Classics at Ōhope

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Classics at Ōhope’ caravan and car show was lining up for its fifth outing. The first had been pretty small, but the second was a bit larger and many of the retro-caravan crowd who attended really enjoyed the show.

The event sounded as if it would be quite nice to attend, with around 30 retro and vintage caravans expected, along with hundreds of classic cars. So with a bit of encouragement from my friend Mike, we decided we would make the trip to check out the show for ourselves and maybe sell a few books while we were there. The show was planned for Saturday the 14th of March, running from midday until 4.00 pm, but most of the retro caravans were planning to turn up on the Friday so as to have an easy run on the Saturday. This also allowed time to catch up with friends, as once a show starts you tend to get pretty busy talking to the public about your caravan and the lifestyle, and showing people through your caravan. We seldom get out from under our roof awning during these times.

We decided to take the long route to Ōhope, leaving home early and visiting some of our favourite camping spots along the way. By Friday morning we arrived at the site and were surprised to find a good number of retro caravans ahead of us. The organisation of the event appeared to be pretty slick and we were soon on site and setting up. By evening there were 38 caravans on site ranging in years from 1947 to 1978, with a good number from the fifties and sixties. Also, a lone 2002 Canadian fifth-wheeler turned up attached to a 1955 Ford Mainline ute. It had been retro’d to a seventies style and looked very cool. It was a good time to wander around the camp and catch up with old friends and meet others who were new to the retro scene. Some had gained beautiful additions to their retro caravans in terms of classic cars. There were three or four very nice 1950s ranch wagons, which really were gorgeous and so practical for a retro caravanner. Others in evidence were classic American cars and pickups along with a smattering of English and Australian classic cars. On Saturday 200-plus classic cars of all makes and models and hot rods were expected to turn up, and food and craft stalls were expected as well. A large marquee had been set up to host a beach party, which sounded like fun.

 

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Saturday dawned as a bright summer’s day. We had a half-hour radio interview via phone, for our new book, then it was into setting up our display and presenting our 1958 Liteweight Kiwi, Daisy Mae, for the show.

A little after 9.00 am the camp burst into very loud rock ‘n’ roll music, which was great, and it set the tone for the rest of the day. During this period a huge number of classic cars and hot rods were arriving and parking up, among them some really stunning classics.

We managed a walk around the caravans just before the show started and counted 45 retro-caravan rigs. I am not sure what the official count was, but they were very well presented and looked really cool. Some of the caravans were quite rare, some a little more common, particularly those from the 1970s but each had been beautifully retro’d and certainly had the owners’ personality stamped on them. There were Lightweights from the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, Anglos and CI Munro caravans from the ’60s and ’70s, a lone Furnware and Levin Oxford, along with a Muir and a very nicely done homebuilt. Also present were a tiny Starliner Starlette towed by a mid-sixties Ford Anglia, a late sixties Catalina, and from the mid-six-ties a Princess, a Hambling, an Everson and a Concord to name just a few. Caravans came from as far south as Nelson and as far north as Whangārei.

A stunning 1954 Airstream that had previously won best caravan at the Repco Beach Hop was present along with a couple of other previous winners. Two of the caravans I liked the best were a 1947 Bermuda, originally built in Christchurch and faithfully restored back to original condition, and Mike Wells’ latest acquisition, a tandem ACC still in original condition. Mike plans to turn this into his own touring caravan. I have no doubt that it will be as spectacular as many of his other creations, providing he can actually get ahead of his customers’ orders. These old ACCs with their lantern roof and V fronts are super cool.

 

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The day turned out to be very hot and sunny. It was like it was the middle of summer with soaring temperatures. When the show opened, there were people everywhere. We were extremely busy under our awning and with the great crowd and the heat were both feeling exhausted by 4.00 pm. We packed up our display and decided to pull down our roof awning to avoid the morning dew.

During the day, the People’s Choice award for caravans went to the 1954 Airstream. From all accounts, there were just under 500 cars and caravans on display!

Tea and an early night were on the agenda for us. By the time the beach party started, we were climbing into our bed. We listened to an MC running through some raffles and an auction before drifting off to sleep to the sound of a band at the party.

Sunday dawned as another sunny day again, and we got ourselves packed up, said some goodbyes, and pulled out intending to take another long route home. A night at Matatā, two at the Mount, another at Raglan and our final night at Takapuna motor camp saw us arriving home the following Friday.

That was when we realised the country was moving into a new reality and that ‘Classics at Ōhope’ really was the last of the summer wine for 2020! 

 

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