South Australian Branch History
based on original text by Lee Rodda
The Armstrong Siddeley Car Club was formed in Sydney in 1960 and the first Branch was formed in South Australia in 1963, chaired by John Bull. Unfortunately the Branch failed in the late 60s as the result of lack of support.
1970 saw the rebirth of the South Australian Branch. It quickly prospered and is still strong 40 years (c2010) later. Life Member George Hume had purchased his first Armstrong Siddeley in 1964 and had been a member of the original South Australian Branch. He recognised the resurgence of interest in the cars with owners requiring information and spare parts for maintenance and restoration of their unique vehicles. Along with a few like-minded owners, he was determined to revive the Branch.
Armstrong Siddeley enthusiasts and interested persons were asked to attend an outing on August 2nd, 1970 and advertisements were placed in the local newspapers. At 10.30 am, a procession of sixteen cars left King William Road in the city centre headed for the Birdwood Mill in the Adelaide hills. A 1925 Armstrong Siddeley owned by Graham Knott led the procession followed by eleven Sapphires, a Whitley, a Mercedes, a Daimler and an Austin 1800, the event being telecast by television channels 7 and 9.
Following a barbeque lunch that was enjoyed by all participants, a short meeting was held at 2.30 pm to thank all those who had attended and to inform them of the intention to reform the South Australian Branch of The Armstrong Siddeley Car Club. A meeting was planned for August 23rd at 2.00 pm at 25 Hart Street, Semaphore (an address which became familiar to many within the Branch for years to come) to inaugurate the new club.
Some twenty people attended what was to be the first monthly meeting of the Branch. Although a few people had been involved in the original Branch, most of those who attended had only just recently discovered the marque.
George Hume took the Chair with Robert Loughhead as the first Secretary, Graham Knott as the Publicity Officer and Events Organiser, Garth Pennington as Historian and Librarian and John Grindlay as Treasurer.
In December 1970, Robert Loughhead was unable to continue as Secretary and Garth Pennington took on the role. Barbara Pennington became Minute Secretary, Robin D. Hall became the Librarian and Andrew McBride took the role of Historian.
Meetings continued to be held at the Hume residence and regular committee meetings were held at the Grindlay's home.
Certain principles were established during the first few meetings and included:
- that a person could join the Branch and not necessarily own an Armstrong Siddeley
- that regular outings be held at locations of interest
- that guest speakers or entertainment be organised for meetings
The minutes of the meeting held in December 1970 recorded a request that young members were asked to come along to meetings to learn how to work on their cars.
Early outings included a drive to Clare to view a local collection of vintage cars, an outing to Victor Harbour, a visit to Wick's car collection at Balhanna, attendance at the Australia Day weekend Veteran, Vintage and Classic Car Rally in Mount Gambier and our first gymkhana that was held in March 1971.
Our early meetings included guest speakers such as Mr. Stan Norris who spoke about the history of the Nagant Hobson car and Mr. Bill Colmer who showed slides of the 1970 International and Federal Vintage and Classic Car Rally and practical evenings such as a talk on the Sapphire's cooling system. Other entertainment included films from the Castrol Oil company about rallying and high speed driving. Whilst focused on our cars, the Branch had a general interest in all things automotive.
The Branch developed quickly and enthusiastically and by Easter 1973 was confident enough to host a very successful Federal Rally at Swan Hill in Victoria.
In the 1980s the Branch hosted a number of combined car club days with other small one-make clubs who joined us for a picnic or a gymkhana. It was seen as important to foster relationships between smaller car clubs to maintain interest in activities and to promote the marque. Having a display at the annual Adelaide Motor Show and having Armstrong Siddeley evenings at the Sporting Car Club of South Australia (the largest car club in the Southern hemisphere) were other ways of promoting the marque.
The Branch has continued to develop since the early days due in part to the efforts of Andrew Christophersen and Barbara Pennington. There are currently (2010) around forty members, many of whom have been with us for a long time.
The South Australian Branch continues to provide an important service to the owners of Armstrong Siddeley cars as our own Branch website can testify. Benefits include:
- regular contact with other enthusiasts, some with many years of experience and extensive knowledge of the cars
- access to spare parts that are becoming increasingly difficult to obtain
- a library
- historical records of the cars
- regular, pleasant motoring activities