A South Australian institution and the largest continually-held motoring event for vintage, veteran and classic vehicles in the world, the Bay to Birdwood Run always attracts exceptional cars, as well as some rare marques. The 2018 run, held on 30 September, was no different, with everything from a 1904 Speedwell to a 1927 Arrol Johnston involved, as well as a group of Rugbys, a 1928 Falcon Knight, a pair of De Dion-Boutons, a Talbot 4CT and two Le Zebres.
With these sort of rarities in the field, the spectators gathered at the start point at Barratt Reserve and along the route for the 55km run to the National Motor Museum at Birdwood received something of an education in automotive history (or at least a desire to check google!) when vehicles like a 1906 Vulcan phaeton or a 1909 Gregoire raceabout drove past.
Speaking of the older cars, there was a new addition to the event in 2018, with an alternative start point added at Modbury specifically for veteran (pre-1919) cars and trucks, as well as military vehicles. Shortening the overall run distance to 30km, this was added to reduce the strain on older and slower vehicles. Newer vehicles, those up to the 1959 age limit for the run, gathered at the traditional start point, Barratt Reserve at West Beach.
There was a tinge of sadness to the 2018 event, though, as it was the first without Arthur Clisby. A founding committee member of the Bay to Birdwood, Arthur passed away earlier in 2018, but his children made sure his 1934 Buick and 1939 Vauxhall were part of the event.
Other participants did their bit in honouring Arthur’s legacy by making a donation on their registration to the Flinders Foundation, which funds ground-breaking cancer research at the Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer.
Amongst the field gathered at Barratt Reserve, there are always entrants who get into the spirit of the event and dress in fashion appropriate for the era of their car. This element of the Bay to Birdwood is always something of a treat and a highlight at the 2018 event was a group of four ladies costumed as veteran-era racers to suit their 1918 Dodge tourer. This quartet have been attending the run for several years now and always impress with their dedication to the vintage fashions element of the event.
Under clear skies, town crier Tom Benney and honorary escort Leanne Leo urged entrants to start their engines, after which the starting ribbon was cut and the field was led out by a 1939 Oldsmobile.
With everything from an AC 10 tourer to a Wolseley 15/60 sedan, the 2018 Bay to Birdwood Run didn’t lack for variety. And with a 1903 Peugeot - the oldest car in the field - lining up with 1959 models from Humber, Cadillac, Austin-Healey, Plymouth and Simca, just to name a few, there was depth to the field, too. It wasn’t all rarities, though, with plenty of familiar pre-1960 Fords and Holdens in the field, as well as MGs, Volkswagens, Morris and Austin models.
For most entrants, the run to the National Motor Museum was trouble-free, and at the museum, participants checked out the latest displays, which included the stunning Holden Torana ‘GTR-X’ concept and a “then and now” Bugatti comparison featuring a classic Type 35B and the latest Veyron. At the Concours d’Elegance held at the museum, Stan Livissianos won with his 1959 Chrysler Imperial Crown convertible.
With the Bay to Birdwood Run done for another year, attention now turns to the Bay to Birdwood Classic, for vehicles built between 1956 and 1981. This year’s Bay to Birdwood Classic will be held on Sunday, 29, September. Entries will open in early June.
Go to: baytobirdwood.com.au for further details.
Words: Mike Ryan Photos: Andrey Moisseyev