2023 Summernats 35: Highlights and mega gallery

Mitchell Jones

The automotive landscape and world at-large is shifting away from petrol cars and towards electrification and political correctness. Summernats is Australia’s largest automotive festival and a utopian oasis from those bleak realities.

In fact, the 2023 event saw attendance up to over 125,000 between Thursday, January 5 and Sunday January 8, with tickets sold out on the Saturday. This proves the appetite for modified cars, burnouts and horsepower is hungrier than ever in Australia.

PerformanceDrive was lucky enough to attend the festival and revel in the visual spectacle as well as the smell of burnt rubber and fuel. Drifting events, burnout competitions, Horsepower Heroes and Meguiars Elite Hall drew the punters in by the thousands, with only a handful of attendees misbehaving.

Everywhere you looked there seemed to be a feast for the eyes for anyone who loves cars as much as us, but we have to single out a few highlights.

The Howard Astill-built ‘BOSS XC’ Falcon was fall-to-the-floor dazzling, with its rich blue paint, massive dished wheels and FG interior, but it’s the mechanical package that really stuns: a 527-cubic inch V8, tied to a ZF six-speed auto, ran by an FG engine management system.

In the same hall our attention was also grabbed by a green Suzuki MightyBoy, with a 13B rotary conversion and some ridiculous tyres bookending a fuel cell in its tray, a supercharged RA40 Celica, a Morris Minor with a supercharged A-Series motor and a blown VN SS Group A.

The top honour of Grand Champion went to Livi Krevatin’s slick 1978 Porsche 911 SC. The million-dollar restoration and build scored well with the judges in various areas, including paint and detail, quality of the job, and some driving events.

Outside the arena, there was also a swathe of cars modified in unique ways, such as a slammed HD ute with triple carbs, a genuine VS GTS-R with a carbon-fibre topped blower and all the Barras and LSs you could poke a stick at.

Horsepower Heroes always brings together some of the most talented engine builders in the country, pushing the envelope in their respective categories.

Cody Hunt’s VE Clubsport wagon was Overall Winner, laying down 1643hp (1225kW), with Andrew Copley’s 2010 FPV FG F6 generating an impressive 1438hp (1072kW) in the six-cylinder forced induction category.

Tony Spasanoski’s 1976 Chrysler Centura made 442hp at the bags (329kW), showing there’s no substitute for a HEMI six, but Zane Heath of Maxx Performance’s 1995 EF Fairmont was a formidable runner-up with 370hp (275kW) from its 4.2-litre stroked OHC six.

Michael Silk’s Datto 1200 wagon screamed its head off to 10,500rpm to take out Rev Monster, and Boost Demon with 50psi of forced induction punishment.

Overall, we are grateful that Summernats can still exist in this day and provide an antidote to some of the more questionable aspects of modern society. Bring on Summernats 36!

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