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40 Years of Fun: Tauranga Street Machines & Customs celebrates

31 October 2017



Tauranga-based Street Machines & Customs held their annual show towards the end of September this year, and, once again, the show was held in conjunction with Greerton Mainstreet. Greerton Mainstreet is promoted by the local business association who hold their main activities around the school grounds and the business area of Greerton, and its main yearly event is the Cherry Blossom Festival. 

About three or four years ago, Greig Covell, the Street Machines & Customs club secretary, approached the committee with regards to joining in with to display the club’s vehicles there. After Greig and club president Tim Wood attended a few meetings with the committee, a deal was struck where Greerton Mainstreet would close off a portion of Chadwick Road between the Cameron Road and the Greerton Road roundabouts in which area the club could display their vehicles. 

The show was an instant hit with both Greerton Mainstreet and the general public alike, and since then the club has been invited back annually and the show is a major drawcard. With all the different style and nature of shops and establishments being open, as well as Greerton Mainstreet’s activities and amusements going on, there was no shortage of goings-on for everyone to enjoy. 

This year, things were just that little more special, on account of the club celebrating its 40th anniversary. After talking with Greig Covell, Graeme Ardern — the club’s founder — mentioned some old hot rodding friends of his from the ’60s, Al Dawson and Lorraine Flight. Together, they form the popular rock’n’roll trio known as Al Dawson & the Wildkatz, and after a phone call to Al, it was all go. The band was looking forward to playing the show, and their drummer, Gavin, is also a member of the Tauranga social dance group Bay City Rockers, all of whom were also keen to join the party. 

Needless to say, Al Dawson & the Wildkatz had the place rocking all day, and with the combined efforts of the Bay City Rockers, greatly added to the 1950–60s vibe the club were hoping for. However, because this show was a bigger deal to the club than most, it wasn’t just the additional vibes brought by the live music. They went all out when it came to promotion, putting the word out through hot rod clubs, over social media, and through local newspapers. The response, as you can see through these photos, was phenomenal. 

The club members had arrived early to set the venue up, but the entrants had the same idea, and before long Chadwick Road was a parking lot full of cooler-than-average machinery. Fortunately, the club had the use of extra space in front of the Greerton Community Library, where the control tents were, and the St George’s Centre Point op shop is always happy to help out when use of their car park when required. 

The calibre of vehicles on display this year was outstanding, and the general public loved them very much, with many photos taken and comments about how great the show was this year. Having always run its anniversary shows on a ‘free for all’ basis, Street Machines & Customs guarantees free entry for the public and entrants alike — just like it used to be done in the early days of hot rodding. Of course, this could only be made possible through the generous efforts and support of the sponsors and those who donated goodies for the auction. 

The show’s famous no reserve auction saw a whole lot of donated goods sent off to favourable prices, giving a win-win scenario for all involved. These items ranged from automotive goods and services through to prints, plaques, t-shirts, and several gift vouchers for two to stay at Taupo’s Chantilly Motor Lodge, and a voucher for a new Hi-torque starter motor from Roadrunner Starters in Tauranga.

If the auction could be classed as a prizegiving of its own, which it effectively was, the real prizegiving followed soon after, after which attendees had to make the tricky decision of whether they’d hang around to soak up the vibes, or hit the road. 

A great success, the event was very well attended with many entrants travelling long distances to be there, with the notable inclusion of early club members Juice Walton and Ian ‘Magoo’ McGowan making special trips over from Australia. 

The club would also like to thank the hardworking committee and members who made it all happen, sponsors and supporters, Al Dawson & the WIldkatz, the Bay City Rockers, and Greerton Mainstreet. What an event, and what memories!