REPCO BEACH HOP — WHANGAMATA

New Zealand Classic Car - - Contents - Words and pho­tos: Ian Ram­say

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,

and en­ter­tain­ment.

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.

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