Close this search box.

A weekend in Sulphur City

14 July 2017

The automotive calendar is not kind to Kiwi car enthusiasts over the gruelling winter stretch. A season for hibernation, some will work dutifully within their freezing sheds and garages, while others forego the tools completely in favour of more comfortable pastimes. However, for those seeking a little — but not too much — more action, Rotorua had the answer. 

The weekend of July 8–9 provided a perfect excuse to spend a weekend in the Central North Island city, with local speed shop The Toy Shed hosting an open day on the Saturday afternoon, followed by the Rotorua Vintage Car Club’s annual swap meet the following morning. 

The Toy Shed open day is a bit of a big deal, as it provides any and all petrolheads in the area with an excuse to combine awesome cars with cheap beer and a sausage sizzle. 

Of course, this is about the cars, and when a large number of them have been built by the team here, you can be sure there were more than a few worth ogling. Mike Carton’s insane Corvette is the most obvious, as an eight-second strip weapon with WOF, rego, and cert. 

Even more impressive is the mammoth 14-71 blown 565ci big block that is set to replace the existing 10-71 blown 540ci big block. Sourced from Barry Plumpton’s eight-second Holden HQ, it’s certainly not going to make the Corvette any slower, nor any less intimidating!

That much power in a street-driven can can make for a bit of a handful, and The Toy Shed proprietor Russell Lowe and the team couldn’t help but poke a bit of fun at one of Mike’s more memorable driving incidents … 

Just as impressive a sight as Mike’s Corvette is Russell’s own 14-71 supercharged 27-litre V12 engine, sourced from a Centurion tank. Topped with a 14-71 from Reece Fish’s Top Fuel dragster, this is one tough motor, and although Russ was unable to get it fired up on the day, there is little doubt it’ll be beyond impressive when complete.

Above is a video of it running when naturally aspirated. If that’s not insane enough, imagine it packing a bit of boost, and frying the tyres of the Model A coupe it’s destined for. 

The following morning packed a bunch of buyers and sellers into the muddy grounds of the Paradise Valley Speedway, for what is traditionally one of the more popular swap meets on the automotive calendar. Hosted annually by the Rotorua Vintage Car Club, the dismal looking weather forecast meant attendance numbers of both swappers and spectators took a beating, looking a bit lower than the event usually gets. 

That said, it didn’t stop the assembled sellers from having a healthy selection of automobilia up for grabs — from intake manifolds to Haynes manuals to entire vehicles, which is just the way a swap meet should be! 

Even so, the lower numbers and dodgy weather definitely made their mark, and we can only hope the weather gods look down upon Rotorua with favour this time next year — it’d make a world of difference. 

We’ll have a more comprehensive event report on both events in the next issue of NZV8 magazine. For now, you can check out a bunch of photos in the gallery below.