All British Rally
All British Rally
26-27 April, 2014 – Newstead, VIC
This rally is just getting bigger and better every year, with new machines coming out of the woodwork. Camping sites were at a premium at Newstead – it was a sea of tents interspersed with so many makes and models, all British from a bygone era. This year the whole town of Malden was packed with bikes and spectators who meandered up and down the main street to look at the huge number of interesting bikes and talk to their owners. The photo of the very dilapidated MAC Velocette and the next photo are the same bike before and after restoration by Bob Phillips of Ballarat. It took twelve months of tender loving care to finish this piece of art. It seems shed finds are still turning up and enthusiasts are putting in huge amounts of their time and retirement funds to put these bikes back into pristine condition. Some extremely rare bikes were observed; the 1936 cammy square four Ariel amongst the notable ones. Other rare bikes observed were the Hesketh and the 700 Silk owned by Kevin Craine. From my own wanderings and observations around the rally site I can say this rally is here to stay, and it just goes on improving every year. It may have been the 38th annual running of the ABR hosted by the BSA Motorcycle Owners Association of Victoria, but it still had some surprises up its sleeves and treated the nearly 1,000 rally goers to freezing overnight and early morning conditions that left the trusty British steeds covered in a luxurious frosty coating! As always though the BSA MOA had arranged for supplies of firewood but the rally goers’ bonfires managed to consume 14 tons of wood in two nights! The standard of bikes on display just seems to get better each year and once again gave the judging panel a mighty tough time. They ranged from Mark Gascoine’s wonderful century-old Triumph in glorious oily rag condition that won Best Original and Unrestored through to Marcus Doller’s stunning and extremely rare BSA M24 Gold Star that deservedly took out Best Bike at Rally. However it is worth pointing out that the ABR honoured its eccentric but proud tradition of only considering bikes that at least took part in the organised ride on Saturday, so a number of immaculate machines with clean mudguard undersides and exhaust tips were politely declined! Saturday night saw the cognoscenti treated to a slap-up roast supper cooked by the local schools and sports clubs (who use the ABR as their prime fundraiser for the year) and the more hardy souls danced (and possibly drank) into the wee small hours to local band ‘Cutest Little Monster’ who did a fabulous rock ‘n roll set. Brian O’Shea made himself public enemy No.1 by winning the 1970 BSA 441 offered as the Gate Prize, but in a weekend full of stories and yarns around the campfire perhaps the one which captured the ABR spirit most aptly was that of the winner of Best British Bike Ridden by a Female – Rachelle Edwards. Having finished her 1959 BSA Bantam and getting it registered just the day before the Rally, 20 year old Rachelle rode it approximately 120 km to the Rally only for it to expire with duff ignition just 500 metres from the Rally. Undeterred, she insisted on pushing the bike into the Rally unaided and was rewarded with a rousing round of applause from the crowd at the trophy presentation. However we’ll leave the final words to BSA MOA President Craig Burke who summed up the Rally perfectly – “The ABR, something I am proud to be a part of”.
Tilbrook Dandaloo sidecar finds a soul mate. Original and still operating Raleigh. ABOVE AND BELOW One year apart: Bob Phillips’ restoration of his 350 Mac Velocette. Early OHC Ariel Square Four sheds a tear on Malden’s main street.
TOP Rush hour in Malden. BELOW No store-bought trophies here. RIGHT Highly-personalised BSA Lightning.
ABOVE Well-ridden Hesketh V1000. RIGHT Velocette, like Vincent, went through a phase of concealing their best feature behind fibreglass. There’s always a project to be picked up. LEFT Matching silver pudding basin sets off a DBD34 Gold Star BSA. BELOW...
Campfire camaraderie. All that glitters: Jeff Millward’s 1978 Weslake-engined AKB Long Tracker formerly raced by British all-rounder Arthur Browning.