WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS...
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!