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Best of the bay: Marineland Hot Rod and Classic Car Festival

8 May 2015


The Marineland Hot Rod & Classic Car Festival, hosted by the Marineland Street Rod & Kustom Car Club, has been a recurring event over the last 23 years. As you can imagine, with over two decades of practice, they know what works and what doesn’t — this was evident in this year’s event, which was well-run, well-organized, well-attended, and well-enjoyed. 

As per usual, the Meeanee Speedway grounds in Napier was the venue of choice, fitting the bill perfectly. Every year, the Marineland show is themed in some way, and this year would be no different. As 2015 marked 100 years since the Anzac troops landed at Gallipoli in World War I (WWI), it was only fitting for that to be the theme. The front of the clubrooms proudly displayed 368 poppies in a wreath, each one signifying one of the Hawke’s Bay soldiers who died in WWI.

Marineland is a weekend–long festival, but it’s the Sunday show and swap meet that really draws in the punters — whether you’re in it to hunt for that much-desired vintage part, or to check out the rows of beautiful machinery, the show does not disappoint. With over 600 cars coming from the length and breadth of the North Island, and over 3000 spectators, it was always going to be a big one. 

Given the Anzac theme of things, it was no surprise that military vehicles would make up one impressive portion of the machinery on display. This group comprises your standard-fare military Land Rovers, as well as a Chevrolet–based truck, used by the Long Range Desert Group (LRDG), named ‘Tutira IV’. 

Of course, the usual muscle cars and hot rods were in attendance, but so were the cars of other types of car clubs. Though they were of a totally different style, clubs such as the Hawke’s Bay British & European Car Club brought a refreshingly different — and incredibly presented — variety of cars.

If you prefer your cars a little wilder, you couldn’t go past Mark Gapp’s blown Willys Coupe. He recently had the car on a number of wheels-up passes down the strip at Masterton Motorplex, so you may rest assured that it is as quick and powerful as it looks.

Nearby, the boys from Pro Parts were having a spark-plug-changing competition, where the lowest ET wins — as you can imagine, this was a hit throughout the day. 

It was also cool seeing a number of past NZV8 feature cars here, still looking as good as the day they were featured, if not better. One that would definitely fall into this latter category was Mark Coffey’s recently supercharged 1957 Chev coupe — if you’re trailering one of your fast cars to the drag strip, why not have a 10-second tow vehicle, too? 

Past feature cars also included this pair of gassers. Con Bentley’s ‘Valgas’ started life as a four-door, not that you’d ever know by looking at it — he’s absolutely nailed it with the stance, and built it all himself, for a fraction of what most people would spend building one half as good. Beside it was the awesome 460ci big block Chev–powered ’55 Bel Air belonging to Glen Monroe. He hasn’t owned the car all too long, but is already a familiar sight smoking the Mickey Thompsons down the strip. 

Then there were the cars that you may well recognize simply because they’re always driven out and about by their owners. Jeff Moulder’s chopped ’55 Chev is one such car, having frequented the Hawke’s Bay area for many years now. At one stage it was finished in white, running a blown small block, but that black just screams ‘tough’!

It’s not every day you see a Nomad, either, especially one finished to this level. Well, that’s not quite a true statement, actually — we saw this car nearly every day at Repco Beach Hop 15, but you get the idea. 

This beautiful ’55 Nomad is owned by Russell Dons from Palmerston North and, despite the car’s rarity and flawless finish — not to mention a return journey the width of the North Island — he’s not afraid to jump in and clock up the miles. 

And, it wouldn’t be Hawke’s Bay if there wasn’t that bit of entertainment to cater to the inner nine-year-old in us all. What happens when you drop a two-tonne block of cement onto a Subaru wagon? Well … 

If you found that question a bit too easy, perhaps you could answer this: what happens when you ram a Nissan Primera full of fuel into said cement block? The answer, as you can see, is a lot of fire, and a lot of carnage. 

And there you have it! The Marineland Hot Rod & Classic Car Festival, done and dusted for another year. Thanks to the Marineland Street Rod & Kustom Car Club for yet another awesome show, which they may struggle to top next year. We’ll be there, anyway.

Keep an eye out for full coverage in the upcoming NZV8 Issue No. 122, on sale June 8.