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No better place to kick off 2015 than Whangamata

23 January, 2015

If you ask a gearhead what the best way to see in the New Year is, there is an incredibly high likelihood they’ll tell you there’s nothing better than the annual Whangamata New Year’s Day car show at the Whangamata Club.

With more than 183 vehicles of both the four-wheel and two-wheel persuasion, as well as the brilliant summer weather, 2015’s show was the largest yet with people travelling from all over New Zealand to attend.

Organizer Noddy Watts reckons, “We sure kicked off 2015 in style raising over $1500 for our local youth group.”

For many this was their first chance to check out this year’s Repco Beach Hop giveaway car — a 1950 Mercury Coupe mild custom, direct from the USA, complete with a hopped-up flathead V8 under the hood.

It was also the first public showing of Neil Surtees’ latest from Whakatane. Based on a Model A roadster pickup with an all-aluminium, hand-formed body held together with over 5000 rivets. The tray slides back to reveal the rear-mounted radiators for the Ford flathead V8, and the underslung chassis is innovative; All owner built and oozing coolness.

Another new car was the bright yellow ’32 Ford Coupe of Matamata’s Bill Fryer which was cloned after the Mike Poole ’32 Coupe which carved up the quarter mile in the ’80s. Bill is a Beach Hop regular with a blown Ford Y-block-powered T-bucket.

The show attracted a diverse mix of hot rods, customs, classics, muscle cars, street machines, and motorcycles, and the atmosphere was buzzing to the tunes of the Recliner Rockers. Roll on Beach Hop!

Congratulations to the winners:

Best Ford — Peter Kidd, Kapiti Coast, 1955 Mercury Sunvalley
Best Chev — Nigel Brown, Matamata, 1939 Chev Pickup
Best Other — Robbie Metcalfe, Whangamata, 1957 Oldsmobile
Best Hot Rod — Bruce Carter, Riverhead, 1933 Ford
Best Street Machine — Steve Green, Ohaupo, 1963 Holden
Best Nostalgia — Neil Surtees, Whakatane, 1928 Ford Model A
Best Original — David Leask, Morrinsville, Kawasaki
Best Bike — Roger Kemp, Te Kauwhata, Suzuki

Taipan – surpassing interest

“It’s merely a passing interest,” insists Selby — despite owning three variants of the classic VW Beetle, including an unusual VW van that was sold as a body kit for a Subaru. In his defence he points to a 1961 Ford Thunderbird, a car that he converted to right-hand drive. However, on the VW side of the ledger, since he opened Allison Autos in Whanganui 27 years ago, Selby has built 15 VW-powered Formula First cars, followed by a beach buggy, restored a derelict Karmann Ghia, and hot-rodded a common or garden Beetle into something that has to be seen to be believed. As speed is not something generally associated with classic VWs, though, Selby is still waiting for this particular modification to catch on amongst the hot rod faithful.

Travelling companion

It’s easy to see why the Morris Minor Traveller was one of the best-loved variants of the Morris Minor. Introduced in 1953, it was equipped with the same independent torsion bar front suspension, drum brakes, and rack and pinion steering as its saloon sibling but, with their foldable rear seat increasing versatility, many Travellers were used as trade vehicles, says Derek Goddard. Derek and Gail Goddard, the owners of this superbly restored example, have run Morris Minors since before they were married in 1974.
“Our honeymoon vehicle was a blue Morris Minor van — it was a rust bucket,” says Derek.