Brush cars were manufactured in America, by Alanson P Brush, from 1907 to 1912. They were small, lightly made, runabout cars, but incorporated many novel ideas, including: a single cylinder counter rotating internal combustion engine, beautifully made 2 speed transmission, suspension by four coil springs and friction dampers, self-energising rear brakes in both forward and reverse direction, variable ratio steering, wooden chassis rails and hickory wooden axles. They were strong, very successful, reliable and easy to drive cars.

The first car to cross Australia from west to east (Perth to Sydney) in March 1912 was a Brush carrying two men (Sid Ferguson and Francis Birtles), a bicycle, dog and lots of provisions. The trip was successfully accomplished in 28 days, even though there were very few roads and with the need to traverse salt lakes, use a railway formation prior to rails being laid and driving along tracks and through bush.

A century later, the re-enactment journey was run in March 2012, when 40 +, single and twin cylinder veteran vehicles crossed Australia, again from Perth to Sydney, taking 20 days. On this re-enactment trip there were 5 Brush cars. Another Brush, late last century circumnavigated Australia and last October another Brush successfully crossed Australia from Brisbane (east coast) to Broome (west coast), a journey of some 4,000 km.

All told there are around 40 Brush cars currently in Australia, with in excess of 25 being in operating condition.

Notionally the Brush owners hold a National Rally every two years, in different locations around Australia. Recently the 4th National Rally was held in Cowra, central west, New South Wales. On this occasion only 9 Brush cars participated, due to personal restrictions. It was a very successful event, run in perfect Autumn weather, across very picturesque countryside, with runs up to 160km in length and at times up and down some significant hills. The little cars, as we have come to expect, acquitted themselves very well.

The next National Rally is to be held in Albany, Western Australia, in 2025. In the mean time many of us get to use our cars in other local veteran club events.

As a matter of interest, the Author’s 1910 Model D Brush runabout was restored in a month from a “flat pack” of unrestored parts, commencing 8th December 1989, with the help of friends and family. The car’s restoration was completed in time for the National single and twin Rally in Tasmania, commencing 8th January 1990. Over the past 3 decades the car has proved to be very reliable and provided much enjoyment to the owner and the public at large. It still runs on its original hickory wooden axles which supports Alanson P Brush’s choice of material!

Text and pictures by Andrew McDougall

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