At home at a racetrack, René finds himself parked up with the show cars of the Tuned Swap Meet, and manages to find a few gems

I’ll admit it, I’m more at home these days hanging over the side rails of a racing circuit, nostrils brimming with the smell of various race fuels. So, when I got invited to a hardpark-style meet by Adam Vlahos of Downshift Australia, I thought to myself, why not. Besides, it has been a while since my last car meet, and I haven’t seen how they roll here in Aussie. 

This wasn’t to be a usual meet though, as the Tuned crew, who were to host the event, decided they’d introduce a swap meet element. Now, swap meets are usually found at hot rod, classic, and V8 events, where the beards are long, the denim is a prominent wardrobe feature, and the entire venue is held in a haze of tyre and cigarette smoke. With the uprising of Facebook buy-and-sell pages, and their new-found flaws including scamming and much more, would this be a success?

Wait, hang on, aren’t beards and denim back in for us youngins? Maybe a swap meet will work! I arrived early, as per instruction, and I was stoked to have done so. This enabled me to have a lot of room to shoot the standout vehicles that had arrived early. Shooting in a cramped and confined space never results in the shots I am after. Punters set up shop and displayed their goods that were on offer. 

One bloke even had an RB26 in the tray of his ute...

A couple of vehicles I first stumbled upon were these two. Both of these rivals were suitably slammed. Both had features found on circuit vehicles, but they had tyres thin enough to slice cheese with, and a ride height only useful on the grassy fields of these meets. However, that being said, they both looked spectacular and ride on air, so they get my vote. 

I walked behind the Mitsubishi Evo, then weaved my way through to the Subaru WRX, and back again. Which one would I take home? 

I couldn’t decide, and it didn’t matter as I didn’t have the option to! 

Another thing I noticed while walking under the Sydney sunshine surrounded by glimmering paint jobs, promo girls, and trade stands, was the amount of JZA80 Toyota Supras. They were everywhere, but my favourite had to be this blue example. Sitting pretty on a set of Work Meisters, it had me yearning to own one myself. 

Why am I such a sucker for a ’90s Grand Touring vehicles? Maybe it’s the fact that I know the driveline is where it should be placed, there’s at least one turbo, and they’ve got bodylines like no readily available modern vehicles? 

That must be it. This white one was the goods too. Are these cheap in Australia or something? Back in New Zealand, these would be $25,000 cars depending on the condition. 

Drift crew Three Fingers Neat brought along their JZ-powered BMW E46 drift mobile to be displayed in front of the Downshift stand. Seeing it come off the trailer had me wondering if the original straight-six had been boosted, but instead a Japanese engine plant was guilty of blowing surrounding eardrums. 

To be honest, I had no idea what to expect from this meet. I wasn’t sure if I’d see poorly modified cars, or slick show cars. I was suitably surprised by what I managed to find at the Tuned meet, and even stumbled across a number of high-powered GT-Rs, of which I am a huge fan of. 

It appeared as though the meet side of the event was much more successful than the swap side. However, it was the first one for Tuned, so maybe people will ease up next time around. People were actually buying stuff, too, walking off with intercoolers for a mere $50, and turbos for even less. A great concept guys, and I look forward to seeing how this event progresses. Until next time, Wizard of Aus out! 

René Vermeer

Dutch, French, or just a Kiwi, René isn’t quite sure, but he does know he has a passion for Japanese vehicles like no other. A well-seasoned Gran Turismo player dating back to his single-digit days, René has a comprehensive knowledge of a wide range of performance vehicles and has owned more than 30 performance cars here in New Zealand, ranging from Nissans to Hondas. A lover of photography, you’ll find him either peeping under someone’s bonnet to snap a detailed shot, or on the side of the racetrack, perfecting his panning.