The Story of the All Ford Day

By Graham Mould

The Beginning

The Kiwanis Club of Geelong was formed on the 18 April 1972 and Chartered with 33 members. That membership declined in the early years as the club had a rather nomadic existence changing venues and changing from a luncheon meetings to a dinner meeting format but was held together by a determined and capable membership.

By 1978 the club had settled and won the honour of running the District of Australia (Now Australia District) convention in August that year. When costs were no longer acceptable the club entered another nomadic phase which coincided with probably the most disastrous event experienced in the Geelong community when in 1990 the Farrow group of companies collapsed with debts in excess of $2 billion. The collapse known generally as the ‘Pyramid Collapse’ took with it not only the Pyramid Building Society but also the Geelong Building Society and the Countrywide Building society all based in Geelong.

The affect on the Geelong community was massive with depositors having funds in those building societies losing everything. Families were evicted from their homes as funds dried up due to the speculative nature of the various techniques of the group.

The Geelong community was seriously affected with business closured and large numbers of families and individuals unable to make day to day payments for the needs of life leading to every kind of social collapse.

Members of the Kiwanis Club of Geelong set about developing some free or very cheap local activities to provide the citizens of Geelong with a chance to put the financial chaos out of their minds for a little while. To do this the club needed funds and their most successful fund raising activity at the time was selling ‘Showbags’ at the annual Geelong Show. A small metal hut had been obtained at the Showground; from the open counter window of which members sold the showbags filled with lollies and novelty items to the passing kids and their families. Members were rostered on to serve often taking time off from their own jobs to do so. The club kept the stall open for the three days that the show operated.

During the lead up to the show the club purchased stock for the bags in bulk from confectionery wholesalers together with any novelty bits and pieces that they could obtain for very low cost or free if possible. A ‘working bee’ would be held to pack the showbags in the days prior to the show opening day.
The competition at the time was from similar small stall’s run by other charity groups such a the Scouts and it was a relatively stable fundraiser until at that time the Agricultural Society constructed a very large shed at a prominent position in the showgrounds for the sale of these kids delights. The result was disastrous with kids being able to wander around this large building emblazoned with colourful posters and many dozen different showbags to choose from. Their favourite soft drink or lollies, their own special cartoon characters in a showbag, the choice was theirs with the rather ordinary selection in the Kiwanis showbags not acceptable.

From being a good fundraiser the showbag stall became a liability with another working bee having to be organised to return the items in many bags back to the wholesalers’ boxes in an effort to obtain a refund.
This serious fundraising issue was the subject of many discussions and a major agenda item at a club Board Meeting at which one of the members present named Daryl Maddox asked the question “Why don’t we run an ‘All Ford Day’?

Daryl himself was in the automotive industry having an automatic transmission maintenance and repair business in the city and understood the passion of car buffs and their individual brand preference.

Geelong was one of the automotive capitals of the country and making a connection was perfect. Ford had begun its operations in Geelong in 1925. The first assembly line of T model Fords was in a disused wool store leased from Dalgety & Co. In 1926 Ford opened a brand new Manufacturing and Assemble building alongside the Melbourne Road in Norlane. That building was the Headquarters of the company into the mid 1950’s and Ford was part of the lifeblood of Geelong. Everybody in the city and surrounds had either worked in the Ford plant themselves or knew someone that did or had worked there. The streets of Geelong were host to more Ford’s than any other make.

The members present at the meeting were intrigued with the idea and Daryl explained the concept of owners of a single make, ‘Ford’ invited to bring their vehicle to Geelong to display the vehicle and to enter it in completion with others in the same judging category. Expert judges would be sourced to decide on ‘Best of type ’,‘ Best of Show’ etc, and trophies would be presented to the winners. Entry fees for show cars and the public would be the fund raising method we would use.

A committee was formed and out of that simple suggestion the Kiwanis All Ford Day was formed.
The 1st All Ford Day was held on the 17th February 1991 at the Geelong Show Grounds. Over 250 Fords were on display and the event was very well supported by the public providing the best single day fundraising event the Kiwanis club had ever held. The project then grew slowly such that between 1995 and 1998 the number of show cars and spectators had doubled and due to enormous amounts of work and dedication by members of the club the show built up a great following among the many Ford car clubs with an ‘All Ford Day’ trophy adding value to a classic car.

The First Show

No one had any idea how successful the event would be but with great expectations the Geelong Showground was booked for Sunday 17th Feb. A committee was formed with individual members given responsibility for elements of the show. A search began for every car club having affiliation to the Ford brand from the earliest ‘T’ models right through to the current vehicles coming of the Ford Australia production lines. Soon clubs which concentrated on every conceivable model produced by Ford plants worldwide were discovered with invitations then going to them to come to The Kiwanis All Ford Day. Very positive comments were received to suggest we had a viable concept that would be well supported.
Local service and supply companies in the motor trade were approached to be sponsors and the major Fort dealer at the time, Rex Gorell Ford came on board.

A plan was drawn up to line the vehicles up across the showground arena in model categories. There was to be a line of veterans such as model ‘T’ and ‘A’. A line XP Falcons, then XR-XT-XY-XW, followed a line of Cortina’s, and a line of Customlines and so on. Two members of the club who worked at Ford in Geelong, one in the Product Design office and the other in the new model Manufacturing Engineering group were given the task of separating and sending the vehicles to their proper model lines as they entered the show arena. A quick appraisement of what sort it was had to be quickly followed by instruction to “go to line G” as the line of cars was stretching out the gate and off in the distance. Occasional not so happy exhibitors returned to complain “my cars an ‘XXX” and you put me with the ‘YYY’s”.

A further search had found some skilled and accredited judges to choose winners in the various categories as none of the club members had any such experience. Car buffs are very finicky about what any particular model has in its original form. What colours had been available, what equipment was original, was it a vehicle modified to look like more up market model. The imported and older cars could pass the upgraded test with no great concerns but we knew better than to chance giving the Best GT Falcon in show award to an upgraded V8 Fairmount!

A list of potential models categories was drawn up and as booking and feedback came in from the clubs this list firmed up into a trophy list.

Sponsors were offered the choice of a model type trophy to have their company name engraved upon and also told they would have their name printed in the program.
The program itself proved to be a major issue. It was a time when the internet was a new medium to most and computer files of logos and photographs did not exist with companies using printed advertising. The development of the day’s actual program was still going on until the last minute so getting a proper printed version not possible. We settled on producing a master by the cut and paste method creating the advertising pages from brochures and even cutting advert from the Yellow Pages. The offering to the public was to be photocopied and hand stapled together. A few things were moved in a member’s workshop and trestle tables set up.

The photocopier of a local estate agent was borrowed, a stapler was ripped apart and modified so it could reach to the middle of an A5 print to staple the pages together and away we went! First problem was not getting the pages in the right sequence in the first place so when printed on both side and folded the end result had pages from 1 to 20 in the correct order. The master was ripped apart and corrected. Then getting a group of individuals who normally worked alone to form a production line was near impossible. As the process gradually began to run properly the copy machine began to overheat. Fans were found to cool it down but the end result was fewer copies than we intended and a burned out photocopier. Never the less it was a fun afternoon that may have involved some amber liquid which unfortunately did not produce a five star booklet.

It was decided that most of the sponsors would be given a free lunch as part of their sponsorship and with the club an all male domain at the time spouses and partners were called in the provide the necessary culinary expertise. They soon took charge of providing food and drink both for the sponsor group and the club member. They also gave the room a thorough clean and decked it out on the day with table cloths, napkins and bunches of flowers.

On the day the rush took us by surprise with a line up of cars out in the streets adjacent to the showgrounds by six to seven a.m. They came complete with tents, camp chairs, portable bar-b-q’s, and club signs. The plan to just send cars to a particular line was often greeted with howls of complaints as most wanted to be alongside their club mates. There were the mixed model clubs to contend with that had local Fords as well as UK and US imports. Their friends and club mates were scattered all around the oval.
The careful planning that went into to working out the lines of cars by model also caused problems when more vehicles of a particular type arrived than had been anticipated needing to be sent to a vacant spot away from their type. This caused a further problem when the judges could not find a certain car to make their adjudication and fill up a score sheet.

It was warm mid-summer day with plenty of sun using a showground arena that was the venue for regular horse trials and agricultural event, and whereas a bit of dust on your horse drawn buggy was acceptable to the man on the land it was not so to a car buff who had spent every waking moment for the previous week polishing every nut and bolt on his precious vehicle. We received more than one complaint about our ‘dust bowl’.

Irrespective of all these niggling problems everyone was having a great day and the future success of the event seemed certain. But had we got a tiger by the tail?
The first All Ford Day resulted in the largest profit from one fund raising project the club had ever realised and those funds were immediately spent in the local Geelong community with some funds put aside as a precautionary cash float for the following year.

The 1993 All Ford Day program reported on where the profit from the 1992 show was spent. In excess of $14,300 had been used to support community groups such as providing a shed for Herne Hill Scouts, providing tables for Camp Eumeralla near Anglesea where children evacuated from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster were to spend some convalescent time. Nursing homes, Junior Golf, Special Olympics, local churches, a surf club and Primary Schools were all group beneficiaries. Needy individuals were also assisted with a hydraulic lifter purchased and installed on a vehicle to assist a disabled man to be helped into a vehicle. A wheelchair was bought, firewood supplied and delivered to a elderly man. The list had a great outcome having 38 donations and support projects.

Our Sponsors

Ford Australia President Jac Nasser on stage making prize presentations. (Approx 1999). Jac drove his own 1966 Mustang to attend the show.

The first sponsors were mainly Geelong based companies with Rex Gorell Ford an original and permanent supporter together with Rally Motor and DTM Transmissions. Automotive service companies had a natural interest in advertising at a car show with names such as Penrite Oil, Pedders, and Marshall Batteries having names in the show booklet. Ford Credit and FCCS the Ford employee’s credit society become early supporters.

An early decision of the Kiwanis committee running the show was to give special consideration to our sponsors and an area was set aside in the club member’s lunch room for a table service meal for them. Again member’s spouses came forward to provide an enjoyable meal for them all. Over the years this service continued together with an opening cocktail party run on the preceding Saturday night for club members and sponsors.

With a club member able to approach senior management at Ford Australia various types of in-kind supports began. Ford provided every year a B Double truck to be used as a stage and presentation area. From this beginning a close association began between Ford’s Geelong management and Kiwanis with Ford able to provide help for other Kiwanis projects and Kiwanis providing manpower for Ford employee events.

Within three years the show booklet had grown to be a 40 page magazine style professionally printed book with top quality reproductions of the sponsors advertising. Ford provided from their company archives illustrated stories of the various model made in Australia to increase the books value.

By 1997 Shannon’s insurance had joined the annual advertisers list as well as hiring a promotion site as did many others.

Until the final years of the involvement of the Kiwanis Club of Geelong in running the All Ford Day in 2019 Rex Gorell Ford remained a major sponsor providing a visual showcase of the latest Ford vehicles on their show day site.

The Spectacle

The RAAF Roulettes on display

From the earliest days the Kiwanis All Ford Day was able to provide more than a car show with an annual flypast of the RAAF Roulettes being a regular feature. The S.E.S came every year to demonstrate how they used hydraulic ‘Jaws of Life’ to cut open cars to extract injured motorists. The Fire Brigade brought along the giant ladder truck up which very brave selected individuals were transported to great heights.

The K Rock radio station together along with Bay FM produced the day’s program on the day from their mobile studios.

Having 12 to 1400 Fords in one place let to attempts on some Guinness Book of Record for the longest line of Fords vehicles ever in the world.
Jazz Bands, Boot Scooters, Camel rides we had all the Fun of the Fair.

Homes of the Show

Despite the problems with dust and how to position the display cars the day remained at The Geelong Showground for several years until it both outgrew the site and needed to respond to clashes in scheduling with other groups who used the showground regularly. A short move along Breakwater Road took it to the Geelong Race Course Members car park.

The new home had a number of paved tracks crossing the site with many trees. The tracks provided clear definable areas which enabled the individual car clubs that had by then put the event into their annual club calendar to be assigned a specific club site which could be set up with tents, signage and socialising areas making more of a picnic atmosphere. The C.F.A, S.E.S. Fire Brigade, St John’s Ambulance and Police were by then attending every year and they were also assigned a site which was shown on the site map for ease in location. Other advantages included more parking for the public, a separate fenced area to locate the kids’ fun-fare and rides and a turnstile entrance to speed up pedestrian entry. The one problem was that some of the trees were pines and a falling pine cone was not desirable when there were very valuable cars around.

Map from 2002 show book

The Show continued to grow requiring another search to find what was considered the best site of all being the ovals at Deakin University. The site offered a vast flat open space of cut grass which could be marked out to provide all the car clubs with their own patch of ground. The university also provided an executive building with areas that were used as the dining hall and office space for the show day administration. Use of sealed student parking areas with paved pathways everywhere was a great improvement for the general public to move around. The condition of the main show site was the cause for the only occasion that the show had to be cancelled when in 2007 the drought that was then devastating much of southern Australia dried out the sports oval such that the grounds staff called a halt on their use.

Shortly after the 2015 show the main outdoor sports area was upgraded by the university to react to the needs of the many sports clubs that used it. The work that included building synthetic turf soccer pitches made future use as a temporary showplace for 1200 plus vehicles together with the resultant severe wear caused as cars drove in and out then no being longer being acceptable.

In 2016 the show remained at Deakin but was relocated to an awkward site wrapped around university buildings with some sloping terrain and quite long distances between clubs sites and it was a long walk for some to the show amenities and food stalls.

Show day at Deakin University

2017 saw another move to a different part of the Deakin site. Crowds were estimated at up to 14,000 with more than 1,000 vehicles proudly displayed by their owners.

With the Kiwanis Club of Geelong handing over the control of the All Ford Day the show was relocated to the Sutcliffe Reserve Ovals in the northern Geelong suburb of Corio.

Drivers and Celebrates

The AFD (All Ford Day) soon established itself as a fantastic day out for any car buff but outstanding for Ford enthusiasts. They could polish up and show their second love, maybe first! and could also meet fellow enthusiasts to talks the talk about how they rebuilt their machine, how and where they got all the shiny new parts before wandering off to another display to repeat their story to another dyed in the wool Ford lover. The public could attend to drool over more than a thousand near perfect Ford’s and even meet the champions drivers of the sport down in sleepy Geelong.

Dick Johnson
John Bowe

V8 motorsport having masses of followers and with the great rivalry between Ford and Holden was a real drawcard to the public to view some of the team cars. Gate counts had more than 10,000 members of the public entering the show each year to view the cars on display. Champion driver quickly saw the Kiwanis AFD as a place to meet their fans with Glen Seton attending in 1994 & 95. Driver such as Craig Lowndes, Anthony Tratt soon followed. Most of the great names in Australian motorsport visited over the years including, Allan Moffat, Jim Richards, Will Davison, Murray Carter, Fred Gibson, John Bowe, Dick Johnson, Mark Winterbottom, Jim Keogh, Cameron Waters and Chad Mostert. Allan Moffat and Jim Richards attended several Times. The drivers manned stalls to put their signature into albums, onto memorabilia and into the show program before then helping to present trophies. What could be better for a trophy winner to be presented by, and then to have a photograph taken with their famous champion. Bringing the stars of motorsport to the All Ford Day was often difficult and expensive. Most seemed to live in Sydney or Queensland and picking up the cost of flights and accommodation was often necessary.

Benefits to Kiwanis and the Community

The Kiwanis Club of Geelong receives lots of publicity but not too many new members as a result of running the All Ford day every year. Most years a photo spread with details of the day were published in the daily newspaper the Geelong Advertiser providing good publicity for the event.

Club members Spencer Harding and Graeme Munro are seen presenting a Humidity Crib at Geelong Hospital.

The benefit of the Kiwanis All Ford Day came from the enormous amount of money which exceeded $840k that the Kiwanis club was able to pour into community support in and around Geelong over the years. The Charter of all Kiwanis clubs is that they must disperse all money received from the public through donations or other fund raising activities back to the public service projects. Each year tens of thousands of dollars was spent in purchasing food for charity organisations. Much needed equipment has been provided to the Geelong Hospital and Barwon Health with many other charity groups benefiting from financial support.

$500 encouragement awards have been presented to 14 schools in Geelong every year since 2001 to encourage a student to pursue their education where expenses are a factor. The funds are used to cover costs for school books and class activities.
Care Kits are constantly packaged and provided to agencies to hand out to the underprivileged and needy to help with their daily expenses.

Single mothers and other needy mums have received baby supplies including bassinets and walkers.
Donations of food made every year to a range of Geelong charities. The club was able to purchase food in bulk from SPC in Shepperton made possible only because of the profits from the All Ford Day.

The ever willing club members

Service clubs like Kiwanis only operate because of the dedication of members and their willingness to continually put their time and effort in to a project such as the All Ford Day. Their attitude and efforts can be summed up by the 5th Object of Kiwanis International which is:-

  • To provide, through Kiwanis Clubs, a practical means to form enduring friendships, to render altruistic service, and to build better communities.

Running for over 30 years the list of names of members who worked on the All Ford Day would include everyone in the club. Special mention must be made however to the following:- Daryl Madox who first suggested a car show dedicated to the one manufacturer ’Ford’. Bill Thomas who chaired and guided the All Ford Day Committee for its first decade. Mick Wallis who put in place the close relationship with the car clubs and sponsors. Graeme Munro who was Committee chair and administrator for eight years, Bob Chapman who chaired the committee for two years and was the ever present front man on the presentation stage with John Bromilow and Spencer Harding being never far from the action.

Thanks to every Kiwanis Club of Geelong member, their partners, spouses, children and friends, Thanks also to members of the Kiwanis Clubs of Melbourne, Warrnambool and Port Phillip for their support with helpers. Thanks to the members of Lions Clubs that provided worker on the day. And to the Victoria Police, the State Emergency Service, St John’s Ambulance Service and the Country Fire Service and other services, a special thanks.

To both Ford Motor Company of Australia who provided both cash and in-kind sponsorship for the life of the show and to Rex Gorell Ford who worked with us every year, many thanks.