Annual Rotorua Vintage and Veteran Car Club’s Lakefront Car Show
Words and photos: John Mctavish
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.