20th ANNIVERSARY BIRTHDAY BASH

Wow our club is 20 years old, where did all those years go?   Although not a foundation member, I clearly remember wanting to join the club many years ago, and so it was that I sold my Formula V race car and purchased a very sad and sorry MG Midget from John Fowler. It took six years to rebuild 600 kgs of rust on four wheels, and it has now been on the road about 12 years.

I haven’t organised a club event for a number of years so feeling that I should do my committee duty, I put my hand up and volunteered to organise this event with assistance from number one son, David.

Plotting the route and organising the venue was the easy part. With only about two weeks to go I only had one couple other than ourselves going. Not even David and Claire could go as they had a commitment with Claire’s family, I was getting a little nervous, as too was Mein Host at the “Duck Inn”

Steve came to my rescue with an email to all members. That did the trick, for the next few days my email In Box was full with several SMS messages as well.  Average attendances over past years of about 60 to 65 was given as an estimate.  With a week to go we had 65 names and with 3 days to go we had 70, we were looking good.  Then things started turning pear shaped – with 2 days to go one couple were forced to drop out due to a family illness (unavoidable).

Saturday night the 16th, I didn’t enjoy a broken sleep as I pondered the possibility of further drop outs due to health or just not coming because of the terrible weather. As I lay there listening to approximately 25 mm of rain on our roof the words of our venue manager weighed heavily on my mind, “I have catered for 70 and all meals ordered will have to be paid for.” Sunday morning brought more cancellations, again unavoidable.  I was a little more nervous.

We arrived at the Shell servo at about 10.40am and I was pleasantly surprised to see quite a few members cars already there.  There was a distinct absence of open sports cars, with Mercedes, BMW and Porsche being the dominant marques. While Lorraine and I drove a direct route, the drive participants drove to Willow Grove via Cloverlea, Yarragon, Yarragon- Shady Creek Road, Araluen Road, Old Sale Road and Wilkes Road with a nice little detour up Balfours Road (thanks for the suggestion Steve) then along Willow Grove Rd to the “Duck Inn” at Willow Grove, where a number of our easterly domiciled members met up with us.

Despite the weather outside, inside the Duck Inn was cosy and warm; the meal was lovely and the company was good. Looking around it was obvious that our members get on very well together through a common appreciation of motoring, sports and classic cars.

Normally I wouldn’t condone members turning up without prior booking and it happened again, but this time I was pleased. At the end of the day 72 meals were served.  It was all worthwhile.

Allan Richards.

Thank you to Allan for organising this event and to all the participants who braved the wintery conditions – Steve

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

JUNE MONTHLY MEETING, Drouin Golf Club – Thursday 14th June.

Another good turn out with more than 50 members and friends braving the wintery conditions to enjoy some social discourse, a feed and a chance to catch up with latest news and events. Glenn Campbell was our very able Master of Ceremonies for the evening, covering for Ray who was otherwise engaged in celebrating his wife Alice’s birthday with the family.

After another lovely meal, that was served much more efficiently and promptly than last month, Glenn handed over to Mark McKibbin who had brought along his work-in-progress Austin Seven Special. Mark was able to give us an insight into the history of Herbert Austin and the dilemmas encountered on such a unique, personalised restoration.

It was a surprise to learn that Herbert Austin (born 1866 in England) came to Australia to complete his engineering apprenticeship at a foundry. He then worked with the Wolesley Sheep Shearing company taking out patents on improvements he designed to their equipment. He also married an Aussie girl and started a family before moving back to England where he designed bicycles and tricycles for Wolesley. He failed to convince the company to branch out into motorcars, so in 1905/6 he decided to start his own vehicle manufacturing business. World War One disrupted his plans somewhat, as the factory turned to making munitions, but he returned to making cars in the boom period after the war. The boom times were short-lived and in 1921 the company went into receivership. Austin believed that he could trade out of this predicament by building a small car. The Austin Seven was designed by Austin at home and a prototype built in a closed off section of the factory – all without board approval, but it was an outstanding success and continued to be manufactured right up until the 1930s.

Mark’s particular Austin Seven (called a ‘Special’ because of the hand-made bodywork) was purchased on Ebay from Darwin about 12 months ago. There weren’t many Sevens on the market at that stage and Mark admits that he probably paid twice what it was worth! After having it freighted from one end of the country to the other it arrived in a box and was full of surprises. Mark couldn’t fit into it, the engine wouldn’t start, it had no brakes, the steering was stuffed and everything pulled off the car was totally knackered. It was obvious that the little car had been driven into the ground. The restoration journey began by lowering and lengthening the body so that Mark could fit within it, the cable-operated brakes were then rebuilt and the 750cc engine and 4-speed gearbox now work as they should. The bodywork is currently being fabricated by Mark from aluminium sheet over a metal frame and it was interesting to see it coming together rather than as a finished product which is generally the case with the cars we have on display at our monthly meetings. There’s still a long way to go, but Mark’s passion for the idiosyncratic is obvious and I have no doubts we’ll be seeing this baby Austin on the road before next winter.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

JUNE BREAKFAST CLUB, Sunday 10th June

With winter now upon us, it wasn’t surprising to find the mercury hovering at around 4 degrees as the raspy twin-cam Fiat woke the neighbourhood making its way out of the garage and down the long drive to the road. The roads were dry, but visibility seriously compromised by a misty fog that coated the Spider’s windscreen and leading edges with tiny droplets of water. Inside the car, the air flowing from the heater into the footwells was imperceptibly warming as the pointer in Veglia’s pretty little acqua gauge gradually lifted off its stop. The wipers skipped across the screen leaving streaky bands to peer between whilst the fog seemed to thicken on the descent into town. With lights on and the heater doing its best to compensate for the lack of roof, the Fiat gods were smiling. A decision was taken to extend the drive experience by diverting around the town and coming in from the opposite direction. The speedo, tach, olio, acqua and benzine gauges had all misted over by this stage and were virtually unreadable, but the clock with its little setting knob sticking out through the glass had escaped the expected condensation and that’s how I know that at 7:51am most of the southern section of our car park was already occupied by a steadily increasing number of sports and classic cars.

Your correspondent was not alone in roofless foolishness with several sports cars also defying the elements, but Paul Mogensen went one better by piloting his screenless Milano GT. As more and more arrivals positioned their cars and greeted those present, it became apparent that the sun was shining and temperatures rising everywhere except Warragul. That goes someway to explain the turnout of nearly ninety special vehicles on what seemed a fairly bleak morning locally.

Last month’s report made mention of the surprising number of MGBGTs that had turned out, well this month John Moore, David Anderson and Clint Wilson added to that tally joining with the red MGBGT V8 which was making a welcomed return appearance.

Ken Purcell usually brings his Nissan 350Z roadster to these gatherings and it is often the only one of that breed present, but this month we had three 370Zs all making their debut appearances. Jaime Drysdale, obviously looking for something to fill the space left by her WRX, has picked up a very tidy, low mileage manual convertible, whilst the other two newcomers were both coupe versions. Ken didn’t miss out this month though, he was seen driving Bill Dinean in Bill’s stunning 1930’s Cadillac V16. Another car from that era making its debut this month was a very tidy, blue ’36 Ford Coupe.

Automatic classic Minis are fairly thin on the ground these days, their 4-speed automatic gearbox was a technological leader back in the 60’s, but it never sold here in huge numbers. To see a beautifully restored white and burgundy Mini Matic at this month’s meeting was unexpected, however it fitted right in with the Coopers of Allan Richards and Graeme Longhurst. At the other end of the scale, we had not one, but two Maseratis joining the pair of Ferraris this month in a show of Italian exotica. Ray Gymer had pinched his wife Anita’s new quattroporte, whilst the older car, also in silver, was a coupe.

Making a welcome return this month was Ian Holdsworth’s wide-bodied Mazda RX7 turbo. This beautifully presented black coupe has been off the road for an eternity whilst the rotary engine has been receiving attention. It now returns on Club Plates with a number in the 93,000s – one wonders what happens when VicRoads run out of numbers at 99,999 – it surely won’t be that far away!

A beautiful, recently restored, deep yellow Bolwell Nagari drew considerable attention, the most observant no doubt intrigued by the air conditioning unit fitted behind the seats! It was nice to see a couple of different Porsches this month. A red 944 and greenish 928 rolled up to keep Glenn Campbell’s lone 911 company – our fleet of Boxsters being noticeably absent. Mustangs, both classic and contemporary are regular participants at our gatherings and this month they were joined by an immaculate, red 1973 Mach 1 owned by a local enthusiast who used to work for Ian Holdsworth.

As the morning wore on, the grey shroud began to dissipate allowing occasional glimpses of sunlight and blue sky. Although too late to save Warragul’s climatic reputation, it offered a pleasant change on the drive home for those of us who endured the roofless early morning run.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

CENTO MIGLIA ECONOMY RUN, Sunday 27th May

After two weeks of drizzly grey weather, it was a nice change to see the sun and enjoy a day out driving some lovely scenic roads. Ten teams in a range of classic and modern vehicles filled up with fuel at the Warragul Shell servo before heading off down the freeway to Nilma and then northwards to Rokeby and Jindivick; it was then on to Labertouche before turning west onto the Princess Freeway at Longwarry North. Kevin Riley was leading the way by a country mile in the big supercharged Merc, but things turns awry down around Bales where an unexpected road closure had teams searching for alternative routes. Thankfully, everyone eventually made it to Tooradin for a welcome morning tea break at this halfway point in the run. The second half of the event was navigationally much more straight forward than the first half, which must have been a relief to our couple of one-man teams. Drivers headed south-east along the South Gippsland Highway to Lang Lang where they turned on to McDonalds Track which weaves its way through the hills to Nyora. It was then down to Loch and a run along the ridge of the green undulating hills towards the coast and our destination at Wonthaggi.

All the vehicles were refuelled at the Wonthaggi BP and their fuel usage recorded. Teams then retired to nearby Guide Park for lunch whilst your correspondent calculated their fuel economy and placings within various classes (see below).

 

2018 CENTO MIGLIA ECONOMY RUN
Driver Vehicle  cc Fuel Litres used MPG L/100k Pl Class Pl O/R
CLASS A     0 -1400cc                
Mal & Celia Collins Mini 1300 Petrol 5.57 82.66 3.42 1 1
David & Claire Richards Mini Deluxe 1100 Petrol 14.69 31.34 9.01 2 6
CLASS B  1401 – 2000cc                
Alan Humphreys Subaru BRZ 2000 Petrol 8.96 51.39 5.50 2 2
Paul & Sue Montagnat Ford Capri 1600 Petrol 9.62 47.86 5.90 3 3
CLASS C  2001 – 4000cc                
Frank & Kate Columbine BMW 320ci 2100 Petrol 13.3 34.62 8.16 1 5
John & Marlene Moss Subaru Liberty 2500 Petrol 15.19 30.31 9.32 2 7
Glenn & Pam Campbell Porsche 911 3400 Petrol 15.29 30.11 9.38 3 8
CLASS D   Over 4000cc                
Kevin Riley Merc AMG SL 55 5500 Petrol 18.6 24.75 11.41 1 9
Geoff & Heather Miller Mustang 4500 Petrol 21.35 21.57 13.10 2 10
DIESEL                
Ron & Trish Brooks BMW 535D 3000 Diesel 9.86 46.70 6.05 1 4

 

Mal and Celia Collins achieved outstanding economy in their classic Mini to win the event outright. Mal’s Mini benefits from a large single SU carburettor and an unusually tall final drive ratio. He also drives slowly at low rpm, but even so, it would probably take a hybrid vehicle to better their 3.42 L/100km. At the other end of the scale, Geoff and Heather Miller in the classic V8 Mustang took out the Stone Motherless Last trophy with 13.10 L/100km. It was a close-run thing with Kevin Riley’s V8 Merc being the early favourite and expected to take out this coveted trophy; but Kevin was obviously taking it easy!

An outstanding result was achieved by Alan Humphreys in the new Subaru BRZ. Although he had to chase the pack down after refuelling at the start after everyone had left, he drove sensibly and returned 5.5L/100km. Ron and Trish Brooks left their thirsty twin-turbo V8 Cobra and home this year electing to drive the big 5-series diesel Bimmer which returned a very creditable 6.05 L/100km.

It was a surprise to see Allan and Lorraine Richards arrive in their Cooper S around lunchtime, a shame that they were unable to participate in the competition aspect, but it was nice of them to join us at the finish. The results were announced over lunch and trophies awarded to the class winners, it was then time to say our goodbyes and head for home. Kevin and I headed off together to explore some backroads; we stopped at Kongwak for a photo opportunity at a nicely restored Mobil Garage before heading to Poowong East and Hallora via Korumburra. It had been a long day, but thank you to all who participated and congratulations to our winners.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

STONY CREEK GO-KARTS, Sunday 20th May.

“Who’s silly idea was this?” I asked as I pulled up beside El Presidente in his Merc at 9:15am – to wit I received a colourful reply…
The previous night’s rainfall had left Gippsland soaked, so Ray with Ian Holdsworth navigating and myself, were about to set off to Stony Creek for a spot of go-karting in the wet. Gumboots seemed more appropriate than suede racing boots…

It was looking like there would only be three of us, but fortunately Alan Humphreys arrived running solo in his Scooby-do BRZ to swell our numbers to an impressive four – Margret being in the United States of Trump visiting their son and DIL.

We set off south from Warragul up the Warragul Korumburra Road, turning off onto the Grand Ridge road and on through Trida where the fog descended and the intermittent showers came in at 45 degrees. At Hallston the rain clouds cleared and a crack of sunlight appeared – could South Gippsland be dry? Onto the Strzelecki Hwy, then up Mardan road to Dumbalk and from there to Meeniyan, with Stony Creek Go-Karts a further few minutes out of town. We all arrived to a soaked Go-Kart track… Barry Sheen’s immortal words rang in my head: “Welcome to Victoria – gateway to hypothermia.”

Undeterred us brave and hardy four signed up for a 10 minute session, thinking that it wouldn’t be long enough to get completely soaked. I let the three more senior members go out ahead of me – out of respect of course – only for my kart to splutter to a halt on the first corner. Frantic waving to the marshal had me restarted – only for it to die again on turn two…  Second times a charm? Restarted again and allowing the kart to warm up for a lap, I started in my pursuit for the others.

Cold slick tyres and a soaked track aren’t a preferred combination, and getting a 360 degree view of a single corner in 1.65 seconds isn’t confidence inspiring… I eventually caught El Presidente at the bottom hairpin. I like to think my rate of approach must have concerned Ray, for he performed a beautiful 180 degree pirouette to make way for me. Ian on the other hand proved more difficult to catch… The karts were, in a corner, either suffering from chronic understeer or oversteer – with nothing in between. On the straights they were fine, but how Ian managed to spin in the middle of the main straight though, remains a mystery…

10 minutes were finally up (thanks heavens) and we retreated to the clubrooms to dry out a bit. Times? Fairly irrelevant because of the conditions, although one could argue a particular RX7 owner came out on top. But we won’t tell him that. Discussions then turned to lunch, with the suggestion of Wood Fired Pizza in Meeniyan being the consensus – at the very least we could all dry out next to the oven.

After consuming the delicious pizza’s (and a glass of boutique ale) we said our goodbyes and headed home. Many thanks to Ray for planning the route over to Stony Creek and booking the Go-Karts – although booking dry weather will be a definite requirement next time…

Lachlan ‘Damp’ Fowler.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

MAY BREAKFAST CLUB, Warragul CBD – Sunday 13th May

Mothers’ Day dawned damp and cool with the roads still wet from overnight rain. Thick fog filled the hollows and rolled its way along the valleys making the drive into Warragul rather hazardous. The battery in your correspondent’s Fiat 124 Coupe was charged up and ready to roll, but the combination of lumpy cams and big chokes on a cold morning extended the engine’s cantankerous warm-up period to include the whole trip into town. Several other participants had also noted the abrupt seasonal change, the number of roofless sports cars was certainly down on previous months and the lack of motorcycles was noted.

Doug Armour and Des Dillon defied the elements, rugged up and drove their very open vintage sports cars to our gathering. Des’s 1927 Type 35b Bugatti is always a crowd-puller with its supercharged straight eight engine and Grand Prix heritage, but it is always interesting to see the reactions to Doug’s home-made Fiat special with its Maserati-inspired coachwork, flat-head Ford V8, Fiat 509 chassis and other components sourced from a range of donor vehicles.

There may not have been many open sports cars this month, but the weather was perfect to coax out four classic MGBGT coupes.  The GT often takes second billing to its more popular roadster sibling, but with the choice of 4-cylinder and V8 engines, a useful opening hatch at the back and weather tight bodywork they’re hard to ignore when looking for a practical classic sports car. The MX5 contingent were strongly represented again this month, their easily erected soft top or optional hardtop make them as weather tight as a coupe – a far cry from many classic UK sporties.

Several vehicles made debut appearances this month. It’s not every day that you see a powder blue two-tone Bentley and a T-model Ford in the same carpark, there was also a green classic convertible Mustang on NSW plates and a relatively rare 2002 Mustang in red. Trevor Batt brought along his recently acquired Mercedes SLK 280 convertible and Richard Rowley has traded his late model silver Jag in on a new red XE – S model that had only just arrived from a dealership in Tasmania.

Despite it being Mothers’ Day, there were somewhere in the vicinity of 70 vehicles on display, which doesn’t count the work utes and Landcruisers that some members elected to drive to this month’s event. The fog eventually lifted and the sun did pop out briefly from between the clouds to tempt our sports car owners into removing their hoods. The drive home was certainly more enjoyable than the drive in, so the Fiat and I grabbed the opportunity and took the long way around.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments