America rumbles into Whangamata

By Jacqui Madelin


Beach Hop fans flock in to drool over hotted-up classics

Hot rods, sunshine and plenty of V8 goodness - Whangamata certainly turned it on for the 2013 Beach Hop.

The annual event attracted more than 1000 classic car and hot rod entries, including three from the US, with thousands more driven in by some of a vast spectator crowd estimated at up to 100,000 on the Saturday alone.

The 13th annual Coromandel event began with a Wednesday Waihi warm-up party, followed by a Tairua cruise and another to scenic Onemana Beach over following days, but for most Saturday's Main Street parade is the focus.

The cream of New Zealand's muscle and hot rod fraternity cruised slowly between packed pavements of onlookers, the rumble of high performance V8s echoing from storefronts.

Convertibles packed with kids and fluttering flags, lowriders with highly-polished sills and radical-looking hot rods; colourful wigs and dresses; even an Elvis or two, waved at the crowd.

Eventually the best cars park up to give folk a better opportunity to admire interiors, engine bays and undersides fettled for show - some sitting atop mirrors to deliver a better view.

The show paused only briefly - when Karl Bonniface fired his Castrol Nitro Flashback drag car into life, pounding eardrums the length of Whangamata and setting off a cacophony of car alarms.

The colourful line-up was bracketed between a celebration of 60 years of Corvette at one end of town, and a display of 43 retro caravans at the other that featured more NZ-made 1960s Lilliput caravans than Driven has ever spotted together.

Most notably for newcomers, this is not an event purely for petrol-head blokes; the carnival flavour and proliferation of 1950s frocks, hats and seamed stockings ensured a family flavour, with many kids decked out to match their parents and the cars in which they arrived.

An American visitor couldn't believe the quality of the cars New Zealand delivers - nor that most had driven to the event, instead of arriving on a trailer and safely under wraps.

- Hamilton News

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