"What a club, what a rally! More than one person attending thought they had died and gone to
heaven." Wagga was a spectacular success - I lost count of the number of times I heard people say "I think I've died and gone to heaven". Cadillacs were
everywhere, as were people enjoying themselves and mingling with other people.
Graeme Hendy's original concept of a rally for pre-war Cadillacs and LaSalles grew and grew into the
biggest and best-attended National Meet ever held. It became a fitting celebration of this fine
Club's thirtieth anniversary, and a showcase of the thriving status of the Cadillac movement at the
turn of the century.
A few of those present remembered the Club's previous visit to Wagga in 1989 for its first National
Meet, which was considered a great success with 26 Cadillacs and LaSalles attending. This time in
April 2000, 56 Cadillacs and LaSalles arrived as official entries (several more cars were entered
but did not make it due to various problems), and at least nine other Cadillacs visited during the
Easter long weekend. This was one of the largest gathering of Cadillacs ever held in Australia, and
in terms of the distances travelled in Cadillacs to attend Wagga for four days, it was without doubt
our most significant Cadillac outing to date.
Eric Senior and his fiancee Angela accompanied me on the drive from Melbourne to Wagga on Thursday
in my '39 La Salle convertible. We drove up in full sunshine with the top down, waving to dozens
of other collector cars on the highway Model A Fords, Monaros, lots of early English cars (on
trailers), all heading south to attend their Easter national Club gatherings around Wangaratta.
I won't dwell on the little wiring fire in the LaSalle upon arrival at Wagga, but I would like to
thank Keith Kendrick for his assistance in repairing the loom in the motel carpark next morning.
Lots of people were already there, and most other entrants arrived the next day which was Good
Friday. The weather was perfect every day, and the Mayor of Wagga waved off the cars on their
first morning of activities after claiming full credit for the good weather and for everything else
good that ever came out of Wagga.
On Saturday night, a special presentation was made by Craig Emmerson on behalf of Joan Moss, widow
of the late Ken Moss, founder of our Club. Joan wanted to recognise with a one-off trophy some
member whose contribution to the Club was having a major impact. The obvious recipients were Marilyn
and Adam Laws, the supremely talented couple who lay out and produce each issue of our national
magazine, and it is indeed among the best club publications in the country. The magazine is the
lifeblood of the Club, the reason many members maintain their membership even if they do not attend
On Sunday after lunch at the most beautiful winery I have ever seen, we drove back to Wagga
showgrounds for a display with the NSW Bush Council of car clubs, who had left an area for the
Cadillacs among their own display of 260 of all kinds of vintage, veteran and classic vehicles.
Well, the Caddies kept on arriving. Almost seventy gleaming Cadillacs and LaSalles drove in and
manoeuvred into our area, and the locals were simply stunned. We dominated their display and
overwhelmed them, and I bet they are still talking about us and our cars. The crowd was huge, and
Jan Hazeldene sold $2600 of Club caps, shirts, jackets, etc from the boot of their 58 Coupe deVille,
much of it to non-Cadillac people. The Club made a small but worthwhile profit from these sales,
and Jan thanked Joy Jenkins in particular for her assistance with the selling.
On most of the outings over the four rally days, the earlier model Cadillacs were sent off ahead of
the rest, and were gradually caught by the later-model, faster cars, so that all arrived at the
destination roughly together. This was carefully planned by Graeme and the twins so that the
old-model cars were not just left behind, as often happens on drives with cars from the 40 mph era
mixing with cars from the 70 mph era.
It was also no accident that people drove and/or travelled in other people's cars, giving many their
first taste of travel in another period of Cadillac, or their first ride in a LaSalle. People were
riding in rumble seats and convertibles all weekend, and the kids were having a ball swapping cars.
Some owners had their first opportunity to drive another car of a similar model to their own,
revealing differences or identifying faults that could be rectified.
We believe that "Maybelline", the ex-Ken Moss 1912 four-cylinder Cadillac broke another valve
spring while proving conclusively that it could outrun Bill Formby's similar 1912 model.
Most attendees came from Melbourne or Sydney, plus three cars from Adelaide, two from Mildura, etc,
and it was a real pleasure to have John and Gill Stringer from New Zealand with us. Arriving in
Melbourne a few days before Easter, they rode to Wagga with the Sinclairs, and after it was all
over, left for Sydney with Gordon and Lorna Smith. Some people were on their first ever Cadillac
rally, and several were not Club members (but I believe most are now).
On Monday evening, the rally was officially wound up, with presentations made and a dinner dance,
again MC'd by Ralph Plarre. There was much discussion of the local WIN-TV news that screened at 6
o'clock that evening, which featured a couple of minutes of footage of the Cadillacs and owners at
the motel that morning.
The whole rally went so smoothly and was so well organised that an obviously large amount of
planning had been done. And so it was. The magnificent rally resulted from the unseen work of
Graeme and Margo Hendy, who originally decided to have a rally highlighting older cars, and who
spent untold hours rounding up and notifying all known owners of early Cadillacs that they were
invited to the rally, and of Craig and Scott Emmerson, whose preliminary contribution was simply
monumental. In the previous six months or so, these energetic lads made no less than four trips
from their Warragul home to Wagga, meeting local contacts, arranging venues, test-driving and
selecting proposed roads, recording roadside features to note in the rally guide, checking prices
and arranging payments at various venues, and a host of other invisible chores that ensured our
four days in Wagga would pass trouble-free. It is hard to believe that they had never organised a
rally before, so perfect was their first effort.
And the people attending - entrants and visitors, Club members or not - mingled and chatted as if
they had known everyone for years. This was a vivid display of what Ralph calls "Cadillac
fellowship", and it was rampant around Wagga for the whole time. Perhaps it was helped by the fact
that no-one could find anything to complain about?
Easter Tuesday was the day most had to travel long distances home. A very informal breakfast was
staged by the motel pool, where people drifted in from 7am onwards, and many found it hard to
leave, knowing that the experience would become just a collection of lovely memories any minute.