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.

Steve

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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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GO-KARTS at STONY CREEK, Sunday 28th April.

Despite constant drizzle, a stiff breeze and temperatures struggling to reach the teens, nine hardy souls fronted up to the Warragul Shell Roadhouse at the appointed hour for a wet journey along the Grand Ridge Rd towards Leongatha and onwards through Dumbalk and Meeniyan to the Go-Kart track at Stony Creek.  The weather had not improved significantly on our journey south and the rain-slicked, out-door kart track looked far from inviting. However, Merv Swingler and Sandy Goddard were not to be denied a session on the track; they kitted up with helmets and confidently made their way to the Dummy Grid. Bets were taken amongst the spectator crowd over which corner Merv would spin out on first – he made it to Turn Three! Sandy’s gentle approach seemed to be the sensible way to go, but both spent significant time facing in the opposite direction, complaining on their return, that the steering was unresponsive, the rear brake bias savage and the karts barely controllable with slick tyres on a wet track !

Just the one wet track session was enough, and so with no sign of improving conditions, we decided to regroup at the Trulli Woodfire Pizzeria in Meeniyan for a debrief over lunch. Lap times were checked, but the circuit’s records remained intact for a future assault – hopefully in more clement conditions. We all enjoyed a lovely Italian meal and thanked Ray for putting the event together, before making our own ways home.

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MID-WEEK RUN to ESCARGO, Mirboo Nth – Wed. 17th April

Let’s-car-go

At least 20 cars and lots of loud, enthusiastic people gathered at Darnum Stump Tea Rooms for coffee and extras. We then had a Drivers’ Briefing before our run to the Escargot restaurant near Mirboo North on a warm and slightly overcast April morning. I tried to list all the cars and thought I was organised, but then discovered some more in the conga line as we drove along and then more again when we arrived. I know of several MX5s and BMWs, both modern and unmodern Mustangs, two Porsches – no, three, and a singular RX7, Jaguar, Healey, a beautiful Datsun SSS, Subaru, Lotus Elan, Charger, Austin A90 and convertible SAAB 900. Actually, they were all beautiful. Just after John and I had noted that there were no MGs, suddenly there was one. I suspect a Hyundai and maybe some others dropped out of the sky too as the Escargot car park seemed even more full than at Darnum.

John and Jan led us south then west out of Darnum then briefly along the Korumburra-Warragul Road until we turned towards Seaview and along the Grand Ridge Road through Trida to Hallston.  For once the drivers were not all on each other’s tails and it was lovely to look forwards and backwards across the undulations to see little shiny glints as we enjoyed the wonderful sunshine. From Hallston we headed east into the forests then through Mirboo North to Escargot, just beyond.

Considering the eagerness to get away at Darnum (for the future please remember it’s a public road out the front, not our own personal Dummy Grid!) I was surprised at how few people actually tried the snails on the menu. I had tried some in France which were like rubber and tasted only of the garlic in which they were cooked, so I looked forward to making a comparison. For a change I opted for the “salt and pepper” snails. They were extremely tender, nothing like the rubber in France, but still tasted mainly of the salt and pepper coating. I conclude that, unlike happy beef cattle, snails don’t live long enough to develop much flavour. Certainly, the ones in my garden don’t live very long (stomp, crunch). There was a varied selection of normal food on the menu and I think everyone enjoyed their choice. It took a little while to feed our huge group of 42, but it was a continuous procession of meals. A quirky Mirboo North custom of bringing bread to the table after most of us had eaten our mains remains unexplained.

Again, the large group was quite rowdy. I’m not sure if it was the same conversation carried on from Darnum or an entirely new one, but it was a sure sign of friendly people with a common interest, or many common interests, enjoying the company and the outing. Thank-you from us all to John and Jan for organising the day. It was another good-un.

Words by John & Kira Moore. Pictures by John Fowler

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