We don’t know how lucky we are
I recently returned home from the Whangamata Beachhop celebrating 1950s to 70s Americana where over 1200 registered period cars, caravans, bikes and hotrods cruised and displayed over 4 days. The organizers and volunteers no doubt were apprehensive with a wet weather forecast. It didn’t eventuate — good weather, only a light overnight shower Saturday and again Sunday.
What it reiterated for me was how clever and capable amateur and professional Kiwi car nuts are at rebuilding and creating superb examples of auto engineering — from concours Edsels to imitation patinaed ratrods. Non-mainstream units that attracted a lot of attention were a Morris Minor Woody with a supercharged V8, a lowered split windscreen Volkswagen Traveller Combi, I believe Porsche powered, and a 1960s Mini pickup with 4.4L Rover V8 in the tray driving the rear wheels through a Japanese transaxle gearbox. Some creations had info boards, it would have been good for these aberrations to have had given us some information. The car that has stuck in my mind was a two-door 1957 210 Bel Air pillarless hard-top. I didn’t get a close-up look, but the lack of strong two-tone colour scheme and being the same silver shade as the side flash accentuated the iconic clean profile.
The week before there was Targa Rotorua. I am fortunate to live within fifteen minutes of numerous Targa rally stages in the South Waikato, one start/ finish only 100m from home. So good to get to Kakahu Road for a few hours watching enthusiasts in E30 BMWS, Series 1 Honda Civics, and others, having a ball on challenging, winding, dry sealed roads.
In the previous months owners had opportunities to get their pride and joys out of sheds at Rotorua lake front, Tauranga, Hamilton, Kumeu and theme/ brand displays. Also, there has been Hampton Downs Festival of speed, and race days. Then there are the individual car club rallies that allow enthusiasts to burn a bit of fuel and circulate the oil while seeing and being seen. So there are regular visual feasts for any car enthusiast round the Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions, and through your magazine we see the same in other parts of New Zealand. It also confirms to me, Kiwis are passionate and capable car builders/maintainers and owners in greater numbers per-capita than any other part of the world. We don’t know how lucky we are.