Sydney's First Ever All Veteran Run 4th April 1954
by John Hughes
Originally, the only car club in Sydney, which catered for what we now call Veteran Cars, was the Vintage Sports Car Club. Despite the fact that that organization’s President, John Crouch, owned a veteran car (a 1914 Humberette), some veteran car owners were apparently somewhat disgruntled as they felt that V.S.C.C. runs and events were totally unsuitable for older and slower veterans.
In an apparent response to those complaints the V.S.C.C. organized a "Veterans Only" run, to take place on the 4th of April, 1954, "With the object of the restoration and use of Victorian and Edwardian cars". The "rally" started from Brown's Wharf at Wooloomooloo, and entrants then drove via Brighton-Le-Sands to Cook Park at Dolls Point.
The W.H. Lober “1901” Oldsmobile
Original entry form for the Lober Oldsmobile
The motoring press showed interest in what was quite a novel event, and it was also mentioned in motoring publications including "Wheels", and "Modern Motor". All the following Monday's Sydney papers ran photographs and brief stories on the event, the Telegraph's reporter stating that although the old cars had held up a great deal of traffic, no body seemed to really mind. Titles above the photographs included, "BOMBS SHOW PACES", and "VINTAGE CARS IN TWELVE MILE RALLY".
The "Sun" gave a brief mention of most entries, and advised their readers that Canley Vale storekeeper Geoff Hancock's 1912 Detroit Electric is worth 500 pounds, that Brian Marsland paid 45 pounds for his 1910 Napier, and that he had recently driven it to Coolangatta in three days. Mr Muller had bought his 1911 Benz new, the Oldsmobile was probably 'worth 1000 pounds, and that after buying his Argyll for 100 pounds Jack Myers was about to drive it to and from Adelaide.
George Campbell’s Argyll leaving Brown’s Wharf. The start of the very first Veterans Only car event in N.S.W Note the age of the spectator’s cars
Crowds flocked to see the cars. L to R – Brian Marsland’s Napier, F. Muller’s Benz, and Geoff Hancock’s Detroit Electric
In 1954 accurate dating of vehicles was difficult, and so the year models of participating vehicles are "educated guesses".
Participants in this event obviously approved of the idea of "veterans only", as a group of them formed the "Veteran and Edwardian Car Owner's Club of Australia" at a meeting held just twenty eight days later, on the 1st of May, 1954. The members changed the name of this club to the "Veteran Car Club of Australia" shortly thereafter.
The long lost Sunbeam. The sign on it's side reads: "1913 Sunbeam owner Don Hope, sponsored by Mitchell & Townsend, Holden Dealer". The sponsorship more than likely took the form of the loan of motor dealer's trade plates
Benz 'ute' and the Detroit Electric at Brown's Wharf
LIST OF ENTRANTS
1901 Oldsmobile W.H. Lober & Co 1909 B.S.A. Jim Simpson 1912 Argyll Jack Myers
1908 Le Zebre Barry Perdriau 1910 Austin Larke Hoskins & Co 1912 Renault Jack Garwood
1908 Argyll George Campbell 1910 Napier Brian Marsland 1913 Benz Jim Perdriau
1908 Vulcan John McLean 1911 Benz F.Muller 1913 Sunbeam Ray Hope
1908 Hupmobile Barry Ford 1912 Detroit Electric Geoff Hancock 1914 Humberette John Crouch
Larke Hoskin's "1910" Austin. This car Has been re-restored in recent years by it's present owner, Bruce Kinnear
V.S.C.C. President John Crouch's 1914 Humberette. Both driver and passenger wore false moustaches, ignoring an instruction at the bottom of the official entry form
Barry Ford's "1908" Hupmobile, which had only recently been found in a coal & coke merchant's yard at North Sydney. This car's first owner was a member of the Fairfax (publishing) family
Benz "ute" and Detroit Electric at Brown's Wharf
John McLean at the wheel of his 1908 Vulcan, with Franz Klein (member number 5) in the front passenger's seat. Note the solid tyres. 500x24 tyres were fitted shortly thereafter, and when this car was restored by Gilltraps Museum during the mid 1960's, 880x120 beaded edge wheels and tyres were fitted
And what has become of those cars which took part in the first ever veterans only car rally to be held in Sydney, almost exactly forty-eight years ago? Barry Perdriau still drives his Le Zebre, Jim Simpson's B.S.A. and George Campbell's Argyll are still owned by family members. The Vulcan is in the U.K. and the 1913 Benz is in Germany, while the Hupmobile is in a Kings Cross bar. The Austin is owned by Bruce Kinnear, the Napier is in the Kay Brothers' collection, and F. Muller's Benz is owned by Daniel Pearce. The Detroit Electric went to Melbourne, after which it was in Gilltrap's Museum for many years prior to going to Western Australia, and Jack Garwood's Renault is owned by Jim Cooper. Unfortunately, I have been unable to determine the present ownership and or locations of the Lober Oldsmobile, the Humberette, and the Sunbeam.
Brian Marsland's Napier two-seater, and Geoff Hancock's Detroit Electric coupe.
Finish at Cook Park. Note VINTAGE "Hurlingham" & 30/98 Vauxhalls on left. The 30/98 was owned by Ron Grant, who within one month of this photograph being taken was President of the Veteran & Edwardian Car Owner's Club of Australia.