Bayside Vehicle Restorers: custodians who care for cars - The Community Leader and Real Estate New and Views

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For most of us, at a certain age a car becomes just plain old and ready for replacement by a newer, more state-of-the-art model. For those wise enough to hang onto that same car for a decade or so longer and it becomes a collectable, desirable, valuable member of the family, drawing admiring and envying looks and getting more than its fair share of petting and care.

Members of the Bayside Vehicle Restorers Club are a testament to the seductive power of old cars; old, in this case, is being at least 30. It doesn’t matter what make or type the car is, if it’s 30 years old and a road vehicle it’s acceptable. (Motorcycles, buses and trucks also qualify for membership.)

Club President Albert Budworthy has been seriously bitten by the old car bug; he has a 1963 MG Sedan (named Millie) and a super-elegant 1955 Bentley (Bertha) that he bought from its original owner.

“Most old cars are given names by their owners and those were the names the cars had when I bought them,” he says.

Albert says that some of the 450 vehicles owned by the 200-plus members are family cars that have been retained but many of them are deceased estate discoveries or “barn finds” – vehicles that have done a lifetime’s duty then been left to dream their way to rust in a farm shed. But once they’ve been discovered and acquired by a club member the revival starts.

“We’d welcome more young folk but most of our club members are in their senior years and sometimes they have health issues that stop them from driving,” Albert says. “On the rare occasion that a club member sells a car it’s usually to someone else in the club, so it sort of stays in the family.”

In a club atmosphere where car transfers feel more like adoption than just hard financial transactions, it’s not surprising that their upkeep is done in-house.

“Most of the members do their own repairs and maintenance,” Albert says, “and there’s always someone willing to give a hand or offer advice for beginners. Spare parts are often hard to source but members make their own or have them made.”

Albert says that even special parts, such as the bonnet emblems that are an instant identifier for some makes (who could forget the charging ram that graced the bonnet of a Dodge?) can now be made with 3-D printing.

Albert is one of the members always ready to lend a hand with the workings of the various cars. A mechanic by trade, until he retired from the position he was the custodian of the RACQ’s fleet of historic cars; his list of rebuilds includes a 1904 Rambler, a 1938 Chevrolet tow truck, a Morris Mini panel van, a 1944 Jeep, a 1976 Escort and a 1961 Land Rover. Now, just being Club President takes care of most of the hours in a day.

“We’ve got a terrific team on the committee and the club is a really friendly, social group, made up of couples, singles – men and women – and whole families. We run events that enable members to really get the most enjoyment out of their cars. We have a display day every year but we don’t have concours; that would mean keeping the cars constantly in concours condition and we like to drive them. We have an organised monthly run of about a hundred kilometres with a stop for morning tea and a natter; it’s a great way to spend a day with friends who share an interest.

“I’ve just recently taken Bertha for trips to Obi Obi and to a rally at Cooroy; she really enjoys a long run.”

Albert points out that to take one of the grande dames onto a public road can only be done if the car has concessional registration, for which the driver has to be a member of a recognised club. Even then, the vehicle can only take to the highway for special events such as charity runs, rallies, organised runs and the like.

Concessional registration also allows specified use for events involving immediate members of the owner’s family, something Albert took advantage of recently when he donned a uniform, polished up Bertha’s chrome and played chauffeur for his grandson’s formal.

“We don’t think of ourselves as just car owners, it’s more than that,” he says. “These cars are a part of history and we’re lucky enough to be their custodians.”

For more information about the club go to the website at or give Albert a call on 0429 780 980.

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