Sydney Hot Rod & Custom Auto Expo 2023

The Hot Rod & Custom Auto Expo is always a damn good time. Here’s how it all went down for 2023

Photographers: Trackside

There are many measures of a great car show. You need quantity, quality and variety of cars, throngs of involved spectators, great vendors, and above all else, an awesome vibe. The 2023 Sydney Hot Rod & Custom Auto Expo had all this and more, making it a show everyone should add to their must-do list.

Organised by Andy and Donna Minas, the event takes place each year at Rosehill Racecourse, utilising every possible square metre of the venue. This year there were 320 official entrants on show, along with plenty more great cars in the show ’n’ shine area – essentially VIP parking for spectators who roll up in something special.

To kick off proceedings, the black silk covers were slid off eight never-before-seen stunners, many of which you’ll see in future issues of Street Machine.

Since 2018, a highlight of the event has been the show within a show dubbed Nostalgia Lane. Inspired by the Suede Palace feature of the Grand National Roadster Show, Nostalgia Lane aims to curate a selection of traditionally styled hot rods, customs and race cars each year. This year, Nostalgia Lane organisers Andy Colalillo and Michael Morris chose to feature genuine survivor cars from the 50s, 60s and 70s, with Michael managing to track down around 30 cars!

Some of the more significant rods featured included Roy Fregon’s ’32 roadster, the longest continually registered rod in the country; Norm Longfield’s T-bucket, winner of Top Car of Show and People’s Choice on debut at the National Hot Rod Show in 1970; and the late Jim Broadley’s wild C-cab. Many of these cars haven’t seen the light of day in years, if not decades. We reckon that displays like this are super-important for our sport, helping to highlight the importance of preserving our heritage.

Another cool feature of Nostalgia Lane is that each of the individual clubs and businesses involved are invited to design, make and present their own trophy. Like the cars themselves, these one-off trophies are typically also amazing works of art.

At the other end of the scale, a new addition for 2023 was the huge line-up of Commodores from the HDT/HSV Owners Club. We’re pretty sure they had one of everything on display, including an HDT VC that was driven by Sir Jack Brabham in the Race of Champions series.

The show always attracts a few overseas celebrities, but 2023 saw something of a bumper crop. “For starters, we had Mooneyes owner Shige Suganuma and his daughter Emi,” Donna Minas said. “From Thailand, we had Mr Mark from Mooneyes BKK and Nanthapat ‘Bomb’ Unpikul from the Bangkok Hot Rod Custom Show. From Norway, we had Henning [Dyrkolbotn] and John Eirik [Paalerud] from the Oslo Motor Show, and finally, the Beatniks Car Club hosted lowbrow artist Dennis McPhail.”

Also in attendance was fabricator and YouTuber Karl Fisher from JapHands Kustoms, who wrapped up his Australian tour at the event thanks to his hosts, Hare & Forbes Machineryhouse.

Next year will be the 10th anniversary of the Hot Rod & Custom Auto Expo, so you can bet it will be a big one! Mark 25-26 May 2024 in your calendar, and keep an eye on for entry details.


Ron Goodman’s 356 Porsche is powered by an Australian-made radial aircraft engine! It picked up the prestigious Austin Arrowsmith Elegance Award, as well as Best Individual Display, Top Full Modified Street Machine Coupe and Top Engineered Full Modified Street Machine

One of the biggest head-turners to be unveiled at this year’s event was Robert Kastoun’s ’49 Chev dubbed ROAR49. Highlights include an LSA, 6L90E trans, Jag front, airbags, flawless bodywork and mile-deep jet-black paint. The concept car-style interior by Blackneedle features reworked AMG door trims, steering wheel and dash

Jim Wolstencroft is the longest-serving staff member at Deluxe Rod Shop and was stoked to be able to debut his own creation after a seven-year build. The ’29 Ford pick-up took out Top Hot Rod and a swag of other awards including Top Engineered, Top Undercarriage and Top Standard Paint

SM’s July cover car, the ex-Ditch Jones HR ute now owned by Craig McKenzie was named Top Car of Show and Top Street Machine, as well as Top Ute and Top Undercarriage in the Full Modified Street Machine category. Craig was understandably over the moon

Mario Spiteri’s 1950 cab-over was the hands-down winner of ‘longest ride’ at Rosehill. Unveiled on Saturday, the hauler is built on a C30 chassis and features a 6.2L LS and TH400 combo. Given the sheer expanse of the sheet metal, body and paint maestro Bill Sultana really had his work cut out

Nathan de Vries’s LVELUP ’69 Chevelle is a ripper, packing a 440-cube Warspeed LS with Higgins heads, TH400 trans, sheet-metal 9in, QA1 arms and coil-overs, Wilwood brakes and massive 20×8.5 and 22×12 Koya wheels. Inside is a wild custom interior job by Stitched Up Custom Trim

Andy Colalillo and son Will with the new-look ’39 Plymouth made famous by Andy’s late father, Mario (SM, Aug ’02). Previously a very tough pro streeter, the coupe has been brought back to pure street car status by Andy, who detuned the 377-cube small-block from its blown and injected set-up to a pump fuel and EFI deal

Michael Morris has done a killer job restoring his historic roadster. The initial build started in the 1950s, with second owner Gary Wright completing it in 1965. Highlights include a 9.5in body channel, Ford Y-block V8, triple 97s, ’39 Ford gearbox and diff, 3in dropped front axle, reversed Mercury rims and lots of chrome

Deluxe Rod Shop unveiled Steve Woodward’s ’34 Ford at Rosehill. The coupe started as nothing more than a cowl, with the rest of the all-steel body hand-formed from scratch. Highlights include a blown big-block and lots of Oxytech powdercoating

Dan Fitzsimmons’s LJ Torana is a mean, clean and tough streeter. Recently finished by Exclusive Customs and unveiled at Rosehill, its bigs-and-littles Street Pro wheels and narrowed 9in give it a distinctive pro street persona. Sticking through the bonnet is a 355ci iron lion topped with a 6/71 blower and twin fours

Rob and Anita Dickson’s ’52 COE is a killer home-built ride in DeBeer Verde Schietto green. Dumped over huge steel smoothies, it’s EFI Windsor-powered, with a C10 three-speed and 9in rear

With its gorgeous flowing lines and incredible PPG Vibrance paint, it’s impossible to tire of looking at Stuart and Joanne Brancourt’s ’41 Willys, Champagne Lady. Based on a hybrid NZ body, the art-deco masterpiece is out of Andy’s Restorations, and rocks LS power, a six-speed auto, Jag front end, four-bar rear, airbags and sumptuous Italian leather interior

Despite being finished for 12 months, this was the first show for Emmanuel Teuma’s XY. With Top Sedan and Top Bodywork gongs in Modified Street, it wasn’t a bad debut. The untubbed Falcon sports an all-white interior by King Trim Upholstery and a ProFlo 427ci small-block, while MAAD Restorations took care of body and paint during the three-year build

Wearing its road rash with pride, Roy Fregon’s unassuming roadster is Australia’s longest continually registered hot rod. Initially completed in 1953, it was T-boned by a tram in ’54, requiring the original ’32 chassis to be replaced with a ’34. Complete with a blown 350 Chev, it was regularly raced and street driven. After Roy’s passing in 2017, Roy’s daughter Joanne has taken over caring for this iconic piece of Aussie hot rodding history

What a time capsule. Other than dropping in a new block, Norm Longfield’s drool-worthy T-bucket hasn’t changed a bit since its first show at the Burwood Shopping Centre, 1970-71. ‘Strip Tease’ features all the classics, including gold-plated lanterns, Candy Apple Red paint, a ladder chassis, 350 Dodge V8, GMC 4/71 blower, Torqueflite trans and ankle-burning lakes pipes. Rear hoops are 16x10s, while the spoke front wheels wear motorcycle tyres

Scott Moss’s 302-powered XM Falcon is a cracking mild custom, dumped on the deck by the gurus at Willy’s Drop Shop. The wild candy duco was done at home by Scotty, with custom trim by Lana O’Neill at Traditional Trimming

2023 Milwaukee Young Street Machine of the Year winner Grant Azzopardi took out the Austin Arrowsmith Rookie Award at this year’s Expo

Glenn Hogan and Joe Kurtovic of the Outkasts debuted new looks for their bad-arse Hemi-powered coupes

Charlie Falzon brought out the Isky Express C-cab that was built by the late, great Jimmy Broadley in the 1970s, complete with blown Oldsmobile power and Rick Pacey duco


Top Car of ShowCraig McKenzie – HR Holden
Austin Arrowsmith Elegance AwardRon Goodman – Porsche 356
Top Street MachineCraig McKenzie – HR Holden
Top Hot RodJim Wolstencroft – 1929 Ford pick-up
Top Wild CustomStuart Brancourt – 1941 Willys
Top CompetitionSam Moreau – 1937 Ford
Top CustomJason Kennedy – 1950 Ford
Top LowriderCrawford Hill – 1963 Chev Impala