Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Valano

Yesterday, Chris Gascoigne sent me this email with the title "Milanos and suchlike":-
"If it's any help I remember a beastie called the Valano - I don't know what model it was but it was a Milano with a Valiant slope 6 in it. I know of the car because it competed in some sprints (I think they were standing 1/4 miles times) and my Father made himself unpopular as a scrutineer by reckoning there was some irregularity with the engine - I think it was to do with size. (I guess for the question to have arisen it must have been pretty quick.) Anyway the upshot of it was that the poor bastard had to pull it down in our back yard. I don't know what the outcome was. Believe it or not I was a bit young at the time."

You are so very right, Chris. It was a very quick car in those days. The word 'awesome' hadn't emerged back then, but if it had, it would have been used for the Valano's performance I'm sure. Avid readers of this blog (if they exist) would have noted that I have mentioned it in a bit of rambling about my days at Chrysler Australia Ltd. in the early to mid sixties. Even though the factory was established at Tonsley Park, our offices where administration, experimental, motorsport, publicity etc. operated from was at Maple Avenue, Keswick where LeCornus are now. This was the site of the T.J.Richards motor body factory prior to the Chrysler take-over. It was a great place to be for a young man with an emerging interest in all sorts of different machines (I would have been driving to work in a Vauxhall Vagabond convertible or a 1926 Buick tourer back then). In the department where I worked we had to deal with many interesting items like the Chrysler jet car and the rare (to us Aussies) Plymouth Barracuda. Among the vehicles that we used for publicity because of its Valiant engine was the Valano. I'm certain that I personally did not get to drive it but I do have recollections of the difficulty in squeezing into the driver's seat despite being lots more agile than I am now. I seem to recall taking a photo of it one day. It wasn't easy to have a camera in those areas. Anyway, I can't find the photograph any more. I wonder if Bernie Van Elsen may have. I don't even know if he keeps a photograph archive. I know Mike Connell at Orange Photography does (or did). Bernie used to be the photographer for Chryslers, producing the photographs for their brochures. So the only picture I could come up with was the Valano at Collingrove at about the same time. You will notice that it is just that tiny bit out of shape. It had lots of power and a relatively short wheelbase and was a bit of a handful if I recall. In more recent times there was a bloke in the Barossa who ran a Milano GT1 up there and at Mallala in Historic events that was just as powerful and just as hard to keep pointed in the right direction. In fact Norm had to do the odd job on the bodywork to attest to that.

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