Taking a mini break at Whangamata’s Brits at the Beach

15 October, 2015



The mini break that is Classic Cover Insurance Brits at the Beach festival — held at Whangamata over October 9–11, 2015 — is always much more than just a car show, even if that is the main reason behind why classic car people enjoy it so much. It is also the first real event of the spring reminding us summer is not long away.

With 125 cars revving up for early registration, the organizers knew that the sixth running  of the event was going to be something special.

The festival kicked off with the Great British Quiz on Thursday night, and then Friday, Saturday, and Sunday were all about the cars and Britishness.

Friday morning saw the cars heading off to historic Grahamstown in Thames. The road was closed for the festival, and around 150 cars packed the street with the crowds turning out to see the incredible line-up on display.

Each mini event in the festival had its own prize-giving, and the Grahamstown-gathering winner was Colin Fabish’s 1939 Morris 8 Series E. After this excursion the cars headed back to Whangamata, where the official registration was open and entries soon passed the 400 mark.

The afternoon saw a ‘Port Road Park Up’, giving the folk of Whangamata their first close-up look at these magnificent machines. The winner of this section was an immaculate 1964 Austin Healey 3000.

That night, the big musical event was the Gee Bees, New Zealand’s top Bee Gees tribute band, and Col McCabe, the Brits at the Beach organizer, said he’d never heard a crowd having such raucous fun! There was foot stomping, table thumping, and singing along to all the Bee Gees greatest hits.

Saturday was the biggest day of the event, where, once again, entries climbed, hitting a total of 476, all of which took part in the Classic Cover Great British Parade of Motoring. The queue of cars filled the 7.2km route, and cars returning from the parade were passing those still to start!

When the cars arrived back at Williamson Park, it was time for the Sunlive Village Fete. This is what makes the Brits at the Beach Festival unique. Four hours of fun and silliness, including the crowd favourites, Gurning (the ancient art of face-pulling), the Scruffs Dog Show, and the brilliant British Costume competition — this year won by the well-known driving sensation, The Stig. It was a great crowd turnout, and McCabe mentioned that that should mean a record collection made for the Whangamata Gymnastics Club, this year’s local junior sports club, of which the proceeds from the fete were donated to.

The final act at the Village Fete was to present the Best Car of Show, which this year was quite rightly won by Nigel Hayman with his gorgeous racing-red 1970 Lotus Elan (Plus 2).

As the Fete wound down, the cars started heading north for the Tairua Day Tripper, where entrants lined the stunning Pepe Reserve. The winner of this car gathering was a very special 1939 MG — the only of its type in New Zealand, and one of only 15 in the world. Even Larry Barnett from Classic Cover Insurance — as a major car enthusiast of 40 years — was blown away to see one.

In Tairua music from a variety of artists was enjoyed, including music from the festival’s own Vera Lynn, singing those nostalgic hits from the war years.

Later, on Saturday night, the big show of the weekend was Into The Pink, the Pink Floyd tribute act, who played to a packed house and were very well received.

When the sun rose for the fourth day of the event, the cars went off on their ‘Sunday Drive’ to the delightful Pauanui Shopping Centre. The team at Pauanui had decorated the centre and closed off the parking area, making for a fantastic spectacle for the locals and visitors alike. Alan Stanley’s Jowett Jupiter was chosen as the winning car of the Sunday Drive.

If anyone has photos they want to share, McCabe would love you to post them to the Brits at the Beach Facebook page. He says he hopes to see you all back next year between September 29 and October 2.

Check out the winners below:

Brits Best Car — 1970 Lotus Elan Plus 2; Nigel Hayman

Best Car Grahamstown — 1939 Morris 8 Series E

Best Car Port Road Park Up — 1963 Austin Healey 3000

Best Car Tairua Day Tripper — 1939 MG

Best Car Pauanui Sunday Drive — 1951 Jowett Jupiter

Make sure you check out our massive event gallery below:

Images: Stretch-Storer Photography

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.

Super Leicht Gullwing

It’s fair to say that nothing much in the classic Mercedes world gets past Mercedes-Benz Club stalwart Garry Boyce so it wasn’t surprising to learn that around 15 years ago he had sniffed out an extremely rare 300SL lightweight Gullwing as well as a 1958 300SL Roadster hiding away in the Waikato. The cars were not for sale but Garry eventually managed to persuade the owner to allow him and his restoration team to take a look at the Roadster. They discovered a very distressed but largely unmolested car. The car was so original that the body had never been off the chassis, meaning most of the parts and fittings were still present and correct, as they had been fitted by the factory.