After reading that headline you probably have a couple of questions. Is there really a weeklong event in a beach side town on New Zealand’s Coromandel Peninsular dedicated to pre-1972 American cars? And the answer is yes.
Welcome to Beach Hop. An annual event held at a place called Whangamata, a popular holiday spot for people in New Zealand’s North Island. Beach Hop is a celebration of America in the 50’s and 60’s. Girls turn into pin-up models, guys don leather and hundreds of American cars emerge from garages around the country to cruise, park, trade and chat over a week of sun, surf and fun.
So why did you take a 1968 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow? Well that’s because it’s the closest thing I could find to a pre-1972 American car. Anyone can attend the show but somehow it’s made more fun if you make the journey there and back in something old that might breakdown. That didn’t happen though, we did nearly 300 miles over four days and the only causality was an intermittent lamp behind the gear selector.
I didn’t actually enter the show in a Rolls-Royce because that would be silly and they wouldn’t let me. But that didn’t stop us from cruising the main street each night with everyone else, getting some questionable looks and double takes from people watching on. That was probably due to my two friends opting to only sit in the back seat leaving the passenger seat empty and waving like the Queen through the back windows.
I’ve been to Beach Hop on and off for over 10 years now and the thing that continues to astonish me is how many of these old cars exist in our little corner of the world, and that so many of them are kept in such great condition. Some are original and a lot have been restored but overall the standard is really high. I’ve found myself using my camera less and less for car-related stuff recently but Beach Hop always restores my interest – the subjects are just so damn cool.
Once a vehicle is 30 years old we have reasonably relaxed import laws provided the car meets a few criteria so you regularly see cars at Beach Hop that just a few months ago were collecting dust in Texas or California. This means that you don’t always see the same vehicles each year and the total number in attendance continues to grow too.
While any car pre-1972 can enter you are able to apply for later model American cars and access is granted on a case by case basis. This year saw a very late model entry - 2014 C7 Corvette that attracted a fair bit of attention.
I’ll leave you with a bunch more photos below that you can browse and recall memories of sitting in the back of these cars while Mom & Dad took you camping for the weekend.
Thank you America, goodbye from New Zealand.