It was National Motoring Heritage Day on Sunday, May 21.
Oh, you missed it? We’re not surprised – it’s a well kept secret.
The original idea was to celebrate our motoring heritage on the same day across Australia and to promote and publicise the classic car movement.
Certainly a noble goal and it deserves much beating of drums and general shouting out from the roof tops to ensure everyone knows about it.
The thing is that each state’s governing classic car organisation leaves it up to individual car clubs to organise and publicise the event.
The results are wonderful shows at the local level but there is very little coordinated promotion on a state or national basis.
Pity, really, because this day is an ideal opportunity for the peak bodies to influence authorities and politicians to ensure classic vehicles remain relevant and not be subjected to the nanny state intrusions that have happened in other counties – where classic car use is severely hampered and in some places actively discouraged.
The lack of national co-ordination also means that there is little likelihood a national sponsor will ever want to invest in the big day, because of the fragmented nature of it all.
But let’s put all that aside for now.
It was to Berry in NSW’s Southern Highlands that we travelled, where the Shoalhaven Historic Vehicle Club ran their event at the local showgrounds.
The mode of transport was my 1988 Pontiac Firebird.
Before you ask, let me tell you that it performed faultlessly.
The V8 burbled away consuming 98 octane at the outrageous rate of 20 litres for each 100km, but who cared?
The skies were sunny and the dual lane black top stretched out in front of the ‘Bird’s long, long, long bonnet.
I cranked down the windows, set the cruise control at 100km/h, slipped a Beach Boys cassette into the tape player and enjoyed the opportunity to give the Firebird a good run.
And to have some fun, fun, fun . . .
The Shoalhaven Club is expert at promoting the Berry event for months ahead of the day.
They were rewarded with hundreds of cars and thousands of lookers.
This year the Club celebrated Italian marques.
Alfa Romeo, Masserati, Fiat, Lancia, Arbath, Ferrari and Lamborghini were all represented by a very strong turn out.
The Motoring Guru prize, which is the honour of being mentioned in this story, went to a tiny Fiat 500.
It was too cute to ignore.
The Berry event is also noted of the increasing presence of Japanese classics.
Our favourite was a Toyota Corona, so 1973 in mission brown paint.
A 1958 Vanguard Spacemaster also caught our attention. It was totally original and a great example of a long overlooked classic brand.
A couple of cars were for sale. A 1949 Ford Prefect, boasting a patina of two tone grey and rust, had a $14,000 price tag.
That money was a little too much for my budget but as a mate of mine commented “nothing that $50,000 wouldn’t fix”.
And after a lunch of the mandatory sausage on a roll I engaged the Firebird’s V8 and really stretched its legs on the way back to Emerald City.
David Burrell is the editor of www.retroautos.com.au