ACT News

Summernats City Cruise brings the power and the glory of the V8 to Canberra

Thousands of CanberransĀ lined both sides of Northbourne Avenue on Thursday to watch 300 customised cars with a combined output of more than 120,000 horsepower [90,000kw] cruise through the heart of the city to officially launch the 2016 Summernats.

Event co-owner Andy Lopez expected the final turnout for the city cruise to be between 10,000 and 12,000 people.

Summernats comes to Canberra with the Super Cruise down Northbourne Avenue.
Summernats comes to Canberra with the Super Cruise down Northbourne Avenue. Photo: Graham Tidy

The annual Summernats City Cruise is the event's shop window, taking the spectacular examples of automotive craftsmanship that are the event's raison d'etre to the public in a very loud and visible way.

Mr Lopez said some of the vehicles taking part were valued in excess of $750,000.

Those turning out to watch included public servants, other Civic workers and car enthusiasts from Canberra, southern NSW and even further afield to enjoy the spectacle.

Ford and Holden fans were treated to a feast for the eyes and ears during the cruise.


One of the first cars in the cruise was a white XB Falcon 500 police car dating from the early 1970s. The totally original vehicle was the real McCoy and is a highly prized member of ACT Policing's museum fleet.

Only some discrete badging and twin exhausts revealed it, like the vast majority of the cars taking part, was V8 powered.

An early model Austin Lancer deserved the award for most incongruous choice of vehicle, followed closely by a Type 2 [Kombi] Volkswagen crew cab ute.

Japanese marques, the cars of choice for the younger generation of modified car buffs, were well represented.

A clean and lime green Pulsar, a classic 1960s Toyota Crown station wagon and a succession of hot Subarus, including a rat rod Brumby ute, were all crowd pleasers.

While super modified cars were allowed to take part for the first time, they were the exception, not the rule.

Mr Lopez, speaking at the first official media conference of the 2016 Summernats, said this year's event, the 29th, was going to be even bigger and better than those that had gone before.

He is hopeful the goal of 2000 cars, an event record, will be reached and expects overall attendance to top 110,000 spectators.

"If we reach this it puts us in a really good position for Summernats 30 next year," he said.

"The entries and attendances show that unlike some festivals, ours is growing.

"I'm sure Canberra will see a Summernats 50. I'm not so sure I'll be here for that though."

"Twenty-nine years is a good run, we are locked in for the next three years and are in negotiations for the period after that."

Asked about likely crowd behaviour, he said a lot had changed since the early days.

"A lot of the wild boys and girls have grown up," he said. "They are bringing their children and even grandchildren.

"People come for fun; they want to have a good time. It is a once in a year chance to party. Nobody wants to be sent home early."

The event reportedly contributes $20 million to the ACT economy.