REPCO BEACH HOP — WHANGAMATA
There were probably more 1950s Chevrolets at this year’s Beach Hop festival than in all of New Zealand in 1960, and most of them were probably better finished than when they came off the production line.
The three American manufacturers were well represented, with models as early as the 1930s, with Cadillacs (including a ‘Boss Hogg’, complete with cow horn), Pontiacs, Buicks, Corvettes, Chevelles, and Holdens. Single- and twin-spinners, Galaxies, Customlines, Mustangs (from a 1964½ to a 2018 Roush), Thunderbirds, and both Aussie and US Falcons represented Ford. Dodge; Plymouth (from 1933); Rambler; and Darts, Barracudas, and Rebels from Chrysler/amc were also out in number. Then there were the near-forgotten brands and hybrids — a superb black-overcream Studebaker Hawk, AC Cobras, an Allard, and Edsels, along with motorbikes and car– caravan combinations.
Finishes varied from 60-year-old battered, patinaed pickups to concours-quality chrome-clad examples of nearly all the major brands. There were those lovingly restored to original classics, and those prepared by clever and creative auto engineers and enthusiasts as hot rods and rat rods.
There were in the order of 1500 entries to the cruises, parades, and competitions; but, at a guess, there were just as many enthusiast’s cars visiting. For example, we spotted a beautifully prepared convertible two-tone Mk2 Zodiac (Crayford?), a hard-tomiss superbly finished red Ford ‘Anglebox’, Mk2 Cortina convertible (another Crayford?) in Lotus colours of ermine white with the green flash, lots of HT–HZ Holdens and two 1974 Todd coupés, an E49 Charger, and a Mitsubishi GTO 2000. There was also a contingent of VW campers.
As with the past 19 years of the event, Noddy Watts and his committee, along with hard-working volunteers and sponsors, put on another five days of well-organized cruises, parades, displays, sales tents,
During the week of the event, the forecast did not look promising, but Noddy must have talked to the weather gods, as there was only a skiffy shower early Saturday afternoon, overnight rain, and another brief shower Sunday — enough to keep the dust down, but not enough to halt proceedings.
Wednesday was the Go Waihi Warm Up Party cruise; Thursday, the Repco Whitianga Beach Party cruise; and, on Friday, the Castrol Edge Thunder Cruise to Onemana, returning to Whangamata at day’s end to appropriate entertainment. On Saturday morning, cars gathered at the Esplanade and surf-club area, parading to and through town, filling up the allocated car parks on the main road — Port Road — and side streets, so there were plenty of opportunities to view the vehicles.
Those who bought the programme could enter the draw for the main prizes of a restored 1956 Ford F100 pickup or brandnew and customized Harley Davidson XL Roadster, and also had the opportunity to vote for the best car, bike, and caravan. A restored 1966 tiki-lounge-themed Jack Daniels– sponsored retro caravan was up for auction. All the time, there was period music from Kiwi and Aussie bands, with many dressing up in rock ’n’ roll era outfits. Even Elvis (Brendon Chase) was there in white.
Late Saturday afternoon at Williamson Park, Noddy and his team silenced the 5000-strong crowd by drawing the winners from the entry-filled caravan and phoning the chosen mobiles. Two lucky women from Tauranga and Morrinsville won the pickup and bike, respectively, with a local beating others at the auction for the restored caravan. He had planned to build another room on their house, but his partner could see the versatility of a ‘mobile’ room.
Sitting on the front porch on Sunday morning, away from the parades and the displays, was a car-spotter’s aural delight. Initially, it was like the dawn chorus as cars in the neighbourhood fired up. Then, two out of three vehicles idling past (sometimes more than idling) were V8s with exhausts of varying degrees of straightness, their distinct rumble and roar unfettered by catalytic converters and often supplemented by the sing of a supercharger.
Later on Sunday was the Top 10 Shoot Out, with the People’s Choice car, bike, and caravan entries lined up — the one with the most gold-coin donations was declared the winner — this year’s honour going to Justin Walker’s 1964 Ford Galaxie.
While wandering through the crowds, there were photographers from our sister magazine NZV8 taking pics and gathering information for the NZV8 Beach Hop Annual 2018, which is due on newsagent’s shelves mid May — or visit bh18.magstore.nz to grab your copy. We’re sure it will include many awesome images of marvellous metal, including the Top 10.
Start planning for March 2019 to be part of New Zealand’s favourite event.