Bay of Plenty Times

Puke­hina Beach to the Beach Hop

- Stu­art Whi­taker news@tepuke­times.co.nz Cars · Cadillac Motor Car · Elvis Presley · Cadillac DeVille

He may have been to al­most all the 19 Beach Hops held so far — but he still can’t get enough. Puke­hina’s Stu Brick­land and his wife Brenda will be head­ing up to this year’s resched­uled Repco Beach Hop — the 20th— in his 1956 Cadil­lac Sedan de Ville.

He says he missed a cou­ple of the early events. “Then I cot­toned onto what the event was all about. We’ve got a place up in Whanga­mata¯, so it be­came ap­par­ent pretty quickly that it was go­ing to hap­pen ev­ery year and wasn’t just a one-off event.

“It’s part of the life­style now and you just love it and get hooked on it.”

Work com­mit­ments have meant Stu hasn’t al­ways been able to get to the whole five day event — but he will this year.

“On the Wed­nes­day we will be do­ing the [Waihı¯] warm-up party then go­ing right through to the Sun­day.”

He says the at­trac­tion of the event isn’t just the cars — it’s what it rep­re­sents.

“It’s a way of be­ing be­cause of the cars, the cul­ture, the peo­ple that you meet and en­gage with and the ac­tiv­i­ties that you do.”

As a mem­ber of Bay Rod­ders he trav­els to shows across the coun­try, and says Beach Hop is the ul­ti­mate event where ev­ery­one from the var­i­ous shows meets up.

He says the size and char­ac­ter of Whanga­mata¯ helps make the Beach Hop ex­pe­ri­ence.

“They say there are 120,000 peo­ple there on the Satur­day. In a town where the per­ma­nent pop­u­la­tion is 6-7000 peo­ple it’s pret­ty­mas­sive. The whole vibe and cul­ture it cre­ates in a town that size on a nice sunny day — the whole place is buzzing, it’s pretty in­tox­i­cat­ing. It gets you com­ing back year af­ter year. You’d think af­ter go­ing to 17 of the 20 events, you’d have seen it all, but ev­ery year you turn up and there’s newve­hi­cles, new peo­ple tomeet, old friends, cars that have changed hands, cars that have been done up again or rein­vented — I never get bored.”

The mu­sic and clothes of the bands and par­tic­i­pants adds to the at­trac­tion.

Stu says the Satur­day night cruise is one of the high­lights.

“Whanga­mata¯ is re­ally blessed be­cause it’s got that cruis­ing cul­ture up and down the main street on a Satur­day night and that’s quite spec­tac­u­lar see­ing all those ve­hi­cles queu­ing up and go­ing around and around.

“And we take part in all that and then we park up and watch for a bit.”

Stu has owned many cars, but has had the Cadil­lac — the same highly spec’d model Elvis used to own — for around five years. “It wasn’t quite fin­ished, so I’ve gone through it and fin­ished it and tweaked things. With old cars you al­ways have nig­gly prob­lems and it can take a year or two to sort them all, so I’ve been through all that and sorted all those nig­gly prob­lems. It still leaks oil but that’s the way it is.

“It’s a cool car to drive, it makes a re­ally good noise and, as a big Amer­i­can car, it loves those big long straights.”

The wind­ing road be­tween Waihı¯ and Whanga­mata¯ could, then, present a chal­lenge.

“It re­ally sur­prised me — you’d think a big car like that would re­ally lean into the cor­ners and be a bit cum­ber­some — but it’s pretty well set up in the sus­pen­sion. It’s not a rocket ship, but it’s pretty well set up and cor­ners re­ally well.”

Ini­tially Brenda didn’t share Stu’s en­thu­si­asm and in­ter­est.

“When I first met her she said ‘I’ll come to your silly car shows, but I won’t dress up’. Now we’ve got box loads of dress up gear, she’s right into it and she’s be­come part of the cul­ture.”

 ??  ?? Puke­hina’s Stu Brick­land be­hind the wheel of his 1956 Cadil­lac Sedan de Ville he will be driv­ing to Beach Hop.
Puke­hina’s Stu Brick­land be­hind the wheel of his 1956 Cadil­lac Sedan de Ville he will be driv­ing to Beach Hop.
 ??  ?? Stu Brick­land’s 1956 Cadil­lac Sedan de Ville is the same model that Elvis used to own.
Stu Brick­land’s 1956 Cadil­lac Sedan de Ville is the same model that Elvis used to own.

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