SIXTH ANNUAL ROTORUA VINTAGE AND VETERAN CAR CLUB LAKEFRONT CAR SHOW
Alot of people go to Rotorua to look at boiling mud, steaming vents, and spouting geysers, and then scare themselves silly riding the luge. If they happened to be there on the third Sunday in January, they would have been treated to an experience most automotive aficionados would consider superior to viewing all but the most spectacular thermal activity, or defying death in any of the multitude of ways available in Rotorua.
That superior experience was hosted by the Rotorua Vintage and Veteran Car Club, and centred on the Lakefront Village Green at a magnificent display of vehicles, from vintage to classic, new, four wheels and two. Of course, those in the know, and that must have included members from just about every car club in the upper central North Island, would not have been surprised at the record-breaking turnout of vehicles. Being an informal sort of show, with entry by gold-coin donation, no official numbers are kept of entrants, participants, or public. Despite that, chairman David Tomlinson estimated there must have been close to 300 vehicles on display. I think he estimated on the conservative side, because the vast space that locals call the Village Green, adjacent to the lake, was filled with rows of cars, and every shady spot around the perimeter had cars three or four deep vying for space. There was no way I, or my assistant, who was slowed down this year by a mobility problem, had time to count them all.
A powerful attraction that may have contributed to my assistant’s less-than-complete devotion to the automotive imperative was, as usual, the Soundshell Market. Set up almost as part of the Village Green, the market is a great place to find a bargain and get some fruit or a coffee. Equally close, but on the city side of the green, is Rotorua’s famous Eat Street. This pedestrianized and covered street lined with restaurants is where my fellow Alfa Romeo club members repaired for a well-deserved lunch. No one said being a classic car enthusiast was easy, but there cannot be many easier locations than Rotorua, with all mod cons close to hand. Sometimes, a proper gourmet sit-down restaurant lunch just wins hands down over the usual hot dog and chips consumed on the fly.
David explained that the gold coins would again go to the St John ambulance service. The service displayed a number of ambulances, the oldest — now retired — being a 1976 Dodge.
Being a laid-back summer event, there were no prizes on offer, not even people’s choice. Due to my assistant’s temporary speed wobbles, not to mention absence scoping the market, our usual ploy of picking our own wasn’t possible. In any case, the number of cars and the necessity of covering the ground in the time available, made lingering over decisions not an option. Nevertheless, vehicles that caught my eye were the smallest car, a BMW Isetta; and the largest, a spectacular Ford Galaxie 500; the millionth (plus a few) Morris Minor; a lovely Ford Thunderbird; any one of chairman David’s Rolls-royces and Bentleys; and, of course, many others. However, the vehicle that to me epitomized the beautiful summer’s day on the peaceful Village Green was the dark blue Triumph TR6, surely a timeless design from the era of British sports car supremacy.
One measure of an event’s success is how long the participants stay. It was pleasing to note that as the 2pm nominal close of the event came and went, many owners were still content to enjoy each other’s company. In fact, the Alfa contingent, being from out of town, was unusually among the first to leave. Some unkind and misinformed people would say that was because these drivers would have to leave in plenty of time to get home, pending breakdowns. Be that as it may, we all enjoyed the day, and will be back as long as David and his team in the Rotorua Vintage and Veteran Car Club continue to organize it.