still lives to Bernard.

  14. #14
    Sorry about the quallity. very degraded slide.Name:  VK2.jpg
Views: 831
Size:  138.0 KB

  15. #15
    Nice one briteyes when and where was this photo taken

  16. #16
    At Vince's place in Whanganui, And I am guessing 1973,74

  17. #17
    Purchased a DKW junior off Vince about eight years ogo, very clever & very nice gentleman. He showed me through his workshop .the motor bikes he was restoring at the time where absolutely fabulous.

  18. #18
    That would have been an interesting meeting Hirsty, 2 very clever nice guy's chatting, would have loved to have taped that conversation. Talking about motor bikes, how is that one in your garage.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Rod Grimwood View Post
    That would have been an interesting meeting Hirsty, 2 very clever nice guy's chatting, would have loved to have taped that conversation. Talking about motor bikes, how is that one in your garage.
    90% Rod, mainly just paint the pretty bits when the weather warms up a bit, can you give us some information on how the escort is coming along, pleeeeese, cheers Kev.

  20. #20
    Another article on the Vampire has been published! Check it out at:
    Select the 'Magazine' tab then search for 'Vampire VK'.

    Article was published in their club magazine Sept 2015 issue.

    Bernard Mathews

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts