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Winding down: Repco Beach Hop 17 (day five)

31 March 2017

If the Repco Beach Hop 17 experience can be likened to a bender, then Sunday is most definitely the hangover day — a lazy, laid-back experience at the Ford NZ Reserve (Williamson Park) with no urgency to get anything done. 

While Sunday sees the Ford NZ Reserve fill up with trade stands, it is best known for its Top 10 display, showcasing the top five cars, top three bikes, and top two caravans, as well as the top tot-rod. Donation buckets placed in front of each entrant would decide the winner of each category, with the vehicle raising the most money for the Whangamata Surf Club crowned winner. This year, those lucky finalists included: 

Top five cars

Martin Bennett: 1955 Ford Ranch Wagon
Martin and Marion Bennett have owned this ’55 Ranch Wagon for 12 years, although it was never supposed to become what it is now. Since Marion hated the car, it was pulled out of the shed to be sold, but the buggered engine really needed rebuilding to get it sale-ready. If he was going to do the engine, Martin decided he may as well do the transmission, and if he was going to do that, he may as well install air-conditioning — he says that was Marion’s chief gripe about the car. With help from fellow Stragglers car club members, and selling his ’58 Chev wagon to help get it done, it’s worked because Marion now loves it! 

Daniel Jones: 1963 Chev Impala
Dan’s ’63 longroof low-rider was a shot out of leftfield for the majority of Beach Hop–goers, when it first appeared in the Saturday morning Ultimate Pass cruise. Unquestionably the best low-rider in the country, the car was never free from hordes of admirers, for obvious reason. The result of an eight-year build done almost entirely by Dan, his father Don, and good mate Willy, not a single area has been left unmodified. The engine bay is a masterpiece of detail and symmetry, the amazing paint was applied at home, and the interior is as next-level as it gets. You’re looking at one of the best-built cars in the country. 

Bruce McKenzie: 1941 Willys
Bruce McKenzie only recently completed his beautiful pro-street Willys pickup, after a long and at times challenging eight-year build. That build included a cancer scare, as well as intensive bouts of chemotherapy, but Bruce never gave up and always found something to work on, no matter how bad his health. His hard work was rewarded with a top five placing for the impeccably detailed wagon, but he unfortunately crashed it on the drive home after a tyre blew out near Dannevirke — a sad end to a beautiful machine. Fortunately, Bruce is alright, and we don’t doubt he’ll be rebuilding his dream car even better than before, if that’s possible!

Bruce Carter: 1933 Ford tudor
Originally built over seven years ago by Rods by Reid, Bruce has done over 40,000 miles in his beautiful ’33 Ford tudor. He thought the car’s show days were over, as despite having taken it to Beach Hop many times, it’s never made it through. This must have been his lucky year, though, as not only did he make it through to the top five, but also earned the Best Hot Rod award as chosen by legendary car builder Chuck Miller. 

Kevin Jellyman: 1953 Ford F100
Kevin Jellyman’s show-quality 1953 Ford F100 was built abroad in the USA, and to a damn high standard. The build was completed in May 2012, before the truck was shipped to its new home in New Zealand near the end of 2016. The detailing extends from the amazing paint and airbrush work right through to the detailed interior and flawless mechanicals, which include a 460ci Cobra Jet crate engine, Art Carr C6 transmission, nine-inch diff, power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering, Wilwood brakes, and a catalogue of TCI suspension components. 

Top three bikes

Carie McCarthy: 2013 Misfit Chopper
Carie McCarthy’s crazy 124ci S&S-powered custom chopper is a familiar sight at Beach Hop, and this year was his fourth consecutive year in the Top 10. However, finally, he made it all the way to take out the coveted Top Bike award — a solid effort, considering he comes up from Queenstown every year for the Hop. Carie hasn’t done too much to the chopper over the last year, as he recently purchased a V8-powered Boss Hoss motorcycle, but he’s been working on de-chroming the brightwork for a more subtle feel, if such a word may be used when talking about this bike. It’s something that has clearly paid off — congratulations, Carie!

Wilson Ford: 2011 Harley-Davidson (vicla)
The incredibly detailed vicla-style Harley-Davidson low-rider of Wilson Ford wowed the crowds last year, taking out the Top Bike award, and it’s not hard to see why. This thing just looks right! Between then and now, he hasn’t changed a whole lot, but is still taking small steps towards getting the Harley looking exactly how he wants it. That is most notable in the new, longer 42-inch fishtail pipes, although Wilson says he’d like to go up to 50 inches. Other than that, there is more chrome trim, and he’s gotten to the point of fitting chrome caps to any exposed fasteners. One day he’ll have it how he wants it, but it looks pretty spot-on to us just the way it is. 

Mike Schween: 2011 Harley-Davidson V-Rod
When someone says ‘Harley chopper’, you’re unlikely to think of something that looks like Mike Schween’s creation. However, there is no denying the quality of workmanship involved in building such a machine. It’s been built around a V-Rod engine, with airbag suspension at the rear and one-off custom billet wheels, and although the Porsche-themed graphics confused many, Mike explained that it’s because Porsche actually designed the V-Rod engines for Harley-Davidson — a fact that not many are aware of. His graphic scheme is just a way of expanding on that, although it certainly doesn’t hurt that Mike is originally from Germany, too! He’s been in New Zealand for 10 years, and has been building bikes for 33 years, and that experience certainly shows in his latest creation. 

Top two caravans

Alex Ross: 1976 Lilliput
Alex Ross is well known for his stunningly-finished ’59 Chev Impala, so he recently decided to spice things up a little and give his wheels a real point of difference — a ’76 Lilliput caravan. Of course, Alex being Alex, he could not just build any old box on wheels, and so commenced a process of amazing detailing in getting the caravan not only to perfectly match his Impala, but his personality. He’s done an amazing job, and you could pore over the combo for hours and still be finding the most minute of details. 

Bill and Angela Thompson: 1928 Angela
Bill and Angela Thompson’s 1928 Anglo caravan stood out for being different, and that’s something that definitely deserves credit. It’s something that has been a part of Angela’s life almost since the beginning, holding a significant emotional connection to her family and heritage. However, Bill and Angela have not owned it for long. After following the England-based caravan on caravan sale sites for the last two years, they were finally able to purchase it in October of last year, and it landed in New Zealand in January. Though they were hesitant to enter it into Repco Beach Hop 17 for its very English nature, they’re glad they did, and the experience was one they will treasure forever. Making it into the Top 10 circle was merely a bonus.  

Top tot-rod:

Caleb Cooper: 1932 sedan
Caleb Cooper’s cool little ’32 sedan was built by his father, Rusty Cooper, in the short space of just two weeks. As a furniture restorer, Rusty is well acquainted with woodwork, and mentioned that he built it to have something different on the back of his ’47 Ford jailbar — mission accomplished. 

That’s all from us, but make sure you keep your eyes peeled for our next issue of NZV8 for more coverage of Repco Beach Hop 17, and be sure to grab a copy of the NZV8 Beach Hop Annual 2017 when it’s out with a free DVD in mid-May. You can pre-order your copy online here.