Kiwi Con Bentley took his awesome VE gasser to NZ’s annual Beach Hop festival

Photographers: Alastair Ritchie

HELD each year in the seaside town of Whangamata on New Zealand’s North Island, Beach Hop has become the Shaky Isles’ premier nostalgia festival, a gathering of the tribes for lovers of hot rods, classic cars, bikes and old-school rock & roll.

It’s always a great event for spotting something out of the ordinary, and this year’s Hop was no exception. Case in point: Con Bentley’s sweet ’68 VE Valiant gasser. Running a dual-carb 318ci V8 and four-speed manual, the red and white beast was certainly a head-turner.

Con, who resides in Hastings, also on the North Island, has had the VE finished for three years now, and is pretty happy with how it came out, given it was “just a $60 rust-bucket” to begin with.

“It was just a VE four-door that we chopped up and made a two-door out of, put a straight axle under it and had a bit of fun,” he says. “It’s just something different, made out of scraps that other people didn’t want, really. Everything was either donated or bought real cheap.”

It just goes to prove that you don’t need mega-bucks to build a nice ride that stands out from the crowd.

“I use it every weekend; it’s a good little runabout,” Con continues. “It’s even been on a drag strip. We don’t know how much horsepower it’s got, it’s just a fun little cruiser.”

There’s only one small problem, as Con discovered at Beach Hop once the rain started coming down. “It would be great if I had windows in the doors to keep it dry in there!” he laughs. “But never mind. I’m too cheap to fork out to get windows made, so it can just stay like that. Carry some Glad Wrap with us, we’ll be right!”

It’s not the only cool car that Mopar fanatic Con has fashioned; he’s also got a 1970 VF 770 Regal hardtop that he’s done up as a Richard Petty NASCAR lookalike. Now that we’d love to see!