HISTORY OF THE VETERAN AND VINTAGE CHEVROLET ASSOCIATION OF AUSTRALIA - VVCAA
The VVCAA was established in June 1967. It was born from the dissatisfaction of a number of Chevrolet owners with the operation and outings of one of the larger all-make vintage and veteran clubs popular at the time. Their concern was with the mix of car types and sizes (e.g. Rolls-Royces and Austin 7’s) on outings, and the lack of focus and discussion with such a diversity of models and makes. These Chev owners began to think that forming their own club might be the way to go! A Register of Chevrolet owners had been started by Ted Cleary in late 1966, and this enabled the level of interest in forming a Chev club to be gauged.
A meeting of interested owners was held in Parramatta Park in March 1967. This meeting decided that a club should be formed, and set the date for the first General Meeting of June 4, 1967. A temporary committee was also formed, meeting in May to establish arrangements for the forthcoming GM. That first GM was held at Mr Trevor Long’s house at Cabramatta in June 1967, where a first committee and a constitution were agreed upon. The first President was Ted Cleary and the Vice President was Ian Maris.
A journal was commenced, the first edition was produced that June and the title of “The Royal Mail” was decided upon. This remains the title to this day. That first edition was priced at 20cents, with membership costing $1 and a magazine subscription costing another $2!
The Club’s first run was held on 23 July, 1967 with 6 cars attending, commencing at Parramatta Park and ending at Mulgoa Park. The Club’s Anniversary Run each year continues to be a run to Mulgoa.
Club meetings commenced from about July or August of 1967, being held in a hall in Marsden St, Parramatta. A club emblem was developed by Ken Robinson, member No.14. By September, 1967, there were 28 members, with 60 journals being mailed to all then known interested Chevrolet owners seeking their membership.
As a one-make car club the VVCAA took off, so to speak, and quickly gained more members. At the first anniversary run at Mulgoa in July, 1968 12 cars attended; some then on concessional registration, which had been secured during that year. The first weekend run was held in February 1969 to Jenolan Caves. There were about 45 members in the club at that time.
Also in 1969, a Division, or branch, of the Club was established in Queensland. At that time all members were in the ‘national’ club, thus the first Queensland member was Bryan Cantrell with membership #50, with Harry Burton being the first Qld ‘Director’. A first half-way run with NSW and QLD members was held at April 1971 at Urunga. There were about 360 members in both branches at the time. A half-way run was held again in 1973 - these Easter runs remain on the events calendar with the 2009 Dalby Rally attracting a large contingent of interstate cars for this Queensland event.
With the success of the Qld Division, a new division was established in South Australia in May 1975. At its first meeting 65 potential members attended, indicating the level of interest at the time, which still remains very strong in that state.
In 1977 the VVCAA turned 10, and a major rally to Mudgee had been in the planning for almost 2 years. As a week-long rally, it had several days of country runs, a concourse and numerous social events that cemented the national nature of the Club and fostered many friendships among interstate members. There were about 700 members nationally at the time, and of those over 340 attended that Mudgee Rally in 169 vehicles. It was subsequently decided that a major rally would be held on each five-year anniversary.
This rally provided a fillip to the club and membership increased, as indeed did the number of cars under restoration. Several Club cars have been well regarded at the then CVVTMC (now CMC) Concourse Days over the years, reflecting the high standard and accuracy of the club members’ restorations.
In 1981 a third branch of the Club was formed in Western Australia, with Roly Richardson as the first President there. The WA members remain a staunch base to the Club and are the ‘travellers’, most notably to the east for the big rallies. The Beazley family, for example, was often commended for their many trips across the Nullabor in one Chev or another to attend east coast rallies.
A second week-long national rally was held at Parkes, NSW in 1982 for the Association’s 15th anniversary. Over 200 old Chevs attended, with about 430 members, spouses and children. At the time the VVCAA had about 880 members in total.
In the five years that followed the Club decided that its coverage of eligible vehicles should increase. Having been founded with an cut-off date of 1942, it was decided that this would be raised to 1948, as Australian Chevrolets to 1948 were a continuation and refinement of the earlier vehicles.
In 1987, the Club’s 20th year, the national rally was held in Nowra. Over 180 Chevs attended. A highlight for every driver on that rally included the arduous trip up to the Kangaroo Valley from Nowra; a testing, long and steep climb that saw many vehicles boil and stop part-way up! The next national rally, in 1992, was to Cowra, NSW with about 180 cars also attending that rally. The great encouragement to the organisers of these rallies was the large number of members who were prepared to attend; bringing with it feverish work for many to finish their restorations to the standard required for a longer-distance rally.
During the next few years the Club decided not to hold concourse events – that is, to not judge the best restored cars for each year. While high-quality restorations are always appreciated in the Club, the high cost led to the desire to foster the use of the Club members’ cars, rather than seeking their 100 point restoration.
The 1997 national rally was to Forbes, NSW. Over 200 old Chevrolets, and over 500 people attended for the week. The next national rally was to Goulburn in 2002, where over 145 Chevs made the journey. The Wagga Wagga National Rally in 2007 is the most recent rally and was attended by 120 cars. A most successful rally it provided some of the most pleasant touring undertaken by Chev members in recent years.
For over 40 years the Club has had a very strong support base. The popularity of Chevrolets when new, and the ready supply of parts has ensured that cars can be restored and kept operational with relative ease.
A very large number of members of the VVCAA have exceeded 30 years of membership in the Club, and there are a number of 40-year members! This demonstrates the loyalty and friendship of members in the Club, as well as the enthusiasm that comes from a solid, established hobby club. And, we must mention that old cars are not just for men. There are more than several women who own old Chevs in the club, and of course, those who enjoy the support of their wives in both their interest and enthusiasm for the VVCAA and its activities.
Today the VVCAA has over 690 members, including spouses and children, and over 670 listed vehicles. While many of these are yet to be restored, it indicates that the old car movement, and especially old Chevrolets, still evoke a desire to preserve our motoring heritage.
A recent change to the Association – and much debated – was to open the Club to include later model Chevrolets. A rolling 30-year cut-off was settled upon allowing Chevrolets (to original factory specification) from the 1950’s, 60’s, 70’s and soon the 1980’s to be eligible to join. This change has furthered interest in both newer models, as well as the earlier models, in the Club.
The VVCAA is open to all –you don’t have to own a Chevrolet, just have an interest in their preservation and use!