The Armstrong Siddeley Car Club

ASCC Annual National Rallies

The first ASCC National Rally was held in Wagga Wagga in 1968, eight years after the club was formed. It was such a success that it became the first of what was to become an annual pilgrimage for many members. This is especially true of Alf Britton who has demonstrated his enthusiasm for the Club by attending every Federal Rally that has been held (c2010)!

The Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire tug-of-war team versus the 1618HP team at the Swan Hill Federal Rally 1973The annual National Rallies are many things to many people. They offer opportunities to renew friendships and make new acquaintances with people who share an interest in the marque. Rallies provide a chance to share Armstrong Siddeley and motoring knowledge and expertise. Attending a rally often results in increased enthusiasm and motivates many participants to further their restoration efforts on their return home.

The success of the National Rallies is due primarily to the wide variety of activities catering to the differing needs of Armstrong Siddeley enthusiasts and their families. The main activities include:

An Armstrong Siddeley MK I Sapphire at the Federal Rally gymkahna in Canberra 1975
  • the National Concours d' Elegance
  • the Annual General Meeting
  • an auction of Armstrong Siddeley parts and other items
  • the display and sales of Club shop items and spare parts
  • technical discussions and presentations
  • the opportunity for the Board of Directors to meet face to face.

The social activities of the rally are equally important and these include drives and visits to local tourist locations, BBQ's, picnics and buffet meals and of course, the Prize Giving Dinner. In the past, regular gymkhana events were enjoyed by all. These activities provide many opportunities to chat and enjoy the company of other Armstrong Siddeley enthusiasts. In earlier years, the Saturday night dinner often included a dance band, the party mood often continuing after dinner to someone's motel room for the "after party party".

Baby sitting and children's activities were a regular part of the rally scene. "Are we there yet" was the normal refrain from the back seat for many attendees. What was often not recognised at the time by the children was the important education they were receiving about regional and rural Australia.

A club viewing of the rarely seen antique collection at Seppeltsfield during the Armstrong Siddeley  Federal Rally to the Barossa Vally in 1981The earlier rallies were held over the four day Easter period as this was considered a good time for working people with young families to be able to get away. In recent years, due in part to the current (2010) age demographic of members, the rallies have been held later in the year to avoid popular holiday times. They have now also been extended by an extra day to make a five-day event.

It's a serious undertaking to attend a National Rally and not just in terms of time and money. Driving an old car many hundreds of kilometers on roads across regional terrain (like the Hay plain) tests its reliability. This is particularly the case for cars that are not often used and that are normally kept garaged and driven only occasionally for short distances. Even though mechanical and restoration work is commenced well in advance of a National Rally, all too often Murphy's Law steps in. Work is often completed only days before a departure, leaving little time for adequate road testing. It was against this scene that the Hard Luck Trophy was established. Members often share stories of their travelling adventures, the funny side being appreciated only after the event. To illustrate: a Sapphire arriving with the front grille removed to aid airflow through the radiator, partly caused by driving through a locust plague and a Hurricane needing to stop at regular intervals during a very wet drive to wring out towels that had been used to soak up water from inside the car! Mechanical problems are not unknown with blown head gaskets, seized pistons, overheating problems, blown tyres and failing magnetos being typical problems encountered.

The unique social dynamic of a historic car club is highlighted by the scene played out frequently at the first gathering. Anxious rally participants await the news of those who have not yet arrived or who have had trouble on their journey. Sending out a search party on a dark country road to find a member who should have arrived hours ago has occasionally been required.

The Prize Giving Dinner is a special part of the rally, with the awarding of trophies and speeches that often include recognition of the efforts of particular members who have contributed to the club. The Club Person of the Year is announced and then, in closing, a public thank you is made to an exhausted rally coordinator and his/her team on behalf of all the participants along with their appreciation for a job-well-done.

A local history lesson for participants at the 1971 Armstrong Siddeley Federal Rally in CoomaThe National Rallies are organised in rotation by the State Branches who all know well in advance when their turn is next due. It typically takes two years to secure accommodation, organise venues, tours, security and when necessary, permissions for processions. Rally promotion and the preparation of rally packs which include all the required information and some surprise goodies are also part of the organising committee's work. During this process it is often noted that interest from local Branch members increases as they all pull together to make their rally a success.

The National Rally has no doubt been a vital part of building a successful Car Club and in so doing has been a major contributing factor in the preservation of the Armstrong Siddeley marque.

The Armstrong Siddeley Car Club
Armstrong Siddeley Car Club The Court House 325 High Street Learmonth VIC 3352
Phone Cameron Wright, President, 0408 595 461
ACN 001 059 212
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