MATT O’BRIEN meets an extraordinary octogenarian with a love of old cars, cycling and walking.
THEY don’t make ‘em like they used to: neither Brian McKay’s 1948 Plymouth coupe or the man himself.
Brian, a Kingston resident, recently imported the gleaming, black, 3.6-litre, side valve, six-cylinder automobile from Ohio in the US. The Plymouth’s “showroom perfect” looks and its low 42,000 miles (about 68,000km) belie its 63 years.
But then again, few strangers would guess that Brian, Canberra Antique and Classic Club member is, at 82 years, only 19 years older than his car!
Brian will add his new Plymouth to his two other vintage cars that he regularly displays at club runs and fund-raising events for charity in Canberra and as far afield as the south coast, Sydney and elsewhere. His car, like most vintage machines, operates under “Club Rego”, which allows them to be driven on roads for tests, club runs and charity events.
The Plymouth’s first major local outing was on July 16-17, when Brian drove it in the Bay to Bermagui charity run, organised by the Eurobodalla Vintage Car Club.
Canberrans will have an opportunity to “ooh” and “aah” over the Plymouth on November 5, when it will feature at the Canberra Seniors’ Centre Christmas fete at its Turner headquarters, where Brian does weekly volunteer “handyman stuff”.
Brian has covered almost as many kilometres under his own pedal power as his vintage cars combined. Since retiring 1989, after a lifetime in oil exploration, he has completed an extraordinary series of bicycle trips.
Starting with a relatively short journey around NZ’s North Island in 1992, he has, since 1993, completed six gruelling bicycle safaris. In that time he has cycled across Canada, from Vancouver to Halifax; from Perth to Sydney; through Chile, Argentina and Uruguay; from London to Budapest and return; and most recently, in 2007, from London to Stockholm and back.
Currently, he is contemplating, next northern spring, walking the famed Way of St. James – the pilgrimage from southern France to Santiago de Compostela. Just a 1500km stroll!
Canadian-born Brian, a Canberra resident since 1963 and an Australian citizen of many years standing, has been a vintage car buff since his university days in Canada, where he bought his first vintage vehicle, a Model T, Centre Door Ford – “very rare!”.
And, just to ensure that retirement doesn’t get boring, Brian also works regularly as a volunteer researcher at the Australian War Memorial, seeking to match photographs with wartime casualties, plus helping the members of the public to find their relatives’ military service details.