Since 2008, the Chopped Rod & Custom show in the tiny Victorian goldfields town of Newstead has been promoting chilled-out automotive good times, based around a love of traditional-style rods, customs and bikes.
The show adopted its now-signature dirt drags in 2010 and has grown like crazy ever since.
The brainchild of brothers Ryan and Kyle Ford and their mate Paul Williams, Chopped is very much a product of its environment. Historically, the Castlemaine area was one of the early centres of hot rodding in Asutralia, with Ryan and Kyle's dad one of the key early adopters. But perhaps even more importantly, the fact that the guys have a strong network of family and friends around them has allowed them to turn a casual weekend show at a footy grouned into a full-scale festival, attracting 10,000 punters for 2015. They are back ithis year with a killer band line up, headlined by Texan rockabilly god, The Reverend Horton Heat. The event runs from 30 September to 2 October. For everything you need to know, visit chopped.com.au. And to get you revved up, here are some highlights from last year’s shindig.
Probably the toughest car in the dirt drags was The Blaster, owned, built and operated by Steve Costa
We featured Joel Archard's '27 coupe back in Street Machine Hot Rod 14. Dubbed Death Wish, it cuts a wicked profile with a 6.5-inch chop, four-inch channel and two-inch section to the body. Power is provided by a 289ci Windsor backed by a C4 and BorgWarner LSD
This four banger-powered '30 tudor is owned by Christian Eckert of South Oz, which he bought from the US and converted to RHD. It runs a Brumfield head, twin 97 carbs on a Thomas inlet and a 50s Mallory dizzy. Christian reports that he can overtake at 110km/h comfortably, with the 'banger turning over at 2500rpm
Joel Bliss's little '28 roadster hooked up better than some of the V8s on the dirt, and even had a few wins on the short track. The driveline is all original and the body is a mash-up, with a fabbed cowl top, a '28 Dodge tourer tub and an oversized '23 turtle deck
Joel's mate Ed Radclyffe drove his 'banger-powered roadster pick-up from Canberra and back. "We had a few dramas with the tune, but we fitted some smaller jets and it started to run okay," Ed said. "It was rolling repairs the whole way, but a good trip back on the roads less travelled"
A particular treat for me was taking a ride in Dynamite Bettie. Originally put together by former SM art dude Povi Pullinen for Chopped 2014, it was sold to Andrew 'Grot' Wallis when Povi made the big move to the US. Grot has fitted a hopped-up four-banger and got it running sweetly. Congrats mate!
It is always a treat to see Curtis Grima's '55 Pontiac Star Chief. Paint is House of Kolor Cinnamon Pearl
Bayden Roberts gave his '57 Chev wagon a tasty taildragger makeover in the six weeks leading up to Chopped, with spats, wide-whites, Fiesta caps and Craig Issell pinstripes. The driveline is a simple 350/350deal, with a disc-brake front end
A couple of panel-painted beauties: Sean Fitzsimmons's '60 T-bird and Ryan Ford's '63 Galaxie
Our good buddy Trev Durston and his mild custom ’62 Thunderbird, Starbird. Trev sold the T-bird shortly after Chopped to fund other ventures
EH utes popped out of the factory with EJ rear ends, but this one has been built the way they should have been done, using EH wagon rear quarters!
The stars & Stripes roadster is a rolling piece of hot rod history, owned, raced and cared for by Smoking Joe Formosa
Kyle de Kuijer is another Eldorado with a delicious roadster. His '30 model sits on the car's original frame, stepped four inches in the rear. It is powered by a '38 flathead V8 and a '39 gearbox, with a natty set of Thickstun head covers. All built at home on a budget.
Adelaide's Ashley Cave went for an East Coast style with his '28, with a full-size windscreen, nerf bars on the back and carefully thought-out fenders. The car is dubbed 'Sputnik' and features signwriting by Raymond P Moondog and pintriping by Sam Harrison
Des Russell's channelled '29 roadster is going to be a beauty. It is a ways from finished, but the Eldorados member thrashed hard to get it up and running for Chopped. Ample power is provided by a gnarly 324 Oldsmobile engine, with a staggered intake and four Stromberg 97s and a set of cool show pipes fabricated by Des
Yet another Eldorado with a bitching roadster in the build is Ben Mulholland. Based around a Brookville body and an original '32 frame, it is running an early Oldsmobile V8, T5 gearbox and a quickchange rear
Tracy and Michael Ahrens's '27 roadster is a thing of beauty, like a Keith Weesner painting brought to life
We didn't catch up with the owner of this neat little Model A roadster, but we did leave some drool on it!
Ryan Ford's '32 roadster has been running for a while now, but we dug the new lakes-style tonneau cover
Dave Andresen's Hi Jinx is unspeakably cool, running a 428ci FE big-block, topped by an M/T Power Ram intake and backed by a four-speed Top Loader 'box. Even so, Dave has a revamp planned that is going to blow minds
Our number one heroes of the weekend were Gav Edmonds and Natalie Khoury, who drove their blown Hemi-powered '58 Ford Mainline, dubbed Krankenstein, across from Adelaide and raced the pants off it
The beast is powered by a 345ci Hemi with a blower and single four-barrel carb, backed by a Turbo 400 trans, with a neat Lightning Bolt-style shifter
Gasser godfather Damien Kemp debuted his super-cool '63 ½ Mercury Marauder fastback at Chopped. It is a rare bird, powered by a 406 FE motor and decked out in period-correct race warpaint
Chopped co-owner Ryan Ford got his '32 Ford five-window drag coupe dummied up in time for the event. Upsetting restorers and street rodders by cutting up a real-steel body, Ryan has got the coupe sitting just right, with a blown Hemi, massive engine set-back and a host of cool vintage speed parts
We dug Peter MacGregor's Mark III Zephyr speedway car. It is powered by a 156ci six, with Sonic extractors, a cam and some head work. Dragged out of a paddock and bought for a carton of beer, it is thought to have been a Ford Australia test vehicle that competed in an Armstrong 500 race at Phillip Island and later converted to speedway duty by a Ford mechanic
Scott Pigdon's Aussie Viking '66 Volvo 122 runs a Holden six powerplant, with a Volvo TD05 turbo and blow-through car induction
Al Fountain never does things by halves. His Black Death Bourbon Model A roadster is powered by a 493ci Chrysler big-block and topped by the injection system from his monster bellytank
Peter Birthistle manhandling an eight-valve Indian donk...
...which he then slipped into his sidecar, along with his very patient missus
SM scribbler Carly Dale and hubby Shane drove Carly's '34 coupe over from Adelaide
Metal magicians Aaron Bray and Leon Davies treated Ryan Ford's El Camino to a haircut during the event
Von Hoff at work striping Chris Thorogood's '59 Chev Brookwood
It was super-exciting to see the Jim Vincent '26 Willys bucket at Chopped. Built in the early 70s, it featured a 292 Y-block, four-speed, C&D mags, Bob Grimshaw trim and a typically wild Rick Pacey paint job
Sean Basford from Adelaide brought over his 1954 Willys Aero Deluxe. The car is one of a handful imported into Australia for sale in right-hand-drive form
For more info, check out www.chopped.com.au