South Australia was established by English entrepreneurs who sold land around its capital Adelaide to upper and middle class Englishmen. Unlike most other Australia states, convicts from England’s over-crowded prisons were never brought to South Australia. As a consequence South Australians consider themselves somewhat better bred than other Australians.
Adelaide’s nearby hills are criss crossed with 19th century horse and cart tracks that have become public roads. It was on these tight and twisty country roads that motor races were held early last century. European marques such as Alfa Romeo, Bugatti and MG raced against American cars and Australian built “specials”. Motor racing is still a passion of many South Australians and every November a tarmac rally is held in Adelaide.
Aeromil Pacific Classic Adelaide Rally
The rally, which was first run in 1987, is a 5-day event of 1,000 kilometers for historic, classic and modern cars. There are 33 special stages on closed public roads. The rally caters for both competition drivers and for those who do not want to race against the clock.
The rally has many categories for all types of cars and drivers. The competition section is for the racers and high-powered Porsches are very popular. There is a regularity section where drivers are required to meet an average speed specified by the organizers for each rally stage. For drivers wanting a brisk but un-timed drive there are several tours.
An Eclectic Mix of Cars
This year 677 cars were entered. As usual there were many overseas entrants.
Italian cars were well represented and many were classics. There were many Ferraris including two 365 GTB Daytonas, several 308s, 328s and 355s as well as a number of 360s in the competition class. There was a sole 550 Maranello. Among the overseas entrants were UK residents, Bob and Lesley Houghton in a 250 GTE and Dick Young and Penny Redford in a 365 Daytona.
The most valuable car in the rally was undoubtedly the 1959 Ferrari 250 GT California of Sir Paul Vestey. Sir Paul has competed in many Classic Adelaide’s with his co-driver, the well-known author and historian Doug Nye, both from the UK.
Other Italian cars taking part included 105 Alfa Romeos, a Lancia Integrale, a Maserati Merak, two De Tomaso Panteras and a Bizzarrinni.
English cars were well represented with many Jaguars XKs and E types. Also popular were Austin Healey sixes. There were three Aston Martins, a DB4 and two DB6s. Lotii included an Elan, Lotus Cortina and an Exige S.
Porsches were the choice of many competitors with a gaggle of 911s, several 944s and 356s.
Some of more unusual cars taking part included a 1926 Bugatti type 23, a 1926 Amilcar and two Alvises, a 1924 12-50 and a 1933 Speed 25.
Being Australia, there just had to be a utility in the event. And there was one, a Holden V8. It was did not; however, compete with the customary keg of Fosters beer in the back tray.
Muscle Cars Galore
Muscle cars are a favorite with many Australian enthusiasts and were well represented in the event. Australian muscle cars, 1960s and 1970s Holden Monaros and Ford Falcon GTs competed with Mustangs.
Adelaide Hilton is not the name of an Australian relative of the shy Paris Hilton. It is one of Adelaide’s top hotels.
Unlike many rallies the Classic Adelaide has one unique feature. All competitors stay at the Hilton Hotel. Each day the competitors leave from the hotel in Adelaide’s CBD and return to it each night. This saves them from packing and unpacking each day as they move to new accommodation.
The first event was the Prologue, which was held on part of the old Formula 1 motor racing track in Adelaide’s parklands. The rally cars with a Police escort were first driven in a parade through the center of Adelaide to the start. Spectators lined the streets and city traffic was in chaos. The Prologue was two timed laps of the track in the park. This stage determined the starting order of competition cars.
The Rally Stages
The Rally left the Hilton Hotel every day on a different route through the demanding roads of the Adelaide Hills. The rally traveled through several wine regions including the Barossa and McLaren Vale. At the morning tea and lunch breaks spectators are able to inspect the cars. On the Friday night, there was the traditional street party with the cars on show in Adelaide’s Gouger Street.
The outright winner (and also the competition section winner) was a 1975 Porsche 911 RSR, The classic section was won by a Ford Capri Perana. The Historic section winning car was a 1929 Chrysler 75, while an Austin Healey 100/6 won the Regularity class.