WHAT’S so great about the Boogaloo Invitational? According to organiser Des Russell, it’s simply the vibe of the thing. “The Boog will always be a celebration of traditionally styled hot rods, customs, choppers and bobbers, with a backyard barbecue feel,” he says. “We push the no-dickhead policy and it really works.”
I reckon Des and his partner Tesha Mahoney’s third run at the event is the best to date. Held in Castlemaine, 1.5 hours north-west of Melbourne, on an oval flanked by gum trees and occupied by a roving mob of ’roos, the Boogaloo’s tight invitation-only ethos guarantees a treasure-trove of period-correct rides. Stall holders flank the display arena, offering wares directly related to the traditional scene, while punters cruise their pre-’65 traditional-spec rods and customs and pre-’84 bikes through the hallowed gates for a chilled weekend.
Heading out to the display arena, I spot a bunch of fresh rides that not only get me amped for my own build, but also for the future of the entire scene. Crisp and minimalist sidevalve-powered Model A roadsters feature strongly – and a few more are in the build from what I hear – yet the rod that’s drawing the biggest crowd is a gloss-black Improved A coupe. Jason Kennedy has just completed the 4/71 Dyer’s-blown small-block Chevy build after three years’ work, and the finish is right on the money, while the subtle brown interior is beautifully executed. The body is tight and clean, letting the powerhouse up front do the talking.
“It’s a driver; in a few weeks I’m headed to Gulgong in it,” Jason says. “I only finished it the other night; it was in bare metal six weeks ago!” For his efforts, Jason earns an armful of peer-provided trophies: Boogaloo Best Hot Rod, Delinquents Cammed As F**k award and the El Diablos’ pick.
At the other end of the spectrum is the original ’33 Ford five-window of Peter Quaife. Did I mention it was original? “It hadn’t been driven in 50 years until six months ago,” Peter says. “I live on the Mornington Peninsula, so this is the biggest run yet.” After 30 years of ownership, Peter’s recently swapped out the factory banger for a flathead. “I figured I may as well do it, as if I fall off the perch the young kids will do it anyway,” he says.
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As I continue my wander, Dale French’s ’bagged ’36 Ford keeps drawing me in. The stock beige paint is classy-as, finished off perfectly with flush-mounted fender skirts for a neat tail-draggin’ look.
Having missed it last year, I make a concerted effort to take in the Dirty Dozen art show. Here, the 12 invited artists create works in a range of media, in a style in-keeping with the Boog scene. Taking out this year’s People’s Choice award is SM photographer, Aaron Develyn. The 16-year-old reckoned that Alana Wilkie’s highly detailed painting would get the nod, so it’s a true surprise when he hears his name called out to take out the crown.
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Daytimes at the Boog are for chatting all things rod, custom and bike in the warm sunshine, taking shots of rides that inspire you or grabbing a yarn with the owner about their build. At night, arm yourself with a sensibly priced Moonshine or Coopers then groove along to the DJs’ tunes and watch a few inspiring short films by Luke Ray of Fuel magazine, and HalfwayTo Nowhere by Tim Caraco. Nearby there are roaring fires to stave off the frosty night’s chill. Fire barrels also flare in the distance from ripper set-ups dotted throughout the campgrounds. If you don’t want to hang by the bar and music, then sitting down outside your tent with your crew and a froth-top in hand is the best way to finish the day.
As this year’s Boogaloo winds down, I ask Des and Tesha how they reckon it went. “We kept it almost the same as last year, including the entry fees and even the bar prices,” Tesha says. “I get the warm and fuzzies seeing people so positive and happy, catching up with old mates and making new ones. I’m proud that everyone is so respectful and understanding of what we’ve made the show about.”
Des adds: “It was another successful year at the Boog; I’m stoked with how the weekend turned out. Numbers for both entrants and attendees were pretty similar to last year, yet there were definitely more campers due to the change in campground rules to include all traditionally styled pre-’65 cars and pre-’84 choppers and bobbers instead of just the invitee vehicles. That encouraged more people to stay for the weekend.”
And will we see a fourth? “Talk to us in a few months about doing it again. It’s too soon to say,” Des and Tesha nod in unison. Running a show is a hard slog, so you just never know if you attended the last of its kind. While I hope that I haven’t, I’ve certainly appreciated the ride.
1. “It’s ’bagged in the rear with a four-bar and five-inch notch in the chassis,” Dale French says of his new-look, skirted ’36 Ford three-window. Underneath the hood resides the original flatty, backed by an S10 five-speed ’box and 8in Mustang diff.
2. Jason Kennedy’s blown Chevy-powered A coupe is a Boog fave. He’s put a ton of elbow grease into that original steel, which features a removable roof insert thanks to Chris of BMV Engineering in Queensland.
3. Boogaloo stalwarts Peter and Bubby Swift hung out all weekend with Peter’s survivor T-bucket and his divine full-fendered ’32 Ford.
4. “I found it at a party 30 years ago and bought it straight away,” says Peter Quaife of his original Aussie-built ’33 Ford five-window coupe. “I recently added a dropped axle and removed the bumper and spare wheel, but it’s too good to hot rod – I’ve not drilled or cut holes in it at all.”
5. Mike Cowie’s sweet sidevalve V8-powered Improved A roadster is the epitome of early hot rodding. Everything’s tastefully done, from the flathead mill to the wishbone front and rear. The stunning period-correct build won the Leadfoot Ladies’ Pick, voted by the women representing at this year’s Boog.
6. A stoked Aaron Develyn from Flatstick Photography stands with his Dirty Dozen-winning photo. A Helping Hand was taken on the recent River City Reliability Run and earned Aaron a heap of goodies from Kustom Lane Gallery as part of the Art Show prize.
7. The Boog is a family-friendly show, with a heap of invitees bringing their kids along. Renee Allan’s Model A sports coupe doubles as a crèche, with a mix of her kids, nephews and the Cave girls.
8. “It was meant to be a sedate daily but the build went stupid,” says Chris ‘El Toro’ Taranto of his ’69 Ford Econoline. Between the seats sits a Shelby-spec 289 with a Holman Moody intake and dual four-barrels, backed by a C4 and 9in, making for a spirited drive.
9. Will Armstrong of Willy’s Drop Shop shows off his custom chassis and suspension set-ups in style with this weed-grazing ’35 Ford. “It’s a customer’s car that I’ve done a heap of work to, including ’bagging it front and rear, notching the chassis’ rear and adding a triangulated four-link,” he says. “I’ve then custom-rolled the wheel spats and done the sheet metal throughout.”
10. Piero De Luca of Mad Fabricators and Motornation.tv awarded his trophy to a person instead of a ride. Michael Ahrens was the chosen recipient, for his work in “keeping the flame lit” and for “knowing his shit big-time.”
11. Roger Brockway has owned his channelled ’34 Ford five-window coupe since ’67. That original build cost him $3000, and it’s now on its third incarnation. Up front sits an H&H SCoT blower atop a 246ci flatty with Ardun-replica heads.
12. Pick-ups are crazy-popular right now, and Sam Apap’s fresh ’59 Chev is one of the best. Sporting a 2in chop and Apache bed, the ’59 has been ’bagged and then slathered in DNA’s Emerald Green. What’s not to love about this tough yet practical custom?
13. Nikki Bourke and her mate Megan are fixing up the fan shroud before heading home in her 225ci slant-six-powered ’25 Dodge bucket.