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A traditional Christmas at Rocket

13 December 2015

If traditional old-school cool is your thing, then the annual Rocket Speed Equipment Open Day on Saturday, December 12 would have been just your gig. It’s a favourite event for many, with some travelling from as far away as the South Island to see what’s in the works at Rocket’s Hamilton workshop. 

“While it’s a great way to promote the business and what we do here at Rocket, it’s also an end-of-year Christmas party for our customers, suppliers, and supporters”, says Dan Tyler of Rocket Speed Equipment. 

This year’s event was bursting at the seams with plenty of cool rides both inside the workshop and out on the street, resulting in what was possibly Rocket’s largest open day to date. 

Cars travelled in from all corners of the country to fill Grasslands Place to capacity like never before. We heard many comments along the lines of how healthy rodding is in New Zealand with so many fresh cars in the scene of traditional persuasion. 

Laurie Urlich owns this neat pair of hot rods — original 1950s survivors from Hawaii with a heap of history each. Together with Rocket Speed Equipment, Laurie has meticulously rebuilt each car, maintaining the classic 1950s styling that these cars were originally built to.

Classic Cover Insurance’s Larry Barnett turned up in his bare-metal Model A coupe, which had been updated by Rocket to bring it up to a certified and complied stage.

It doesn’t get more traditional than a ’40s era dry lakes–inspired Model A roadster complete with four-cylinder power. This is definitely how the original hot rods of the ’40s were.

Roger Johnson now owns the Model A roadster pickup originally built by Haydn Mitchell. The Hemi power ties in well with the cheater slicks Roger recently fitted.

Under construction inside was the retro-themed ’33 Ford tudor of Dave Nelson running a Cadillac engine, five-speed, and a Halibrand quickchange.

Greg Halliday’s all-steel Willys coupe wowed them with beautiful tin work and the construction of the insanely powered beast. It’s going to be an incredible car once completed with a blown and injected Ray Barton Hemi for power.

Rocket was founded on their traditional hot rod style and construction, and there was plenty of it on the go in the workshop, from channelled Model As to ’32 Fords, and everything else.

This low-slung Model A coupe was impressive with a flathead engine and neat sheet metal work.

Tim Philps trekked down from Auckland in his neat Model A tudor. Behind that is Ivan Clarks’ timeless ’32 coupe with a flathead and five-speed.

Jon and Marlene Robben run with Stragglers and go everywhere in their neat Model A pickup.

Haydn Mitchell’s ’32 coupe was one of the very first traditional hot rods in New Zealand when the nostalgia craze started in the ’90s. The original Henry Ford–bodied hot rod is a textbook lesson in traditional hot rodding of the ’50s era.

Kylo Leckie’s low Model A roadster cut a cool profile outside Rocket as many enjoyed a beverage and some food, which included the event’s famous chilli. 

Thanks Dan and the team at Rocket, and Merry Christmas to you all and best wishes for 2016.