Brandishing signs to "rev it up", the spectators lining the main of Whangamatā couldn't get enough of the constant rumble of big American engines.

For the town's 4000 locals, the Repco Beach Hop is bigger than New Year's and Christmas combined - 110,000 visitors roar in to party like it's 1959.

Tens of thousands of spectators jostled for pole positions as an endless convoy of cars rolled by through day and night.

The rockabilly beat of the bands playing on streets and in bars competed with the screaming of fat tyres and crack of muscle cars parading Port Rd.

Winner of best bike, Matt Juric. Photo / Alison Smith
Winner of best bike, Matt Juric. Photo / Alison Smith

Every hot rod and classic car imaginable was prepped and primed, working the crowds with hydraulics, horns and of course, the revving engine.

"It's the mating call of the petrol head," said Repco Beach Hop President Noddy Watts, who has organised the event for 19 years and watched it grow to the massive festival that it has become.

"It's music to our ears - an adrenaline rush. It excites you on the inside."

Kathy Greville, Carolyn Reston and Karen Scott, from Hawke's Bay, were Betty Boops for the event, with their lipstick red 1956 Ford Thunderbird.

"We will be retiring in Whangamatā, the Beach Hop is a primary driver for us," said Karen.

"Whangamatā has got everything going for it."

Her other half, Peter, brought his 1954 Ford Pickup to the festival and let their friends from Australia cruise in it.

Both Karen and Peter parked up their cars and enjoyed watching from the sideline on Saturday night's parade.


Peter said there was no trouble.

"I'm a petrolhead, I couldn't do it all night but it's something you take in and have a few laughs. It's all good stuff in today's PC world."

Maureen Kan was dressed to impress in an eye-catching red retro frock and had the car to match.

''Gertrude'' is a 1962 Mercury Monteray she had driven with her partner and friends from Auckland.

''She is a two-door pillarless and we just love the fact she is a little bit different from everything else. She drives like a dream and is not bad for an old girl.''

Kan was a major fan of Beach Hop and had nothing but praise for the event.

''I love everything, I love the cars I love the vibrancy, I love the people and the whole experience.''

Spectator Rob Hill from Auckland said it was the second time he had attended Beach Hop and he loved it.

''I think it's one of the best things to happen in this country. The people are so nice and everyone is happy.''

''There is a lot of s*** happening around the world but you come here and have a good time and life does not seem that bad."

Bob Hewitt from Cromwell was also blown away by the hospitality and said he loved Whangamatā.

"It is so beautiful. The people are unbelievable and everyone is just so nice.''

Embracing the culture of the 50s and 60s, there was a retro caravan show, a retro pin-up contest and a nostalgia surf fest and many hoppers arrived with suitcases full of fancy dress to add to the vibe.

"It's all in the accessories," advised Rachel Tucker from Hawke's Bay, who was dressed in matching colours with her daughter Abbie and auntie Trish Tucker from Cambridge.

"We have plastic stacking boxes and swap with each other over the five days."

Meanwhile, Linda Ruddick had travelled from Brisbane for her fifth Beach Hop.

''Dad came over and we went to a similar show in Aussie. He said you need to come to Beach Hop it will blow this away, and it did.''

The proud owner of a 1966 Cadillac Ruddick said she was sick of sitting on the sidelines.

''It's been fantastic watching but now we want to get involved.''

Today is the closing day of a five-day festival and one lucky person will take home a gas guzzling 1967 Ford Galaxie all to themselves.