FOR the 29th time, the tourist town of Bright in north-east Victoria hosted the annual Bright’s Iconic Rod Run over the weekend of 8-10 November.
The streets of Bright were filled with cool cars, music and cruising all weekend, topped off with Sunday’s show ’n’ shine at the town oval, which was packed with even more hot rods, customs, muscle cars and chrome-bumpered classics than last year!
There were a few changes to the event this year, with no parking allowed on the median strips in the town centre, as well as side-street closures to reduce congestion and allow for better cruising.
Read next: Bright Rod Gun 2018
The local council also put in place new rules regarding the consumption of alcohol in public areas, with the aim of improving safety and making the event more family-friendly.
Here are some of our favourite cars from this year’s event.
Pakenham’s Darren Spaulding had his 1957 Chevy pick-up out for the first time since its very recent completion. “Bright was the pick-up’s first run, having just hit the road for the first time – it only has about 50 kays on the clock,” Darren said. “I bought it as an unfinished project back in 2008; the cab had been painted and the motor fitted, but that was about all. It wasn’t complete and had a lot of parts missing, so it was basically a full rebuild to get it together and on the road. I built it as a driver, not as a show car, so it’s fully engineered and mod-plated. Running gear is a 572ci big-block with a Turbo 400 transmission and a full-floater nine-inch with 33x19x15 tyres on the back.
“This year at Bright was a good turnout considering the weather,” Darren continued. “I thought the new ‘no alcohol’ rule might have affected things, but it just made it a bit less overcrowded in the centre of town. You could cruise the cars and walk around more easily to check everything out better.”
Eddie Bondin from Bacchus Marsh finally got to hit the streets of Bright in his home-built, show-stopping 1959 El Camino, and won Best Custom for his trouble. “I spent three years building it, basically every night out in the shed,” Eddie said. “It was unveiled at MotorEx earlier this year.
“I ended up finding this one in Queensland as an unfinished project,” he continued. “It was good for rust, being an original Californian car, so it was a good starting point, plus it had a lot of new panels already fitted, like new quarter panels and front guards.”
Packing a 400ci small-block Chev with a TH400 trans, the El Camino floats along on AccuAir airbags and 20-inch billet five-slot rally wheels – 10s on the rear and eights up front. The interior is trimmed in beige Italian leather, which continues into the engine bay!
Wayne Talay from Wodonga has had his gorgeous XM van on the road for about 12 months now. “The van had been sitting in a farm shed up on blocks for 30 years on a neighbour’s property out at Kergunyah,” he said. “When we dragged it back to my workshop, the footwells were full of rat droppings up to the door line! We shovelled it all out and gave it all a serious pressure-washing, but still had to sit the shell outside to air out for months before the smell subsided enough to start working on it. It was a six-year project by the time it was finally finished.
“Matty Dekoke from North East Kustom in Wodonga did all the bodywork and paint,” Wayne continued. “He fixed all the rust and dents as well as filling in the side windows in the quarters, then painted it in a three-layer pearl. The colour is Lamborghini Metallic Orange, with the roof done in white. Universal Upholstery in Wodonga did the interior trim in white with orange piping that matches the paintwork.”
Wayne is a mechanic with his own workshop in Wodonga, so did all the mechanical work himself, as well as reconditioning the brakes and driveline. “The motor in the van was already on its maximum bore size and it wasn’t the van’s original motor anyway,” he said. “So I found another 170-cube Pursuit motor and rebuilt that. It’s basically stock with a reground camshaft, and runs extractors with a twin hot-dog exhaust to give it a bit of noise.”
“She’s has been in the family over 30 years,” said David Powles of his 1936 D3 Dodge sedan. “My wife Cheryl and I had it first, then my mother and father, before finally coming back to us. We all failed to have the funds to do anything with it for a quarter of a century, until Pop, myself, our four boys, our son-in-law and our four-year-old grandson started what was a five-year build in the end, mostly done in the shed in the backyard. The number plate is a tribute to Dad, who we lost before completing the build.”
The Dodge is running a standard LS3, with Higgins race heads and an HPF cam added. Behind the motor is a Turbo 700 and Ford nine-inch diff.
“The paint [PPG Moulin Rouge] and the all-cream leather interior were done by a mate that can sew,” David said.
“Bright Rod Run was the first big weekend event that we attended with the Dodge. Not really knowing what to expect, we were blown away with the crowd plus the quality and diversity of the cars. We all had a ball, as well as first drives of the car, which was awesome. We’re booked ready for next year, with hopefully the boys finding their own cars to bring or borrow!”
Shannon Chessells and her husband Andrew (from Hallam Performance) cruised up to Bright from Melbourne in Shannon’s ’55 coupe and spent the weekend cruising the streets of Bright with the car loaded with their kids.
The Bel Air was previously owned by Trav Grace (SM, Feb ’17), and has undergone some changes since being featured, including a right-hand-drive conversion.
“I’ve been making a few changes and tidying up a couple of things on it, plus we’re going to respray it in the near future,” Andrew said. “It will be a similar colour, but with a metallic fleck through it.”
19-year-old Angus Pirotta brought his genuine LC GTR Torana down from Sydney for the Rod Run. “I bought as it sits,” Angus said. “It was a drag car for years, and then the previous owner rebuilt it and returned to the street. The motor is a 406ci small-block Chev built by BK Racing, backed by a Powerglide ’box.” Rims are 22-inch Simmons items, while the immaculate body and paintwork was done by Custom Bodyworks in Sydney.
Vic Hycenko’s factory 401ci nailhead-powered 1960 Buick Invicta looked the goods at Bright. “I imported the Buick from the States about four years ago; it was basically as it sits and had been restored by the previous owner in the US,” the Mornington Peninsula resident said. “The only thing I’ve really done to it since it arrived is lower it.
“I usually bring my ’63 VW Kombi splitty up to Bright for the Rod Run, but with rain on the weather forecast I thought I’d better bring the Buick – the splitty leaks like a sieve!”
Colin Bickley from Holbrook in NSW has a passion for Ford Capris. “I built my first V8-powered one about 40 years ago,” he said. “I’ve done a few of them over the years. I did this one basically as a V8 Perana tribute with the RS headlights and bonnet, but it started out as a four-cylinder shell. It only took me about 12 months to build.”
Running gear consists of a 302ci Windsor backed by a BorgWarner T5 manual gearbox and nine-inch rear end. “I also fitted power steering out of a Subaru to make it easier to steer with the V8,” Col said. “The paint is done in Bionic Blue; it’s a BF Falcon colour.”
Peter Van Vledder of Portarlington brought along his newly finished 545ci big-block Ford-powered XB coupe, and went home with a trophy for Best Muscle. “When I first found the coupe it was sitting in a paddock up at Mildura and was full of chooks,” Peter said. “Apart from the chooks, it was also full of rust; both inner and outer quarter panels needed replacing, as well as all the boot gutters, plus a heap more.”
With the rust repaired, the XB was painted in Mustang Magnetic Metallic by Mustang Central in Drysdale.
“The running gear came out of a drag car,” Peter explained. “It’s a 460-cube Ford big-block stroked out to 545ci, with a reverse-pattern C6 transmission and nine-inch rear end with 3.55 gears.
“I’ve had the XB on the road for about four weeks now, after spending the past four years building it. I’ve had it fully engineered, so now I’m looking forward to putting some miles on the clock cruising. We’ve been having a great time up here in Bright; I’m happy with how much attention the car has been getting.”
Joe Amato’s ’51 Chevy is one cool custom. Chopped, dropped and ’bagged, the ’51 runs a 327ci small-block and Turbo 350. Apart from the roof chop, custom mods include a ’49 Caddy grille, a ’51 Olds bumper, frenched headlights, extended quarters and ’50 Chrysler tail-lights. The body has been lavishly painted in House Of Kolor Brandywine.
This beautiful black big-block Chev-powered HQ wagon is owned by Darren Spaulding (no, not the same Darren Spaulding who owns the’55 Chev mentioned earlier!) It runs a Glenn Wells-built 515ci big-block Chev with Higgins-ported Dart Pro 1 heads, topped with a Pro-Filer manifold and 1050cfm Dominator carby. Rounding out the driveline is a Powerglide transmission and a shortened nine-inch.
The wagon rolls on original Center Line rims and is a true old-school street machine: “The car was originally built in the late 80s by Barry Walker and was in the September 1988 issue of Street Machine,” Darren said.
BEST IN SHOW
Jon Sandham – 1968 Ford ZB Fairlane
Andrew Vella – 1960 Cadillac Coupe DeVille
Mark Holyoak – 1936 Ford three-window coupe
1976 Holden HX LE coupe
BEST RAT ROD
Greg Hewitt – 1937 Ford 78 pick-up
Peter Van Vledder – 1975 Ford XB Falcon coupe
Eddie Bondin – 1959 Chev El Camino
Anne Engleson – 1959 VW Kombi
BEST HOT ROD
Charles Vassallo – 1930 Ford A Model
Wes Reid – 1968 HK Monaro
1913 Willy Overlander tourer
BEST CLUB DISPLAY
Southern Hot Rod Club