I enjoyed my first Beach Hop at the east Coromandel town of Whangamata last week. I say “enjoyed” deliberately, because there is so much enthusiasm and passion involved in this annual coming together of classic car aficionados that it is downright infectious.
What seems like hundreds of these cars, as well as caravans and motorbikes, and their owners, somehow fit into a town with a small resident population of just a few thousand.
There are plenty of Fords and Chevrolets on show of course, but also the Cadillac, the Desoto, the Buick, the Oldsmobile, the Holden, and many more besides. The chrome gleams, the paintwork shines, and the owners sit back and say “hey, check it out”. The cars are long and wide, with fins at the back, spotless upholstery and a look that seeps nostalgia. Take a look at Crave!’s selection of photos – that’s just a small sample.
I’m not a petrolhead but I was swept up in the event and stunned by just how many of these cars there are in the country. If I had a spare few thousand (probably a lot more) to throw at a car like this, I’m thinking a Mustang would do rather nicely…
And plenty of music was on offer. I only caught a few bands, with most reviving 50s and 60s rock’n roll. At the Whangamata Club on Friday night Suzanne Donaldson reminded us that back in the 60’s when she and her sister were in The Chicks, they recorded a released a seminal pop/soul song six months before its most famous version. The song? “River Deep Mountain High” most well known as an Ike and Tina Turner single. Who’d have thought?
Eddie Lowe followed, dressed in black, with a big silver belt buckle and a voice still doing the business. He quickly whipped through a classic selection of 50’s rock n roll hits, occasionally reminding us why he was – still is – New Zealand’s answer to Roy Orbison.
Both Eddie and Suzanne probably could have hung up the microphone years ago. But seeing them in front of a crowd who wanted to sing and dance, and seeing how these veteran performers clearly feed off that audience, it’s not hard to see why they keep going. Why not? They clearly love it, their voices are still strong, and there’s a slice of New Zealand out there who still want to see them. All power to them.