GINGIN, a small town 65km north of Perth, has a population of about 750, but up to five times that many people descended on it last Sunday.
The reason: the annual British Car Day.
Organised by the Jaguar Car Club of WA, it drew a massive display of some 500 cars, featuring everything from Austins to Zephyrs, and a crowd of enthusiasts variously estimated at between 3000 and 5000.
The displays filled the town’s big central Granville park, which has a stream running through it, and spilled over to adjoining carparks and gardens, and latecomers had to find parking a kilometre or more away in the town streets.
As expected, Jaguars were the most numerous of the many Brit brands and they were there in their many varied forms, from SS right up to the latest.
Across the road was an Austin gathering, with a rare A40 Sports among the more mundane models, and another rarity in the form of an A90 Atlantic, a very attractive three-eyed cabrio with a central light between the main headlights.
The styling of the car, built from 1949 to 1952, was a radical departure from the Austin custom, because its lines were apparently derived from that of an Alfa Romeo that ended up at the Brit factory a year or two earlier.
The Atlantics were the first English cars specifically aimed at the US market and had a few advanced features, such as fully enclosed rear wheels to complete the flowing lines, hydraulically-operated windows and roof, and rounded panels attached to the windscreen, giving it a wraparound effect.
It had a 2.7-litre four-pot engine that produced 66kW that was also used in the later Austin-Healey 100.
It was a smart tourer, but one was entered in the sports car race that preceded the 1956 Rand Grand Prix, where it didn’t exactly scare any of the TR2s, MGAs, Porsche 356 and other sports cars of the time.
Nearly 8000 A90 Atlantics were built, fewer than 200 survive worldwide, and the 1950 model on show, one of only 60 or 70 in Australia, was in great shape.
The A40 Sports was also built mainly for the US and 4000 were made. The drivetrain was identical to that of the A40 sedan.
There was also a lovely Austin 7 sports special, circa 1930.
The English Fords included what looked like a barn find 1932 model — but it was road registered — and some well-presented Prefects, sometimes called ‘puddlejumpers’, which got my wife a bit excited because that was the first she car in which she had a driving lesson.
Vauxhalls included a once-popular VX4/90 sports saloon of the 1960s and a fine example of a 1933 ASY convertible, while an eye-catching Daimler a few metres away was a 1955 2.5-litre drophead with coachwork by Carbodies, of Coventry.
There was a stunning Rolls Royce cabrio, lots of MGs, Triumphs, Bentleys, Aston-Martins, Loti, Morgans, Healeys . . . and an example of just about every other car made in Britain.
It was Gingin’s biggest day of the year, the 2019 event probably the biggest yet, and the town, sometimes described as ‘the foodbowl of the region’ trotted out its finest in produce, honey, jams, wood and leatherwork while the food outlets had long queues of car-loving tragics.
‘They come every year,’ a spokesman said. ‘This time there are more than usual, probably because we’re all living longer.’