New life for vintage cars goes electric as a return to the annual Bay to Birdwood race in South Australia

In a change for the history books, modified vintage electric vehicles will be allowed in this year’s iconic Bay to Birdwood event.

The event has become one of the largest historic motoring celebrations of its kind in the world, with cars dating back to the early 1900s making the 70 kilometer journey.

Classic and vintage cars will travel from the coast to the Adelaide Hills for the annual Bay to Birdwood race.

After the event was canceled due to COVID last year, organizer Michael Neale is hoping for record numbers this year.

“It’s back on the streets of Adelaide, 1,500 vehicles making their way,” Mr Neale said.

“During COVID, 90,000 people turned out on the streets of Adelaide [2020]. I wish there were 120,000 this year.”

Michael Neale hopes for 120,000 spectators this year. (ABC NEWS: Brant Cumming)

Green light for electric

In a world first that aligns with a shift in historic vehicle circles, the Bay to Birdwood will host historic vehicles converted to electric.

“By doing this we are actually saving vehicles that would have been lost to us,” Mr Neale said.

“If you look at who’s doing the Bay to Birdwood today, there’s a lot of young men and women.

Bay at Birdwood Run 2016
Up to 1,000 classic and vintage cars participated in the 2016 Bay to Birdwood Run.(ABC News: Claire Campbell)

“I’ve only had two people express concern about this, but it was more about whether we could still maintain the historical integrity of these vehicles.

“We are paving the way for a broader understanding of what a historic vehicle is.”

Originally built in 1973, the owner of this Jaunt Motors Land Rover Series III EV says modified vehicles are a way into the future.

Smiling lady with blond hair standing in front of the blue vehicle
Maureen Burger with her electric modified vintage Landrover. (ABC NEWS: Brant Cumming)

Marteen Burger said the program preserves history.

“That vehicle has a history. It was an agricultural vehicle and now we’ve carried some of that history with it, the bumps are still there,” she said.

“The conversion of the vehicle required a lot of research and development.

“By converting them to electric, they are more reliable, more powerful and much safer.

“We really appreciate that the history of these cars lives on.”

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