Shona Sharp, 50, from Tauranga, NZ shares her inspiring story.
A group of kids gathered around to admire my beloved pink and white car that I’d named Peggy Sue.
“Would you like to sit in it and get a photo?” I asked.
Their eyes widened in excitement as they jumped in.
I love making people smile and that’s exactly what happens whenever I cruise around town in my hot pink 1960 107e Ford Prefect.
I’ve been passionate about vintage cars and 1950s rockabilly style since I was a child.
My parents were fantastic rock ‘n’ roll dancers and I loved watching them on the dance floor.
I was in awe of the beautiful outfits Mum made herself.
My dancing days were short-lived after I injured my neck, but that didn’t stop me from embracing the style.
The bright outfits and glamorous accessories expressed my personality.
My passion for rockabilly grew after I went to the first Beach Hop in Whangamata, NZ, in 2002.
The atmosphere at the rock ‘n’ roll festival was so positive.
I started going to the Beach Hop every year, which has since grown to include a car show and many other events inspired by the ’50s and ’60s.
My friends called me Miss Candyfloss because of my love of pink, and because they said I was so sweet!
“You’re crazy,” they would laugh when I arrived at the events with an extra outfit to change into.
After years of looking at beautiful vintage cars, I longed for one of my own.
Peggy Sue was dull when I found her four years ago.
“Why would you want that?” my husband, Warren, asked when he saw the ad.
“I’ve got a vision for her,” I told him.
Transforming Peggy Sue into the hot pink and white beauty she is today was a labour of love.
Fortunately, Warren never complained about having to ride around in a pink car!
“I’m comfortable in my manhood,” he insisted.
I loved taking Peggy Sue to car shows and festivals.
She turned heads everywhere.
Many of these events also ran pin-up competitions for women to dress up and show off their vintage style.
“You should enter!” my friends kept telling me.
As a grandma, I was hesitant.
But then I thought: what have I got to lose?
I entered my first competition at the Beach Hop in 2018 and was relieved to see all the other contestants were different shapes, ages and sizes.
My nerves turned into excitement as soon as I walked across the stage in front of the cheering crowd.
They were so encouraging and I had such fun meeting the other contestants.
My granddaughters loved coming to shows.
“You can do it, Nanna!” they’d tell me.
When I competed in Miss Frankton Thunder in Hamilton, NZ, a lady and an 11-year-old girl approached me afterwards.
“Thank you for inspiring my niece,” the lady said.
“She was bullied at school for her weight and said seeing you on stage gave her hope that she could be herself.”
“You’re beautiful inside and out,” I told the girl.
Realising I could have that impact on a stranger meant the world to me.
Last November, I tried out for Miss Pinup New Zealand, a nationwide pageant in the The Very Vintage Day Out festival in Auckland, NZ.
A friend helped me film my video entry, where I dressed up in some of my favourite frocks and showed off Peggy Sue and my new purple trike named Dragonfly.
Weeks later, I got a call from the Miss Pinup New Zealand manager, Ruth.
“You’ve been chosen as a finalist!” she said.
“I can’t believe it!” I said, crying happy tears.
The Very Vintage Day Out was cancelled due to COVID but the pageant still went ahead in February with a livestream on Facebook.
It was a very hot day, but I had a great time meeting the other eight finalists as we got ready backstage.
I started sweating as soon as I put my beachwear outfit on – a pink two-piece bodysuit with a wraparound skirt.
“I look like I’ve been for a swim!” I laughed, examining my wet hair in the mirror.
But I didn’t let the humidity stop me enjoying myself as I strutted across the stage and playfully whipped off my skirt.
Next up was the talent contest, in which I sang Tammy Wynette’s Your Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad.
For the evening wear category, I had a stunning shimmery rose gold gown specially made.
I couldn’t wipe the big smile off my face the entire time.
Even though I didn’t receive a title, I still left the pageant feeling like a winner knowing my wonderful family and friends were cheering me on back home.
Like I’ve always told my grandchildren, it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, as long as you have fun.