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24th January 2005


Bike Shows - The Great Australian Rally

Due to the time difference between Australia and Real Classic's Cambridge office, the classic bike rally that RealClassic member Melbourne Metisse visited yesterday will now take place a week on Thursday...

Whilst catching up with friends after our return Down Under following our Christmas hols in the UK, they casually enquired if we were interested in going to a classic car rally on Sunday 23rd Jan, as the father of one of said friends was helping to deliver a pair of classic 1970's Lamborghini's to display (an Espada and a rare Urraco). Now I'm a sucker for all forms of motoring-related DIY avoidance and SWMBO was keen to go. I also reasoned that there might just be the odd old bike there and bike only shows seem few and far between in Victoria, so we happily agreed.

As my P&J is still awaiting the delivery of a special gearshift plunger housing to allow the re-insertion of the TR6C engine 'twixt the nickel plated loveliness of my MRD Rickman lattice work, we piled into the tin box and rattled off the 35kms or so across Melbourne to the Mornington Racecourse where the rally was located.

A yellow Indian. Rather than a red one.

Glorious sunshine greeted us and what a treat we had in store! Clearly the low humidity Aussie climate and salt free roads are conducive to preservation of old clunkers as there were over 1000 cars and a goodly smattering of old bikes on display. Cars came from just about every decade of the 20th century and ranged from the sublime (1928 Rolls Royce 2 door coupé) to the ridiculous (1960's Fiat 600 and Renault 4!) My favourite? A stunning 1927 supercharged Bugatti Type 35C that was not only clearly cherished by its owner but well used on the race track too…

Excelcisor v-twin. Classic.

The bikes were in the main pre-50's with Indian vee twins featuring prominently but there were also a number of sv Harleys including a handsome outfit. I also spotted a very smart Villiers-engined Norman, a superb Excelsior vee twin and a very tidy twin port Rudge Whitworth.

The local BMW enthusiasts group had shown Teutonic efficiency (jah for sure!) and put on a fine display of about 8 1950's and 60's twins and one pre-war rigid, many sporting the underrated Earles forks favoured by the German designers of the time.

I'm delighted to report that the one thing in common for all these bikes was that there was not a single trailer in sight! Indeed riding (and driving) to the GAR from a number of pre-determined assembly points is very much a feature of this event.

Villiers Stuff on eBay.co.uk

Made in SurreyBut for my money the best was to be found under cover in the racing display area where, not far from the glorious Bugatti, a board track Indian rubbed shoulders with a magnificent 1923 Temple Anzani racer. Unfortunately the bikes were in semi-shade so the photos do not do them justice.

SWMBO was thrilled when I pointed out the "Kingston-upon-Thames" makers mark proudly cast large on the crankcases of the gorgeous Anzani vee twin, as we had visited a friend in Kingston during our recent Christmas trip to the UK.

Funny how a fleeting association such as that can make a static exhibit somehow more meaningful!

Surprisingly there were few bikes (of any nationality) from the 60's, 70's or 80's to reflect the 4-wheel presence, but I certainly intend to ensure there will be a 1970 Triumph Métisse representing RC next year!

Anzani. Indeed.

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