Despite a cloudy start, the sun came out for the 2015 Hot Rod and Custom Drive-In Day at Beaulieu, held on Father’s Day. 450 custom, hot rod and classic American cars and bikes cruised into the grounds of the National Motor Museum to take part in the colourful and diverse display, which was enjoyed by 6,500 visitors.
With live music, dancing and stands selling vintage wares, all capturing the spirit of the custom world, it proved to be a vibrant event. Variety brought plenty of spice to the show, held in association with American car club Solent Renegades, as stripped-down hot rods parked alongside ‘slammed’ American classics and pristine custom cars.
Whether you love immaculate custom paint finishes and highly polished engine bays, or prefer the distressed rat rod look, there were plenty of unique cars on show to catch your eye. Bike fans were spoilt by a multitude of two-wheeled machines, ranging from beautifully crafted custom bicycles, courtesy of club Crank Jesters, all the way up to custom trikes powered by V8 engines.
Visitors were kept rocking and rolling to live music throughout the day. On the Entertainment Stage, the Dotty Duo performed vintage songs from the 1940s and ‘50s, while Carmen Ghia and the Hot Rods revved up the crowds with classic rock and roll. Touring the show ground was Mexican band Mariachi El Mexicano, serenading visitors with lively Latin tunes.
If the music gave you dancing fever, Jitterbug Jive was the ideal place to perfect your steps. The Bournemouth Lindy Hop Club gave live demonstrations for all to join in, with visitors taking to the dance floor to try out their footwork. To re-fuel afterwards, the Vintage Tea Tent was a popular stop-off, with traditional refreshments on offer.
Traders were on hand too, with an array of motoring memorabilia, while the Vintage Village, created by Bows & Braces, was filled with period-perfect items for sale. From vintage clothing and classic LPs, to jewellery, kitchenware, luggage and knick-knacks, you were sure to pick up the perfect custom-themed accessory. For those seeking the hair style to match, Kam Hair & Make-Up Artist was on hand to work her magic, captured the glamour of the custom era.
No-one could miss the awesome display put on by Russ Carpenter and his dragster Glacier Grenade. Russ started up the Daimler V8 engine of this brutal quarter-mile monster, astonishing visitors with its roar and ‘cackle’, while Brian Taylor talked visitors through the fascinating Allard dragster, which normally resides in the National Motor Museum.
Solent Renegades put on an excellent display of club members’ cars, ranging from ever-popular Chevy Day Vans and Ford Mustangs, to rarities such as a 1967 Plymouth Satellite Sport Wagon with its eye catching wood effect trim. Elsewhere in the show, the lowered bare metal bodywork and race-tuned V8 engine of a 1931 Ford Model A drew a sizeable crowd. Contrasting nicely with this was a pristine mint green and cream 1930 Model A hot rod, powered by a 354 Hemi V8.
Other highlights from the rows of remarkable machines was a weather-worn Chevrolet 3100 truck, which oozed original patina, and a 1957 Plymouth Sports Suburban estate which is the only two-door example in the UK. The classic American ‘woodie’ was represented by a timber-bodied 1925 Ford Model T Beach Wagon, while a 1946 Ford Long Door Super Coupe Deluxe street rod hid its powerful V8 engine beneath stock-looking bodywork.
Among the American cars on show were numerous modified British classics, including a Ford 100E Popular body mounted onto an air-cooled Volkswagen chassis, and a 1960 Vauxhall Victor F-Type equipped with a tuned 3.5-litre Rover V8 engine. New for 2015, non-custom classics and VWs were invited to park in their own paddocks within the showground.
A real crowd-pleaser was a futuristic Jetsons-style roadster based on BMW Z3 underpinnings. Named Cosmotron and equipped with unique fibreglass bodywork and an aircraft style dome for the roof and windows, its owner had spent two years building this unique machine.
Throughout the day, visitors voted for their favourite machines on show in the People’s Choice Award. Tony Bevan’s 1936 Buick Straight Eight, Paul Privett’s 1971 Cadillac Coupe de Ville and Tim Day’s 1986 Chevrolet Camaro 228 were all runners up, with Mick Wakeford winning the People’s Choice Award with his pristine 1932 Ford roadster. This was the first outing that Mick had taken the car on, following two years building it from scratch.
Further awards were given for other stars of the show. The Best Hot Rod went to Chris Andrews for his Ford Model T ‘Bucket’, with Dave Day taking Best Custom for his subtle yet impressive 1952 Chevrolet pick-up, while Best American was awarded to Terry Jeeves for his 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Series 62.
One of the heroes of the show was Best Bike award winner Nick Wallwork, with his astonishing Bourget’s Bike Works custom motorcycle. Nick had bought this American machine, equipped with a 2-litre engine and a huge rear wheel, only the day before the show. Prior to this, he had owned a Harley-Davidson, having only passed his motorcycle driving test one month ago! His new high-powered bike is a bit of a handful. “When I try to go around roundabouts, the bike just wants to plough straight on,” he said.
The coveted Best In Show award went to Neil Jewell for his Ford Popular, which is powered by a tuned Rover V8 engine. Neil has spent seven years building his immaculate blue Popular for his wife Mira, as she had always wanted one. “I tried to keep the car looking old, but with modern components beneath the bodywork,” he said.
The Hot Rod and Custom Drive-In Day is set to return for next year’s Father’s Day, on Sunday 19th June 2016. For the latest information, visit www.beaulieuhotrodday.co.uk or join the conversation with @Beaulieu_Hants on Twitter.