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Bigger than Texas: 22nd annual Kumeu Classic Car and Hot Rod Festival

18 January, 2016

Crap events don’t survive. And with the weekend of January 16–17 celebrating the 22nd annual Kumeu Classic Car and Hot Rod Festival, that longevity should tell you all that you need to know about the event. It is one of New Zealand’s biggest, and most highly regarded, automotive festivals — a celebration of classic car culture that can be enjoyed by people young and old, be they diehard petrolheads or vehicularly ignorant.


Not only is there a mind-blowingly immense selection of vehicles on display at the Kumeu A&P Showgrounds, there is also a huge swap meet to keep the bargain hunters occupied, as well as a thorough line-up of trade stands covering nearly every conceivable facet of the classic automotive scene. You could attend the show over both weekend days and still fail to see everything on display — it really is that big.



The swap meet was cause for avid scroungers to show up at the crack of dawn, and peruse through piles of stuff in search of hidden — or not so hidden — gems. You name it, it was there — from engine parts through to gearboxes, diffs, and chassis parts, entire vehicles, memorabilia, and far too much other stuff to comfortably list here. If you’re an automotive enthusiast, the swap meet had something to pique your interest — guaranteed.


The same went for the trade stands, with everything from genuine leather goods, Charlie ‘Chaz’ Allen’s pinstriping, the beautifully presented pair of chassis on display by Valley Custom, and a large number of speed shops proudly displaying their wares. West Auckland Engine Reconditioners had Marion Livingstone’s ’68 Plymouth Barracuda on display, and the car was definitely a standout — no mean feat in an event of this scale.


Valley Custom had their stunning Chev Aerosedan chassis on display under their pavilion for all to admire, but according to proprietor Murray Storey, “People are more interested in the ramp on our truck!”


And, as for the cars … well, with so many on display, whittling through the standouts was always going to be tricky. It’s hard to go by something as cool as this, though — a tribute to the number 25 car in which Art Chrisman broke the 140mph barrier down Famoso Raceway in 1955. This example has been built locally, and the car’s quality and visual impact certainly shows why it’s quite a well-known hot rod.


Sachin Balu’s Holden Commodore VK boasts an engine bay that’s clean enough to eat off, with build quality that’s reflected throughout the car. With a worked 308 nestled snugly within the smoothed and de-loomed bay, and a Tremec TKO600 behind it, this Commodore should drive as well as it looks.


And, speaking of clean engine bays, how about this? It’s attached to a 1967 Chev Nova, and has to have been one of the most well-detailed vehicles in attendance. The 355ci small block has been thoroughly worked, and sits over a Heidts Mustang II IFS front subframe, with a Muncie M20 four-speed manual box taking care of driver pleasure. The GM 10-bolt diff out back has been given the works, including a Detroit Locker and four-link kit, and the owner assures us it’s an absolute ball to drive. We’ll have a full feature in an upcoming issue of NZV8, so keep an eye out for it.


This 1967 Pontiac GTO was another subtle standout. Within the subtly metal-flaked engine bay was the expected small block V8, which appeared to be topped with a tri-power manifold and carbs. And if the Hurst floor shifter inside is anything to go by, it’s backed by a four-speed manual gearbox, making it one seriously cool package.


Looking for a bargain? This neat ’52 Chev was packing a hot small block, Tremec TKO600 five-speed, and Posi-equipped rear end. If only the budget allowed …


STA Parts’ Camaro is a beautifully finished pro-tourer built to showcase their extensive catalogue of speed parts on offer. With an LSX454 under the bonnet, a Tremec T56 Magnum six-speed manual, and fully built and four-linked 12-bolt diff, this is one serious vehicle. The plush interior by Waikato Motor Trimmer, and silky-smooth exterior simply seals the deal.


This 1955 Lincoln Capri was parked amongst the Old Skool Rydz low-rider club’s vehicles, and what a fine-looking vehicle it is. Dropped ride height, Caddy hubcaps, and wide whites — sometimes, simple really is best.


There was something about this ’63 Falcon that got our attention, and a closer look revealed that this project is going to be one neat car when it’s finished. Maybe it was the Lokar floor shifter, or the tilt-adjustable steering column, or the disc brakes subtly hidden behind the steel wheels, but something about this car just screams ‘quality’.


The main shed hosted the cream of the crop, and would see the entered vehicles face-off for the coveted ‘People’s Choice’ award. Howard Bond’s gorgeous ’36 Ford was in attendance as last year’s winner, along with cars like Mike Bari’s stunning Chevelle, Richard Tuthill’s turbocharged VL, and Ken Hopper’s Nascar-spec Camaros, among others.


This year, it would be the ‘Volksrod’ that took the crown. Some weren’t too happy about this decision, but the people’s choice award is a reflection of what the people liked — remember, Kumeu is as much of an event for mum, dad, and the kids, as it is for hardcore hot-rodders. The Volksrod’s got an undeniable presence — just look at the awestruck spectators above.


Of course, what’s spotlighted above is really just a tiny fraction of the giant circus that is the Kumeu Classic Car and Hot Rod Festival. We’ll have more show highlights in our event report in NZV8 Issue No. 130, which will be out on February 8.

For now, you can check out the image gallery below — enjoy!

The Jowett Jupiter turns 70

John Ball has always enjoyed tinkering with old boats and cars. He’s old enough to think having gearbox parts on newspaper on the floor of his bedroom, while the relevant car sat waiting on nail boxes, was a normal part of growing up. His passion has always tended towards old British bangers. He reckons he’s fortunate not to have got caught up in the American muscle scene.
John’s love affair with this Jupiter started in December 2015 when, with some time on his hands during a Christchurch trip, he searched online for ‘cars, before 1970 and in Christchurch’.

A passion for classics and customs

In the highly competitive field of New Zealand classic and custom restorations, reputations are won or lost on the ability to maintain consistently high standards of workmanship. A company managing to achieve this is D A Panel beating Ltd, of Rangiora near Christchurch. Is your classic or custom car restoration stalled, or in need of a refresh, or perhaps you are looking for experts to rebuild that recent import project out of Europe or the ‘States?