Annual Rotorua Vintage Car Club Lakefront Car Show
This was billed as the Fourth Annual Car Show — somehow the first three passed by your correspondent and his assistant. Maybe we missed past events, because it was at the height of summer, when Tauranga residents’ attention is naturally captivated by activities afforded by the proximity of sea and sand.
Possibly Tauranga residents have a propensity to sell short our neighbouring Bay of Plenty city, because, on arrival at the venue, my assistant and I were reminded of the first time, years before, that we went to the other event organized by the Rotorua Vintage Car Club. Every year, the club organizes the Rotorua Car Show and Swap Meet held in the middle of winter, at the Paradise Valley Raceway. We had only just become aware of the swap meet and thought we’d better go and have a look, not expecting much. We cruised over on a frosty morning, lateish, encountering hardly a car en route. Imagine how surprised we were when we came around the last corner before the raceway to see paddocks full of parked cars, and thousands of enthusiasts milling about the hundreds of stalls. We were blown away, and not a little abashed to realize that the lack of traffic did not mean lack of interest — it just meant we were late!
Better late than never, though. The advertising for the summer lakefront show said that it was on the Rotorua Village Green. Some village, some green! Rotorua is a real city, with the first section of Tutanekai Street covered over, arcade fashion, to make Eat Street, thanks to its many eateries and bars. The main shopping area continues on from that. The green is huge, with shade trees around the perimeter enclosing a vast open grassed field. The green includes the area where the Soundshell Market was taking place. This provided diversion for those in need of nourishment or whose interest in cars might inexplicably wane.
A small convoy of Alfa club members made the summer trip, and our group set up beneath the shady trees. Needless to say, by mutual agreement among the Alfa contingent, the first thing we decided to do was visit the market, with the justification being that many cars were still to arrive, so we’d miss nothing by indulging the less automotively besotted for a while.
On our return, my assistant diligently confirmed that upward of 200 vehicles were on display, but the place looked no fuller than when we arrived. Every owner and club had wisely sought shade around the perimeter, making one circuit a lengthy process. The expansive nature of the event made a relaxed change from some of the crowded shows we attend, even though they might have fewer cars on display.
Rotorua Vintage Car Club chairman David Tomlinson explained that the event was deliberately kept low key, so that not only clubs but also individuals could bring out their cars of interest to be viewed. His strategy seemed to be working, because, as well as the wonderfully restored vintage and classic vehicles, there were some works-in-progress, daily-drivers, and newish exotics.
David set the example by having not only two aristocratic beauties on show but also his daily-driver. He favoured British for his impressive 1993 Bentley Turbo R and 1978 Rolls-royce Shadow and, for his everyday runabout, a German 1977 Mercedes-benz 350 SL.
Each driver was asked to donate a gold coin to St John Ambulance Rotorua. In acknowledgement of that worthy cause, St John displayed two classic ambulances brought up from Feilding, where they are maintained true to their eras. Both looked diminutive compared with the modern Mercedes ambulance.
Having browsed, and, in some cases, purchased stuff from the market, circulated the car show a couple or three times, and exhausted the delights of Eat Street, suddenly it seemed to be time to head for home. Along with everyone else, the Alfa group packed up, well pleased with the day and determined to return next year.
1. Work in progress, 1958 Nash Metropolitan 2. Powerful 1935 Packard Super 8 3. Desirable 1961 Daimler SP250 4. Chewing the fat, 1917 Ford T roadster 5. Chevrolet class, 1967 Camaro RS 6. Oval headlamps for the Oval Office, 1931 Studebaker President