Over 600 vehicles of British origin shimmer at Brisbane’s annual All British Day, words and images from Iain Curry.
We like reminding the Poms we’re better than them at most things, but let’s face it, when it comes to cars, their back catalogue has ours licked.
For starters, they’ve given us Jaguar, Lotus, Rover, MG, Austin, Triumph, Rolls-Royce, Bentley and Aston Martin. And really, models like the Jag E-Type, Aston DB5, Mini Cooper, Ford Escort and Land Rover Defender would be found in many lists of history’s most significant vehicles.
Mother England’s finest came together in Tennyson, Brisbane this September for the annual All British Day. It’s the main
fundraising charity event hosted by the MG Car Club of Queensland, and this year over 620 vehicles were exhibited over expansive playing fields.
It was a sun-kissed spectacular to behold, deeply impressive that such a varied selection of automobiles from
veterans, vintage, classics and moderns all originated from the same country.
Not just cricket
Australian mechanics have plenty to thank the British car industry for, of course. For starters, many reading this will owe their livelihood to servicing and repairing Brit brands.
And some of you will have worked out ways to put right a few things the Poms got wrong. Older English cars don’t mind a bit of rust, and some of those Brit engines and gearboxes are highly incontinent – drip trays under a few display cars were noted – so there’s plenty to keep those in our industry busy. Kudos is due to all backyard mechanics displaying at this show.
Hundreds of the vehicles were presented to an exceptional level, and a fair few were concours standards. Car clubs also put on some tidy displays, with charming names such as the Austin Motor Vehicle Club of Qld and the Ford 8 & 10hp Sidevalve Club of Qld. You can picture the milky cups of tea and cucumber sandwiches at the AGMs.
If you like your cliched Britishness, you wouldn’t be disappointed. Just through the entry was a collection of London black cabs, then a pre-war Aveling & Porter steamroller before a fleet of military, civilian, emergency and rally Land Rover Defenders in various states of restoration.
An early 60s pink and white Commer Karrier ice cream van brought back some childhood memories, and had a lengthy queue beside it all day.
Everyone’s cup of tea
The show was separated into two distinct areas – one accommodating the more affordable Brits, while a lower fi eld hosted the more blue blood Rolls-Royces, Bentleys, Jaguars and Astons. The Lotus area included an extensively raced 1957 Mk 11 Le Mans; a 1953 Mk VI and later examples of the breakthrough Sevens.
A pair of Series 1 Lotus Esprits were in distinctive The Spy Who Loved Me white, sporting obligatory James Bond
plates. Plenty of Insta photos were taken beside these impossibly low wedges. Ford Escorts included Mk1 rally replicas, factory new-looking base-spec Mk2s and an ultra-rare (and now valuable) Mk5 RS Cosworth hooligan.
Gatherings of Austin-Healey ‘bugeye’ Sprites; Triumph TR3s; Ford Zephyrs, Zodiacs and Consuls; Minis and Morrises followed, before some Bristols, Jensen Interceptors and early Range Rovers upped the poshness.
Of the more unusual, a Leyland P76 Targa Florio oozed 70s excess, a tiny Mini Clubman S somehow sported a surf rescue
board on its roof, while a chameleon (flip) paint 2003 TVR Tuscan was winner of the post-1980 class.
The top awards went to the more working class offerings. A superbly presented 1967 Commer commercial van won the prized Best of British, a 1969 Rover P5B Best Pre-1981 Classic and People’s Choice was a 1978 Leyland Moke.
Fancy things were happening on the lower field, including a W.G. Grace impersonator – with perfect beard and ancient cricket bat – posing beside a 1934 Daimler V26 Limousine which was used in the coronation of King George VI.
Spotting a 1920 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, 1956 Bentley S Continental, incredible Jaguar D-Type replica and every style of E-Type imaginable shows the standard of eye candy here.
Event organiser David Robinson said there were probably about 2000 people roaming through the cars at any one time,
but such was the space here it never felt crowded. No pesky roped off areas either – you could get very close to all the British vehicles, with owners happy to share information to anyone showing interest.
A brass band proved apt British musical accompaniment, but one Grant Berry suggested food stalls could be more English.
“Pork pies, bacon butties, battered sav and fi sh ‘n chips,” he suggested for next year’s show. So superb is this annual event, the organisers will probably find ways to makeit happen.