What the Ed­i­tor's been up to


Real Chevs have four cylin­ders

Go­ing to Syd­ney is al­ways bad for me. I can never leave Dave Perry’s place without want­ing to again own a Chev. 4. My first car was a 1924 Chevro­let Su­pe­rior F and I have to ad­mit I still have a han­ker­ing for what was firstly Du­rant and then later, Gen­eral Mo­tors com­peti­tor for Henry’s ubiq­ui­tous “T”. The oc­ca­sional drive of the Pa­ter­nal 490 doesn’t seem to help and see­ing Dave’s 490 road­ster makes mat­ters worse.

Head­ing for Bathurst to do a quick recce the day be­fore the group ar­rived, I tried to track him down. I knew he lived in North Rich­mond but I had man­aged to lose his de­tails and no amount of in­ter­net stalk­ing could lo­cate him. It was only the day be­fore I was due to leave that the blind­ingly ob­vi­ous came to me. He was the founder of the Chevro­let His­tor­i­cal En­thu­si­ast Ve­hi­cle So­ci­ety (C.H.E.V.S.). Find­ing them on the ‘net, there was a phone num­ber for the Chair­man so I tried it, as­sum­ing he will know how to con­tact the elu­sive Dave. The ba­sic con­ver­sa­tion was “Yeah mate, I’ve got his num­ber but he’s moved. He isn’t in Rich­mond any­more, he’s gone Bush” Bug­ger, that wasn’t what I needed to hear. Then fol­lowed, “He’s in Or­ange now.” Bloody beauty! That is ex­actly where I was go­ing to be, check­ing out our base for the Clas­sic Driver Bathurst tour.

And 24 hour later I was at his place and the con­ver­sa­tion soon turned to Chevs. When I was in Auck­land talk­ing to Hugo Bedford, he was show­ing me pho­tos of cars his un­cle, Les Bedford had raced in the early 1920s on the beach at Muri­wai, the true home of New Zealand motorsport. One was a Chevro­let and it cer­tainly was not the usual 2.8 litre model 490 which was the main­stay of the brand un­til the in­tro­duc­tion of the Su­pe­rior for the 1923 model year. If any­one could iden­tify an early Chev it was Dave, and as soon as I e-mailed the photo to him I had the an­swer; a 1922 Se­ries FB, the long wheel­base, long stroke car with a 3.7 litre OHV en­gine and some­thing which I have never seen an ex­am­ple of in New Zealand. Pho­to­graphic ev­i­dence shows at least one came here!

Hav­ing just moved house and in the midst of ar­rang­ing garag­ing, not all of his toys had fol­lowed him when I got there, so I didn’t get to lust af­ter the car which I would hap­pily sell ev­ery­thing I have and rob a bank to get my hands on, the 1917/18 Chevro­let Se­ries D, a 288ci (4.7 litre) OHV V8, an ex­pen­sive, high qual­ity car which due to it’s high price and down­mar­ket name was a sales fail­ure. Only 13 are cur­rently known to have sur­vived and there is one near­ing the end of a ma­jor restora­tion in the Perry work­shop. That sounds like an ex­cuse for a re­turn visit sooner rather than later. That and the an­nual Chev. 4 tour which sounds like a great week of vin­tage motoring on the other side of the Tas­man!

Go­ing to Gnoo Blas

Go­ing where? Ar­riv­ing in Or­ange I had an hour to kill be­fore Dave got home from work so I did a bit of a loop around the town look­ing for points of in­ter­est. It was on my way out of town that I saw a sign for Sir Jack Brab­ham Park so I filed that away as a place to check out on my way back to Syd­ney in the morn­ing.

Later in the evening, the con­ver­sa­tion drifted away from old Chevs to rac­ing and I was asked if I had been to Gnoo Blas? While I knew that Gnoo Blas was a dis­used race cir­cuit “some­where in Aus­tralia”, that was about the ex­tent of my knowl­edge, so it was de­cided that as I had a cou­ple of spare hours in the morn­ing be­fore I needed to re­turn to Syd­ney and meet the Bathurst tour group at the air­port, Dave would take me for a look.

It turns out that Sir Jack Brab­ham Park is part of the old cir­cuit, which at the time of open­ing in 1953 was on the out­side of town, us­ing pub­lic roads around an airstrip (hence Wind­sock Cor­ner) and the grounds of the lo­cal hos­pi­tal. Now it is well within the city lim­its and much of the roads re­main as they were when the track closed in 1961, by which time the cir­cuit had hosted the first ever round of the Aus­tralian Tour­ing Car Cham­pi­onship, won by David McKay in a Jaguar and was the first to have a 100mph lap, achieved by none other than Jack Brab­ham in a Cooper Cli­max.

It was parochial­ism and lo­cal pol­i­tics which saw the cre­ation of Gnoo Blas and the same two rea­sons which saw it founder. The Aus­tralian Sport­ing Car Club had fallen out with the nearby Mt Panorama cir­cuit at Bathurst and wanted some­where else to race. With as­sis­tance from the or­gan­is­ers of the Or­ange Cherry Blos­som Fes­ti­val, the track was opened less than a year af­ter it was first pro­posed. The fly in the ointment was Bathurst, specif­i­cally the lo­cal MP Gus Kelly who was also the NSW Chief Sec­re­tary. He did ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to en­sure the up­starts 50 km in­land did not be­come se­ri­ous ri­vals for Mt Panorama and he did ev­ery­thing within his (not in­con­sid­er­able) pow­ers to make sure of this, go­ing as far as in­tro­duc­ing the Speed­ways Act, where the NSW Po­lice had to au­tho­rise any mo­tor rac­ing and were par­tic­u­larly pro­tec­tive of the MP’s lo­cal patch! And here we were think­ing po­lit­i­cal jig­gery-pok­ery in the world of mo­tor rac­ing was only a re­cent blight.

Pre­serv­ing a his­toric work­shop

The Clas­sic Driver team stayed in Wanaka for the week­end of the High­lands 101 race meet­ing at the newly com­pleted High­lands Motorsport Park at nearby Cromwell.

We took the op­por­tu­nity to reac­quaint our­selves with the War­birds and Wheels mu­seum lo­cated at Wanaka air­port and we are very pleased we did.

The name gives a pretty good idea of what they have on dis­play, but does in no way con­vey the qual­ity of the au­to­mo­biles and air­craft on dis­play.

We have al­ready re­ported on the Due­sen­berg, the only Model J in the South­ern Hemi­sphere but this is just part of the line up which in­cludes Packards in both V12 and straight-eight con­fig­u­ra­tion (more of which will fea­ture in Is­sue 53 of CD), Cadil­lac’s in V12 and V8 and sev­eral more ex­am­ples of top of the line mostly (but not ex­clu­sively) pre-war Amer­i­can cars.

What we did not know about was the lat­est exhibit. A work­shop. Not just any work­shop though... this is the com­plete work­ing en­vi­ron­ment of one of New Zealand’s great­est me­chan­i­cal and en­gi­neer­ing brains, Ralph Wat­son, and the team at Wanaka have gone to great lengths to recre­ate it ex­actly as it was when the cre­ator of the Ly­coming Spe­cial last stood at the bench. Ralph’s mates were con­sulted early in the process and they stressed that to make it ab­so­lutely au­then­tic, it was es­sen­tial not only to have the tools and ma­chin­ery, but also the lit­tle elec­tric heater, the pair of slip­pers and Ralph’s oily work­shop over­coat. To en­sure the ac­cu­racy of the recre­ated work­shop, Garth Ho­gan, one of the mu­seum direc­tors went to the orig­i­nal work­shop at Point Che­va­lier and took pho­tos from the win­dows. These are now the “view” from the recre­ated build­ing which sits in­side the mu­seum, sur­rounded by two of the leg­endary en­gi­neer’s great­est cre­ations; on one side the Ly­coming Spe­cial, on loan from the cur­rent owner, while on the other side is the full size, work­ing 1/1 scale replica WW1 era ro­tary air­craft en­gine.

If you are in Cen­tral Otago over Christ­mas (or any other time, for that mat­ter), make sure you take the time to stop for a look. Not only is the mu­seum great, the 1950s style diner is a great place to stop for a cof­fee and I can re­ally rec­om­mend the scones with jam and cream!

The Chelsea Hill­climb

For at least 25 years (no-one present could give me a de­fin­i­tive an­swer on ex­actly how long the event has been run­ning) the Waitem­ata branch of the VCC has run a hill­climb on the road lead­ing to the Chelsea sugar works in Birken­head.

In my spare time when I am not work­ing on Clas­sic Driver, I am also the Na­tional Speed Stew­ard for the VCC, so when I got a call from the Stew­ard I had ap­pointed for this year’s event, that he had dou­ble-booked him­self, I was strug­gling to find a stand-in so the only op­tion was for me to head to Auck­land for the day.

It is these types of events which I think are the fu­ture of the club if they re­ally are se­ri­ous about at­tract­ing younger mem­bers. Lead­ing the charge are Anne Thomp­son and Wal­lace McNair from Hamil­ton who as well as recre­at­ing and run­ning the monster 14.25 litre 1906 Grand Prix Dar­racq, spend an even greater time en­cour­ag­ing their grand­chil­dren and mates to take up vin­tage motoring.

So it was, that among the en­tries, were four young teenagers, two com­pet­ing for the first time and two tak­ing part in only their se­cond event. Olivia McNair, pos­si­bly the world’s youngest vet­eran De­lage owner, was run­ning an MG Midget and her brother Louis was in the Austin Seven Nippy bought by his grand­fa­ther Wal­lace as a teenager, who passed it on to his son Robert at a sim­i­lar age and now the third gen­er­a­tion of McNair’s are com­pet­ing in the lit­tle yel­low beastie. Ta­mati Thomp­son was mak­ing his de­but in an­other Sprid­get and the fi­nal of the quar­tet of Fu­ture Vin­tage Mo­torists was Aaron Alder­s­ley, us­ing his fa­ther’s Austin Seven Spe­cial.

The event is run for pre war cars only, so the branch is to be com­mended for al­low­ing the two Sprid­gets to run, even though they were not el­i­gi­ble for any of the tro­phies. It was good to see com­mon sense rul­ing and the or­gan­is­ers tak­ing steps to en­cour­age the par­tic­i­pa­tion of the younger driv­ers. Each of them has ac­cess via their fam­i­lies to pre-war cars and it is a cer­tainty that be­fore too much longer, they will be out on the road (and track) in some­thing older.

This is a great set­ting for a hill­climb, nes­tled in among trees and a lake. The at­mos­phere is like a coun­try park (ig­nor­ing of course the sugar mill, but it is easy to find a spot where that isn’t vis­i­ble) and it is hard to imagine when you are there that you are less than a five minute drive from the Auck­land har­bour bridge!

Weather on the day was typ­i­cally Auck­land, dry, damp, dry, wet and vary­ing states in be­tween. It was quite chal­leng­ing at times and it was not the young­sters who were hav­ing trou­ble cop­ing while at the same time they were get­ting lessons in car han­dling in the safest and most con­trolled en­vi­ron­ment pos­si­ble. Watch­ing Robert McNair launch­ing the Gypsy Ma­jor-en­gined Ri­ley Nine off the line on wet tar seal and wrestling the bel­low­ing monster around the first cor­ner was alone worth the trip north to watch.

De­spite the tricky con­di­tions, there were no off-road ex­cur­sions and with the ex­cep­tion of an Austin Seven which ar­rived at the start line mak­ing truly hor­ri­ble noises un­der the bon­net, ev­ery­one went away with cars in the same con­di­tion they ar­rived, al­ways a good thing at any motorsport event. When it comes to Vin­tage speed events, it is my firm be­lief that tak­ing part and ex­er­cis­ing the car in an ap­pro­pri­ate man­ner is the most im­por­tant rea­son for tak­ing part; win­ning is a sec­ondary bonus. There of course was a win­ner, the quick­est up the hill was in the most spec­tac­u­lar car, Robert McNair in the Gypsy Ri­ley and fit­tingly, the tro­phy for best time in a bor­rowed car went to young Aaron Alder­s­ley in his fa­ther’s Austin but re­ally the win­ner was the old car move­ment it­self, ev­i­dent by the grins on the faces of four teenagers and equally happy par­ents and grand­par­ents on the side­line.

Don’t know what you want for Christ­mas? A cou­ple of sug­ges­tions...

Two very dif­fer­ent and equally in­ter­est­ing books have passed over the editorial desk, both of which will be of in­ter­est to CD read­ers.

First up, Chris Amon: 1967 and this one came as a com­plete and very pleas­ant sur­prise. Writ­ten by New Zealan­der John Ju­lian, it is quite sim­ple in what it sets out to do, which is paint the pic­ture of Chris Amon’s 1967 sea­son, his first with Scud­e­ria Fer­rari and it would be dif­fi­cult to imagine a more dif­fi­cult in­tro­duc­tion to a team and a sea­son than this.

The book was pro­duced with en­cour­age­ment from Chris him­self and is full of quotes, both his­tor­i­cal and cur­rent, from many of the driv­ers and fam­i­lies in­volved in that tur­bu­lent year.

“By any stan­dard, 1967 was a wretched year for Fer­rari. Lorenzo Ban­dini suc­cumbed to the ter­ri­ble in­juries he sus­tained dur­ing the Monaco Grand Prix, Gűn­ter Klass was killed in­stantly when his light­weight Dino slammed into a tree at Mugello and Mike Parkes broke his legs so badly in the Bel­gian Grand prix that his ca­reer at the high­est level was ef­fec­tively fin­ished. Lu­dovico Scarfiotti re­tired tem­po­rar­ily to pon­der the mean­ing of all of this, leav­ing just Chris Amon and me (TH With Amon do­ing the bulk of the driv­ing, es­pe­cially in For­mula One) to carry on at Maranello” – Jonathan Wil­liams

“I guess things were hap­pen­ing in a bit of a blur, but it al­most didn’t pay to stop and think for too long in that sud­denly the whole Fer­rari thing was on my shoul­ders and I seem to re­call try­ing to con­vince my­self that I shouldn’t be dwelling on it for too long, be­cause it might get to me” – Chris Amon

It is this which gives this hard­cover, land­scape book a level of in­ti­macy and a feel­ing of be­ing right there, which stands out for me.

Not only does it cover For­mula One, but also sports cars where both Chris and the team had more suc­cess than Grands Prix dur­ing the sea­son as well as the not-so suc­cess­ful Can-am foray.

For a rrp of $49.99, this book is a bar­gain in any­one’s lan­guage and for any­one with an in­ter­est in motorsport, es­pe­cially with New Zealan­ders at the high­est level, it is an ab­so­lute must. The se­cond rec­om­mended ad­di­tion – On the Wings of His­tory – fea­tures the pho­to­graphs from reg­u­lar Clas­sic Driver con­trib­u­tor Alex Mitchell.

When not tak­ing pho­tos of cars for me, he and his off­sider Alan Udy, form the His­tor­i­cal Avi­a­tion Film Unit, which as the name may sug­gest, con­cen­trate on film­ing and photographing air­craft around the coun­try. As such, they spend a lot of time work­ing with The Vin­tage Avi­a­tor Limited, based out of Hood Air­field in Master­ton where the world’s largest (and con­tin­u­ally ex­pand­ing) col­lec­tion of fly­ing orig­i­nal and ab­so­lutely au­then­tic re­cre­ation World War One air­craft re­side and are flown on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.

The sig­nif­i­cance of this col­lec­tion can­not be over­stated; it is world class, so much so that re­cently the His­tory Chan­nel screened an hour long doc­u­men­tary about the air­craft and what goes into them.

This book gives a de­tailed de­scrip­tion, us­ing Alan’s words and Alex’s pho­tos of ev­ery air­craft in the col­lec­tion, in­clud­ing the non-fly­ers which are on dis­play at the Avi­a­tion Her­itage Cen­tre at Omaka and is es­sen­tial read­ing for any avi­a­tion fan, even if it is only a pass­ing in­ter­est.

While Alan and Alex have de­scribed the book as a “re­vised 2nd edi­tion” they have re­ally done them­selves a dis­ser­vice here, with ap­proach­ing twice the num­ber of pages fea­tur­ing new air­craft added to the TVAL fleet since the 2010 pub­li­ca­tion of the first book and a sec­tion ded­i­cated to the engines of the era, this is no mere up­date.

It is in the chap­ters on engines that the as­so­ci­a­tion be­tween the de­vel­op­ment of the air­craft and au­to­mo­bile is il­lus­trated.

The TVAL Bris­tol F2B Fighter has the world’s old­est air­wor­thy Rolls Royce aero en­gine in ex­is­tence. What many do not know is, that en­gine is in effect a pair of 1914 Grand Prix Mercedes engines shar­ing a com­mon crank-case. WW1 broke out im­me­di­ately af­ter the Grand Prix (in those days there was only one Grand Prix, in France) and the vic­to­ri­ous Mercedes team had sent a car to Lon­don for dis­play. With the start of the war, the now tem­po­rar­ily dis­placed car was “bor­rowed” by the Rolls Royce en­gi­neers and was to be­come the base for the aero en­gine.

The Sop­with Snipe in the col­lec­tion is a re­pro­duc­tion (al­though that re­ally strug­gles to cor­rectly de­scribe the level of his­tor­i­cal ac­cu­racy used in build­ing the air­craft) with an orig­i­nal 230hp Bent­ley BR2 ro­tary en­gine and the BE2C like­wise has a new air­frame but an orig­i­nal 70hp air-cooled Renault V8.

Close-up pho­tos of many of the engines re­ally show how the con­stant need for more power and ef­fi­ciency in mil­i­tary aero engines had a spin-off effect on cars, a WW1 Mercedes en­gine look­ing very much like some­thing from an early 20s Grand Prix car and that tech­nol­ogy soon found its way onto the road as well.

If there is one crit­i­cism, and it is more a sug­ges­tion than any­thing else, it is that Alan and Alex should have made it a hard-cover cof­fee-ta­ble size pub­li­ca­tion and I am sure it will sell just as well as this smaller soft-back will. The more I read it, the more I am find­ing and I keep pick­ing it up and flip­ping through ran­dom pages and I keep dis­cov­er­ing in­ter­est­ing snip­pets I never re­alised I needed to know.

For a price of only $30 in­clud­ing postage any­where in New Zealand (sorry, our Aus­tralian read­ers will need to pay a lit­tle more) the book is fan­tas­tic value and is avail­able from www.avi­a­tion­film. com/shop/books/wohvol01ed2.shtml. Even if you have the first edi­tion, don’t let that put you off as this will stand alone as a to­tally sep­a­rate vol­ume and won’t break Santa’s bank bal­ance.

Make mine a Ma­tra

That plan had al­ways been to put some sort of sign writ­ing on the sides of the Editorial ute. It started its life sold new in Christchurch as a plumber’s ve­hi­cle and that didn’t re­ally ex­cite me all that much. Then with my brother’s 1932 Chevro­let pick-up near­ing com­ple­tion, we de­cided to dec­o­rate them both as “Hay­cock’s Garage”, our great-un­cle’s garage in Bulls which had been around long enough to suit the ages of both trucks.

That was un­til, when as part of the Clas­sic Driver Le Mans tour, I spot­ted some­thing in the shop of the Ma­tra mu­seum. De­cals taken from the side of their team ser­vice ve­hi­cles. In­stant change of plan, my ute will in­stead be a 1970 Le Mans sup­port ve­hi­cle for Ma­tra Sport.

The only is­sue was the print on the de­cals was blue, which won’t look too good on my blue paint but I did know a way to fix it. For­mer House of Travel col­league Sarah, (the un­for­tu­nate one who has to deal with my some­times rather ob­scure de­mands for the Le Mans tours) has a sis­ter, Coral, who is very clever at de­sign­ing and mak­ing all sorts of stick­ers and lo­gos. It looks like I have an­other job for Co­ral­ware de­sign.

While she was re­vers­ing and en­larg­ing my French pur­chase, I was on the in­ter­net look­ing for the other lo­gos used on the Le Mans cars and came across a UK sup­plier with the cor­rect 1970 Elf and SEV Mar­chal lo­gos and they even sup­plied a 1970 Le Mans 24 Hours ve­hi­cle en­try pass to go on the wind­screen. Ei­ther a great fin­ish­ing de­tail or the fi­nal ev­i­dence that I am in­deed a sad bas­tard.

What I didn’t take into ac­count is that ap­ply­ing printed graph­ics to a car is not quite as straight for­ward as it seems. The Elf and Mar­chal lo­gos went on without a fight but the main Ma­tra de­cals were a dif­fer­ent story en­tirely.

My first at­tempt was an ab­ject fail­ure and the other side, while at least I got it all on the door, wasn’t ex­actly per­fect. Back to Coral for ad­vice and I must have sounded pretty pa­thetic as with the prom­ise that I will bring pizza for her girls, she will redo the de­cals and put them on for me. And if you think putting them on straight was hard, try re­mov­ing them once they have at­tached them­selves firmly to the paint!

It took Sarah and me quite some time to get rid of the com­plete but blis­tered at­tempt on one door while Coral, in what seemed to be no time at all, got the new one on the other side look­ing about 1000 times bet­ter than my ef­fort and was wait­ing for us to fin­ish get­ting rid of my pre­vi­ous mis­take.

The end re­sult was well worth the ef­fort and yes, I know the Miche­lin Man isn’t cor­rect for 1970 Le Mans Ma­tras. They ran Goodyear’s but Biben­dum was al­ready on the roof when the Ma­tra idea came about so he can stay there. Plus he gives peo­ple the op­por­tu­nity to point at me and laugh!

The work of Euan Sar­gin­son

Read­ers of Clas­sic Driver who fol­lowed motorsport in the 1960 and 70s will al­most cer­tainly be aware of the work of master pho­tog­ra­pher, the late Euan Sar­gin­son.

His pho­tos and Peter Greenslade’s words com­bined in the Shell New Zealand Mo­tor Rac­ing an­nu­als which are still the go-to ref­er­ence guide for any­one look­ing for de­tails of what hap­pened in the Golden years of the sport here.

As a mat­ter of fact, I have Eoin Young’s bound set sit­ting along­side me as I write this, bor­rowed upon threat of death, or worse if any­thing should hap­pen to them, pre­par­ing for a story in the next is­sue of Clas­sic Driver on Andy Buchanan – some­thing to look for­ward to I hope!

What I was not aware of was his land­scape pho­tog­ra­phy, not un­til his daugh­ter Alice, a very tal­ented pho­tog­ra­pher in her own right, ar­ranged an ex­hi­bi­tion of some of his work at a lo­cal gallery, along­side the paint­ings of lo­cal artist Si­mon Ed­wards.

Eoin Young, one of Euan’s great friends and ad­mir­ers of his work, in­vited me to go along to see this, what was to me, an un­known facet to his tal­ent. Terry Mar­shall had al­ready been once and was so taken by the power of the stark black and white im­ages that he was more than happy to come along again and see some of the master crafts­man’s work.

It is a pity that by the time you read this, the ex­hi­bi­tion will be closed as it was stun­ning. I can only hope that at some time in the fu­ture, Alice feels will­ing and able to share more of her fa­ther’s work from out­side the world of motoring and more peo­ple are able to see for them­selves what a multi-tal­ented artist Euan Sar­gin­son re­ally was. I have spent very lit­tle time in art gal­leries but you can be sure I would re­turn to more work of this qual­ity.

When you get a chance to give

On the Clas­sic Driver Le Mans tour, Kath and Roger Broad­bent were telling us about their six year old grand­son Danny who is suf­fer­ing from an in­op­er­a­ble brain tu­mour.

Danny and his fam­ily live in Christchurch and Kath asked if it would be pos­si­ble to ar­range for Danny to get a ride in a car around Rua­puna. Fel­low tourist Paul Jones im­me­di­ately vol­un­teered his Ford Escort Mex­ico and we promised to ar­range some­thing when we all got home and re­turned to nor­mal­ity.

With nor­mal­ity and re­al­ity now firmly un­der con­trol, it was time to make good on our prom­ise. Paul was ready to bring the Escort out, Alex Mitchell vol­un­teered his Porsche 911 and his wife’s Boxster, Terry Mar­shall had his Boxster and I sup­plied the Editorial Porsche 924 Turbo. Alex spoke to Rua­puna, who very gen­er­ously gave us the track for an hour at no cost (thank you – it was ap­pre­ci­ated!) and it was done as sim­ply as that.

The cho­sen day was warm and dry which was a re­lief as Danny, with par­ents James and Jackie, sis­ter So­phie and friend Amy turned up and none of us wanted to worry about a wet track. There were enough cars for ev­ery­one to try out without stand­ing around wait­ing and I can as­sure you, the driv­ers had as much fun (or pos­si­bly more) than the pas­sen­gers.

Some­times it is easy to for­get that what for us is nor­mal and rou­tine, may be to oth­ers some­thing new and ex­cit­ing and it was a sat­is­fy­ing feel­ing to be able to of­fer a new ex­pe­ri­ence to some­one who needs to take ev­ery op­por­tu­nity while it is there. Some­thing for us all to think about!

Tour­ing in a mod­ern car can be fun!

When it comes to do­ing car events, ral­lies, tours or what­ever, I have spent pretty much all of my life, cer­tainly all of my adult life, do­ing it in a range of cars rang­ing in age from pretty old to bloody an­cient and en­joyed them all. Never in my mod­ern car, for it is just not done!

At Labour week­end, Sven Slager in New Ply­mouth had or­gan­ised a tour for Peu­geot coupes and cabri­o­lets and, as the last old one of those I had now re­sides in his garage, I gave it only a pass­ing thought be­fore de­cid­ing to stay home in­stead.

Then Sven rang me. He wanted a speaker for the fi­nal din­ner; would I be pre­pared to do it?

As my par­ents were go­ing to be tak­ing part and a cou­ple of cars I had pre­vi­ously owned would be there as well, I agreed and then had to break it to Mag­gie that for the long week­end, she would have to use the ute as I was tak­ing the 406 Coupe, her daily driver, for a short drive to New Ply­mouth and back.

I learnt some­thing. Sev­eral things... Mod­ern cars can be fun on tour.

They have horse­power. Over­tak­ing can be done sim­ply by open­ing the throt­tle rather than need­ing a topo­graph­i­cal map and an hour’s ad­vance no­tice to get the car wound up to ter­mi­nal ve­loc­ity.

You can play mu­sic loud, not just to drown out the noise from the en­gine, but just be­cause you want loud mu­sic.

Air-con­di­tion­ing and leather Re­caro seats make for a pleas­ant in­te­rior en­vi­ron­ment and there is a rea­son why vinyl isn’t used in car seats any­more.

And when on the road to Whang­amomona you catch up with Neale and Michelle Batch­e­lor, even though Neale has had to leave his beloved Fiat 124 Sport at home in favour of Michelle’s 306 cabriolet, when a big blue 406 coupe ap­pears in his mir­ror, he wants to play too and that is one piece of road which is RE­ALLY good fun driven in an en­thu­si­as­tic man­ner in a car with both power and han­dling (and the noise of a 3 litre V6 work­ing hard is ac­tu­ally enough to turn the CD player down for a while to hear the other sort of mu­sic).

I had a great time. Ru­ral Taranaki roads are ideal for en­joy­ing a de­cent car, es­pe­cially the ones with signs to say they are about to be closed for the Targa. It is pos­si­ble I may have strayed from the of­fi­cial route a cou­ple of times to in­ves­ti­gate them and had to try and work out ex­actly where in the re­gion I was, to catch up with the rest of the cars again.

I think I may have dis­cov­ered ex­actly why it is “they don’t make ‘em like that any­more”. Mag­gie might have to get used to the ute a lit­tle more; I have found a new way to en­joy my­self.

The Boys go back to Bendigo

It seems that the Bendigo swap­meet is be­com­ing a reg­u­lar event for more and more New Zealan­ders. It was de­cided soon af­ter get­ting back last year that we should re­turn for the 2013 event and the word didn’t take long to spread.

By the time we headed over, our group had grown to seven, my fa­ther and brother be­ing joined by Taranaki vin­tage Chev. driv­ers Nigel Fraser and Neil Carter, Neil’s son Nick, af­flicted with the need for pre-war Morris parts and their mate Grant Bishop, a Ford Model T owner, just to prove we will mix with any­one!

While the swap­meet was the ob­ject of the ex­er­cise, there are plenty of other at­trac­tions around Mel­bourne to keep ev­ery­one amused and once we all ar­rived, call num­ber one was to a place in the suburbs which I have been fre­quent­ing for many years, Model Cars of the World.

Twelve months ago when we were there, they were hav­ing a 50% off sale as they were clos­ing down. As of last week­end, they still have a 50% off ev­ery­thing sale and they are still clos­ing down. I hope they take their time about it as Mel­bourne just won’t be the same af­ter they do close the doors.

When we went in, no-one was go­ing to buy any­thing. Oddly enough, with the ex­cep­tion of my fa­ther, ev­ery­one walked out with some­thing in their hands.

My buy was a 1/43 ver­sion of How­den Gan­ley’s 1972 Ma­tra 670. It seemed rude not to when I have met the driver and my ute is now dec­o­rated in the team colours.

Ten min­utes away and we were at Auto Sur­plus, a parts sup­plier since the early 1920s and one of those places where the more you look at, the more you see.

What I saw as I walked in the door was a framed Du­rant Mo­tors share cer­tifi­cate. As I bent down to pick it up, a voice from be­hind the counter an­nounced, “Dave Wilkens says you have to buy that!”

Now how did Dave Wilkens, my mate from Up­per Hutt, know I was go­ing to walk in? Are my Mel­bourne haunts that pre­dictable?

“Did Dave Wilkens pay by credit card?” There is no way Wilkens was ever go­ing to be leav­ing that par­tic­u­lar Em­po­rium empty-handed so I knew that was a cer­tainty and that was con­firmed. Well...

“That Mr Wilkens is a very gen­er­ous fel­low and as he is ob­vi­ously so con­cerned that I have it, that he won’t mind if you just add this to his credit card.”

For rea­sons which I am not sure of, the help­ful fel­low be­hind the counter didn’t think that was such a good idea.

On the road north to Bendigo, Castle­maine is a com­pul­sory stop. The Re­stor­ers Barn is sup­pos­edly for house ren­o­va­tors but there is plenty there of use to old car peo­ple as well.

Plus Nigel is restor­ing an old house and once he had had a quick cell­phone con­ver­sa­tion with the Opunake Fi­nan­cial Depart­ment, he was cleared to make a pur­chase.

Then there is the an­tique com­plex be­tween the town cen­tre and Camp­bell’s Creek, our third des­ti­na­tion. Yes, there are plenty of an­tiques of the kind you would ex­pect, but we were there for other rea­sons. Specif­i­cally the show­room (rooms!) full of re­stored petrol pumps, from the 1920s and ear­lier right up to the 60s. This place is a des­ti­na­tion all in it­self, and since our last visit, they have ex­panded into sell­ing old mo­tor­bikes as well.

Yet still this was not the Fri­day high­light. That was, as it al­ways is, the visit to Grant Cowie’s “Up the Creek” work­shop on the out­skirts of town.

Greet­ing us at the door was the 1914 Grand Prix De­lage which has its newly re­built twin cam 16 valve now sit­ting back in the chas­sis.

Be­side that a GN, a pe­cu­liar sport­ing Bri­tish cy­cle-car from the early 1920s, boast­ing an air-cooled V-twin en­gine and solid rear axle, chain driven and the fore­run­ner to the only slightly less pe­cu­liar but rather more civilised FraserNash.

The 1500cc straight-eight Tal­botDar­racq Grand Prix car has been on hold for a while but se­ri­ous work is about to start soon.

On my last visit, Grant’s en­gine shop was work­ing on an early 1920s Stoewer, an ex­tremely rare Ger­man tour­ing car.

This ex­am­ple is com­pletely orig­i­nal, right down to the leather on the seats. The body is a lo­cal Aus­tralian pro­duc­tion and un­usu­ally for one of those (very much like the slab­sided cre­ations which were built on our side of the Tas­man as well) it looks very stylish and Euro­pean.

Imagine how it would have looked when it was new with the alu­minium pol­ished to a mir­ror fin­ish.

While it does not show up on the pho­tos, the top 20cm or so of the al­low body is as well. With the en­gine now re­in­stalled, this great look­ing car was al­most ready to be re­turned to its owner and Grant started it up for us.

It was only a 2.6 litre fixed-head four so per­for­mance will never be star­tling and the drums for the two-wheel brakes don’t look too in­spir­ing ei­ther, so the lack of per­for­mance may be a good thing, but hey, it looks good, it sounds good (and it still runs the orig­i­nal ex­haust sys­tem!) and as Grant com­mented, a car in that state of orig­i­nal­ity prob­a­bly be­longs in a mu­seum.

Of course all of this was just the ap­pe­tiser as we pre­pared for the main course, the Bendigo Swap­meet.

The gates opened at 6.00am on Satur­day morn­ing and even for the keen­est in our group thought that sounded a lit­tle too early. Still, at 6.30am I dropped off ev­ery­one ex­cept dad at the main gate and then re­treated back down the hill to our apart­ment for a leisurely breakfast and we made our ap­pear­ance at a far more civilised 8am.

I was ac­tu­ally tak­ing a bit of a risk here. At din­ner the night be­fore we were joined by a cou­ple of early Fiat guys, Richard Un­kles from Mel­bourne and Dale Chris­tensen who had driven 1700km from Queens­land in the search for vet­eran chain drive F.I.A.T. 18BL truck parts.

Mid-way through a par­tic­u­larly tasty slice of Banof­fee pie, Richard dropped a bit of a bomb­shell on me. “I don’t sup­pose you would be in­ter­ested in a white-faced early Peu­geot oil pres­sure gauge?” It just so hap­pens that I would be in­ter­ested in such an item for my 1915 type 153A. Could he de­scribe were he saw it?

So here I am, 8am and try­ing to de­ci­pher a map drawn on the back of a servi­ette and not mak­ing a very good job of it. Per­haps I should have been there ear­lier as I will kick my­self if I miss it. Af­ter an hour of fruit­less search­ing, I ad­mit­ted de­feat and sent a text to my brother in the hope he was go­ing to ren­dezvous with the Fiat (or F.I.A.T, depend­ing on your era of in­ter­est) guys. Yes, meet in the main cafe at 9.30am. Which I did.

It seems I was fol­low­ing the map but I was 90 de­grees out in my in­ter­pre­ta­tion of it. Richard took pity and led me to the site where he spot­ted the of­fend­ing in­stru­ment the pre­vi­ous evening.

It was still there. And it was the cor­rect one for my car. And a lit­tle pricey. As well, the same guy had a N.O.S vet­eran Ble­riot gauge which tells you if the gen­er­a­tor is work­ing as well as a Ble­riot head­light of the right shape and size for the car.

This was an ex­pen­sive out­ing and I now have for sale a very nicely re­stored pair of CAV “B” head­lights for a WW1 era car, so I can af­ford to lo­cate and buy the match­ing Ble­riot one to give me a match­ing pair.

If any­one had said to me be­fore leav­ing New Zealand that I would be re­tun­ing with parts for that par­tic­u­lar car, I would have said they were dream­ing, so it was a good day!

The Hawkeswood Sprint

Fast be­com­ing a tra­di­tion is the an­nual Hawkeswood Sprint, util­is­ing a par­tic­u­larly chal­leng­ing sec­tion of what was SH1 just north of Che­viot un­til it was by-passed, leav­ing a per­fect course for a sprint.

Run by RATEC for the Coun­try Gents, the VCC has for sev­eral years been in­vited to come along and join in the fun. On pre­vi­ous oc­ca­sions I have at­tended as a Stew­ard but due to a lack of a suit­able ve­hi­cle, I never both­ered to en­ter. Noth­ing I had was pow­er­ful enough to make it fun; I would have needed to be timed by cal­en­dar rather than stop­watch.

I have al­ways been a fan of sprints and hill­climbs. There is no chance of get­ting in­volved in some­one else’s ac­ci­dent and there can be no-one to blame but me if I were to get it wrong and dam­age the car. I de­cided this was an event which would suit the Editorial Porsche and as I was driv­ing it to and from the event and need it on a daily ba­sis, the main thing was just to have fun, cer­tainly not to take any risks and just en­joy a fast drive in the coun­try­side.

Hawkeswood al­ways at­tracts a huge range of cars, from Gra­ham Hamil­ton in the ACE III Spe­cial and Mark McFad­den in the 260M Zephyr Spe­cial to an enor­mous V12 Mercedes sedan and a mid 1930s As­ton Martin Drop­head.

Be­tween the par­tic­i­pat­ing clubs, 37 cars took on the down­hill, up­hill and flat-out blast through the trees course and de­spite the road be­gin­ning to suf­fer from the ex­treme heat and pound­ing from the cars, on the tight up­hill hair­pin the ma­jor­ity set their fastest time on the fi­nal run.

The most spec­tac­u­lar re­tire­ment of the day as seen from the start-line was the newly com­pleted Sil­cock Jaguar MkII which looked and sounded fan­tas­tic.

But most mem­o­rable of all was his comment as he was stand­ing on the road, look­ing at the pin­ion and bits of diff-hous­ing sit­ting on the ground, “How did THAT get out?”

Giv­ing it a healthy dose of revs he dropped the clutch, the car leapt for­ward and then sud­denly there was a bang from the rear, the en­gine raced and the car coasted to a halt, lay­ing a trail of lu­bri­cant as it went.

Mind you, if any­one had been out in the trees to see Tim Stan­ton’s lit­tle Peu­geot 106 clout what­ever it was it clouted, it must have been a de­cent hit. The car was still drive­able but it re­turned to the pad­dock sans rear bumper and the rear sus­pen­sion no longer point­ing in the same di­rec­tion as the front.

Alex Mitchell came along for the ride and to take some pho­tos and he was giv­ing me a hard time about be­ing so much slower than the other 924 in the event, a much more pow­er­ful 924 Car­rera GTC.

I sim­ply re­minded him I was still learn­ing about the car and the course and be­sides, it would be a bloody long walk back to Christchurch!

Fastest time of the day went to the Ford Escort RS 1800 of Tony Gosling, a car driven by rally star Hay­den Pad­den re­cently in the His­toric Otago Rally and the fastest VCC car was Russ Haines in the Fran­gapelli Spe­cial, a mere 1.21 sec­onds be­hind the Escort, but ac­tu­ally third out­right. More as­ton­ish­ing was the se­cond place time of Bert Go­van in his MkII Jaguar, less than a se­cond be­hind the win­ner.

Ev­ery year Hawkeswood gets big­ger and it is fast be­com­ing one of the must-do events on the old car motorsport cal­en­dar. I know I will be back next year.

As Du­rant agents, it’s a lit­tle odd that Les Bedford raced a Chevro­let, the op­po­si­tion prod­uct. Here he is in an­other Muri­wai Beach racer, a c.1922 Du­rant A22

Where is it now? The 1922 Chevro­let FB raced at Muri­wai by Les. Bedford

Four cylin­der Chev own­ers all know that the early, sin­gle ex­haust port heads are prone to crack­ing. Not a new is­sue, the Aus­tralians made their own re­place­ments af­ter the war and Aus­tralian Chev 4 fa­natic Dave Perry has a cou­ple sit­ting on his bench

Wind­sock cor­ner on the Gnoo Blas cir­cuit, where Jack Brab­ham made his de­but as a road racer. Be­low Part of the plaque com­mem­o­rat­ing the al­most for­got­ten track, opened af­ter a dis­agree­ment with the nearby Mt Panorama cir­cuit

This lathe may look an­cient but the ge­nius that was Ralph Wat­son used it to create the Ly­coming Spe­cial. His work­shop has been faith­fully recre­ated at the War­birds and Wheels mu­seum in Wanaka

As well as cars, Ralph had a fas­ci­na­tion with early avi­a­tion and one of his last projects was to built this work­ing replica of a ro­tary en­gine

About to take off and set FTD, Robert McNair looks re­laxed be­hind the wheel of the world’s fastest Ri­ley Nine Monaco

Aaron Alder­s­ley makes his mo­tor sport­ing de­but in his fa­ther’s Austin Seven Spe­cial at the Chelsea hill­climb

Al­lowed to com­peted de­spite this be­ing a pre-war event, Ta­mati Thomp­son had no prob­lem han­dling his Midget in the wet con­di­tions of the Chelsea Sugar re­fin­ery ac­cess road

More ex­pe­ri­enced was Olivia McNair, this her 2nd out­ing in her MG Midget

Just one rea­son to buy the book – this full page colour shot of Amon in the V12 Grand Prix Fer­rari

Close-up de­tail of the Mercedes DIII en­gine from an Al­ba­tros DVa fighter, a taste of the en­gine chapter from On the Wings of His­tory

The fin­ished ar­ti­cle. Now I am not sure if I need to add some­thing to the top of the mud­guards or maybe on the deck sides. Maybe “Ma­tra-Gi­tanes” in white?

While Sarah re­moves the last of my un­suc­cess­ful de­cal ap­pli­ca­tion... Coral makes sure I don’t de­stroy any more of her hand­i­work by putting it on her­self

I am sure this is where Clas­sic Driver read­ers first saw Euan’s work. An ex­hi­bi­tion of Euan Sar­gin­son’s land­scape pho­tos

I don’t know what I en­joyed more, the drive to Whang­amomona or the Hawkes Bay Brew­ery’s pil­sner when I got there

Nor­mally Neale Batch­e­lor does his fun motoring in a Fiat 124 coupe. At Labour week­end the Fiat stayed home and Michelle’s Peu­geot 306 cabriolet came out in­stead

How­den Gan­ley’s ’72 Le Mans Ma­tra

The Stoewer, one of the best pre­served, un­re­stored vin­tage cars in Aus­tralia and now back on the road af­ter a ma­jor en­gine re­build

Ever seen one of these be­fore? This is a 1920s Miche­lin work­shop heater with a com­pres­sor of sim­i­lar vin­tage sit­ting on top. Not the usual an­tique shop finds, but this is no or­di­nary an­tique shop!

Some­thing you just don’t see at New Zealand swap meets, a 1920s Ford Model T project

All Dave Sil­cock could say when he saw these bits was, “How did that get out?” the diff of his Mk II Jaguar might be need­ing some at­ten­tion; this is the pin­ion sit­ting on the road!

How’s this for a pad­dock scene? Replica Jaguar C-type, Porsche 924 Car­rera GTC, As­ton Martin and Iso Grifo and in the back­ground, a pair of Ford V8s

The Ed­i­tor at play in the Clas­sic Driver Porsche

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.