Bay to Birdwood Vintage Run

The Bay to Birdwood is one of the biggest car runs in the state – 1,250 entries this time. It alternates between a run for classic cars (1956 to the late 70’s) and vintage cars (built up till 1955) every other year. This year it was the vintage turn.

I’ll be honest – vintage cars aren’t usually my thing. I’ve traditionally viewed them as a bit of a novelty, and whilst there are certainly some vintage cars that I admire, I’ve not had a lot to do with them in the past.

However I’ve long maintained that true automotive enthusiasts have at least a passing interest in anything with four wheels and an engine, so with this in mind I went down to check out the Bay to Birdwood run. I was expecting rows of old, relatively unexciting vintage cars, and whilst that was certainly the case for a lot of the field, there was a lot more there of interest than I was expecting.

I’d just like to point out, in case anyone takes offence, that I mean no disrespect by declaring my disinterest for older cars. Their are thousands of owners that clearly derive a lot of joy from vintage cars, and I’m also sure that these same owners have little interest in rally cars or 70’s European sports cars, too. But the variety in our hobby is one of the unique attributes that makes it such a rich pastime, and should be celebrated.

So in this post I’ll focus on the cars that stood out, and what better way to start than with this Jaguar XK120 Coupe. This was one of two I saw, and looks like such a modern car for its time.

Slightly older, this Mercedes-Benz had been the recipient of an extensive, big dollar restoration in the not too distant past. Stunning.

This Studebaker Champion looks like some sort of cross between a ute and a coupe. Interesting nonetheless.

You can’t beat the emblems of these old cars. I bet you weren’t expecting that last one to be a Fiat – I wasn’t.

I was half expecting to see Dillinger hanging off the running boards of this Packard, brandishing a shotgun.

Old vintage motorbikes are cool without a doubt. It’s probably because at a glance they don’t look terribly different to the old Triumph’s and Ducati’s of the 60’s and 70’s, and I don’t think that motorbikes have really got any better looking since then.

And their riders are a lot gnarlier too. I didn’t see too many of the car drivers getting stuck into the beers at 8am on the Sunday morning like this guy was.

What a crazy exhaust system!

The cool thing about the Bay to Birdwood is the way everybody dresses up and gets in the mood of the event. Some take it seriously…

… others, not so much.

But even in the rain, everyone has a great time.

The dedication of this couple was admireable. The weather was a little chilly and rainy, and in these conditions a lot of people of this age wouldn’t even dream of going into the garden let alone drive their vintage car to Birdwood!

The Military theme was very popular, which included a few old Jeep’s…

… several motorcycles, compete with artillery…

… and this guy on a bicycle, who greeted me with a friendly “Guten Tag” as he rode past.

His bike was impressively detailed, although he was clearly struggling with its single speed up Greenhill Road as several lycra-clad peleton’s passed him.

Although I still decided that the old sports racer type cars were clearly my favourites. Take this Bugatti for instance, it’s from the days when you could buy a road legal car and take it straight to the track, and have a good shot at winning an international race with it. Can you image doing that today? Probably the only thing that comes remotely close is something like a Radical, but even then it would be a bit of a stretch.

And the best part of the day? It was seeing just how many people turned out to watch the cars go by, everyone smiling and waving and having a great time. It’s always funny how you never seem to meet many car enthusiasts in your normal life, but they all come out of the woodwork for an event like this.

Words and photos by Andrew Coles.

Photos from the 2011 Bay to Birdwood Classic.



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