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1970 International rally

2020 marks 50 years since the 1970 International Rally from Sydney to Melbourne which was held from the 4th to 18th of April. There were over 500 entries, which included both Veteran and Vintage cars and motorcycles. The rally was jointly organised by the Veteran Car Clubs of NSW and Victoria, and Mobil was the major sponsor. 

Australian Bi-centenary 1970 International Rally for veteran and vintage cars and motorcycles


(Note: this was the introductory article for the start of the rally booklet)

AUSTRALIA has been chosen to hold the world's 10th annual International Rally of veteran and vintage cars. 

The event coincides with celebrations marking the 200th anniversary of Captain Cook's voyage of discovery along the East Coast of Australia. 

Almost 500 old cars and motorcycles will leave Sydney on April 4, and after travelling about 1000 miles will arrive in Melbourne on April 16. Many of the cars will later continue on to Adelaide, 500 miles away, for a weeks tour. The rally is open to veteran cars and motorcycles those made before December 31, 1918 -  and vintage (made between 1919 and 1930). 


Record entry 

Vintage cars make up slightly more than half the total entries with 242 running , leaving 209 veteran cars. Motorcycles make up another 30 eight runners. Altogether there are 120 different makes of cars, including 46 Ford T and A models, 28 Rolls Royces and 24 Vauxhalls.

Australian- owned - and one early Australian made cars - make

up about two-thirds of the total entries. Overseas owners have

sent their cars at great expense by ship or plane from Britain,

New Zealand, South Africa,  U.S.A and Brazil. 

Patron of the 1970 rally is former Governor General of Australia,

Lord Casey who has been a keen motoring enthusiast for many

years. Organisers say this year's annual rally will be the best yet

held. Previous rallies have been held in Britain Europe island SA

and NZ the next event is planned for Europe in 1971.

These rallies are organised by the veteran car clubs in each 

country authorised by the Paris- based Federation Internationale

des Voitures Anciennes (International Federation of Veteran and

Vintage cars). The 1970 rally is run by the Veteran Car Club of Australia, which embraces separate clubs in each State.

The rallies have a two fold purpose. Firstly, they enable owners of the old cars together each year to drive their machines on the open road and to meet socially. Numerous different types of BI centenary celebrations sporting and social events are taking place throughout Australia this year and rally competitors and visitors will participate in many of them. 


Other purpose of the rallies is to give members of the public a chance to see the cars in action. 


Two slightly different routes have been chosen for the trip between Sydney and Melbourne vintage cars, which are generally faster than the older veterans, will cover a slightly longer route, meeting up with the veterans at overnight stops cars can be seen on the road and in displays at lunch and overnight stopping places. At some large towns, driving tests and gymkhanas will be held.

Average speeds 

Various average speeds, ranging from 12 to 24 mph for veteran cars and 25 to 35 mph for vintage, have been set by the organisers. Each driver will choose which speed he will try to average, depending on the capability of his car . Points will be deducted for each minute early or late he arrives at check-points, and cars losing least points in various categories at the end of the rally in Melbourne will win. Besides this competition , judging for two other contests- concours d'elegance and Concours d’etet will take place along the route to choose, respectively, the best turned out and most original cars. Winners will be announced at the end of the rally. 


Sales of this program and displays of cars along the route of the rally will be organised by local Rotary, Lions and Apex community service clubs.


The large percentage of proceeds will be kept by the clubs for their various charity works this follows the policy of the V.C.C.A to use their veteran cars in displays to raise thousands of dollars for charity in Australia each year.

Mr Ken Moss, of Ryde, Sydney has entered his 1912 Cadillac in the rally


Australian Bi-Centenary International Scenic Rally of 1970 for Veteran and Vintage Cars and Motor cycles

(Published in The Vintagent Vol.1 Edition 1, no author mentioned)

They came from all over the world; they came by sea, by air, by road; they came in ones and twos and drones, in all shapes and sizes, in leisure and in haste. But they came. 


Four hundred and eighty-four vehicles, comprising 442 cars and 42 motorcycles converged at Sydney prior to the start of the 10thInternational Veteran and Vintage rally, the largest motoring event (numerically) ever held in Australia, and perhaps the world. 


The first taste of International togetherness came at the briefing meeting held on the Thursday evening prior to the start at the Wentworth hotel in Sydney. Here drivers, navigators, and officials met in the vast ballroom and enjoyed a cocktail party whilst being briefed on all aspects of the Rally. Over 2000 people were present, and the atmosphere was tense and exciting. Entrants received their “Rally packs” containing route instructions to the Victorian border, vouchers for free Mobil Oil and fuel for the entire distance, Dunlop free tyre service details, maps, car numbers etc. 


On the Thursday and Friday nights prior to the start, all cars were parked in the undercover parking area at the Big W store at Liverpool, where the public was allowed admittance.  Thousands of people flocked to see the cars here, and the sight of so many beautiful vehicles together was enough to make the mind boggle. 


The start was from Warwick Farm motor racing circuit on the Saturday morning, 4thApril, and the first car to be flagged away was a 1900 Darracq, the oldest car in the rally, owned by Mr. J E Pickvance of England. The rest of the vehicles followed at 10 to 15 second intervals, and the entire field was away in approximately 2 hours. Thousands of people farewelled the vehicles at Warwick Farm and lined the streets of Sydney. 


Police assistance in traffic flow from the start was excellent and allowed all entrants to get out of the suburban area smoothly and without incident.


The weather was beautiful, the roads good, and drivers soon settled down to enjoy some real Vintage and Veteran motoring. The Veteran and Vintage sections soon parted company, the Veterans heading for their first overnight stop at Bowral, and the Vintage for Goulburn. At the end of the first days run every vehicle but one had arrived at the stopover points. The only mishap so far was the White Steamer which had broken a crankshaft at Appin, but after much toil was able to catch up to the field during the stopover at Canberra. 


The drive over the Macquarie Pass was an early test of hill climbing ability, the road rising 2000 feet in five and a quarter miles. Some cars boiled, some of the motorcyclists pedalled, and some Veteran owners walked beside their cars to ease the burden. 


Several more cars developed ailments on the run into Canberra. J McMillan’s Talbot arrived on a trailer, a 1930 Phantom Rolls Royce II was having severe overheating problems, and a 1910 Rolls developed fuel trouble. Canberra was the first major stopover city and the entrants had four days here to relax, sightsee, shop and work on their vehicles. Also, this is where the first progress results were published, and showed Jack Winter (1912 Minerva) to be the overall leader with a loss of only 14 points, and Eric Milkins (1930 Invicta) leading the vintage section with a loss of 15 points. At this stage, entrants well placed started to try really hard, and the competitive side of the event quickened in tempo. 


The Mobil Service stations put on a roaring welcome to the rally vehicles at Canberra, with jazz bands playing, and attendants dressed in period costumes, and it seemed the whole town was out to welcome us. 


Whilst in Canberra, several organised tours were held. The Vintage section drove out to a sheep station 50 miles away for a real country barbecue, whilst the Veterans attended a similar function at Tidbinbilla Homestead. The following night many attended a monster wool-shed dance and barbecue, which was a great social success. The overseas entrants seemed most impressed with our capital city, which looked its best with all the trees and gardens in their Autumn colours. 


All vehicles left from the Northbourne Oval at Canberra early on Thursday morning, 9thApril, and a large crowd of locals got out of bed early to bid the cars farewell. The Veterans headed for Cootamundra and the Vintage section for Wagga. Before long Alan and Barbara McInnes were again plagued with troubles in their White Steamer. But against all odds, they battled on and completed the Rally under their own “steam”. A sub-event was held on the Vintage route at Jugiong, where all entrants were required to drive up the steepest hill between Canberra and Wagga. At the bottom of the hill, each driver was asked to forecast the time he would take to reach the top – a distance of 1.45 miles, with 2.5 minutes as the minimum, and points were lost for variation between actual and estimated time. Several vehicles were towed in Wagga including R. G. Rainsford’s Vauxhall, Dr. Johnsons Flint, with bearing trouble, and G Formby’s Citroen with clutch trouble. 


On Friday 10ththe Vintage section drove through Lockhart, Urana, and after an excellent lunch at Urana beside the swimming pool, on to Albury. The Veterans drove from Cootamundra, through Junee to their overnight stop at Wagga. The Veterans were caught in a VERY heavy downpour, the only rain on the whole trip. Many cars were temporarily held up with Wet electricals, and one gentleman was in drying his magneto with wife’s hair dryer - an original, but very effective method. 


Saturday 11th was a free date for the Vintage entrance at Albury, and the Veteran cars drove from Wagga to arrive at Albury on Saturday evening. On Sunday all entrants drove the few miles to Hume Weir Racing Circuit for an interesting sub-event. This comprised a standing lap of the circuit, followed by a very tight slalom course, then the “bucket on a string” event, which is really quite ridiculous, but rather fun if not taken too seriously. All the Bentley and Vauxhall boys enjoyed the lap of the circuit; that's what their cars were really made for!


Monday was spent on a leisurely tour of Beechworth, one of the oldest and most historic towns in Australia, and many of the overseas entrants were seen enjoying lunch at the historic Tanswells Hotel. On Monday night the briefing meeting for the Victorian section of the rally was held in the Civic Hall. This meeting is perhaps better forgotten, but it will suffice to say that the organizers had their problems, and in general, they were eventually “ironed out” (the organizers and the problems.)


All cars left Albury show grounds early on Tuesday, and followed a common route to Shepperton, through Wangaratta and Benalla. Shepperton was the overnight stop for the Veterans, whilst the Vintage entrants drove on to stay at Bendigo. On Wednesday, both sections drove to Echuca, where an excellent lunch was provided at the show grounds by the local Service Clubs. Then on to Bendigo for the Veterans’ overnight stop, and Shepperton for the Vintage section. Shepperton really turned on the hospitality on successive nights for both sections.


All entrants were treated to a magnificent wine and cheese evening at the Civic Centre, followed by a most interesting conducted tour of the Ardmona fruit canning factory.


Thursday 18th was the day of reckoning, the final leg into Melbourne. Both sections re-joined a common route at Kilmore, the final control for the competitive side of the rally. After lunch at Kilmore, the vehicles drove on to assemble at Campbellfield for the final procession to the Exhibition Buildings in Melbourne. The cooperation of the Victorian Police was excellent in getting over 400 old vehicles into Melbourne as quickly as possible to avoid the peak hour traffic. It felt really important to drive through red lights with a Police escort. 


A large crowd had gathered at the Exhibition Buildings to witness the finish of the rally where each entrant was presented with a very nice plaque by the Victorian Government to commemorate the rally.


There remained one final event, the Presentation Dinner at the Royal Ballroom on Saturday 20th, and what an event is was to be! Sixteen hundred people, including entrants, officials, organisers, and sponsors sat down to a four-course dinner, the largest sit down dinner ever held in Melbourne. Dancing till midnight, presentation of trophies, and bidding farewell to all the new friends from other cities and countries, and the 10thInternational Veteran and Vintage Rally was over.


There are literally thousands of individual stories to this Rally, each as important as the rest. Some will be forgotten; many will be re-lived over and over again. Only a few can be recorded here –


Without a doubt the happiest man on the Rally was Mr E. D. Delany, from New Zealand. EVERYBODY passed Ed, at some stage or other. He drove a 1902 Crestmobile, one of the oldest, quaintest, smallest, and slowest cars in the event. He sang and laughed every mile of the way. It was nothing to see him buttering a bread roll as he drove along, or someone passing him a cup of coffee. On the really steep hills he’d climb off the car and walk beside it, with one thumb on the throttle, the tiller under an arm, and a water pistol in his free hand. 


Mr and Mrs T. W. Moffit (N.S.W) in their 1925 Flint which they have owned from new, and went on their honeymoon in. 

“Guenter of Glenrowan”, an incredible gentleman, followed the rally through Northern Victoria with a trailer full of Vintage and Veteran spares. If you needed a new magneto, a timing chain, radiator etc….no trouble at all to Guenter.


Then there was J. R. Lassock, the nurseryman from Adelaide, driving his 1912 Ford delivery van, which he uses daily for work. This time he pretended he was a baker, much to the delight of small children who caught some of the bread rolls he managed to acquire along the route. In fact, one day he gave away 8 dozen rolls. 


Barry Forryan, of Ascot Vale, was determined to be in the saddle of his 1904 Minerva Motorcycle at the finish. He’d had his problems along the way but rejected the chance to ride in his 1909 NAG driven by his wife. Despite a cracked frame only a few miles from the finish Barry nursed his machine in and actually PEDALLED his last few miles. There were similar stories from other motorcyclists who made the journey the hard way, but to them it was the only way. 


Every school child along the entire route had time off to watch the cars pass and their excitement was obvious. Wherever the rally passed their words were the same: “Bip yer horn, bip yer horn”. 


All the sponsors far exceeded their normal course of duty to assist entrants. Mobil Service Stations allowed competitors the use of tools and equipment at no cost, the Dunlop boys solved all sorts of odd tyre problems and repaired some odd-looking tyres, and Lucas attended all sorts of weird electrical ailments. 


The “sharks” were out in force. Along the route, every rusted out Vintage and Veteran relic was dragged off and carried to the side of the road and labelled “For Sale”, and hideous prices were asked. I’m pleased to report that it wasn’t a seller’s market. 


The overseas cars were fabulous. Ones that come to mind are Lord Montague’s Napier (England), Alan Lake’s 8 litre Hispano-Suiza (NZ), and the Thomas Flyabout (USA). The Thomas looked two storeys high, was most ornate, and with white tyres looked like an old lady running along in sandshoes. 



Many thanks to Peter Sim for taking these photos, and to Allan Foy for scanning them.

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