The sun was up, but it was barely two degrees when the covers came off the Bugeye. A twist of the key followed by a sharp pull of the starter knob coaxed the one-litre, A-series into life, no doubt waking any of the neighbours who were enjoying a Sunday morning sleep in. Our 200 metre-long driveway abuts five neighbouring properties, so our comings and goings never pass un-noticed.
The air had a wintry chill about it, but the sky was clear, the roads dry and the forecast fine. As is often my want on such mornings, the longer route into town via Bona Vista and Nilma was chosen to give the car a bit of a run and to enjoy the deserted back roads before the MAMILs (Middle Aged Men In Lyra) strap on their helmets and hit the streets. The Bugeye was roofless of course, and all was fine until cresting a hill where there was apparently a temperature inversion waiting to instantly turn my windscreen opaque. Visibility went from infinity to zero in a the blink of an eye, the 60-year-old wipers crept across the screen smearing the moisture droplets into tiny arcs of semi-transparency, but without a demister or wipers on the inside of the screen, one had to make do with wiping the glass with the beanie which was previously doing a great job of keeping my ears warm. Meanwhile it became necessary to dramatically reduce speed and navigate with one’s head out in the breeze looking around the side of the windscreen. After another couple of kilometres the atmospheric temperatures balanced out again, making it possible to cease wiping and smearing moisture across alternate sides of the screen. Ah, the joys of classic motoring !
Upon arrival at the Warragul destination and well before the appointed hour, it was surprisingly apparent that others had also made the journey topless. A genuine Lotus 7, Peter Merigan’s TR4, Mark McKibbin’s Austin 7, Rod Dawes’ Morrie Minor, an MGA and the Bugeye, they all have awkward hoods to erect, if any at all, so except in the most extreme circumstances, drivers often opt to go without. But it’s purely a matter of choice in your your MGB, TR6, Porsche Boxster, Nissan 350Z, SL Mercedes, Ford Capri and suchlike – a few of these arrived roofless, but more departed that way once the sun had taken effect!
It was a strange gathering of vehicles this month. Numbers were down somewhat, to perhaps 60 or 70, but it was dominated by English marques, especially MGs, but also Austin Healeys, Jaguars, Triumphs and Austins, with the odd Morris, Sunbeam, Riley, Bentley, Daimler and Lotus thrown in for good measure. This month there were no Minis or MX5s, only three Mustangs and a similar number of Boxsters. Graeme Hollingsworth rode in on his new motorbike, but Debra elected to drive rather than try the pillion seat.
Most of those making debut appearances this month had a distinct American flavour. A striking early-50’s Chevrolet Loadmaster Cab-over-engine prime mover made a big impression, as did a beautifully restored Ford F-series pickup from around 1948 -52. From the same era we also had a gleaming black and chrome Buick Super Riviera sedan which although quite large, was no match for the length of Richard Rowley’s Chrysler Saratoga or Vinnie Vorkapic’s Ranchero. Unfortunately, the debut appearance by an FJ Holden driven in from Officer, was spoilt by a broken oil pressure gauge line which sprayed oil all over the otherwise immaculate engine bay and left a slick in the car park reminiscent of the Exxon Valdez. Thankfully the owners managed to fashion a repair and were planning to visit a car wash before heading home. Ross McConnell who often graces us with his presence in one of several Bolwells, brought along his R32 Nissan Skyline which I noticed wears Modified Club Permit plates instead of the usual Historic ones. Ross didn’t go into detail, but he hinted that there’d been a lot of work done under that standard exterior.