Old school rules on the streets of Sydney



We run these streets

A few weeks ago, Mike Garrett took us to what he considered to be the greatest automotive gathering of all time, hosted by Speedhunters and held in Yokohama. But as I’m about to show you, I think it’s fair to say that Australia can give Japan a hard time when it comes to street dating.

There is something special about a nighttime encounter – the way the artificial light plays on the cool paint and the hot exhausts throw hazy clouds into the cold air has a certain romanticism. It’s been a while for me though, as the monthly JDM meetings I attended as a teenager have long since been closed or moved due to poor organization and disgruntled parking lot owners.

Meet Harry from Liverpool-9332

So I made it my mission to brave the winter cold and make it to Liverpool – a suburban hub about an hour southwest of Sydney city – on Saturday night’s penultimate weekend. A Speedhunters reader warned me about this monthly gathering, but other than a time and place, I really didn’t know what to expect. Unlike many events that seem to unfold more on Facebook than in the real world, it looked like tonight was going to be relatively unplugged.

Meet Harry from Liverpool-9373

Guess what I was really looking forward to was an opportunity to be a fly on the wall at a good old fashionable street gathering where ‘breaking the internet’ isn’t even in the vocabulary. . I’m a fan of the 50’s culture and although it seems silly to admit that the combination of 50’s icons – malls, fast food and hot rodding made my imagination run wild… Drag racing impromptu? Waitresses on roller skates? All black and white for some reason?

Meet Harry of Liverpool-9363

As I walked into the parking lot, reality (and color vision) came back to me, but it was pretty clear that I was going to be in for a treat. I arrived before the stated departure time, but many owners had already occupied a privileged position for their pride and joy. So camera ready, I waded into the sea of ​​metal. Join me for a stroll through the meet Harry’s Cafe Liverpool.

Meet Harry from Liverpool-9367

The meet’s namesake – Harry’s Cafe de Wheels – is a small kiosk planted in the middle of a large suburban shopping complex in Sydney’s western suburbs. “Harry’s” is a bit of an institution in Sydney, having grown from a small trailer parked outside Sydney shipyards in the 1930s to a chain with several locations dotted around the city. Their specialty is a beef pie topped with peas, mashed potatoes and gravy – the perfect food for a winter night or a post-pub crawl snack. Try it if you are in town …

Meet Harry's Liverpool-9416

We love to complain about unfair targeting of media and police in Australia, but the fact that regular meetings like this are allowed in public spaces is a solid counterpoint. A little hilariously, there was the odd, unsuspecting late-night customer who was engulfed in altered madness, usually with a bemused and persecuted look on their face.

Meet Harry from Liverpool-9444

NSW Police had a low-key presence at the meeting but luckily left their beautiful books at the station. This type of positive interaction with the automotive community goes a long way in reducing friction between car enthusiasts and the force. Well done !

Meet Harry from Liverpool-9417

Besides the obvious appeal of tasty baked goods, the surrounding parking lots engulfed a variety of cars that would interest any enthusiast for at least a few hours.

Meet Harry from Liverpool-9374

My 50s rock fantasies were at least partly fulfilled because the hot rod participation was impressive.

Meet Harry from Liverpool-9431

As I began to filter more through the different parking lots and take a closer look at the participants, I realized this was a pretty special type of encounter. I guess some owners even had to tow their rides to the event – this burnout-designed Corolla KE20 wouldn’t last five minutes on a public road – especially with those license plates.

Meet Harry's Liverpool-9430

Hot rods, rat rods, loaded street machines – not a bad way to spend a Saturday night!

Hot wheels

Meet Harry from Liverpool-9438

Vintage Mazdas continue to gain popularity and value here in Australia and around the world, and an original RX-2 like this really pulls me on the ropes. And especially when such attention to detail has been applied – from classic racing stripes to the vintage license plate.

Meet Harry from Liverpool-9422

“You will adapt the Simmons wheels to your Rotary” is actually the oft-overlooked 11th commandment. It’s hard to believe the original Australian manufacturer went bankrupt with such a loyal fan base.

Meet Harry from Liverpool-9484

Seriously, they’re everywhere. That’s not a complaint though – as the 2-piece and 3-piece models are a prime example of function-oriented design.

Meet Harry from Liverpool-9458

Australian metal, like this handsome Holden Kinsgwood, was also well represented. In a nice transition from the rotary content, these luxury sedans were actually exported to Japan in the 1970s and fitted with a 13B which will be sold as the Mazda Roadpacer. The engine was a horrible match for the heavy sedan, meaning it was not only slow and horrible on fuel, but extremely expensive. Honestly, who thought this cultural mash-up would ever work?

Meet Harry's Liverpool-9466

Lurking in the shadows in front of the Kingswood was a very sinister looking Torana, finished in satin black.

Meet Harry from Liverpool-9471

Things were neat and tidy under the hood – the matte black theme extending even to the vertical intake trumpets powering Chevrolet’s small block V8.

Meet Harry from Liverpool-9493

I’d be interested to hear what some of our non-Australian readers think about these old Holdens… Let me know in the comments section below.

Meet Harry from Liverpool-9542

The rivalry between GM Holden and Ford is very real, and a few readers have even accused me of bias in the comments on my Powercruise cover. It appears that animosity is mostly contained on the internet these days, as strong participation from both sides managed to coexist during the encounter.

Meet Harry from Liverpool-9474

There is simply no more Australian than a V8 ute, and this XY Falcon visually transformed into an imaginary GT-spec version was flying the flag high.

Meet Harry's Liverpool-9468

A few examples of classic Americana were also on display, such as this timeless Camaro.

Harry Encounter Harry-9534

I quickly got the impression that no one felt unwelcome here, as you have already understood from the range of cars present.

Meet Harry from Liverpool-9545

It was surprising how many families came to take in the views too. I had previously considered these nightly encounters to be the domain of young guys looking to run for pink panties and terrorize the local community. Or maybe I just watched too much Fast and furious.

The new school

Meet Harry from Liverpool-9486

As the darkness of the night deepened, the first to arrive began to filter through, though their spots were instantly filled. It seemed like old hot rods and street machines were starting to be replaced by younger imports with a more contemporary approach to customization.

Meet Harry from Liverpool-9584

When it comes to cosmetic changes, I think overall the community has come a long way in the past 10 years. That said, it was a real flashback to see a modified Corolla like this. The combination of candy paint, huge chrome wheels, and a military grade audio system characterized the “Sex Spec” movement that apparently dominated Australian import culture in the early 2000s.

Harry Encounter Harry-9587

This moderate “Swagon” was slightly less retina-burning, based on a previous-generation Commodore Sportwagon. Personally, I really like the design, and the fact that they can be fitted with a 6.2-liter LS3 and a manual transmission is pretty cool. Sadly, the Commodore will soon be settled in the history books with the closure of local manufacturing.

Meet Harry from Liverpool-9492

This Volvo stood out simply because it was a Volvo (not a Ford or GM product!)

Meet Harry from Liverpool-9488

But sitting nicely in the shaved engine bay was a GM Holden 5.0-liter V8! Go straight to the point then …

Meet Harry from Liverpool-9385

Thanks to Australia’s love for speed and the Australian Touring Car Championship, there are many interesting homologation stages in our motorsport history. These two fraternal examples are based on the VL Commodore SS Group A SV, more commonly known as the “Walky” after Holden’s skunkworks boss Tom Walkinshaw. The aerodynamic bodywork also earned them the somewhat less flattering nickname “Plastic Pig,” but paid off on the race track, where drag was reduced by 25 percent without a weight penalty.

Meet Harry from Liverpool-9409

The VL was available with a turbo six cylinder supplied by Nissan or a carbureted V8 and became a true icon of Australian car culture. I think every Australian car enthusiast needs to have a story about an LV.

Meet Harry from Liverpool-9501

The VL even got a starring role in the NSW government’s anti-hooning commercials a few years ago. I can only imagine the demands of the casting call… ‘He’s got to tear up a big slip with room for the boys in the back.’

Meet Harry from Liverpool-9606

We cannot, however, blame the rear passengers for the retreat on this Honda Accord Euro. I can’t be sure, but I think the air suspension was involved. Regardless of the mechanism, the combination of original Mazda wheels and original Accord bodywork coordinates well.

Meet Harry's Liverpool-9613

On the other end of the ride height spectrum, we have this raised Hilux with enough LED lighting to brighten up Sepp Blatter’s week.

Meet Harry from Liverpool-9689

It’s great to see so many different facets of automotive culture coming together for no real reason other than to share the joy of the automobile. I’m a fan of high-end, high-performance machines, but on nights like these it’s the cars built with real personality that stand out the most.

Meet Harry from Liverpool-9567

Even though it was getting late and my mind was turning to the warmth of the bed, there didn’t seem to be a slowdown in the flow of ridiculously cool cars in the competition. Although the waitresses on roller skates never materialized, the night was well spent among friendly and carefree car people. Just what a nighttime encounter should be.

Blake Jones
Instagram: Blaketjones
[email protected]

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