An overnight thunderstorm with impressive thunder and lightning left its legacy in the form of damp roads and puddles, but with it came a welcome freshness following days of high humidity and temperatures in the mid-thirties. Linking the storm to the surprising number of early arrivals at this month’s gathering may be drawing the long bow, but it’s becoming tougher to find a prime position in the southern section of the car park unless you arrive well before 8am. Your correspondent took the easy option this month, calling on the ‘waiting-to-be-washed’ Fiat 124 Coupe to work a double shift following on from last weekend’s Christmas Social Drive to Neerim South – this way at least, there’s only the one car needing a wash! Amongst those already in place by 7:45am were several sports cars, some with their roofs stowed away, others with them erected. New Member, and regular Breakfast Club attendee, Denis Varley is seldom seen with the roof up on his Healey 100/4 and this morning was no different. Likewise, the Aitkens with their Healey 3000 and Jaime Drysdale’s Nissan 370Z, both leaving their soft-tops snuggly stowed away.
We don’t usually reserve parking spaces – it’s a very egalitarian gathering, but Ray Youlden was protecting the space beside his Mercedes E55 AMG with some vigour until Rob Coustley arrived in his recently purchased E63 AMG which is pretty much the same beast as Ray’s, but powered by a 6.3 litre normally-aspirated V8 rather than the supercharged 5.5 litre unit. Having both Mercs parked together with bonnets open was an interesting sight, although some bright spark remarked, it looked as if they had both broken down! Over recent years a trend has been developing amongst members of our club to buy superseded, high-end, performance luxury cars from manufacturers like Mercedes and BMW, on the used car market. When a well-maintained, low mileage 10-year-old AMG Benz or Bimmer M-car can be had for the price of a new Camry, the driving enthusiast doesn’t require much convincing to plant his/her backside in the European leather. Another case-in-point at this gathering was a recently acquired 2009, V-10 powered, BMW M5 in beautiful condition with less than 70,000km on clock. It was purchased for $50K – when new, this vehicle sold in Australia for around $250,000.
Old-school leather and walnut in the form of Lord and Lady Fowler’s 1965 S-type Jaguar made a welcome reappearance at this event after being garaged with valve train issues back in 2010. A full and comprehensive mechanical restoration now has the big cat purring like a kitten. Paul Montagnat sprung a surprise on us when he arrived this month in a silver, left-hand-drive Studebaker Avanti coupe which must be one of the more interesting American designs from the mid-60s and keeping with the American theme, there was a nice tidy Mustang convertible from 2002 making what I believe to be its debut appearance.
With around seventy vehicles on display this month, there was no shortage of variety or interest from participants and the passing crowd. It was good to see Alex Weymouth out and about with his dad after his recent open-heart surgery, but a bit of a shock to see the walking-wounded Ed Denovan and Phil Barnard bandaged up after coming off second best to incidents with their log-splitter and bicycle respectively. Get well soon guys.