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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!

Taipan – surpassing interest

“It’s merely a passing interest,” insists Selby — despite owning three variants of the classic VW Beetle, including an unusual VW van that was sold as a body kit for a Subaru. In his defence he points to a 1961 Ford Thunderbird, a car that he converted to right-hand drive. However, on the VW side of the ledger, since he opened Allison Autos in Whanganui 27 years ago, Selby has built 15 VW-powered Formula First cars, followed by a beach buggy, restored a derelict Karmann Ghia, and hot-rodded a common or garden Beetle into something that has to be seen to be believed. As speed is not something generally associated with classic VWs, though, Selby is still waiting for this particular modification to catch on amongst the hot rod faithful.

Travelling companion

It’s easy to see why the Morris Minor Traveller was one of the best-loved variants of the Morris Minor. Introduced in 1953, it was equipped with the same independent torsion bar front suspension, drum brakes, and rack and pinion steering as its saloon sibling but, with their foldable rear seat increasing versatility, many Travellers were used as trade vehicles, says Derek Goddard. Derek and Gail Goddard, the owners of this superbly restored example, have run Morris Minors since before they were married in 1974.
“Our honeymoon vehicle was a blue Morris Minor van — it was a rust bucket,” says Derek.