Model a Ford Biennial Rally

THE journey is more important than the destination, according to a Gladstone couple, who have the perfect model to carry out any trip around the country.

Lawrie and Carol Kyte are the proud owners of a 1928 Model A Ford ute, simply known as The Truck throughout the Kyte family, and takes up pride of place in the shed.

The couple left in early March with three other couples on a long trip. Destination: Tasmania. Purpose: the Model A Ford Australian biennial rally.

“We travelled to Melbourne and went across on the ferry,” he said.

“Due to the roads being flooded we had to take a detour out to Biloela.

“We did nearly 7000km down and back, used about 1000 litres of fuel, two litres of oil, a litre of oil in the gearbox.

“I never put a spanner on it; ‘The Truck' never missed a beat.”

Made out of “bits and pieces”, the Model A came into the Kytes'' possession over 10 years ago after the avid car lover and tinkerer decided he needed a project.

Recalling his younger days, he had the perfect idea as he thought back to his younger days when he owned a Model A Ford.

“I said to my wife, ‘I need a hobby',” he said.

“She said, ‘why don't we get an old car?'.”

Given the availability of parts and accessories for the Model A's, it was an easy decision and the hunt to obtain one of the most infamous vintage cars began.

And it wasn't long before the dream had been fulfilled, and even better, the purchase was made locally.

“I bought it off an older couple here in town, the engine was pretty cactus,” he said.

Then the toil began.

“I put in every hour of my spare time into it for six months before it was on the road,” Mr Kyte said.

Fired by a 200-cubic inch motor — or 3.3litre in new-fangled talk — The Truck hums along at 75-80kmh.

And what better place to take the apple of your eye but the Apple Isle, driving in style.

“It's a very nice way to travel, you get off the main highway, you smell all the crops, it's quite comfortable,” Mr Kyte said.

“We were doing about 350-400km a day, and every few days we'd have a rest day.”

‘The Truck' is a guaranteed head turner, and every stop for fuel was coupled with a chat with someone instantly taken with the vintage car.

“It's unbelievable, we received lots and lots of comments,” he said.

“We were on UHF radio and we could hear the truckies talking about us.”

And the fuel economy is “not bad for an old clunker”, coming in at about 14.5litres for 100km, Mr Kyte said.

One of the couples, Bill and Ann Ross from the Sunshine Coast, made the trek with a ‘woody', a wooden station wagon Model A, and a purpose-built wooden caravan to match.

“The caravan wound down to the height of the station wagon so it didn't have any wind resistance,” he said.

Peter and Sue Finnigan from Rockhampton and Terry and Cheryl Cianta from Mackay were also among the group, the latter's achieving the best fuel economy with 11 l/100km.

About 180 Model A Fords attended the rally, enough to make any Ford aficionado weak at the knees, for five days of chatter and natter about what really matters in the world of vintage cars.

“We had an absolute ball, but the best part is driving there and back,” the Kytes' said.

“After the rally we had a really great time, touring the back roads up through the middle (of Tasmania) and it was really nice weather.

However, a heavy bout of rain one day saw the clip-on windows hastily put in place, as there's not the luxury of just scurrying for the handle to roll up the windows.

“It's not like a modern car where you can drive through the rain, water does drip in,” he said.

The touring party's car trouble was very minor over the duration of the trip, amounting to a flat tyre on a trailer, a bolt in a starter motor falling off and an overcharging generator.

“We wouldn't have been stopped on the side of the road for more than half an hour,” he said.

On returning to Gladstone after six weeks, an acquaintance asked why they didn't take the late model Fairlane parked in the drive.

“No, I said, that's vanilla travelling,” Mr Kyte replied, before explaining creature comforts detract from the experience.

“You get in (the Fairlane), turn the air conditioning on, punch the cruise control, but you miss the enjoyment of travelling.”

A 1933 Model A Ford V8 sedan, which was the second year of production of the Ford V8, and a black 1934 V8 Ford Coupe share the Kytes' shed with The Truck, so there's no shortage of choice for a Sunday afternoon jaunt.

“They were shipped from New Zealand, and they're exactly the same as the US model, the bodies were pressed in the US and assembled in New Zealand,” he said.

“I enjoy having the Model A Ford ute because it's old and still usable and very fixable; it was made over 80 years ago and done a heck of a lot of work.”

The next Model A Ford rally is being held in Ipswich, disappointing the travelling party keen to put as many kms under their thin-walled tyres as possible.

“We reckon we might have to go way out west somewhere before getting there,” Mr Kyte laughed.

For the Kytes', they're happy to jump in a vintage car and head off for a picnic, the Central Queensland breeze in their hair, the sound of a V8 drumming along.

“I've got modern cars but I don't use them, I use it all the time, it's easier to get around in and I need to have a utility. This has proved to be the best thing. They don't make cars like this anymore.”

Enough to make a Holden diehard give a nod of approval.

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