As a kid growing up, I used to love cars. I built model cars of all varieties, and read up on as many classic cars as I could. I used to pester my father to take me to auto shows, and knew all the stats about cars the way other little boys knew about sports. Given this auto mania, you’d have thought I would have known about Oamaru a lot sooner than I did, since it turns out that Oamaru is a real auto maniac’s Mecca.
The things that make Oamaru such a motor head’s dream are numerous: first of all, there are countless people driving around in classic automobiles from as far back as the 1920s on a day-to-day basis. I have seen a 1920 FIAT, numerous Rolls-Royces and even a Model T wheeling around on the streets of Oamaru, and not in conjunction with any sort of event, these were just people driving to the shops! Secondly, with all the historic buildings in town, Oamaru draws motor rallies for enthusiasts of vintage cars from all over New Zealand and the world. Several times of year you’ll find throngs of people driving one marque or another congregating for a drive through the streets of Oamaru, or through the countryside around here. And to top all of those off, Oamaru is home to Rod Tempero.
If you don’t know who Rod Tempero is, you’re in for a surprise. This is a guy who’s a third-generation auto maker who has set up a car workshop in the most unassuming place you can imagine–a former chicken coop just outside of Oamaru. There he creates replicas of some of the world’s most famous automobiles of the 1950s and 1960s using hand tools that are virtually indistinguishable from the originals. Some of his more famous output includes a replica Ferrari P4, a Jaguar D-type, various Maseratis, and more, and these cars sell to collectors from around the world.
If you are a fan of classic American cars, then Oamaru is the place to be this coming February (2012), when Oamaru will host the first Oamerican Car Show, bringing vintage American cars and their owners to Oamaru to show off their vehicles, mingle with fellow enthusiasts, and just have a good time. And anytime you’re in Oamaru you can pop into the auto museum that is tucked away behind the gift shop in the Woolstore Gallery on Tyne Street in the historic precinct.
If you are a gear head, or just want to relive your childhood fantasies about some wonderful vintage cars, Oamaru is a place like none other.