Ro­tove­gas pro­vided the per­fect an­tithe­sis to the un­event­ful win­ter blues, with two dif­fer­ent ways to kill time and pos­si­bly nab a bar­gain WORDS AND PHO­TOS: CON­NAL GRACE


The mis­er­able depths of July are hardly a hot­bed of events for Kiwi car en­thu­si­asts, but the cen­tral North Is­land city of Ro­torua had things cov­ered dur­ing the week­end of July 8–9. The Toy Shed’s open day on the Saturday was fol­lowed by the Ro­torua Vin­tage and Vet­eran Car Club’s an­nual Cen­tral North Is­land Swap Meet and Car Show on the Sun­day morn­ing. The Toy Shed open day is a big deal, as it pro­vides any and all petrol­heads in the area with an ex­cuse to com­bine awe­some cars with cheap beer and a sausage siz­zle. When the skies are an omi­nous shade of grey and the breeze coming off Lake Ro­torua is the epit­ome of win­ter, the open day is a very wel­come way to spend an af­ter­noon. Of course, this is an au­to­mo­tive mag­a­zine, so we shall not dwell on the sausages or beer of choice. The cars are where it’s at, and those were pro­vided in spades. If it’s got one cam and a bunch of pushrods in­side the en­gine, The Toy Shed is the go-to horse­power work­shop in Ro­torua — and, for the ben­e­fit of the beer-drink­ing pub­lic, the spa­cious work­shop was pep­pered with a healthy selection of the ve­hi­cles the team have worked on. From tubbed and blown drag weapons through to an ar­ray of hot rods, and, of course, pro­pri­etor Rus­sell Lowe’s 14-71 su­per­charged 27-litre V12 en­gine, eye candy was guar­an­teed — and that’s for­tu­nate, be­cause beer-swill­ing hot rod­ders aren’t win­ning any beauty pageants any time soon! It wasn’t just good-look­ing gear, though. Rowdy

en­gine fire-ups are a given at any event in which Rus­sell’s in­volved, and this was no dif­fer­ent — al­though Rus­sell was un­able to fire up his fa­mous V12 tank en­gine for en­ter­tain­ment this time around. How­ever, his nasty small block–pow­ered Mk1 Es­cort drag car more than made up for this mi­nor dis­ap­point­ment, as did the blown and in­jected Corvette owned by Mike Carl­ton, run­ning its un­muf­fled drag ex­haust. The vis­ual spec­ta­cle of mas­sive ex­haust flames and in­sane body twist met its match in the sheer in­san­ity of the sound­track — she’s loud! Even with­out the fire-ups, the var­i­ous past and current builds by The Toy Shed pos­sessed suf­fi­cient char­ac­ter to hold court when fuel was not be­ing con­verted to noise — well, me­chan­i­cal noise, any­way; af­ter all, an event like this con­stantly con­verts fuel from brown bot­tles into noise! The fol­low­ing morn­ing saw a bunch of buy­ers and sell­ers packed into the muddy grounds of the Par­adise Val­ley Speedway for what is tra­di­tion­ally one of the more pop­u­lar swap meets on the au­to­mo­tive cal­en­dar, hosted an­nu­ally by the Ro­torua Vin­tage and Vet­eran Car Club. The dis­mal

weather fore­cast meant the num­bers of both swap­pers and spec­ta­tors in at­ten­dance took a beat­ing. Things didn’t look too flash from out­side, ei­ther, with the grassy park­ing area turned to a casse­role of mud and grass. Once through the gates, things proved a fair bit more promis­ing — the out­side area boasted a dis­play of vin­tage and vet­eran cars, clas­sics, and hot rods, while the grounds within the fa­cil­ity hosted a num­ber of traders with all man­ner of au­to­mo­bilia on of­fer. Whether you were search­ing for a whole new project or an elusive part, there was a fair bit on of­fer. It must be said, though, that this year’s lower turnout cer­tainly made it­self ob­vi­ous in the re­duced num­ber of trade stalls. Even so, it wasn’t the kind of event you’d have called a waste of time, as there was more than enough to hold your at­ten­tion for a morn­ing. Per­haps we just need to hope the weather gods look down on Ro­torua with favour this time next year — it’d make a world of dif­fer­ence.

Below: Six hun­dred dollars for a 351W blower man­i­fold? This is how projects sud­denly snow­ball out of con­trol! Right: It isn’t just manky old sec­ond-hand gear at swap meets. The trade dis­plays of­fered some neat new gear, as well as very wel­come shel­ter when the weather de­cided not to play ball Above: Nos­tal­gia Mo­tors had a V6-pow­ered Model Y up for sale. Al­though it doesn’t look en­tirely com­plete, it ap­pears to have the bones of a de­cent cruiser be­neath it — that stance is a lot meaner than fac­tory! Above: Be­lieve it or not, Rus­sell’s V12 is des­tined for a Model A coupe! It is to sit over a Ford Bonus chas­sis and will re­quire a cus­tom step-up drive to re­duce the torque put through the trans­mis­sion. You’ve gotta feel for any trans­mis­sion put be­hind this weapon, which is a 1649ci Rover Me­teor V12 sourced from a Cen­tu­rion tank that has been topped with a 14-71 su­per­charger off Reece Fish’s top fuel drag­ster. Russ was un­able to get a suit­able starter mo­tor sorted to fire it up this time around, but when that hap­pens, it’ll be be­yond im­pres­sive!

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