OCR Festival: A Celebration Of Retro Car Culture In China

Earlier this month I visited the Outdoor Car Retro Festival at Zhejiang International Circuit in Shaoxing, China. To be honest, I had really low expectations, thinking it was just going to be another commercial event using car culture as a cover. I’m happy to say though, I was blown away by what I saw.

China may not have the rich motoring heritage of the United States or Europe, but believe me when I say there’s no shortage of automotive passion here, and it spans all the way from classic cars to the newest models on the market.

Older cars are the main focus of the OCR Festival, but there was a little bit of everything on show and plenty of fun to be had.

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Speedhunters SN431 Zhang-OCR China-18

One of the main attractions of the day were the cars parading down the circuit’s front straight. I saw everything from a Jaguar E-Type to an RWB Porsche 993, DeLorean DMC-12 and a Ferrari 348TS.

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There was even a race-spec Porsche tractor sporting the iconic ‘Pink Pig’ livery made famous by the 917/20 Le Mans racer.

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Other surprises included a Porsche 986 Dakar, a crazy mini trike, and a very creative Mr. Bean Mini replica.

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This Porsche 911 Speedster was over from the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart, complete with a Umweltplakette environmental sticker on the front windshield and a factory-fitted rally meter inside. This rare model from 1989 featured the widened rear bodywork from the 930 Turbo, plus a fiberglass rear deck and unique shortened glasswork.

Everyone loves the BNR32 Nissan Skyline GT-R, and this example has to be one of the best in China. It’s just had an extensive engine build with many of its aftermarket parts sourced from Japan.

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Speedhunters SN431 Zhang-OCR China-20

But of all the JDM cars in attendance at the OCR Festival, this Subaru Impreza STi 22B was my favorite. If you’re wondering why it has two sets of license plates, the car was first registered in Hong Kong (yellow plates) and then brought to mainland China (black plates). With the passage of time, I think we’ll see more JDM cars traveling between Hong Kong and mainland China.

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The ‘Elegant Racing’ sub-event was a highlight of the overall day. Similar to a time-speed-distance (TSD) rally, two drivers began with an early Le Mans-style running start before driving 500 meters down the front straight. It’s not about who crosses the finish line first, but who crosses the line as close to 50 seconds as possible. Some entrants were obsessed with calculating the exact time, while others were just in it for a bit of fun.

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Speedhunters SN431 Zhang-OCR China-33

You didn’t need motive power to take part in the OCR Festival, and the soapbox race provided plenty of action.

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Something I definitely did not expect to see, but was so happy to, is this Porsche 934 sculpture by Benedict Radcliffe. The art piece was in the country courtesy of Porsche China.

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Along with plenty of other cars and motorcycles on display around the circuit, there were various mobile coffee and burger shops, plus vendors selling everything from vintage shift knobs to custom overalls from Japan.

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Speedhunters SN431 Zhang-OCR China-19

China’s car culture is rapidly growing, and the Outdoor Car Retro Festival 2023 gave us a little sample of that. It’s a positive phenomenon; watch this space.

Stannum (SN431) Zhang

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