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Unique Cars - - MORLEY’S WORKSHOP -

The Ka­toomba Com­mer in your June is­sue brought to mind this photo of my father pump­ing out his petrol ta nker af ter t he tra iler a x le came adrif t in t he cen­tre of tow n in Hamil­ton, NZ. The traf f ic cop in front is mak­ing sure no one drops any cig­a­rette butts.

Europa (the brand of Petrol) at t he time did not pub­li­cise t he fact t hat t heir fuel was im­ported from Rus­sia. Its ad­ver­tis­ing slo­gan was “Clean burn­ing Europa – the petrol with pep”. The in­her­ent dan­ger of t he sit­u­a­tion might be t reated a bit dif fer­ent ly to­day. Jim Ward, Auck­land NZ.

UM, YEAH, I reckon you’re right about the sit­u­a­tion war­rant­ing a bit more at­ten­tion th­ese days. Just for starters, you’d have the EPA there in a heart­beat, mak­ing sure none of the petrol got into the lo­cal wa­ter­ways, the road would be closed and any­thing with a pulse would have been evac­u­ated and sent to a cri­sis assem­bly fa­cil­ity in the next parish. Oh, and there’d be half a dozen TV news crews there and a few he­li­copters in the sky.

Maybe some­body can cor­rect me here, but I don’t think we ever got Europa petrol in Aus­tralia. And hav­ing just looked it up, I can see why: It was a New Zealand brand. Europa was the com­pany started in 1931 and owned by the Todd

fam­ily of Dunedin. The stuff was ap­par­ently sold through a chain of ser­vos part owned by none other than the New Zealand Farmer’s Union.

And you’re right, it was sourced from Rus­sia be­cause that coun­try was a cheap place to get your petrol back in a time when sup­ply would have been a real prob­lem. BP took a 60 per cent stake in the Europa brand in the 70s and the BP shield fi­nally re­placed the Europa logo in about 1989.

By sheer co­in­ci­dence, I’ve had a bit to do with Rus­sian petrol over the years. Those en­coun­ters have in­volved rid­ing mo­tor­bikes across Cen­tral Asia and ral­ly­ing a Porsche Cayenne in a two-week, 7500km rally-raid known as the Transsy­be­ria Ral­lye which, as the name sug­gests, took us across Siberia and into Mon­go­lia. So I’ve pumped my share of Ruski gaso­line. And I’ve gotta tell you, it smells like no other petrol I’ve ever en­coun­tered. You re­ally don’t want to be stand­ing too close to the noz­zle when fill­ing up in Rus­sia. The clos­est de­scrip­tion I can give you is that the stuff smells aw­fully like nail-pol­ish re­mover (It re­moves Su­per­glue, okay.) so I’m fig­ur­ing it’s full of ace­tone or some­thing sim­i­lar. Any petro-chem­i­cal ge­niuses out there to help me with this one?

Given the things I’ve eaten at Rus­sian cafes and bistros and the vari­able qual­ity of do­mes­tic vodka, noth­ing would sur­prise me when it comes to what they put in their fuel. That said, ev­ery en­gine I’ve pumped it into seemed to run like a good `un, so who knows?

OP­PO­SITE PAGE In­tact elec­tric bowser with taste­ful ves­ti­gial roof struc­ture – Lux­ury! We al­ways had to pump it from a 44 by hand.

BE­LOW The en­gine bay’s just about up to 180 de­grees, Gary. It’s time to whack in the turkey.

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