Brits at the Beach (October 9–11)
OK, so there was no pier, but there was the green of Williamson Park bordering the dunes and the lovely sweep that is Whangamata’s main beach; there was no rain, but there was sunshine galore, emphasizing that Brits at the Beach confirms the arrival of spring; there were no amusement arcades or bingo halls, but there was the temporary village green that offered many things British; there wasn’t a fish and chips shop and I didn’t see any jellied eels or mushy peas, but there were candyfloss, Cornish pasties, Yorkshire pud, and meat and gravy; and there was no one wearing sandals with socks or a knotted handkerchief on their head, but there were plenty of people dressed in British garb hoping to win the fancy-dress competition. (It transpired that the Stig won the fancydress event by virtue of remaining mute and anonymous behind his helmet for the entire afternoon — many thought he might have been the recently made redundant Jeremy Clarkson moonlighting.)
There were, however, lots of cars made in Britain and lots of enthusiasts — most of who were made in New Zealand, if appearances were anything to go by — ogling and appreciating the former. Colin Mccabe, local radio personality and prime mover of the event, said that 460 vehicles had registered, and he expected new arrivals would take the total to over 500 — a large number of cars to cram into Williamson Park, and they made an impressive and colourful sight gleaming in the sun.
The Brits at the Beach event involves three days of activities. This year, it started
on the Friday with a drive to Thames. In the evening, was the Port Road (Whangamata’s main street) Park Up, with live music, street entertainment, and competitions. A beautiful Austin-healey 3000 Mk II won the Port Road Park Up Best Car prize.
On Saturday, while much entertainment activity was centred on the village green, the big attractions for classic car aficionados were the Brits 6 Classic Cover Grand Parade through the streets of Whangamata and the Great British Car and Bike Show. The team from Classic Cover Insurance, one of the event’s sponsors, judged a 1970 Lotus Elan to be the most pristine, original, and unmodified car on display that also epitomized everything a British-built vehicle should be. A 1953 Land Rover Series 1, resplendent in military colours, was judged a close second. In truth, all of the hundreds of vehicles on display deserved a prize. In the evening, various entertainments were on offer, including a sold-out Pink Floyd Tribute show.
Sunday saw a drive to Pauanui then the Brits Used Car Yard and Bonnets Up Car Show back at Williamson Park. The village green stalls and music were again in full swing until the Fond Farewells event in the mid afternoon.
Brits at the Beach is much more than a car show, even if that is the main reason why classic car people enjoy it so much. It