BREAKFAST CLUB, Warragul CBD – Sunday 9th June

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.

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MID-WEEK RUN to HOWLERS’ BREWERY, Lang Lang. Wednesday 22nd May

On a beautiful crisp morning without a cloud in the sky, 18 Classic cars and approximately 36 club members met at the well-known Darnum Stump Tea rooms for a coffee, cake and chat – naturally with the obligatory admiration of each other’s prized cars; which can be seen in John’s photos.

John Fowler – our “Organiser Extraordinaire,” briefed us on the route to Howlers Brewery and the rules of the road. On we travelled leaving Darnum at around 11:00 am for our picturesque, winding drive in the warm sunshine through the countryside of West Gippsland following John’s “Silver Bullet” – S-type Jaguar.

We enjoyed the beautiful hills, valleys and roller-coaster roads (especially Sheehan Rd) and were pleased to see the cows grazing on lovely green, but short pastures. The pastures along all the roads we travelled were much the same – green, but short. It has been a tough farming year.

It was great to view the long procession of classic and sports cars in front and behind as we wound along these wonderful roads. Some of the exhaust notes were wonderful to hear as well.

The Main South Rd through Poowong East had a mix of some more open stretches through the lovely valley and some wonderful winding hilly sections – recently resurfaced. Later, another road recently re-surfaced, was Ferriers Rd, along a winding valley up to Nyora through open farmland. We had to be careful of the loose stones on both these sections.

After Nyora, the countryside became less open with a lot of tea-tree like scrub alongside the open winding and flatter roads. We eventually passed the sand-quarries and knew we were getting closer to Lang Lang.

The drive took us about an hour, give or take, arriving at Howlers Brewery and Restaurant in Lang Lang at 12:15 for a refreshing beer, cider, mixed drink or wine, and lunch.

We sat outside in the sunshine or under the umbrellas and chatted enthusiastically as the tasty pub-style meals arrived – which everyone enjoyed. It was all very enjoyable. Our Classic and Sports-cars have brought together a great band of enthusiasts who socialise really well together.

Matt the ‘Brewer’ gave some history of the building. Howlers is in the historic old ES&A Bank building built in 1929 with quality materials – which is why it is still so good today. It was merged with the ANZ bank in 1970 and operated for many years, but has more recently been vacant for some time. Matt and his team renovated the building and opened-up exactly 2 years ago with their own Boutique Beers and Ciders (brewed offsite). The on-site Brewery at the rear will hopefully open-up within the next few weeks. Apparently the 2 major breweries make it very difficult for micro-breweries, so many are banding together for support.

Many of their beers and ciders (which are preservative free) were sampled by the group, and were proclaimed to be top-notch. Many members took some bottles home with them!

Sadly, this was the last midweek drive until we are through the Winter. We were lucky to have such a perfect sunny and warm Autumn day which will see us though until the next event.

Thanks again to John for his efforts throughout the year and a wonderful day.

Submitted by Marja and Richard Morgan with some additional info and photos from John Fowler

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ECONOMY RUN, Trafalgar to Yarram – Sunday 19th May

A beautiful day for a drive, the promise of spectacular scenery through the Tarra Bulga National Park and award-winning fish and chips at Port Albert for lunch, enticed 18 cars and their owners to assemble at the Trafalgar Railway Station in anticipation of an economical day out.

Unfortunately, at the appointed hour Ian and Carol Mallows’ SLK Benz decided to emulate a time machine, whereby at the turn of the key, the starter failed to operate, but the dashboard clock began spinning rapidly in an anti-clockwise direction! Unprepared for time travel, Ian rang the RACV explaining his need for a new flux capacitor and after a short delay as well as being relieved of $260, he and Carol were able to join us later for lunch at Port Albert. Whilst they were waiting for assistance in Trafalgar, Ron Brooks turned up in his diesel Bimmer surprised to find that everybody else had left an hour earlier! Ron had misread the event details, thinking it began at 10:30, not 9:30! Using the route instructions that Ian and Carol were given, Ron set off in pursuit of the tail enders and was able to complete the course and join us for lunch. Sandy Goddard was not so fortunate, her daughter was going to navigate for Sandy in the MGB, but she had not arrived when the group departed at 9:30. Sandy waited with Ian and Carol for a while, but it seemed that some wires had become crossed and Sandy’s daughter was waiting in Traralgon!  With no time left for gallivanting around the countryside, Sandy unfortunately pulled the plug on this event.

Whilst all the above was going on, the bulk of the participants were making their way up into the hills, driving economically through Thorpdale and Mirboo North where most stopped for morning tea before descending into Boolarra and on to Churchill and Traralgon South. The road then began to climb towards Balook and into the Tarra Bulga National Park where it became very narrow and twisty as it followed the Tarra River out of the hills towards Yarram which was the refuelling checkpoint.

The distance covered was 140km and the fuel consumption figures are posted below. It was a costly exercise for some of the V8 brigade, but interesting to compare figures. Ray Youlden (Mercedes E55 AMG) and Kevin Riley (Mercedes SL55 AMG) never drive slowly and they love to make use of the torque from the supercharged 5.5-litre V8s under their bonnets. Both cars are a similar weight (heavy!!) and they followed each other the whole way, yet lead-footed Ray used 20% more fuel! The Humphrey’s Subaru BRZ and the Whitford’s 124 Abarth showed just how economical modern petrol-powered cars can be, but being more frugal than a 540cc / 540kg Mighty Boy ute which returned 4.37 L/100k was beyond their capacity. Ron’s 535 turbo Bimmer was the only oil burner in this year’s event and it turned in a remarkable 5.56 L/100k – not at all shabby for a large, heavy, luxury cruiser.

Bill and Wendy Cropley’s 351ci V8 Mustang obviously likes a drink and I’m just glad it’s not me paying the fuel bill, which John Stoker (Boxster) should be able to relate to, as he merrily headed off to lunch from the servo in Yarram without visiting the cashier. Never-the-less, it was all sorted out and we all enjoyed sharing our delicious fish and chips with the seagulls on the wharf at Port Albert after an eventful morning’s drive. Thank you to all who participated.

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In memory of Harry DeGroot

Dear members,

It is with great sadness that I inform you of Harry DeGroot’s passing overnight Saturday at his home in Trafalgar. Harry had been unwell of late, but he continued to enjoy our Breakfast Club gatherings and had recently returned from a Mercedes Club 4-day event into NSW with his son who drove one of Harry’s beloved Benzes.

Funeral details will be forwarded on when available. Sincere condolences to Harry’s family and friends. He will be sorely missed.


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BREAKFAST CLUB, Warragul CBD – Sunday 12th May

The Mothers’ Day Breakfast Club gathering is always one of the less well-attended events on our calendar, add to that a dreary forecast with wet roads from overnight rain and it was a surprise that our numbers were as high as they were. I counted 70 vehicles at one stage, so it was far from a disappointing turnout and as usual, there were several vehicles making a debut appearance.

For Subaru WRX aficionados, the first-generation models built in the 1990s are always popular and this month Tony Pisa brought along his latest purchase; a silver, four-door WRX sedan that he relieved one of his customers of – it needs a bit of a tidy up, but there’s no denying its classic status.

Peter King likes his Italian cars and has recently become the owner of a 2003 Alfa Romeo Spider. This well looked-after silver example is powered by the 2-litre twin spark engine and could be described as being a bit more civilised than his 40 year-old Fiat 124 Spider. Another model from the middle of last century making its debut Breakfast Club appearance, was an immaculate Old English White MGA coupe with chrome wire wheels – a very pretty car and quite rare. At the other end of the spectrum, but also making its debut appearance, was Jaime Drysdale’s new Jeep Wrangler looking very purposeful in black on black and bristling with off-road accessories.

A very-well-presented black and chrome ’57 Chev drove down from Noojee to join us this month and Paul Montagnat’s son brought along his new Chev Camaro which is one of the American production cars being imported and then converted to right-hand-drive by HSV in Melbourne.

Despite the weather there were plenty of convertibles on display, although most had their soft or hardtops erected in case of showers. Doug Armour defied the conditions and to the delight of all those present, drove his flat-head V8 Ford-powered Fiat Special in from Nilma. Thankfully, the weather held off and everyone was able to enjoy a dry event with the wet roads clearing up well before the drive home.

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MAY MONTHLY MEETING, Drouin Golf Club – Thursday 9th May

At this time of year, the sun has well and truly set by the time members begin arriving at the Golf Club for our monthly dinner meeting. This is a bit of a shame, especially for those who make the effort to bring their sports or classic vehicles out for a run.  This month Doug Armour brought out his new, long-awaited Mustang on its club outing debut, but it was hard enough to identify any vehicle in the darkness, let alone a grey Mustang which merges perfectly into the shadows – perhaps we might see it more clearly on a Mid-Week Run in the near future.

There was no difficulty however, viewing this month’s display car in the dining room. The bright, candy apple blood red, 2-door Datsun 1600 belongs to new member Denis Cope, who as a long-time member of the Gippsland Car Club is well known for his building, modification and competition antics in vehicles of the Datsun brand. Denis has recently retired from competition, but needed something to tinker with in the shed. The 2-door 1600 (or 510 as it’s also known) was never imported to Australia, but had always been on Denis’ wish-list, so when a 1972 imported shell from California was offered for sale in Mildura, Denis jumped at the opportunity.

The build from a bare shell to completion only took 8 months. The majority of parts are shared with the more common 4-door, and conversion to RHD is simply a bolt-on procedure. Denis couldn’t avoid improving the specifications somewhat, so this innocuous little Datto runs a warmed-up 2-litre L-series engine with twin side-draft Webers producing about 125bhp. The gearbox is from a 240Z and the brakes from a 300Z at the front and Skyline at the rear. Wheels are 15×7 to clear the brakes and adjustable struts help to keep the wheels inside the guards.

The retrimmed interior is dominated by a pair of high-back SAAS seats, but is otherwise fairly standard. Denis enjoyed building the car and even painted it in his garage. The multi-layer paint finish is still to be buffed back – a job that will be undertaken once the paint has fully hardened.

Built as a road car, it was never intended to be used on the track, but Denis admits it would be interesting to give it a lap or two of Bryant Park. I do get the impression, however, the Denis’ wife, Yvonne, is not quite as keen.

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