The dust has settled ...

The 2019 Red Dust Revival was an amazing success. Thousands of people from around Australia and across the world gathered in outback Western Australia to experience the thrill of pre-war cars and bikes roaring around the claypan circuit at Lake Perkolilli. It was an absolute blast for drivers, riders and spectators.


If you missed it, you will have about a three year wait until the next one.

Here is a small taste of the fun that was had.

So You Want To Build a Perkolilli Car?

The Lake Perkolilli Red Dust Revival celebrates the golden years of racing at Lake Perkolilli from 1914 to 1939 and cars built in this era are acceptable for the next event.  This provides an enormous range of possibilities without having to revert to modern, post-1939 engines and chassis and bodywork.  The cars suitable for Perkolilli have to look like the cars which people put together in those days. It was a very creative period so it opens up an enormous range of possibilities without having to make cars look like modern rat rods.  Iit is was very pleasing to see members of the hot rod movement going back to the pre-war roots of hot rodding and building cars which were true to the period using discarded parts from hot rod projects.

Where to Start?


It starts with the chassis and there are still enough chassis laying around Australia to ensure that Perkolilli cars can be built for many years in the future.  During the 1930s, racing cars were often built from chassis scrounged from old Chev Fours, Rugbys, Whippets or other American cars because they were so plentiful.  Of course, the ever reliable Ford Model A chassis was the basis for many home-built racing cars.  Other cars such as Ford Model Ts and Austin Seven make great fun racers.  It is worth saying up front that we all frown upon people who buy restored cars and rip them apart to make racers.  There is no need to do this when there is still a ready supply of parts to build cars from the remains of cars which will probably never be restored. Often the bodies of these cars have fallen apart a long time ago. It is bad karma to rip apart a restored car to make a racer, and of course, you can take it to Perko just as it is!  Several cars are being built from the donor cars of fully restored cars — once again, a great use for that car that would otherwise never see the light of day.


The Ford range of T, Model A and V8 models from 1909 to 1939 were all entered at Perko events during the period and several cars have been made from rolling chassis which remained after the steel bodies were removed to make hot rods.  Make a Perko racer from these old chassis is a great way to get a fun use from these parts.  Watch out for a 1928 Buick special at the next event which will probably be made from the rolling chassis of a car which was gutted for the sedan body which was used on a modern hearse.


The engine is the heart of the Perko car and as long as it is an engine built in the pre-war period or the same as a pre-war engine then it’s good to go.  It’s better if your car looks like its engine could have been used in a car of the period.  Things like alternators and SU carbs are OK but modern carbies just don’t look right.  Remember, it’s not about beating someone else’s time but re-creating the era and having fun.


Wheels and tyres should be 16 inch and above and not modern rims. Radials are OK on cars from the late 1930s because they use 16 inch rims (such as Ford wire wheels) but don’t look right on early cars.


The body is where your creative imagination can run riot.  Cars which raced at Perkolilli had everything from just a cowl and two seats to beautifully made aluminium boat-tail bodies which wouldn’t look out of place at the Indy 500.  There were bodies made with wooden frames like a boat with fabric stretched over them.  Many cars were roadsters or tourers stripped down for the job.  The best way to choose a body is to look at lots of old motor racing photographs to get inspiration.  The first patent for a pop rivet was issued in 1939 so they aren’t really in keeping with the period.  If you want to keep the period look, then buy soft sold aluminium rivets and a rivet gun kit from the Eastwood company. Yes, also Phillips head screws and tek screws weren’t the go in the 1920s and 1930s so if you keep to slot headed screws you can’t go wrong and you won’t get some nitpicker pointing them out to you!


Once you get close to the Red Dust Revival it is worth talking to other competitors about their experiences at the clay pan.  Perko is the great red dyno!  It finds out all the niggling lit problems your car may have had which doesn’t show up when you run around the block.  While oil and water catch tanks aren't required, a water overflow tank is a good idea at Perko because it can get very hot.  Carburettors need two return springs for safety and the electrics need a cutout switch.  The tail shaft needs to have a hoop around it so you don’t have a nasty accident if it comes off.  There are a lot of different ideas for air filters. They are a necessity at Perko where the dust can be thick and gets everywhere, including into your engine. Either paper filters or oiled foam filters seem to be preferred.  Roll bars aren’t required.  If you need to know about something specific, ask first.  The rules are made to provide cars which are as safe as practical for a pre-war car, to provide a field of cars which looks right and to have cars which don’t have modern car speed and performance.  The scrutineers will knock back cars they think aren’t safe.


If you were at the last event you will have seen some modern hot rods and some fully-restored original cars running around the clay pan at the end of each day.  This is fine as they are not part of the actual Revival events.  These guys understand that there cars don’t comply but they want to have a run anyway.  We love that attitude!


Remember, for the Red Dust Revival itself it is all about re-creating the era and having fun. See you at Perkolilli one day!

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