On his travels through Great Britain, Martin Philippo ends up amongst hotrodders. Hotrods and Hills, a concept by hotrod legend Craig Dixon, has become the place to be in the scene.

The annual Hotrods and Hills event is the result of a brainwave by the well known British hotrodder Craig Dixon. This year for the eight time in the magnificent Cumbria landscape. The place to be is the Park Foot Caravan and Camping Park on Lake Ullswater. A beautiful place for burn outs and, like the organisation puts it, ‘a chillin’, hotrod drivin’, music listenin’, beer drinkin’ weekend of fun’.

A weekend like this requires a tour through the surrounding area. See and being seen in your heavily modified V8 cruiser. Through the Kirkwood Pass, the way up is a strain on the clutch, the way down a serious test for the brakes. Lining up, the thunder of the engines completely bonkers. We join the group at the point where they assemble on a meadow near Grasmere. They arrive from all corners of the country, from the high north of Scotland to the deep south of England. The variation of participating cars is enormous, like with the owners of course. Lots of middle aged men, diehards in the scene that won’t be beat by the younger generation. Men with rock and roll hair and leather jackets, accompanied by their spouses. Whether they come to check on their husbands or because they just love to join in? We prefer to think the latter.

The north of England isn’t actually that well known for its good weather conditions and today is no exception. Like the locals put it, ‘it is pissing down’. There is no exaggeration in that phrase. The field soon becomes boggy, but no one gives in. Every freshly polished hotrod is lined up, like there is nothing to worry about. The owners however do seem to prefer the warmth of the nearby pub. And they are quite right. We resist the weather and do our rounds to meet some people. A lady in a car, accompanied by her dog, assures us she won’t send the animal out in this weather. The poor beast sure looks like it didn’t have any such plans anyway. Some other Englishman stolidly states ‘there is no such thing as bad weather, there is only bad clothing.’

In this colourful collection of vehicles one model stands out, the Ford Popular, lovingly nick named the Ford Pop. This model is some sort of standard in the British hotrod scene. Loved for the possibility to easily fit in American V8 muscle to add loads of power and equally loved for its featherweight. Next to that the body style is just right for modifications. The chassis’ are highly modified with new dampers and modern brakes. Buckets of speed require a lot of stopping power. A tiny Ford like this just needs to scrape the tarmac. The original lines slightly altered by dropping the roof an inch or so. The Pops were the weapon of choice in the fifties and they still are. A true classic hotrod.

When everyone retires behind a pint in the local pub, CineCars retrieves to its own campsite. The next day brings sunshine, so the hotrodders can enjoy the rest of their weekend in splendid conditions. We too enjoy the view of what’s on offer on the watery meadow. To throw in one last oneliner, ‘it may be damp, but we won’t let it dampen our spirits’.
Martin Philippo