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Classic car aficionados assemble for automotive extravaganza

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Steve Wilson and his rare 1986 Fiat Uno Turbo will be among the dedicated classic car owners at this year’s Auckland Brit and Euro Classic Car Show in Lloyd Elsmore Park. Times photo Wayne Martin

More than 1300 of New Zealand’s rarest, prettiest, and most desirable automotive machines are about to descend on Pakuranga for the eighth Auckland Brit and Euro Classic Car Show.

Staged at Lloyd Elsmore Park this Sunday, March 3, it will showcase a spectacular collection of cars plus a small display of classic motorcycles and military vehicles.

There will also be a rare flyover by a NZ Warbirds aircraft between 12.30pm and 1.30pm and plenty of food and coffee trucks to keep people’s stomachs full and thirst quenched.

Among the cars to be displayed are the full range of British and European classics including those made by Aston Martin, Bentley, Jaguar, Lotus, Mini, MG and Rolls-Royce, as well as Alfa Romeo, Audi, BMW, Citroen, Ferrari, Fiat, Peugeot, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Renault, Volvo and more.

A special section will showcase a selection of ‘hot hatches’ from the 1980s and 1990s as well as British and European production race cars.

“You don’t have to be a car enthusiast to recognise the styles of the ’70s and ’80s hot hatches, like the unforgettable Volkswagen Golf GTI, the Peugeot GTi, and the reintroduction of the MG brand with the Metro,” the show’s organisers say.

“Lesser-known Citroen Visas, BX and AX GTis competed with a vast array of fast Fords wearing Super-Sport then XR2, XR3 and XR4i badges.

“Then it was the turn of turbo-charging and the huge door graphics that further shouted their sporting prowess.

“Renault with the 5 and 11 Turbos, Fiat with the Uno Turbo, Ford with their RS Turbos, then Lancia with the Delta HF Turbo and Integrale.”

The organisers say those car manufacturers took “fairly mundane every day shopping or family cars” and turned them into “desirable, performance ‘hot hatches'”, with their popularity as strong as ever.

Many automotive enthusiasts believe the hot hatch phenomenon began with the 1976 Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk1, but at a similar time Italian company Alfa Romeo launched its Alfasud, although it wasn’t strictly a hatchback, they say.

“One name that speaks of performance is Lotus and in April, 1979, at the Geneva Motor Show, Chrysler Talbot launched the Lotus Sunbeam.

“Lotus installed a 2.2ltr version of the Lotus 16-valve slant-four cylinder engine. Coupled to a ZF gearbox driving the rear wheels, a rally-ready hot hatch was born.

“At 150 brake horsepower … this hot hatch eclipsed the front-wheel drive competition, however, like most 1980s cars, it suffered terribly from rust.”

The legendary Cosworth then got into the game with the Ford Sierra RS Cosworth powered by a 2ltr 16v turbo-charged engine producing more than 200bhp.

“Its signature ‘whale-tail’ spoiler led on from the XR4i by-plane version,” the show’s organisers say.

“For the 2024 Auckland Brit and Euro Classic Car Show, the iconic hot hatch will be part of the central display, with many owners proudly displaying their pride and joy.

“These cars maintain an ageless beauty and are favourites for owners of all ages.”

The show will also celebrate 75 years of Lotus and to link the company’s legendary sports cars to the impact they had by taking regular road cars and turning them into “outstanding driving machines”.

“Always a crowd favourite, the hot hatch display will be supported by the grid of race and rally cars under the ‘Brit and Euro Revival’ banner.

“While there’s a large central display, we can’t forget the many classic car owners who bring their favourite British or European car along to the show, or in some cases one of each.”

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