An American muscle car and a rat rod built by Papamoa's Graham Steel will be hitting the streets of Whangamata at the upcoming Beach Hop.

Mr Steel has spent the last 16 months building his rat rod, which has the body of a 1928 Model A Tudor.

The car is completely road legal, warranted and registered, and Mr Steel will be taking it up to Whangamata for Beach Hop, which begins on March 30.

Papamoa's Graham Steel with the two custom-built cars he will be taking to Beach Hop, his rat rod and his '67 Camero. Photo/George Novak
Papamoa's Graham Steel with the two custom-built cars he will be taking to Beach Hop, his rat rod and his '67 Camero. Photo/George Novak

Included in its many unusual features are a shotgun gear lever, big-diameter rear wheels, reclaimed wood roof (moss intact) and sack-covered seats.

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"I had a shiny car, I wanted to build something totally the opposite. This is very much a fun thing to build," Mr Steel said of his rat rod.

"I made the whole thing from nothing, custom made the whole chassis. It's a hobby."

The headlights are from a 1938 Chevrolet commercial truck, the seat covers are made from 1930s New Zealand Sugar Company sacks, and the roof is made from the old wooden crossbars from power poles cut into slats. The driver's wing mirror is a concoction of bits of metal and bolts made to look like a skeleton hand holding a mirror.

"You've got to think outside the square," Mr Steel said. "Rat rods are getting a bit more popular here. They're big in the South Island and getting bigger up here."

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Other features of the rat rod include four-link coilover suspension, a brand new So-Cal front end, Falcon diff, Muncie close-ratio gearbox and 350cu inch Chev motor.

Mr Steel's daughter Amanda would be driving the rat rod at Beach Hop, while Mr Steel would be driving his 1967 Chevrolet Camaro.

The rat rod was not the only interesting project Mr Steel had taken to Beach Hop. A few years ago, he motorised a La-Z-Boy couch, donated by the company, and drove it in the parade.

It was highly popular, with people running up and jumping on.