With burgers named things like ‘Ford Freakout’, ‘Bacon Backfire’, ‘American Muscle’, and even ‘Bambina’, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that long-running burger engineer BurgerFuel has an automotive connection
The subtle hints begin the moment you enter a BurgerFuel restaurant. It’s not just the burger names; it’s those touches that hammer it home, the stuff that passes right over the head of anyone who pays for their oil changes but which make a petrolhead feel right at home: from the spark-plug chandeliers and piston ‘Doofer’ dispenser, to the retro car interior–inspired seating featured in each restaurant. But it’s what’s typically found parked out front of the store that we’re most interested in (apart from what’s cooking in the kitchen). Ever since the first store opened on Auckland’s Ponsonby Road back in ’95, this connection has been strongly driven by founder Chris Mason. It’s far from some marketing ploy dreamed up in the boardroom. A peek inside the BurgerFuel HQ car park will prove this, as you’ll be greeted by a very specific fleet of company cars: an array of ’65 to ’72 muscle cars.
That’s been BurgerFuel’s style from day one (although over the years, the steadfast rule has been bent for a few oddballs that found their way into the fleet). Undoubtedly, you’ll have seen some of them around yourself, as not only are the team very active over summer but they also sponsor and attend as many car events as they can. It’s kind of hard to miss the cars, thanks to local paint legend Steve Levine, who is responsible for the trademark three-tone fadeaway purple pearl.
Currently the team at HQ have five classic cars. While it’s kind of surprising to find out that these are driven almost daily, what we find the most exciting is the fact that, for the most part, they are all modified under the hood. From stroker motors, to engines such as the one found in the Fairmount known as ‘FRKOUT’ — which features a roller cam, Trick Flow heads, a forged rotating assembly, and 750cfm carb — let’s just say that a run to a store is anything but boring.
They say that like attracts like, which is evident when looking at the franchisees and their taste in cars. Many own at least one muscle car in that trademark fade, some two or three. From Camaros, Torinos, Kingswoods, Barracudas, to even a Kombi, all are showcased on BurgerFuel’s website in the Speed and Custom section. BurgerFuel could host its own show if the whole fleet were assembled!
It’s refreshing to see a business that has grown from one shop to an international brand not forgetting its roots and going all corporate. How many companies would throw the keys of their 365hp Dodge Coronet to the new intern on a coffee run? We’re betting not many.