Hot roddin’

Last weekend we loaded the tandem into the van (I can hear some people yawning already) and headed up to Orewa to check out the Te Ara Tahuna Estuary Cycleway and Walking Track.

The ride was lovely, although we got lost in subdivisions a couple of times (welcome to Orewa, where you can check out any time you want…)

But wait, there’s more! We were apparently the only people in New Zealand who didn’t know that Orewa over Anniversary weekend means hot rods. Lotsa lotsa hot rods.

I’m not really a hot rod guy, mostly for political/ snobbery reasons… those are, for the most part, not my people. But OMG the cars are magnificent. The giant engines, clean enough to eat off. You can reach into the metal-flake paint jobs up to your elbow. It’s all good: the ball fringe, the greasy food truck smells, the Betty Boop costumes.

And of course it’s almost all Americana. There were maybe 5 or 10% right hand drive cars… the rest was pure Detroit. There were more Mustangs and Camaros than anything else. We pulled in to the sounds of Johnny Cash, and later saw a very convincing Polynesian Elvis grinding away on the little bandshell stage, mopping his face in the heat.

Part of me does wonder, back to the political/ snobbery discussion, whether there’s a need for some additional work so that the next generation of li’l rodders is more fully empowered and socially tolerant than those that came before. But in the meantime, listen to that engine roar!!


Walking to and from work I see what I would consider exotic cars pretty much every day. Bentleys and Ferraris and Lambos, oh my. And on the weekends it gets even better, as people bring out their pampered beauties to see and be seen.

But that doesn’t mean it’s all like that for everybody…

Plenty of people still rely on duct tape for repairs. Even liability auto insurance is not mandatory here, much less full coverage, since the medical side of things is covered by the state. So, even more people here pay for their own bodywork (which is called ‘panelbeating’ which is a really great word), window replacements, etc.

This spectacularly ugly Ford Escort was first registered in about 1977, based on its license plate. In NZ, since there are no states, there’s only one sequence of plates… two letters followed by up to three numbers started in 1964, with AA plates. The plates flipped from black to white in 1981, somewhere around the letter M. They ran out of numbers in 2000 and started over in 2001 with three letters. Our car registered this year is LNE… so the current numbering will last for quite a few more years.

Stuck on you

Not our white minivan, to be sure, but a sight that makes you think about how differences in the expression of that one little gene for “impulse control” can have a lasting impact on a person’s life.

Too Cute

Auckland’s car culture is well developed. In addition to the highest concentration of exotic-ish sports cars I’ve ever seen, there are plenty of Bentleys and Rolls rolling around. And the level just below is well populated: nice Jags, Teslas, Mercedes AMGs, like that. 

But our budget doesn’t really run that way at the moment. Luckily, we’re attracted to cuteness as well as luxury. And since our actual needs for a car are purely recreational, we would likely end up with a Miata or something if we decided to buy a car. 

Recently we’ve seen a couple unfamiliar models and thought, wow, how fun, we could get one of those! But no… read on. 

The Nissan Will VI was a production version of a concept car aimed at young people in the early 2000s. An interesting story, and a relatively rare car, not something that would work for us. 

The Smart Roadster? Same type of story… doesn’t matter if we like it or not, we won’t be buying one. 


You know there’s a housing bubble when, in the same block, there’s a guy who can afford a Maserati but not a garage… 

and another guy has the same problem with his McLaren!

Vanadu WTF

This guy was spotted around Brattleboro for a few days earlier this month. His own website,, probably describes it best. I didn’t actually know you could get a .wtf domain, but now I understand why it’s necessary for that option to exist. 

It was fun to watch people, especially men, drive by slowly and then keep craning their necks into the rear view mirror for a longer look. 

Wellington cars

Except that they drive on the wrong side, cars in Wellington look like a slightly scaled down version of cars at home. Not as crazy small as European cars look to me, but sensibly smaller than what I see around town in Vermont. I did see a Figaro, but wasn’t quick enough to get a shot. Here’s a couple of standouts…

This Cobra spent the night outside my hotel, and I appreciated the honesty of its vanity plate.

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