IF ERA-correct pre-1941 hot rods are your jam, you’re going to love the South Australian Reliability Run. Adelaide’s first invite-only Reliability Run took place 12-13 March, with 25 rodders running their jalopies throughout the city’s southern suburbs and picturesque hills.
An evolution of the1950s Aussie reliability trials where car manufacturers attempted to prove the strength of their product against harsh, predominantly outback roads, reliability runs have grown into a fun motorsport challenge. Hot rodders have picked up on the spirit of these events as a great excuse to cruise their traditionally styled rods (most of which employ early-1920 to 1940s drivelines) en masse.
Photos: Aaron Develyn
The event had to be postponed twice thanks to COVID-19 closures, but as the billet-free rods rolled into the meet-and-greet on a balmy Friday night, spirits were high. “I’m stoked that it’s finally happening,” organiser Ashley Cave beamed.
A bunch of Victorian-based rodders hopped in their pre-1941 rods and cruised – not towed – across to Adelaide for the event. Just getting there was the real test, yet every one of them made it!
Come Saturday morning, the weather turned and the heavens opened up. Many copped a drenching, yet the grins remained wide, and by lunchtime the sun was back out.
With the first event a definite success, Ash and his wife Beck are keen to run the SARR again. Check out the Instagram @s.a.r.r.2021 for more info.
Among a sea of Fords at the Reliability Run were one Chevy and one Dodge, the latter a ’29 coupe owned by Martin Croston of the Vultures CC. The 331ci ’55 Cadillac-powered rod is channelled but unchopped, and features a ’38 Ford truck barrel grille.
Kerry Brown’s neat, unchopped ’28 A-model tudor maintains its four banger driveline, and it happily chugged away throughout the event. “Water was coming up through the floorboards,” Kerry laughed as we rolled into the Mylor halfway stop. The neat tudor was awarded the Reliability Run Sedan pick.
Alex Toumazos’s Improved A roadster is fresh on the Adelaide scene. A few months back, Alex rescued the roadster from a 25-year slumber, and has been slowly bringing it back to life. The A runs all-original running gear, including the banger, which has proven to be temperamental and kept him off of Saturday’s run.
Spirit of the Run was awarded to all-’round top bloke Scott Dohnt, who owns this channelled and bobbed, fenderless ’36 Ford coupe. The survivor rod was built in ’65 by Capital City Coupe member Maurice Snow. Scott has remained faithful to the coupe’s history, doing his best to preserve the original paint and fitments.
If there’s a traditional-style hot rod show on, you can bet that Michael and Tracy Ahrens are going to have a car or two in the festivities. While they had a few period-correct rods to choose from, Tracy piloted Pete Ahrens’s pick-up (SM Hot Rod #19), while Michael braved the weather with our intrepid photographer Aaron Develyn in the sweet ’27 T roadster (SM Hot Rod 2013). The tudor (SM Hot Rod 2007, not pictured) is also Michael’s steed – Kyle Ford flew down and piloted it at SARR.
| Read next: Michael Ahrens's Ford Tudor
Mark ‘Bails’ Bailey’s 1927 T roadster whipped up 10-foot-high rooster tails during the run, while the man himself was drenched through to his jocks. The 21-stud flathead never faltered all weekend, even when water-soaked, and Bails took home the Reliability Run Roadster pick for his efforts.
Castlemaine local Kyle de Kuijer made the journey across in his tidy 40s-styled A roadster, then completed the run in the torrential rain before heading back home again in his open-topped jalopy. Not many can add that to their resume!
Adam Bakurski’s ’36 Ford is dubbed ‘Old Joe’ as a nod to the roadster’s history. An Adelaide-based harmonica player called Joe rodded the ’36 somewhere between 1949 and 1951 and was known for driving it hard and fast. Future custodians have done a great job of maintaining many of the roadster’s original parts, including the paint and the tiny harmonica that Joe kept on his key ring.
Ex-drag racer Neville Hawke scored the Reliability Run Coupe pick with his and wife Maureen’s beautiful ’36 Ford three-window coupe. Nev has kept the ’36 in top nick, maintaining the old paint but adding a dropped axle to get it sitting just right and a NOS flathead block with a dual-carb manifold.
Larry Cricelli brought along ASRF State Director for SA, Glenn Halliday, to be part of the fun. Larry had the choice of two ’34 Ford coupes, opting for his three-window over his black five-window for the event. The red-oxide coupe looks like a sweet American cruiser and easily belted out the route thanks to its 350ci Chev.
Miko Gyucha and his dad Miko Sr piloted two very cool steel-bodied cars across from Victoria. Miko’s ride is this rad ’32 five-window coupe. “The coupe is rough, but I love it the way it is,” he said. The highboy jalopy runs a 59A flatty, with a ’39 gearbox and a ’40 Ford rear.
Allan Rendell is the current custodian of this tidy black ’32 Ford roadster, which has seen more costume changes than Madonna. An Adelaide-based show car in the 60s, it was built by Robert Anderson and has been through a few hands before Allan took ownership in ’99. He rebuilt the ’39 Merc sidevalve V8 and ’39 ’box before adding a Columbia two-speed overdrive rear.