Our history

The Bay to Birdwood Run was first held in 1980 when the Federation of Historic Motoring Clubs, SAS Channel Ten and the National Motor Museum were invited to join in developing an event to commemorate the issuing of the first South Australian driver’s licence in 1906 to Dr William A. Hargreaves.

BTB 1980

The winners of the Concours d’Elegance at the 1980 Bay to Birdwood Run.

The original agreed concept was a biennial run for pre-1950 vehicles from Glenelg (fondly known as “the Bay”) to the National Motor Museum in Birdwood.

By 1990 the Run had established itself as Australia’s premier historic motoring event and had earned Australia wide recognition by winning the National Tourism Award as the best special event or festival staged in Australia.

Because of its high survival rate of old vehicles, Australia has become internationally recognised as one of the world’s major storehouses of historic vehicles. South Australia has the highest per capita rate of ownership of historic vehicles in the nation. The advantage of having the National Motor Museum here in the Adelaide Hills, along with a well-established restoration regime, has resulted in the preservation of historic vehicles becoming an important part of the South Australian culture.

As the number of interstate and country South Australian entrants grew, it was decided in 1986 to introduce a range of motoring and social activities around the Run under the title of Motorfest. In 2003 the Bay to Birdwood Committee introduced the Bay to Birdwood Classic for post 1956 vehicles.

The Bay to Birdwood Run and Classic are proven community festivals. This annual event has now firmly established itself as an iconic event for both entrants and spectators alike. It is one of the world’s greatest motoring spectacles!

Purchase the History of the Bay to Birdwood

Adelaide author, Bay to Birdwood entrant and former committee member Bill Watson has written the definitive history of the Bay to Birdwood from 1980 to 2010. A compelling tale of interest to motoring enthusiasts. It is available for purchase at the National Motor Museum’s souvenir shop.