Good Oil: Hampton Downs' big drift day, and the car that accidentally changed Volkswagen forever
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Hampton Downs’ Auto Addict Sunday sessions go up another gear on December 5 with drift demonstrations and burnouts on the National Circuit from 4pm.
The drift lineup includes Mad Mike Whiddett, Gaz Whiter, Jesse Greenslade, Zac Pole, Bruce Tannock, Cole Armstrong, Darren Kelly, Fanga Dan, Daynom Templeman, Adam and Joel Hedges and Adam Davies.
Many of New Zealand’s top burnout stars will be doing their thing as well, including Liz Gracie in her 1969 Camaro and Sambo Smith in his 1991 Mazda RX- 7 – with LS1 and 671 supercharger.
Gates open at 7.30am and the day starts at 9am with Auto Addict drift sessions and track cruises alternating through the day. The pro drift demonstrations are scheduled for 4.40pm.
Spectators are free. It’s all happening in front of the Pavilion from 1-9pm, with a bar and DJs Nigel Love and Martin Marshall.
The car that accidentally changed VW forever
This might be the most important Volkswagen you’ve never heard of. The K70 celebrated its 50th birthday this year, and without it we might never had the Golf – and every other mainstream VW Group model that has existed since.
It was a conventional-looking four-door sedan, but the press release at the time was bold: “A new Volkswagen, different to all others made to date”.
That made sense because it wasn’t a VW at all. It was designed by NSU to be sold alongside the groundbreaking Ro80 rotary sedan, but then sold as a VW after the company acquired NSU in 1969.
Putting aside the origin story, K70 was officially VW’s first water-cooled, front-drive model – a dramatic change from the Beetle and especially the larger Type 4, which it ostensibly replaced. It set the template for future family cars from the brand, like Golf and Passat.
The K 70 boasted a long wheelbase with a wheel at each corner and independent suspension, combining impressive interior space with good handling. Safety was a big thing too: the K 70 had crumple zones front and rear, a reinforced passenger compartment and “preparation” for seatbelts; although presumably not the seatbelts themselves.
VW might have thrown away the NSU badges, but it kept the company’s naming system. “K” denoted the German word for piston (thus setting it apart from the “Ro” rotary), while “70” was the output in ps (51kW).