Bay of Plenty Times
Pukehina Beach to the Beach Hop
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.”