Picnic at Hanging Rock 2022

Plenty of tough streeters and restored metal turned out for the 2022 running of the gargantuan annual car show

Photographers: Chris Thorogood

Year after year, the Picnic at Hanging Rock show ’n’ shine is one of the biggest in Victoria.

Hosted by the Macedon Ranges & District Car Club under the famous imposing rock formation, classic and modern metal stretches as far as the eye can see.

Last year’s show was canned in the face of COVID restrictions, and this year’s event required pre-purchasing of tickets to go ahead.

That mandate, alongside predicted hot weather, saw attendance slightly down on previous years, but it failed to dampen the mood.

Richard Dabbs brought out his recently finished ’51 Mercury custom. Richard bought the car from Matt Townsend in 2013, later flying out the Merc guru to perform the roof chop. Dubbed the ‘Jade Pharaoh’ as a nod to American Graffiti, it runs a ’57 Cadillac 365ci V8 topped with three 97 Strombergs, backed by the matching four-speed Hydramatic and a nine-inch diff.

Other body mods include ’54 Ford headlight rings, a ’50 Merc grille opening, a ’54 rear bar, and self-made tail-light housings and front guard spears. The colour is a tribute to the Sam Barris ’51 Merc. “It’s got to be period-correct, so hopefully I’ve done that,” said Richard. Though the car was only finished around Christmas, he drove it in various states of completion to iron out any bugs.

Barry Milburn has owned his FX racer for an astonishing 60 years. Ex-Larry Ormsby and Ford Lot 6 mechanic Colin Russell screwed together the hot grey motor, which is backed by a floor-shifted three-speed.

The humpy competed at Riverside Raceway at Fishermans Bend between 1962 and 1967, winning the 1965 Victorian (C) Modified class with a best quarter-mile of 16.08 seconds. Even the period welded steelies remain in place, measuring up at 5.5 inches across. After a tilt at the Wilby Park drags in 2017, Colin is thinking of bringing the FX out of retirement once more for a run at Heathcote Park Raceway. “It goes well,” he beamed.

This mean Landau packs a 427ci Clevor punch thanks to owner Steve Vella and Eugene at Flowcraft. The Dart-blocked combo runs CHI heads and a BG Engines manifold, making north of 640hp at the crank.

A GM 4L60E and nine-inch diff with 4.11 gears round out the driveline. Steve bought the rare sunroof-optioned coupe as a shell, which now wears a Mustang colour with added pearl. “We drive it all the time; it’s pretty much a family car!” he laughed.

Chris O’Dea’s recently completed XW Falcon build keeps it old-school with a tough solid-cammed 351 Clevo and Top Loader combo. Chris snagged the car 15 years ago as a shed find with an immaculate original interior, which stayed in the car. “It makes 430hp, but it’s grouse with the manual,” he enthused.

Charlie Allen’s restomodded ’65 Barracuda is a fairly unusual body style to see Down Under. “I’ve just finished a full-time rebuild,” he explained. “That was my job for two years!” Charlie did 90 per cent of the work himself, with Bendigo Retro Muscle Cars handling the body and paint. A fuel-injected 318 stroked to about 350ci provides plenty of mumbo, and Charlie shifts a TKO 600 manual ’box. There’s also rack-and-pinion steering and coil-overs on each corner. The modernised interior features a custom console, new front seats, and even a reversing camera.

There’s no shortage of tough Torana hatches on the scene now, and Peter Lambrinos’s freshly updated Papaya LX is among the best of them.

There’s now a stonking 422-cube small-block under the bonnet, with 13:1 compression and pumping out 820hp on pump fuel! He’s even managed to squeeze a 275 tyre under the untubbed rear. Peter’s owned the hatch for 25 years, and hopes to test the new donk on the quarter-mile soon.

We didn’t catch the owner of this 1981 Trans Am Turbo, but it was pretty hard to ignore. Only 2000 of these Daytona Pace Car Edition models were built, packing a Garrett-turbocharged 301ci donk. It was good for 200hp, a solid gain on the emissions-choked 140hp from the aspo 301. The Trans Am Turbo would last just two years, being killed off in 1982 as GM rationalised its driveline offerings.

This cool tribute to American drag racer Shirley ‘Drag-On-Lady’ Shahan is built on a V8 VC Valiant. Owner Adrian Parnis bought the car already painted, but replaced the 90s-spec interior and fitted up the vinyl roof during what essentially became a full rebuild. Between the rails is a 318 with a mild cam and Holley 600, hooked up to a 904 auto and 2.92 BorgWarner LSD.

Anthony Hadjakis’s 1971 F100 rests on a WB One Tonner chassis, with AccuAir suspension all ’round. There’s an L77 with a Mustang blower up front, matched to a 4L60E and nine-inch diff with 4.11 gears in a McDonald Brothers four-link. At 6psi, it’s making 507hp at the wheels.

“It’s got no weight,” laughed Anthony. “The 160-litre fuel tank is behind the diff just to get some traction!” Hanging Rock was the truck’s first show, and Anthony’s planning an All Ford Day showing “to stir them up with the Holden motor”.

Anthony’s wife Rebecca got this ’66 Mustang as a big birthday gift. The Eleanor-kitted car runs a hot 302 Windsor and fully manualised C4 auto, with pipes dumped at the diff and big-dished Simmons rims. “Most trims and the engine bay have been blacked out to give it a bit of a restomod look,” explained Rebecca. “The car drives like it’s on rails; I love it.”

Barry’s Dodge Challenger is a rare sight with its classy factory looks in a world of big tyres and black stripes. “I took a chance on the internet, and it worked out to be good!” he said of the 2012 purchase. This SE model runs its original 318 powerplant.

This wild 307-powered Datsun 240Z/Torana mash-up got heaps of attention when it rolled onto the green on Sunday afternoon, and it owes the owner just $5000. We’ll have an in-depth look at the what, how and why soon, so stay tuned!