best of Bri­tish

Wangaratta Chronicle - North East Regional Extra - - Front Page - by KYLIE WIL­SON

NOW bet­ter known for their achievements in air­craft en­gi­neer­ing, Eng­land’s Arm­strong-Sid­de­ley com­pany spent 40 years creating lux­ury cars in the 20th cen­tury.

And although their car man­u­fac­tur­ing days are long over, there re­mains many pas­sion­ate devo­tees of the ve­hi­cles that were made dur­ing this time.

Many of them are set to gather from across Aus­tralia in Beech­worth this month as part of the na­tional Arm­strong-Sid­de­ley Car Club an­nual rally oc­cur­ring in Beech­worth on March 17.

Among them will be Beech­worth res­i­dent Gra­ham Caron, a proud owner of two Arm­strong-Sid­de­ley ve­hi­cles.

He has had an affin­ity for the ve­hi­cles ever since pur­chas­ing “a stripped down wreck” of a 1953 model back in 1997, which he spent over a decade restor­ing into a road­wor­thy ve­hi­cle.

Through Gra­ham’s hard work, the car has un­der­gone a com­plete restoration, in­clud­ing rust re­pairs, all me­chan­i­cal parts and the in­te­rior, and now sports a two tone ele­phant grey and sil­ver grey ex­te­rior, an op­u­lent red leather trim and a pol­ished wood pan­elled dash­board.

Gra­ham proudly said he built or sourced much of what he needed for the project on his own, apart from out­sourc­ing the up­hol­stery work.

“I’m pretty well a do it yourself sort of per­son,” he said. “Old cars can be ad­dic­tive.” Gra­ham said he pur­chased the car as a project simply be­cause he “liked the shape and the look of it”, but each year he has grown more at­tached to work­ing on the ve­hi­cle and so­cial­is­ing with fel­low Arm­strong-Sid­de­ley own­ers.

A few years ago he also bought a 1956 model, but he said im­prove­ments on that ma­chine are still a “work in progress”.

His 1953 ve­hi­cle has seen a lot of travel over the years, be­ing driven to ral­lies as far north as Queens­land and Bro­ken Hill.

“They’re a good car for long dis- tance cruis­ing, although they’re a lit­tle bit more thirsty than modern cars,” he ad­mit­ted.

Gra­ham said he loved show­ing off his car at ral­lies.

“Peo­ple come over to have a look and ask me about it,” he said.

Gra­ham said this month’s event is the first time it has re­turned to Beech­worth in 15 years, with the rally pre­vi­ously hav­ing been held in the town in 2003.

He said the ap­peal of the ve­hi­cles was that they are “one of the more pres­ti­gious English makes, although they are not so well known”.

Gra­ham added that be­cause of the com­pany’s in­deli­ble link with air­craft de­sign, “they’re very well engi­neered, pres­tige cars” and be­came more and more aero­dy­nam­i­cally de­signed as time went on.

Gra­ham is not the only one in the fam­ily with an affin­ity for Bri­tish ve­hi­cles – his wife Pauline, drives a clas­sic Mor­ris Mi­nor 1000, which also draws plenty of com­ments from on­look­ers when the pair are out and about.

Also head­ing to the rally is Mark­wood res­i­dent Robin Gibb, who owns a 1926 Arm­strong-Sid­de­ley road­ster.

Robin said the car has a long his­tory in the re­gion, hav­ing for­merly been used at Bai­leys of Glen­rowan be­fore he bought it in the mid 1990s, and he has done lots of work on it over the years.

He has long ap­pre­ci­ated Arm­strong-Sid­de­ley cars, say­ing his first car was also made by the com­pany.

He said the lines of the car “just take your fancy” and he en­joys work­ing not only on his car, but also on the var­i­ous steam trucks he has on his prop­erty.

“I’m al­ways fix­ing ma­chines,” Robin said, adding that he is look­ing forward to mix­ing with fel­low own­ers at the up­com­ing rally, and see­ing the range of other Arm­strong-Sid­de­ley cars.

Next year will see the cen­te­nary of the for­ma­tion of the com­pany, a mile­stone many Arm­strong-Sid­de­ley ve­hi­cle own­ers are quite ex­cited about.

The pub­lic will be able to see a dis­play of Arm­strong-Sid­de­ley ve­hi­cles be­tween 9-11.30am at Beech­worth’s Po­lice Pad­docks, be­hind the for­mer court­house build­ing on Saturday, March 17.

For more information call Gra­ham on (03) 5728 7264.

PHOTO: Wendy Stephens

PROUD MO­TORIST: Lo­cal Arm­strong-Sid­de­ley devo­tee Gra­ham Car­son pic­tured at the old hos­pi­tal façade in Beech­worth with one of his cars, a 1953 Arm­strong-Sid­de­ley.

PROUD: Mark­wood res­i­dent Robin Gibb with his 1926 Arm­strong-Sid­de­ley road­ster.

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