For Paengaroa's Ally and Paul Ross, Beach Hop was something they went to ''on and off over the years''.

But in 2011 it got serious and they have been every year since.

Paul got his hands on a 1972 Chevrolet Chevelle and they bought a bach in Whangamatā.

The following year they travelled the length of Route 66 with a group of over 40 people, including Beach Hop founder Noddy Watts, all driving Mustangs.

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In 2013 they returned to the States and bought a 1962 Pontiac Firebird. Paul then sold his Chevelle, but bought another.

''My orange one was a 72, but everyone wants a 70,'' he says. He was no exception. He found one in the US and imported it.

''It was a pretty ugly looking thing,'' he admits.

A bout of illness put the car's restoration project on hold, but when he had recovered, a full restoration began. There are still one or two things to finish, but the car has had a rebuilt engine and more modern running gear, with every part stripped down and completely reassembled.

It also has an unusual colour scheme - for a Chevelle.

Normally a black and red Chevelle is a red car with black trim. Paul's is the opposite and has spawned a poisonous red-back spider theme for the car - which is even reflected in the number plate - TOX1C.

''I like to be a bit different,'' he says. ''I had red piping put on seats and a number of other things, and I thought, let's make the name Toxic, which is to do with red back spiders.''

Ally's car has also had a full rebuild - although that wasn't the intention when they bought it.

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''When we bought it, we thought it was wonderful,'' says Paul.

But the car failed compliance because the floors were fibreglass.

''Americans being American they had just gone over the top of them with paint and made it look like it was floor.''

The car is one of only 3000 built, so is pretty rare.

''We had to make a decision about what to do with it because we couldn't get it compliant [as it was] in New Zealand, but it was an expensive car so we did a full restoration.''

The car is used regularly, and is not, says Ally, a ''trailer queen''.

She uses it for her real estate work, for weddings and two years ago it was Santa's transport in the Whangamatā Christmas parade.

''I've always liked cars, but never had the opportunity to have a classic before - but now we are in it, we don't look back.,'' she says.

''You meet really neat people. Our friends' group has just expanded and they are from all walks of life.''

It's one of the main reason the couple likes heading to Whangamatā for Beach Hop.

''I love the cars and love the driving - but it's the friendships we've made,'' says Paul,
''people you would never ever in 1000 years think you would make friends with. But all in all it brings everyone together on one level playing field.

''We do other local cruises as well, but Beach Hop, that's where you catch up with people because everybody goes to Beach Hop.''

There is always a reunion for those who made the Route 66 trip in 2012.

This year they are looking to recreate one of the best nights of that trip.

''We were in Wendover - not far from [Bonneville] salt flats, in a motel - and it was one of those really neat nights. We ordered pizza and this big pile of pizzas came and we spent the evening round the pool,'' says Paul.

■ Repco Beach Hop starts next Wednesday with the Warm up Party in Waihī and then continues in Whangamatā until March 31 with car runs, markets, music, dancing and car, motorcycle and classic caravan shows.