Mid-Week Run to the Butchers Pub Cafe, Bunyip – Thursday 12th April

We don’t get on many mid-week runs due to other activities, but the thought of not getting out on one of them for the next few months prompted Carol and I to swap priorities and take the MX5 out for the day.

About eight vehicles and 18 members met at The Stump Tearooms in Darnum for the apparent regular cuppa before John called us all together for a briefing and hand out printed route sheets to ensure we all arrived at the nominated lunch venue- The Lower Hotel in Bunyip also known as the Butchers Pub ( ????? I must find out the reason for 2 names).

These runs like all other GSCCR outings are assured of pleasant scenery and nice twisty roads spoilt only by the poor-quality roads, so with warnings about some of these spots John and Jan led us at a nice leisurely pace south to Hazeldean Rd where we turned right, then left at Warragul-Korumburra Rd till we reached Teetora Rd. We turned right onto Lardners Track which has been resealed since we were last on it, then left into Torwood -Topiram Rd which is renowned for very nice bends spoilt only by a sharp bump at the start of some new asphalt. I cannot understand why our shire engineers accept these terrible jobs. We turned left onto Main South Rd then right onto Timms Rd and then right at Poowong Rd (strangely called Drouin Korumburra Rd?). At Invermay Rd we turned left and regrouped while John checked to make sure the underside of his MX5 was still in roadworthy condition after scraping a raised portion of the bitumen back near the Lang Lang River.

At Westernport Rd we turned north back towards Drouin and turned left at Costers Rd (more rough sections) then right at Longwarry-Modella Rd travelling north again to Longwarry and along the main rd to Bunyip where two more members met us, and we were treated to a very nice lunch selection. Suffice to say most of us did not need much dinner that night as even the seniors meals were substantial especially for those of us who enjoyed the additional sweets for only $2.

Many thanks to John and Jan for arranging these regular mid week runs and we must make an effort to participate in more of them.

Words by Ian Mallows, photos by John Fowler

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APRIL MONTHLY MEETING, Warragul Country Club – Thursday 12th APRIL

This was the Club’s first dinner meeting at the Warragul Country Club without daylight saving and consequently it presented a challenge with presenting the display car, Mike Whitford’s Fiat Abarth 124 Spider, with the limited outside lighting available. Fortunately, with a bit of forethought Mike brought along a small spot light providing additional lighting for those who ventured outside to view the car.

Mike’s presentation provided our members with details of the design origins, product differentiation to the Mazda MX5, unique technical features and the background of the Abarth badge name. The underpinnings of the 124 Spider are based on the Mazda MX5 architecture and is built in Mazda’s manufacturing plant in Japan. Fiat’s subtle body design changes were aimed to give hints of the late 1960’s Fiat 124 styling. Other points of difference to the MX5 are the Brembo brakes, Bilstein shocks, stiffer springs, Recaro seats and an enviably sounding sports exhaust system.

The main point of difference to the MX5 is found under the bonnet with the Fiat (Abarth)  developed Multiair 1.4-litre turbocharged engine which makes 125kw/250Nm – or 7kw/50Nm more than normally aspirated 2.0-litre MX5 engines. It’s the torque rush that makes the difference here, giving the Fiat Abarth stronger drive from the bends and better in-gear acceleration. This “Multiair” engine has hydraulically actuated variable valve timing technology enabling ‘cylinder by cylinder & stroke by stroke’ control of air directly via the engine’s inlet valves.  The aim of Fiat in developing this technology was to bypass a primary engine inefficiency of pumping losses caused by restrictions of the intake passage by the throttle plate used to regulate air feeding the cylinders. The result of this development increased the engine’s power and torque as well as reducing fuel consumption and emissions. In 2010 the Multiair engine won the International Engine of the Year.

FYI – The Abarth badge is Fiat’s performance sub-brand along the lines of Mercedes’ AMG and BMW’s M Series. Abarth was founded by Carlo Abarth in 1949 to produce racing and road cars, and was bought by Fiat in 1971. It is now a fully owned subsidiary of the Fiat Chrysler Group.  Current models include versions of the Fiat 500 and 124 Spider. Carlo’s star sign inspired Abarth’s now iconic scorpion logo.

The motivation for Mike in acquiring the Fiat Abarth 124 Spider was that his Mercedes SLK230 was getting to a point where there was a high likelihood that significant maintenance would soon be required so a decision was made to trade it and he hasn’t looked back.

Words and photos by Phil Barnard

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OPEN GARAGE, GALLERY & GARDEN at Neerim South – Sunday 8th April

Piggy-backing one car club event on top of another is often not a good idea, but linking an Open Garage with the regular monthly Breakfast Club, seemed in this case, to work quite well. Twenty-three vehicles and about 35 people accepted the invitation from Eric and Kathy Irvine to visit their property at Neerim South. Around half of those vehicles drove together in convoy from the Breakfast Club gathering and passed through Lillico and Buln Buln East before heading north along the Mizpa Settlement Rd and McDougal Rd to Neerim South. Unfortunately, a heavily hay-laden farm truck broke up the convoy and spoilt the best part of the trip for many drivers.

Eric and Kathy’s hilltop property is about an acre in size, so there was ample space for off-street parking in the small paddock just north of the house, abutting the road. The garden which contains a range of exotic and native plants surrounds the house and garage and includes a small water feature that flows beside and then crosses beneath the driveway.

The garage is a substantial building that not only houses their Porsche Boxster and Mercedes Coupe, but doubles as Eric’s art studio and gallery including a slot-car race track.  The walls of the gallery display Eric’s passion for what we baby-boomers call the golden age of touring car racing in Australia. Photos, models, paintings and drawings depict the on-track battles between drivers such as Beechey, Jane, Moffat, Geoghegan and McKeown, there are models of racing cars, rally cars, dozens of Porsches and what must be every F1 and Le Mans-winning Ferrari ever built. There’s plenty of homage to drivers of past eras as well, including our own Jack Brabham, Ayrton Senna and Enzo Ferrari.

As well as the cars, Eric also has a passion for aircraft, especially Second World War icons such as the Lancaster bomber and Supermarine Spitfire, but there are some jet-engined interlopers amongst the propeller blades. The slot-car track was a great hit with the visitors, big kids and little kids all had a go at mastering the figure eight track which sits within a scaled model landscape and race track setting.

It was interesting to see some of Eric’s art works in progress and to compare them to the finished items in the gallery – there is certainly a great deal of effort and talent that goes into each piece. Kathy made us feel welcome by keeping up the supply of cakes, slices, tea and coffee. We were also invited to wander around the gardens and enjoy the views of Neerim South from their elevated position just out of town. The Club wishes to convey its thanks to Eric and Kathy for their generosity and hospitality, and for all the work that goes into making one of these Open Garage events happen.  

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BREAKFAST CLUB, Warragul CBD – Sunday 8th April

There are quite a few early-risers and probably a number of insomniacs in our little cohort, how else could you explain a carpark full of special vehicles a good 15 minutes before the official gathering time. The fine weather and demise of Daylight Saving no doubt inspired many owners to give the classic car an outing and by 9am there were almost ninety sporting, classic, vintage and modified vehicles on display.

Such was the weather, with summer being unwilling to submit to autumn’s cooler insurgence, that many roadsters and convertibles went topless. Richard and Jane Vollebregt went one better and arrived after their morning ride from Phillip Island on Richard’s BMW R90 motorcycle. MX5s were again quite plentiful, as were MGBs and Triumph TRs. There were even a couple of E-type Jags, but I think the classic Minis may have outnumbered any other single model this month, especially if you include the very tidy Mini Moke which I don’t believe we had seen at any previous events. It was a pleasure to see Tim Wilkinson’s fully restored 1970 Cooper S making its debut appearance this month. Painted in the classic Factory Works Team red with a white roof, it certainly looked and sounded the part.

Other debut appearances came from a heavily-modified lime green Holden One-tonner running a massive, twin-turbo, big block V8, then there was a classic American-style Hot Rod coupe in blue and white, an Aussie Ford Coupe in white and blue Cobra livery, as well as a beautifully presented, gold Pontiac GTO.

This month’s Breakfast Club clashed with the annual Fiat Autobella extravaganza at Como Park, so some of our regular Italian marque representatives were noticeably absent. Making a return, however, after a couple of months absence rebuilding his Healey 100/4 engine, was Denis Varley and his big Healey. This must be one of the most regularly-driven Austin Healeys in the State and it’s always a pleasure to see it at our monthly breakfasts. 

At 10am about a dozen cars assembled and departed as a group heading towards Neerim South where Eric and Kathy Irvine were hosting an Open Garage, Gallery and Garden. A great way to spend a lovely Sunday morning.

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2018 FLY THE FLAG TOUR

The RACV Fly the Flag Tour has always been owned and run by the All British Classics Car Club, however 2017 saw the end of the RACV as a naming rights sponsor, so 2018 saw the running of the  “ABCCC Fly the Flag Tour Friendship Tour”.

Our club was represented by Steve and Karen Austen in their MGB GT, Harry De Groot in his Mercedes Benz 300D, Ian and Mary Hodge in their Vauxhall, plus the Richards family: David and Claire, Lorraine and Allan in our respective Mini’s.

The tour commenced on Sunday 18th March after a sumptuous breakfast at Ultima Receptions in Keilor, where it is always great to renew acquaintances and inspect the incredible range of over 200 classic cars from Australia, England, USA, Germany, Italy, France and Japan, with almost all letters of the alphabet being represented with marques from  Alfa Romeo to Volkswagen.  The major players were England with approximately 70 cars comprising Austin, Morris, Mini, Rolls Royce, Bentley, Ford, Morgan, MG, Triumph and several Jaguars. Germany was represented by approximately 25 Mercedes Benz both sports and sedans, and only three Porsches, 911, 930 Turbo and 928. USA had the usual Buick, Chevrolet, Ford, Packard and Pontiac, most of which looked like 10 acres of sheet metal on 4 wheels.

Day 1 was a big day of 345 kilometres to Horsham via Elphinstone and Muckleford where we were treated to a BBQ lunch with the prevailing wind doing its best to coat our burgers snags and salad with cubic metres of dust. After lunch we continued on through Maldon, St Arnaud, Rupanyup and Murtoa checking out the silo art. Also on day 1 David experienced a bit of trouble with his Mini when the ignition light remained on. Our accompanying mechanic checked the alternator and found that it was still charging which relieved some of the concern, next morning saw David and Claire breakfasting at “Maccas” next door to the auto electrician where the problem was diagnosed as an “excited diode”. His alternator was rebuilt with parts obtained from a similar alternator found in the old parts bin upstairs. This resulted in a much relieved #1 son, and neither of us had any more trouble with our mini’s for the rest of the tour.

Day 2: 251 Kilometres to Mount Gambier for two nights.

Day 3: a hub tour of 112 kilometres visiting Penola and “Yallum Park” a Victorian Mansion built between 1878 and 1880 and said to be the best preserved Victorian Mansion in Australia. On our return to Mount Gambier we had time to visit the Blue Lake and the Umpherston Sink Hole, which has been transformed by beautiful gardens.

Day 4 was a short drive of 110 kilometres to Portland, also for a 2 night stay with Day 5 being a free day where attractions such as the Cable Tram which runs along the Foreshore, the old Water Tower which is now a War Memorial, the Maritime discovery centre and the Auto museum could be visited.

Day 6 was another long day of 389 kilometres to Bendigo via Hamilton, Ararat and Castlemaine. Tonight was our Fancy Dress night which is always a lot of fun, and where the imagination of some people never ceases to amaze me.

Day 7:  The last day was a 200 kilometre drive to Yarra Glen via Heathcote, Seymour and Yea. The tour concluded at Yarra Glen Race Course with lunch and presentation of awards.

After 17 tours, rumour has it that this may be the last. If this turns out to be true, after our 9 tours we will miss it. The collection of beautifully presented cars is only one aspect of the tour, but the many friendships that have developed is another.

Words by Allan Richards, photos by David Richards, Steve and Karen Austen, and Harry DeGroot.

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TWILIGHT RUN, Friday 23rd March

Ray Youlden and Kevin Riley decided to conduct one final evening run before daylight saving ended and were fortunate enough to choose a jem of an evening with mild temperatures and an absence of the blustery gale force winds that have plagued the district all week.

Thirteen cars, mostly rag-tops, and about 20 people enjoyed the drive out through the back blocks of Lardner and Drouin, along the Old Telegraph roads east and west and finally along the Mizpah Settlement Road up to Neerim South where we stopped for dinner at the local hotel.

A terrific drive, lovely cars, great company and a nice meal to finish it off. Thank you to Ray and Kevin for organising the outing.

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