The annual Kumeu Classic Car and Hot Rod Festival is more than just a car show, festival, or whatever else you want to call it — over the last two decades it has slowly but surely become the manifestation of New Zealand’s love for automotive culture. Entering its 21st year, the festival shows absolutely no sign of slowing down.

The weekend of January 17–18, 2015 was full to bursting of all that keeps the punters coming back for more, year after year — trade stands, live music, a thriving swap meet, display sheds, and, of course, the sheer number of vehicles on display.

The cars on display are what draw most visitors to Kumeu and, with a vast and varied range on display, 2015 promised a bit of something for everyone. The crème de la crème occupied the main shed, and would be in competition for the coveted People’s Choice award. Among these immaculate vehicles was a stunning Dodge Coronet 440 Six Pack, Beach Hop 15’s giveaway Mercury, and Howard Bond’s beautiful coupe (above), which would go on to claim the People’s Choice and Best Hot Rod awards.

The adjoining sheds didn’t ease up on the cool stuff, and the next shed along featured some of the country’s finest airbrushers flaunting their wares and wowing the crowds with their incredible artwork.

Along from the airbrushers was Strike Force, a crowd-pleasing dragster powered by a Westinghouse J34-48 jet engine. Capable of running a standing quarter in under seven seconds, the dragster made quite a scene when it was wheeled outside and fired up (quite literally) — the pyrotechnics this car is capable of are second to none.  

A lot of the vehicles on display were arranged by car clubs from across the country, and it was great seeing so many clubs represented at Kumeu. One of the standout park-ups was courtesy of Old Skool Rydz Lowrider Club, who managed to transform a patch of grass into urban Los Angeles with an array of lowriders and a solid club turnout.

The Far North Rod & Custom Club also had a very strong turnout, especially considering the club is only in its second year. The 1937 Chevrolet Sedan named ‘J Low’ was popular, looking very Bonnie and Clyde with its period-correct touches contrasting with its low, bagged ride height. Francis ‘Rolly’ Noble’s menacing Holden HZ ute drew a constant stream of onlookers; its mountainous 572ci big block and polished 8/71 blower the crowning jewel of their display — look out for a full feature on this car in an upcoming issue of NZV8 magazine.

As the two words ‘hot rod’ are an integral part of the festival, you can bet that they were well represented. The selection was huge, and covered just about all facets of the scene, from ‘traditional’ rods through to high-end street rods, and just about everything in-between.

Twistin’ Pistons was, in my opinion, one of the coolest cars on show. Almost entirely 392ci of mechanical fuel-injected Hemi, and very little else, the Model A coupe is about as raw as they come — it’ll get you down the quarter mile bloody fast, and it doesn’t need leather seats or shiny paint to do it.

For the bargain hunter, Kumeu’s swap meet delivered a sprawling maze of displays promising delight to the proficient shopper. Indeed, punters hauling around their latest score was a common sight throughout the show.

If new was more your thing, the phone book worth of trade stalls was also well worth a look. Yes, shiny new car parts were in abundance, but the cool feature cars and products were clear incentives for the crowds to hang around and browse. Of these, Kruzin Kustoms’ stall had to be one of the standouts — their all steel ’32 Ford was guaranteed to be surrounded by onlookers at all hours of the day.

The show is truly accessible to all, despite how petrolheaded it may appear from the outside. Kids' entertainment, a generous selection of food stalls, a bar (serving primarily Lion Red), and stalls selling all kinds of stuff (not just car related) meant it truly was an event for the whole family. For those camping there, it was a perfect day to sink some beer with mates and check out the best that our automotive culture has to offer. For viewers, it was much the same.

Thanks, Kumeu Classic Car and Hot Rod Show — you know we’ll be back next year.