Words and photography: Ben Klemenzson and Beaulieu
What was formerly known as the Beaulieu Hot Rod and Custom Drive-in Day was this year renamed the Custom and American Show – and, as has been traditional, it was held on Father’s Day Sunday. Beaulieu benefits from being located in the beautiful setting of the Beaulieu estate in the New Forest and not far from Southampton, so you can’t really get further south. Although Sunday started off dry, and sunny even, it ended drizzly and grey. The turnout was pretty good considering the constantly changing weather forecasts. There were several other American/rod and custom Father’s Day shows taking place over that weekend all over the country.
Despite being a one-day show, the organisers manage to pack a lot in and things kicked off early with exhibiting cars arriving in good time, although the show actually opened to the public at 10am. The layout is a relaxed one, as cars line up along the avenue into the site, as well as in the arena, which is the focus of activities.
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Taking centre stage this year were the before and after creations of Andy Saunders, namely his latest creation, Deja, a stunning purple Art Deco one-off that combines Delahaye 135M front wings, with elements of an LWB Riley. Joining Deja was the Buick-based lowrider (painted and belonging to Andy’s partner, Maxine Xavier) known as Sundancer, which graced these pages only a few months back.
Andy and Maxine were on hand to chat about the cars and Andy picked the winner of the award given in his name. Beaulieu has made quite a retro theme of the event, with plenty of stalls dealing in automotive bric-a-brac, parts and accessories and lots of food and drink stalls. Although the show features numerous rods and customs, there were many straight-up, non-modified American vehicles as well as the odd British classic and other European-based modified vehicles.
Standout cars included a trio of interesting Cadillacs: a gold 1961 Cadillac with custom paint and lace-effect on the roof, a pristine Allante and a handsome 1970 convertible. Regular attendee Richard Biggs was on hand with his 1966 Buick Riviera which he had owned decades previously, but which had been in storage for 20 years. “I’d forgotten how good it was!” he chuckled. It even came with a pair of matching pillows which pictured the car outside the Rolling Stones’ house in London! The 1955 Buick Century custom which won People’s Choice Best in Show was a real stunner, having been created in the States and imported by the current owners. A very worthy winner indeed… By the time rain appeared in the afternoon, trophies were awarded and everyone dispersed. Despite how the day ended weather-wise, all in all it was a good turnout and a cracking event overall!
Kingstown Shipping Car of the Year Competition: Heat 2 winner
The winner of the second heat of the Kingstown Shipping Car of the Year competition was this gorgeous 1955 Cadillac Eldorado belonging to Lynne and Andrew Collier of Eastleigh in Hampshire. The Caddy was imported from American Dream Machines in Iowa and had undergone restoration and a colour change from black (with a black and silver interior) sometime prior to 2005.
Formerly part of the Charlie Thomas Collection, it had a starring role in the 2005 Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line (as opposed to being the car from the song One Piece at a Time) so it comes with some great celebrity history, apart from being an all-round glamourpuss of a motor. Lynne and Andrew have christened the car Buttercup and are not afraid of using it on roadtrips all over!
■ Classic American Car of the Year heat winner – 1955 Cadillac Eldorado, Andrew and Lynne Collier
■ Andy Saunders Award – 1935 Ford, Terry Smith
■ Solent Renegades – 1970 Dodge Challenger, Alan Fee
■ People’s Best in Show – 1955 Buick Century
■ Dad’s Prize Draw – Daniel Adams