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 back.

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.

The Run is the largest most continually staged historic motoring event held anywhere in the world. Vehicles must be pre-1956 and meet entry criteria.

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 the Motorfest.

2003 saw the inaugural Cruising Classics with a format similar to that of the established Motorfest. An eight day fun program for the motoring enthusiast saw this new addition entrench itself as a “must do” in the Bay to Birdwood Classic Run years. It’s just simply Classic entertainment for everyone to enjoy!

The Bay to Birdwood Run and Classic are proven community festivals. This annual event has now firmly established itself as an icon major 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 wherever they may be and whatever their allegiance.