Winter on State Highway 2 near Pahiatua is usually a quiet affair, the cold, crisp air and long, dark shadows don’t see too much traffic at this time of the year, but — thanks to Tui Brewery — the last Sunday of every month is a wee bit different. The sleepy countryside was awakened as car lovers descended on the brewery grounds for their annual Japanese car day. Tui has long held a close relationship with the local car scene, and their monthly events dubbed ‘Mangatainoka Motors’ adopt a variety of themes encompassing all facets of our automotive scene.
Words & Photos: Aaron Mai
The latest event celebrated everything from the land of the rising sun, and as people dusted off their pride and joy, and headed off out into the winter sun, it felt really good to be headed to a car meet. Awaiting everyone at the brewery was a taste of what we had all missed these last few months, and the thought of throwing off the slippers and heading out to mingle with fellow car enthusiasts was more than enough to lure out 100-plus cars. This was a true testament to the fact that car culture shouldn’t just be bound to the hot, sunny days of summer — any true car fan will be super quick to tell you the cars are great but it’s the people we meet along the way that keep us coming back for more.
As the gates opened the steady stream of entrants rolled through and grabbed any available real estate to park up in. As well as being the perfect excuse to get out and enjoy the local automotive scene, Tui also had the kitchen cranking out superb hot food and drinks for all who made the trip to Mangatainoka. A packed garden bar, hordes of people relaxing under the warm winter sun, and a live band cranking out solid tunes was proof that winter needn’t be dull and boring for all of us car lovers. It is no secret that car people don’t need too much convincing to grab the car from the garage and head out for a spot of socialising, it just happens that most of us prefer the hot summer sun to do it under. Luckily Tui must have the weather gods on speed dial as bright blue sky was the order of the day as it so often is at these events — must be something in the water there.
As the venue quickly filled up, everything from VIP cars, drift cars, Sunday cruisers, and even supercars were present. Many even made the pilgrimage from Wellington, Palmerston North, and Hawkes Bay to spin some yarns and check out each other’s cars. Smiles, laughs, and plenty of photos were the order of the day with people appreciating all the different styles and cars on display. Convoys from Wellington even met before sun-up for a breakfast en-route to the event, making the most of the chance for a bit of a Sunday drive.
For everyone who entered the show and shine there were categories and prizes up for grabs, including ‘most original’ that was scooped by an immaculate Honda City. Also on the list were other awards for farthest travelled, people’s choice, local star, as well as a $500 haul for the overall star of the show that was scooped by Cole Robinson’s worked FC RX7 street-legal track weapon. Wandering the car park it was quickly apparent how popular and family-friendly the Tui events are with the local car community. It was truly a great day out, and had something for everyone who attended.
After a spot of food and a bevvy, the car park started to reverberate to the sound of engines firing up, premix floated through the air, blow-off valves whistled, and the punters started to make their way back home. As I drove home, I realised just how much I had missed hanging out with fellow car people. A mid-winter catch-up with friends and other like-minded people was just what we all needed to get us through to the warmer summer months. A big shout out to the staff at Tui for giving us car enthusiasts a place and excuse to get out and enjoy the scene on something other than Facebook!
A fabricator by trade, Dan, operating as Walsh Motorsport, convinced Keegan of the benefits that come with upgrading the factory turbo. This was reinforced by a test drive in a recently completed example owned by Adrian Andrews of Fenix. So Dan was tasked with creating a brand-new top-mount stainless-steel manifold and a Garrett GTX3076R Gen II was selected to sit atop it. Unfortunately for Keegan’s piggy bank, it was during this process that little upgrades started turning into bigger ideas. You know what we’re talking about — the classic ‘while you’re here, you may as well do this’ mentality.
“We were doing the catch-can set-up and that meant taking the rocker covers off to weld on AN bungs,” explains Keegan. “Then it was basically, we should do the cams while the covers are off. Next was the ECU, and that meant doing the R35 coil conversion too. It just snowballs.”