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Hot Rod and Custom Auto Expo 2022

Oct 04, 2023Oct 04, 2023

We are a broad church, car enthusiasts. But old rivalries die hard so it is rare to have restored classics, traditional rods and customs, and elite street machines all on display next to each other. This is one reason the Sydney Hot Rod and Custom Auto Expo has been such a hit.

The Rosehill Gardens racecourse was teeming with awesome cars and thousands of punters on 28-29 May, as Sydneysiders enjoyed some stunning weather and a chance to get out and about without any restrictions. Spectators were rewarded with an elite hall crammed with stunning builds, both freshly unveiled and old favourites, while Nostalgia Lane was wall-to-wall packed with awesome old school hot rods and some truly mind-blowing customs.

Custom legend John D’Agostino was the guest of honour in Nostalgia Lane, and was reunited with his 1957 Chrysler Imperial, being displayed for the first time in many years.

Packing an 8/71-blown LS, custom IFS and tubbed front-end, wild custom trim and giant Simmons rollers, Ray Elia's ‘KING Group A’ VN is a rare example of later model build getting the high-end elite treatment. The build was a collaborative effort, with the likes of 2SUS Custom Resprays, Advanced Custom Trim, Chubby's Garage and many more contributing to the result.

Ryan Carter (left) from Newcastle's United Speed Shop brought his bagged, LS1-powered ’62 Austin truck down to the show, but the big news on his stand was the radical new suspension showcased on the chopped, channelled ’35 pick-up truck perched on the back.

Rod Hadfield's latest build is a ’32 Ford five-window designed to Walk The Line, with a blown 392 Hemi, stretched chassis and attitude for days.

The Hemi is backed by a TH400 that his operated by a modern take on the classic Hurst Lightning Rod shifter.

Cool details abound, but just some of the highlights include the polished stainless steel firewall, specially cast front rims by Ian Splatt, a factory-style roof insert and stunning Rod-fabbed extractors that squeeze beautifully between the block and the chassis rails.

And why ‘Walk the Line’?

"It's the country song I remember when I was growing up on the farm. We used to have to get up at 5am to do the milking, so I could related to it," says Rod.

"I still think that if you listen to the words, the way it is they don't write ‘em like that anymore: "I keep my eyes wide open all the time. I keep the ends out for the tie that binds"

"How the hell would you think of that?" How indeed!

Adrian Hayes’ "HHH" LX Hatch was unveiled at Rose Hill, with the cammed LS3-powered beauty covered in luscious Spies Hecker HHH Rouge paint from Exclusive Customs. Boze 18x9 and 18x11.5in billet wheels and a custom-trimmed interior round out a stunning package.

Jason Kennedy's awesome Ford single-spinner was back at Rose Hill in 2022 with a fresh Smith Concepts paint job following a nasty run-in with a gravel truck on the way to Cooly Rocks On 2021 wrecked the last paint job. The air-bagged and LS-powered Ford picked up 2nd Street Machine Custom Paint and Road Devil's Club Pick.

Crawford Hill's epic ’63 Impala rag picked up Top Lowrider and Best Display, though it nearly didn't make the show after tow rig troubles sidelined his bagged dually Chevy in Yass. Thankfully the lads from Deuce Customs came to his rescue!

Andy Colalillo is one of the driving forces behind Nostalgia Lane, and he had a couple of stunners on show. Andy's ex-Richard Zocchi ’56 Continental MkII and new ’36 Ford taildragger wowing crowds.

Two of the late, great Mario Colalillo's most famous customs were on show side-by-side, with KINGCAD and WILDCAD showcasing his penchant for building US-style wild customs.

The man responsible for the stunning metalwork on Andy Colalillo's ’36 coupe, Aaron Bray, had his FB ‘Nomad’ wagon on show. The two-door phantom that Holden never built even scored the club pick from the Road Devils.

Kira Jurado's hot rod has been a passion project for her for nearly a decade. Originally begun with the help of her dad, his passing saw her put it on the backburner for several years.

The 327-powered three-window was painted by Kyle by Smith Concepts, while Kira trimmed it herself while she and the team at OG Customs thrashed to have it ready for the show.

Constable Peter Miliatis (left) and Senior Constable Rhys Miller had a great time at the show, with a display of historic police cars drawing huge interest and firing many memories, both good and bad.

The 351-powered XY, XC coupe and XD Falcon Highway Patrol cars, and undercover LJ XU-1 Torana are all reminders of a bygone era.

Paul Vanzella had another ex-Richard Zocchi custom on show at Rose Hill, across the aisle from the Zocchi Continental. Impressively, Paul drove the heavily chopped ’68 Dodge Polara up from Melbourne!

Steve Aldrick and the Deluxe Rod Shop Crew debuted this unfinished roadster pick-up (RPU) to show off the amazing design and metalwork put into the project.

Ford never offered an RPU in 1936 so the whole back half of the truck is hand-made, while a roller cam 347ci dual-quad Windsor lives up front.

25 years after they debuted at the Sacramento Autorama, John D’Agostino's Richard Zocchi-built ’57 Chrysler Imperial and Zocchi's own ’56 Continental MkII were reunited some 15,000km away from their homeland. Both chopped, custom-painted customs presented in stunning condition and will both be street-driven.

They may call themselves "Misled Youth" but if the hot rods they had on display are any indication, then they’re definitely on the right track! "We’re a group of friends who are all into traditional hot rods and customs," says Aaron Devlyn, who brough his Y-block-powered channelled roadster up from Victoria.

"We started off with just a handful of members hanging out and through social media we’ve grown so now there's around 20 of us." Check them out at misledyouth.aus on Instagram.

Jovan Batar's righteous HK Monaro (SM May ’22) was sitting tough in the outdoors pavilion, with the stack-injected big-block drawing bulk admiration. Jovan then cemented his place in our hearts by driving the HK home to Canberra on Sunday night!

Harley Hamilton is well known for his three-second Fox body Mustang and blown Nova SS (SM June ’21), but his laid-out Ford single-spinner is a change of lanes.

Bagged and EFI-converted by Big L's Chop Shop Harley and his family shook the fresh build down by driving it from Geelong to Sydney for the show.

Unbelievably, Richard Dabbs drove his gorgeous Caddy-powered Mercury 900km from Melbourne to Sydney. He scored the Crystal Award as John D’Agostino's pick for his car of the show, along with Smith Concept's pick.

Our pick for "Hardcore Henry" has to go to Sean Hammond, who drove his hot rod up from Melbourne despite it running fat slicks and spindle-mount front-runners, no interior, and no roof or side glass. The lads had a cold, wet trip home on Monday!

Aaron Bray from OG Customs has turned a sad ’36 Ford coupe into Andy Colalillo's vision for a late-1940s taildragger. The number of custom touches and carefully thought-out modifications to build a cohesive, flowing design is mind-bending, as is Aaron's technical abilities – he sectioned and welded the pot metal grille!

In a rad throwback to the wilder days of the Sydney show scene, Laurie Seguna's twin-turbo MR SIK Gemini was on show at Rose Hill. It was looking as clean as ever, reminding us how it picked up a Meguiar's Showcar Superstar gong back in ’08.

John Trunzo's FJ Holden coupe is one of the oldest surviving radical Aussie customs.

Originally modified by and made famous by Lance Simmers, John treated the FJ to a stunning rebuild that continues to impress.

Mellow Yellow is a ’74 Ford Econoline that once served duty as a New York Fire Hall van. These days, she's living her best life prowling the streets of Noosa.

Troy Fewings’ latest build is this wild 1947 Willys wagon. Bought as an unfinished project, Troy has turned the Willys into the ultimate caravan hauler, with L98 power, load assist airbags and a serious fridge set up to keep the beers cold!

Brenton Dalwood and his stunning 1935 Ford coupe continued its winning streak, after dominating the judging at the Adelaide Custom Auto Expo and taking out Grand Master at MotorEx. At Rosehill the coupe won every category it entered, including Top Car of Show.

Greg Forster's stunning ‘61 Caddy is dubbed ‘Rebelene’ and took home the Outkasts's choice award.

Built as a concept car blending a ’41 Willys front and sleek Zephyr-style traildragger rear, the Champagne Lady was constructed by event promoter James Minas and the team at Andy's Restorations. Based on a fibreglass shell from Tauranga on New Zealand's North Island it was dripping with amazing Art Deco style.

Iain (or Marv, as he's known on the internet) has worked in automotive journalism since 2002, when he was Street Machine's work experience kid.