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The retro appeal lives on at Retro Junction

2 February 2015

One of New Zealand’s largest car show and swap meet weekends, the annual Kumeu Hot Rod and Classic Car Festival, held this year on January 16–18, always features an incredible diversity of vehicles, which has made this event so appealing and popular. 

The Retro Junction display, organized by Whakatane Rod and Custom Club members, is a regular showcase at the festival, and over the years of its inclusion, it’s become a drawcard in itself and attracts the hardcore traditionalists to the event. 

This year was no exception with all kinds of neat hot rods, race cars, and a couple of customs on display. It was great to see work-in-progress projects, and there were already people planning on bringing their cars to the Retro Junction display next year. As you’ll see, the traditional style is very strong in New Zealand with rodding dating back to the ’50s, despite the smaller population and the lack of speed equipment available back then. What New Zealand lacked in parts or products was made up for with innovation and ingenuity.


Neil Surtees is one very clever man. His Model A roadster pickup features a handcrafted, (by Neil) all-aluminium body, with over 5000 rivets holding it together. The detail is incredible and some of the features include a pickup bed, which slides back to access the rear radiators for the flathead Ford V8 engine. The chassis is underslung and the screen is slightly curved but emulates a later early-Ford shape.

Keith Golder’s FE-powered ’34 roadster is shown here alongside Malcolm Turner’s Hemi-powered Model A coupe, and Haydn Mitchell’s Hemi-powered Model A Roadster pickup.

The Retro Junction display was a tasteful buffet of early-style engines featuring multiple carburettors and rare speed equipment.

We never tire of the sight of Gary ‘Grease’ Martin’s blown Ardun engine in his chopped ’32 coupe. They’re original Ardun heads too!

Coming or going, Tania Foster’s ’36 coupe cuts a gorgeous profile. A strong nod in its styling must go to the Jack Calori coupe and the early Westergard custom era.

You’re forgiven for thinking Kurt Stockman’s Fiat Topolino is an old quarter-mile refugee from the ’60s. It’s being built for the street with a Hilborn mechanical injector upon a blown 392 Hemi engine.

Dave Alexander always admired the Art Chrisman No. 25 dragster, so he cloned it calling it the ‘Alexander Special’. It is street registered and has been drag raced, used on dirt tracks, entered in shows, and has also run at Bonneville.

Kelly O’Donnell’s Cadillac-powered Model A roadster runs a four-speed and quick-change rear end. Dig the Mercury hubcaps.

Mike Watkins is one of the young guys of the scene with this cool, gold ’49 Ford coupe running Caddy hubcaps. He drives it everywhere with a small block Ford under the hood.

Nigel Oliver’s neat Model A roadster was built at Rocket Speed Equipment and features rolled pans and belly pans concealing the early Ford flathead drivetrain.

Dave Best built this gasser-inspired Model A coupe in the early ’90s, and now his son Jesse owns it with an injected Hemi and a four-speed gearbox. It’s raced and driven on the street regularly.

Barry Dew is a collector of 1932 Fords, and this is one of them. The original all-steel, five-window coupe is on a very early Roy Brizio chassis and powered by an early 293 Chev.

Mike Roberts is one of New Zealand’s most talented fabricators. He built this Model A pickup by hand, starting with only a Model A cowl and doors. It’s an incredible study of form and function detail, powered by a Ford Y-block engine. Last year Mike and his wife Dyan took the car to the USA to attend a few events.

John Messer’s ’39 coupe wears the original faded paint but underneath is updated with Chev running gear and a dropped axle.

Steve Dally’s original all-steel ’32 coupe wears chromed and reversed 16-inch Ford wheels on Hurst slicks, and Firestone bias plies.