An­nual Rotorua Vin­tage and Vet­eran Car Club’s Lake­front Car Show

Words and pho­tos: John Mctav­ish

New Zealand Classic Car - - Report -

For the sec­ond year in a row, a con­tin­gent of Al­fas from Tau­ranga pledged to make the sum­mer road trip to the Rotorua Vin­tage and Vet­eran Car Club’s an­nual Lake­front Car Show.

It was too good to pass up on a re­peat of last year’s idyl­lic day spent among hun­dreds of fine au­to­mo­biles on dis­play un­der the shade trees sur­round­ing The Vil­lage Green, with the lake as a back­drop. Un­for­tu­nately, the fickle na­ture of the 2016/2017 sum­mer blew by in the form of a weather bomb that, overnight, dis­rupted much of the Cen­tral North Is­land. It was fore­cast to have passed by mid-sun­day morn­ing, and David Tom­lin­son, the Rotorua club’s chair­man, was faced with the tricky de­ci­sion about whether to weather the storm or call the event off. With the wind still howl­ing and hor­i­zon­tal rain at day­break, he made the very brave and some­what op­ti­mistic de­ci­sion to forge ahead — un­like the or­ga­niz­ers of the ad­join­ing Sound­shell Mar­ket, who val­ued their tents and mar­quees above rev­enue.

As it hap­pened, both or­ga­niz­ers made the right de­ci­sion. The wind was slow to abate, so the mar­ket tents would have ended up in the lake, and the rain eased when the sun came out around morn­ing-tea time. The clear­ing weather re­vealed that at least 100 in­trepid ve­hi­cle own­ers had braved the el­e­ments. Most es­chewed the shade trees and dan­ger of fall­ing branches for the safe wide-open space of the green. The Vil­lage Green was some­what wa­ter­logged, but noth­ing could take away from David and his team that their op­ti­mism had been the right way to go. Sure, the num­ber of ve­hi­cles on dis­play was well shy of that of pre­vi­ous years, but ev­ery one of those who braved the trip de­served a medal.

As usual, St John Am­bu­lance Rotorua was the re­cip­i­ent of the gold-coin en­try fee. Again, they had ex­am­ples of their am­bu­lances on dis­play — a 1976 Dodge and 1982 Bed­ford CF. A peek in­side the in­te­rior of the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s 2014 Mercedes-benz Sprinter re­vealed why it would be much bet­ter to be in need of an am­bu­lance now, rather than three or four decades ago.

The show is no­table for its in­for­mal na­ture. Clubs are more than welcome, just as own­ers of in­ter­est­ing ve­hi­cles are, no mat­ter the ve­hi­cle’s age. There was a smat­ter­ing of mod­ern — Jaguars, Mus­tangs, and even my 20-yearold as-new Alfa 164 scraped into that class. Then there was the jux­ta­po­si­tion of a 1969 Fiat Bam­bina parked next to a 1959 Cadil­lac, as though the or­ga­niz­ers were hav­ing a laugh, and the 1997 164 rub­bing hub caps with the mag­nif­i­cently haughty 1931 Stude­baker Pres­i­dent, their 86year age dif­fer­ence some­thing to be mar­velled at.

An­other good thing about The Vil­lage Green is its prox­im­ity to Eat Street, that por­tion near­est the lake of Tu­tanekai Street that is Rotorua’s main street. If you missed the mar­ket’s handy cof­fee carts, a strate­gic re­treat to Eat Street was re­quired to sa­ti­ate hunger.

Even­tu­ally, re­plete in ev­ery way, it was time for us to de­part, this time en­joy­ing the trip in the ex­act op­po­site weather con­di­tions un­der which we’d ar­rived.

Full marks to the Rotorua Vin­tage and Vet­eran Car Club for car­ry­ing on in try­ing cir­cum­stances, and we hope it won’t let a mi­nor hic­cup in the his­tory of the event put it off or­ga­niz­ing the event again next year, just as we won’t stop sup­port­ing it.

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