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.