ON ANY bright Sunday in Melbourne, you’re sure to find a few tasty cars cruising around, but you won’t usually find too many well-known thoroughfares where mad machinery halts trams and traffic. But Father’s Day has become one of those Sundays at St Kilda’s Acland Street. For the past six years, the famed food and shopping destination has been invaded by hundreds of beautiful cars and thousands of car nuts, eager to celebrate their love of shiny metal with their families and friends. And yes, they do actually stop the trams!
This article was first published in the November 2019 issue of Street Machine
The massive annual Father’s Day Car & Bike Show is the product of months of hard work by the teams at Showcars Melbourne and the Acland Street Traders Association. The show doesn’t just take over Acland Street itself – the nearby Shakespeare Grove and O’Donnell Gardens get packed with sweet rides too. Even the famous Luna Park frontage is used as a display area for a selection of movie cars.
As you can probably imagine, organising a show of this magnitude requires a heap of planning. “The show takes more than eight months to plan,” says Showcars Melbourne chief Elvis Barbieri. “We have to organise for Yarra Trams to stop the trams down Acland Street for the whole day, we meet with the council and VicRoads to redirect traffic, and we get the police on board to keep an eye on everything.”
A spray painter and panel beater by trade with 30 years’ experience, Elvis has been organising the Father’s Day event since its inception. “The Acland Street Traders approached me six years ago after seeing the quality of the cars at our Moonee Valley event, and asked if we could do something with them,” he explains.
Clearly the pairing has paid off, as this year’s show was awash with proper show cars and high-quality streeters. “We had 650 cars and more than 40,000 people!” Elvis says. “We’re going to have to find room for more next year – about 200 cars couldn’t get in. I’d like to thank Olivia McLean and Lorry Athanasi from the Acland Street Traders Association, all the entrants, sponsors and the public for making the event such a great success.”
There were more than just show cars to keep the crowd entertained, with kids activities, a market, and, of course, all the food and shops that Acland Street is known for. Local rockabilly bands Cadillac Drifters and Mighty Kings entertained the crowd from a stage set right in the centre of Acland Street, and the Australian Grand Prix had a legit Formula One car and Mick Doohan’s MotoGP bike to show off. Supercars drivers David Reynolds and Anton De Pasquale were on hand to chat to fans in front of one of their Erebus Motorsport/Penrite Racing Team cars, and to finish off the day, awards were presented to the winners of the various show classes.
The thorough planning resulted in a show with no major problems and lots of happy people, many of whom make the Acland Street show a Father’s Day tradition. Even a great day out must come to an end though, and it wouldn’t be a proper Melbourne day without a sudden torrential downpour. Thankfully the rain managed to hold off until the late arvo so it didn’t ruin the show, although anyone who had to drive home in a car wearing fat slicks certainly had their hands full!
The area just outside the gaping maw of Luna Park was filled with movie cars, both ridgey-didge and faithful reproductions, including Wayne Pulley’s Mad Max Interceptor. Over four years, Wayne transformed the car from a dead-stock six-cylinder XB into Max’s 351-powered yellow machine, going out of his way to emulate the original. “It’s white inside the doors and under the bonnet, with intentional overspray in the gaps,” said Wayne. “I encourage people to look for what’s not movie-correct on it”
The 347 in Johnny Nogas’s Cortina is a pretty healthy combo, with a recent run on the rollers showing 518rwhp with a 150-shot of gas jammed down its throat. Johnny’s racked up 13,000km in the three years the Corty’s been on the road, proving it’s a proper street car. “It needs gears and a converter,” said Johnny, “but I’m hoping to run a 9.90 at Calder.”
Jon Sandham’s Fairlane (feature soon!) and his brother Ken’s two-door Compact Fairlane are from opposite ends of the style spectrum. The Compact is a tough streeter with perfect patina, while Jon’s creation has paint that appears liquid, polished custom everything and nary a wire in sight. Ken’s Compact has run 12.20, but he’s looking to give it a sniff of nitrous to put it well into the 11s. Fairlanes seem to run in the Sandham blood: “Dad’s got a concours ZD, but he keeps putting wheels on it that look shit,” Ken laughed.
Roy Simpson has owned his US-built 1950 Ford single-spinner for about four years, and in that time he’s tidied it up, had the 302 rebuilt with a little bit of hotting up and snapped an axle! “I wanted a cruiser, something I can just get in, turn the key and go for a run,” said Roy. The car came with the burgundy duco, and a mate of Roy’s painted the gold and purple flames. This thing looks gorgeous in the flesh.
Robert Leech brought his sons Cody and Gavin with him in his NASCAR-themed 1965 Fairlane Sports Coupe. Under the bonnet is a 347 Windsor and there’s a disc-brake front end to give the big two-door some better stopping ability. Robert’s had all sorts of cars both old and new in his stable over the years, including a stepside C10, an XR6 Turbo and a ’52 Caddy with a 500ci big-block and 100-spoke wire wheels.
Dean Gianginis and his mum Vicky piloted these gorgeous all-original drop-top Chevs. “Dad always wanted a ’57, and after he brought this one over from the States, Mum fell in love with the ’58, so he bought that for her,” Dean said. “Dad’s passed, but we come here every year to bring his car out.” Vicky’s ’58 even has a 348ci W-series big-block with factory triple single-barrels!
Firing up a fair-dinkum race car in the middle of a busy Melbourne street is sure to attract a crowd, so the roar of the gnarly little 376 blown and injected small-block in Greg Angus’s Quey was quite a spectacle. “A bloke in Mildura built it, but I changed a few things and fitted the motor. It’s gone 7.90@163mph, so it’s pretty healthy,” Greg said.
With 420 cubes and 800hp of aspirated small-block under the bonnet, Chris Vilimovsky’s HQ is a beast. The car’s PB is 9.70@141mph, but it still ferries the family to events like the Acland Street show. “We’ve been coming to this show for the past three years,” said Chris.
Martin Hellings and Darren Beveridge brought their families and their Group As to the show. Darren’s VN is dead-stock, while Martin’s Walky has extractors and a 3in exhaust for a little extra noise. “I’ve owned it for 15 years,” said Martin. “We bought it from Cairns, drove it back to Victoria in one go and even hit a roo on the way!”
Peter and Lisa Veugelers rocked up in two prime slices of 70s American muscle – a short-bed C10 and a ’72 Corvette Stingray. “The C10’s nothing flash; we just drive around in it,” Peter said. The ’Vette is Lisa’s toy: “I go on road trips with my friends, go and visit the grandkids,” she said. Lisa’s dad George, a hot rodder from way back, rode to the show in the C10: “I can get into the Corvette, but I can’t get out!” he laughed.
It’s hard to miss Zlatko Nastoski’s Sunburst Orange ’66 Mustang (SM, Jul ’19) when the sun’s out, and he’s even fitted fatter rubber since we featured it to help with traction at the strip. “It was a killer show,” said Zlat. “It’s become a Father’s Day tradition, and we cruised down with about 15 other cars. My family loved it. The only bad thing was the drive home in the heavy rain!”
The Gauci family clearly has a bit of a thing for tough second-gen Falcons. The yellow ute is Matt’s, Justin owns the turbo Windsor-powered KINGXR and the purple XW in the background belongs to their father Chris. “It was a wreck when I bought it,” Chris said. “We did all the panel and paint at home. The engine’s a 393 with a C10 and 9in, but I’m not going to race it; it’s just a street car.”