A great send off for Perth’s longest running and most popular cruise event

Photographers: Boris Viskovic, Brad Miskiewicz

Big Al’s Poker Run was a Perth institution. Before events like Cars and Coffee and mass gatherings at service centres, the Poker Run was attracting 6-700 cars and then taking them on a meandering cruise through the Perth metropolitan area. There are quite a few cars I’ve only ever seen at the Poker Run, it was the type of event that attracted people from all walks of life and cars of all makes, models and types.

Sadly, Al Erdman passed away last year due to complications following a heart operation. It was a shock to all of us who knew him well and the hundreds of people that showed up to his funeral proved how much of an impact he had on the scene in Perth.

THE-FINAL-BIG-ALS-POKER-RUN blue carAlways evolving as it grew from a small gathering in 1981, finding start and finish venues big enough to handle all of the hot rods, street machines and classics that showed up was a constant battle for Big Al. In the last few years he hit on a pretty good combination, a start point in Perry Lakes that had lots of shade and caught plenty of refreshing sea breeze in the afternoon—a welcome change to the sweltering and sometimes dusty parks closer to the city.

One of the great challenges was creating multiple cruise routes, which not only spreads the traffic out but also means you get to see quite a few of the other cars entered as they are heading in different—and sometimes opposite—directions to yourself.

THE-FINAL-BIG-ALS-POKER-RUN-main -3This year’s Poker Run, the 37th, was billed as the final one and around 700 cars entered to send off the event in style. Hopefully this won’t be the last event of this type and someone will have the desire and passion to carry on the tradition of the event, and keep that second Saturday in February locked in for Perth’s biggest and best cruise. One thing is certain, as per Big Al’s wishes, it won’t be called Big Al’s Poker Run.

two-door FJ THE-FINAL-BIG-ALS-POKER-RUN-Caption -1-025This chopped, two-door FJ is a classic Australian custom that has gone through a number of different incarnations and has been based in different states. Originally built by Graham Andicott, the FJ’s Porsche whale tail has remained its signature mod.

HT Monaro THE-FINAL-BIG-ALS-POKER-RUNAnother classic is this HT Monaro, originally feature in SM, April/May 1987! Back then it was owned by bloke known only as Henry, was based in Sydney and ran both 12-slotters and a rear spoiler.

family THE-FINAL-BIG-ALS-POKER-RUNThe Poker Run is very much a family affair. Here’s mine

Diamond T THE-FINAL-BIG-ALS-POKER-RUNThis Diamond T was restored by the Stampalia family as a tribute to their father’s first truck. It’s been detailed more like a street machine than a regular resto, so it fits right in

Ford Anglia THE-FINAL-BIG-ALS-POKER-RUN-Caption -5-044Here’s a bit of different take on a Ford Anglia, or Pop as the Poms like to call them, hence the POPPED plates. It’s a brand new car on the scene built by Martin Rock, and yep, he’s a Pom

Rambler Rogue THE-FINAL-BIG-ALS-POKER-RUN-Caption -6-052 Simon Coates’ ’66 Rambler Rogue might look pretty sedate, but under the hood is a 401ci AMC small-block that pushes the car to 12.5-second quarter-miles!

Kombi and Vanity plate THE-FINAL-BIG-ALS-POKER-RUN-Caption -7-057I reckon this might be one of the cleverest vanity number plates ever on Jamie Barrett’s split screen Kombi. Get it? Get it?

XM futura THE-FINAL-BIG-ALS-POKER-RUN-Caption -8-091Tough to beat the coolness of a black on red XM Futura hardtop. This stunning example belongs to Craig Kinder and there’s a chance he’s a Star Wars fan too

jaguar coupe THE-FINAL-BIG-ALS-POKER-RUN-Caption -9-110 I didn’t get a chance to speak to the owner of this gorgeous Jaguar coupe, but I did ask whether it was still running the original twin-cam six—which it is—and even better, it wasn’t overheating!

Hot rod Nev Anderson THE-FINAL-BIG-ALS-POKER-RUN-Caption -10-140Nev Anderson and his hot rod have been around since the very early years of the scene. Apart from a succession of more and more powerful engines, the car hasn’t changed at all

1965 Chevrolet THE-FINAL-BIG-ALS-POKER-RUN-Caption -11-4883Yvonne Blyth imported this ’65 Chevy herself and has done a bunch of work on it to bring it up to scratch. It still runs a six-pot and Powerglide for trouble-free and relatively economical cruising

Roadster Hot rod THE-FINAL-BIG-ALS-POKER-RUN-Caption -12-4889Vince Berriman’s roadster is the longest continuously registered hot rod in WA, having been first complete in 1967

1928 roadster sting THE-FINAL-BIG-ALS-POKER-RUN-Caption -13-4892Delia Lavorgna entered this clean and simple ’28 roadster. I’m going to guess that it’s painted Sting Red judging by the STING28 plates

1962 Chevrolet bel air THE-FINAL-BIG-ALS-POKER-RUN-Caption -14-4907This gorgeous ’62 Chevy Bel Air ticks all the trad lowrider boxes with the tiny reversed wires and slammed stance. It was entered by Marion Duncan

big block Chevrolet engine HQ THE-FINAL-BIG-ALS-POKER-RUN-Caption -15-4918The plates might say NO IQ, but I reckon it’s a genius idea to stuff a big-block Chev in an HQ and paint it up to match the GTS paint scheme as Colin Humble has done

1956 Chevrolet pickup THE-FINAL-BIG-ALS-POKER-RUN-Caption -16-4924Charlie Vinci’s ’56 Chevy pickup always looks killer and that blown small-block tucked away under the bonnet is just the cream on top

Morris 1100 THE-FINAL-BIG-ALS-POKER-RUN-Caption -18-4971A Morris 1100 with a metalflake orange paint job. Why the hell not? It’s stuff like this that comes out of the woodwork at the Poker Run. This bumper car wannabe is the pride and joy of Julie Holmes

1939 Ford COE hot rod THE-FINAL-BIG-ALS-POKER-RUN-Caption -19-5000Lance Fussell is another long-time hot rodder who now has a super-cool ’39 Ford COE (cab over engine) ramp truck to haul his other hot rods. What a great looking rig!

1968 Volkswagen Beetle THE-FINAL-BIG-ALS-POKER-RUN-Caption -20-5020Apparently it’s a thing in the VW world to ‘backdate’ your Beetle to make it look older. Pele Liascos has done that with his ’68 Beetle, fitting a flip-out safari window to help out during those balmy Perth summers

Model A tourer THE-FINAL-BIG-ALS-POKER-RUN-Caption -21-5052Big Al’s Model A tourer HOTTUB was on display as you drove in

1964 Buick Riviera THE-FINAL-BIG-ALS-POKER-RUN-Caption -22-5199Peter Busher cruises out in his absolutely stunning ’64 Buick Riviera. A set of Astro Supremes and a lowering job is pretty much all you need for perfection

1956 t-bird THE-FINAL-BIG-ALS-POKER-RUN-Caption -23-5201It’s tough to find a cooler cruiser than a black ’56 T-bird. Leone Becker is the proud owner of this fine machine

PROQEE motorvation THE-FINAL-BIG-ALS-POKER-RUN-Caption -24-5229I saw Craig Kilgallon’s PROQEE smashing tyres at Motorvation a few weeks back, but it’s just as happy cruising around with 700 other cars

al's friends THE-FINAL-BIG-ALS-POKER-RUN-Caption -25-5284A bunch of Al’s friends dressed up in his signature colours of yellow and black to honour the big man

AGENT O Topolino THE-FINAL-BIG-ALS-POKER-RUN-Caption -26-5376Originally built by Kevin Prendergast, the AGENT O Topolino was entered by Bob Schrader. It runs a quad-cam Lexus V8 for something a little bit different