No doubt you’ve seen him on TV with his Holden Monaro Group 4, extolling the virtues of Shannons’ Insurance. The script runs, “I’m not a car club bloke, I don’t work on it myself; but I do have a great mechanic.” I admire his proud independence, but can’t help feeling that he’s missing out.
Car Clubs are more than a calendar of events, they are a social club, a focus group, your technical and financial advisor and of course a therapy group. What benefit you gain is directly proportional to your involvement and participation.
A week or so ago, a group of car club friends spent a few days working together on Stage Two of an MGA project that began way back in October last year. Some of our long-term members may remember Greg Noller and his wife Jane who moved to New Zealand about 18 months ago. Greg owns a white and black, race-modified MGA which also endured the journey across the ditch together with their family of horses, dogs and cats. Back in October last year Greg contacted me along with David Anderson (our club’s MG guru) and Gippsland Car Club member Peter Minahan, in regard to the possible collection and storage of a stripped down MGA, located in Canberra, that Greg was negotiating the purchase of. Emails flashed back and forth across the Tasman culminating in plans being set for the Bathurst weekend when Peter and I headed up to the ACT with trailers in tow.
The MGA has a separate chassis, so with that man-handled onto the flat-bed trailer it was possible to temporarily fit the body shell and then attach several of the removable panels to it. A pile of boxed components and other loose items went into the enclosed trailer and then it was off on the long return trip south through Cooma and down the Cann River Highway to Gippsland. Greg was unable to collect his purchase for several months, so temporary accommodation was found for it under a tarp in an empty hay shed at David Anderson’s Allambee property. In the meantime, Greg busied himself with the issues of shipping and import permits whilst trying to arrange a few days break from work for a flying visit to Aus to inspect his new toy and oversee the shipping stage.
Hay season necessitated the relocation of the dismantled A to one of David’s garages – not a simple task, but one made less arduous with the assistance of Dave’s neighbour and fellow Sporting Register member Steve Hoole. David also sorted through the stack of parts boxes, as well as his own collection of MG bits, to find and prepare all the critical components that would be needed to make the car mobile enough to be rolled off a trailer and pushed into a shipping container.
Fast forward to the middle of February and it’s All-Systems-GO! Peter picks Greg up from Tullamarine late on a Friday night and takes him home for some R and R. The following morning the troops, including new inductees Glenn Campbell and Locky Fowler, gathered at Allambee for a working bee to clean, assemble, repack and itemise this scrambled assortment of 55 year-old MG car components. By mid-afternoon the MGA had wheels, suspension, steering, windscreen, a gearbox and a tailshaft. The front and rear guards were attached and the transmission tunnel fitted in place. Over the next couple of days Greg and Peter enjoyed the hospitality of David and Paula whilst the car was meticulously cleaned and pressure-washed to meet the strict NZ import standards. The parts were also cleaned, then itemised and stowed into Pickford’s standard size cardboard boxes for export. Tuesday morning saw the MGA winched onto the editorial trailer with the parts boxes in both Pete’s wagon and on the tow ute’s tray. The run down to Pickford’s container transport terminal in Dandenong was uneventful, but enduring the petty bureaucracy encountered at Pickfords tested one’s resolve! Eventually the A was unloaded and parked next to a tidy Lotus Elan 2+2 which was awaiting collection. The boxes were stowed into the allotted wire cage and our job was done. The next opportunity Greg has to see his car will be in Christchurch.
It had been a busy few days and a great opportunity to catch up with Greg again. We are now expecting to hear regular progress reports on what will undoubtedly be a long-term restoration project.
The bloke on TV has hopes of one day “buying that HQ Monaro”. Perhaps he might then realise the advantage of sharing his passion with those of a similar bent – possibly even join a car club. Who knows, he may even learn some skills and be able to work on it himself!
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