Saturday, January 31, 2009

1929 Morris Commercial hearse.

I am really proud of this vehicle as an example of what can evolve from a community project. It resides in the Kapunda Museum and is there because it was the first motorised hearse in Kapunda, operated by one of two funeral directors in the town, Mr. Gropler. Somebody had discovered the remains of the back half of the body (called "the box") minus the glass in a chook shed or somewhere. A few locals must have thought that it would be a great idea to "restore" the old thing. A Morris Commercial chassis, which may or may not have been the same one, was discovered in a paddock in Myponga and the stage was set. With the aid of a heritage grant we were able to acquire bits and pieces, a headlight bracket here, engine bits there, but most of the hearse was built from scratch. With not much more than 2 photographs from the archives to go on (see the bottom 2 pics) a really wonderful and authentic vehicle was created. Historical Society members used to turn up each Saturday afternoon at the museum workshop to build it. We were lucky enough to engage the services of a retired railway carriage builder to supervise and teach everybody the art of bodybuilding. That's John, second from right in the second photo. Jane and I were able to learn how to bend wood using steam (see the curved sides of the drivers compartment) and things like that. One of our members built an English wheel to roll the mudguards, no doubt using Beven Young's plans and we had bending machines and allsorts. Lots of help and advice and copies of manuals came from the Morris Register in SA and a similar group in the UK as well as a Vintage Commercial Vehicle Club over there. The radiator was recored in Sydney using the honeycomb fins from the era. The side glass was supplied with bevelled edges by the Autoglass manufacturer who is going to cut my Ikara windscreen and Roger Trethewey etched them by the acid method in his back yard. The coffin (empty) was found in Greenock. When it was all finished, there was a big event in Kapunda and these 2 pictures were taken outside the museum on that day. There was a parade through the town with the hearse at its head. Cars from the Morris Register and the nearby Vintage car clubs took part. That's Ivan Venning's Chev 490 behind the hearse. Two Bolwells were in the parade as Roger and Lynne came up in their Mark 7 for it. Bob Tilbrook drove the hearse. He has also driven it over to the Barossa for the Morris National Meeting and when the South-North crosscountry Talbot came to town he drove it out to Anlaby and back to Dutton Park so it's certainly not just a static display. It is fitting that Bob drives it. He did the major part of the mechanical work on it. He was an International Harvester man in Kadina before his retirement. He was one of the few workers who saw the project out to the very end when some had dropped by the wayside. Bob is from the Tilbrook racing motorcycle and Tilbrook sidecar family. The Tilbrook motorcycle engine is a story for another day.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Mt. Alma Mile Hillclimb

Thank you Mark Armitage for directing my attention to this hillclimb. It is run by the Southern Districts Car Club and will be held on the weekend after Easter (18th & 19th April,2009) on Mount Alma Road at Hindmarsh Valley. It is the actual climb up Mount Alma. They are treating it as practice for their very successful Adelaide Hills Tarmac Rally which is in May.

There will be a minimum of 4 runs per competitor prior to the top 12 competitors running off in an elimination final. 12 cars will be reduced to the fastest 6 cars that will be run off again to find the fastest 3 cars that will then run off to decide the podium positions.

It's hot allright.

Day after day at over 40 degrees. It actually hit 50 degrees in Kapunda yesterday.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Another Lime Green Muira

This photo was taken at the Classic Adelaide the year before last I think it was. I wonder if this was the one.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Another Mark 4

On Sunday Peter G attended the Centre State Swap in Bendigo. John Goulden was there with his Mark 4 along with Allan Thomas with his Lotus 11 Replica. Allan also owns the ex-McAllister Mk.7 and the ex-Storr Mk.4. Here are some pictures.
I'm not really familiar with this wire-wheeled Mark 4 although I'm sure I have seen some photos on Flickr of John competing in it at a recent hillclimb. I quite like the bootlid. It looks just like the engine hatch on Ray's Condor that he brought over from Tanunda yesterday. John must be rather tall judging by the extension on the perspex windshield. Can someone tell me what powers the car? Looking at the bonnet I began to suspect a 6 cylinder.

Australia Day

A great day yesterday for the SA Bolwell people. We had a run to the Mac residence at Birdwood for a barbecque and a very enjoyable day it was too. 5 Mark 7s and a lone Nagari took part as well as Ray's Condor, Glen and Mel's Scimitar and Norm and Sarah's Clemente clubman. The morning began with coffee and muffins at Billy Baxter's at Golden Grove followed by a cruise via One Tree Hill, the back way into Gawler, then Lyndoch, Williamstown, Mt. Crawford to Peter and Lynne's. At the last minute Colin L topped up the gas in his Falcon ute which gave the bunch a bit of a break on us. Knowing that the run was organised by Norm and that he sets a cracking pace and that he had arranged a "scenic tour", we went straight to the nudist colony to catch up. Strangely (for Norm) they didn't even go there and we picked them up outside the Williamstown pub and continued on to Chain-of-Ponds. At our destination, we had a great afternoon consuming lots of food and as it was a very hot day, lots of Coopers, among other things. The hot weather also had its effect on a few Bollies, Brian D's, Peter S's and Roger and Lynne's in particular. It was good to see the blue Mark 7 V8 convertible out of retirement at the Birdwood Mill again.
My friends in the Gawler Car Club were taking part in the Playford Council's Australia Day motoring event and you can't be in more than one place at a time but on our way to Golden Grove we did encounter a convoy that included this very lovely Derby Bentley, a later model Bentley Continental and a 20hp Rolls Royce. Here's some of the cars outside Billy Baxter's.

And this is Ray's well finished, Sigma powered Condor.

A few of the cars by the lake outside Williamstown.
And this is Norm, kitted out and ready to go in the clubman. He gets better looking as time goes on doesn't he.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Missed opportunity

In the 70s (and early 70s at that) I was asked by this man I knew at the time who had a block of flats just off Anzac Highway to come and remove this car that was left behind by an old tenant. This was a very basic 2-story block of flats and this car was in a carport down the back. The tenant had left no forwarding address and had presumably done a runner. "What do you want me to do with this car?" I asked. "If you can make use of it, then it's yours" was the reply. It had been there for about 9 months, taking up room and the tyres were flat. OK so around we go to have a look and under the dust was a lime green Lamborghini Muira. Being very straight and conservative as well, and having a wife who was even more so, we started thinking of the negatives, like 'it's probably been knocked off' or 'the owner might have been knocked off' or 'if something is broken we probably couldn't afford to fix it' and 'what problems are we going to bring on ourselves?' and so on. In the end it all got too scary for us and the landlord got a scrap metal dealer to come and take it away. Some years later a Muira turned up in the Birdwood Museum. It's the same limish green and to this day appears unrestored. I often wonder if it's the same one. They aren't all that thick on the ground in SA. I don't know its history. I must find out.

Friday, January 23, 2009

More Nimbus Stratus

I knew I had them somewhere. I even found the negatives. Anyway here is another Stratus. This is what they look like.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Mark 5 history

You know me - always chasing up snippets in my quest to discover the history of as many Mark 5s as possible (especially ones with racing history). Well, I was thumbing through some of my old Historic Racing Register newsletters and found this in the November 1982 edition which in those days was edited by Jan and Noel Tuckey. It was the monthly "Driver Profile" and reads like this:- Michael Wright.

A high school teacher, Mike has been working in Grafton for the last ten years, and according to Mike, his interest in cars has been a consuming passion for as long as he can remember. He had "lots of" T series MG's, and then decided to go hillclimbing. Looking for a suitable car, he bought a Mark Five Bolwell, and then heard of another Bolwell that was lying out in the scrub. Hidden under the Bolwell shell was the Jack Robinson Jaguar Special. He bought the car, after haggling about trading an MG TD, and sold the body to begin the restoration.
"Everything was painted Hematite green. Everything", said Mike. "Anything that was painted green we kept, anything that wasn't we threw away. By the time we had finished altering the chassis back to the original dimensions, Rob Rowe arrived, and he straightened out a lot of things for us".
Mike's immediate plans for the car are to rebuild the engine, including a run on the dyno. The car will be campaigned in historic races, and apart from the aluminium body shell, the Jaguar Special is still almost totally original.

There are two Bolwells mentioned here really. Can anybody throw any light?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

My mobile

For all those people leaving messages on my mobile, the Telstra techs tell me my simcard has "cooked itself" which means the phone isn't working. I'm still on the internet and my home number is 08-8566 3365. "Sales" tell me that a new simcard will be despatched from Sydney tomorrow and I should have it the day after. Having been in the courier business I know that equates to next week some time. They could never understand that Kapunda wasn't a capital city.

A very primitive vehicle

Yes, even more primitive than an old Bolwell. This is a Ratha-yatra chariot that each night during the Woodford Festival cruised around the streets of the village with its air horn blaring like a ship in the Port River. Ratha-yatra is the festival of chariots which is a joyous event celebrated for thousands of years in the Indian holy city of Jagannatha Puri and recently in cities around the world. Lord Jagannatha rides on this huge "juggernaut" in a procession to the Gundicha Temple to see his devotees who welcome him in the streets. Each year they construct new chariots. I think this is an old one. I noticed that the hubs were from a Leyland truck from the twenties. The power came from people pulling ropes (People Power) but what I wanted to show you was a couple of mechanical components. Firstly the elaborate steering system, steered by a steering wheel on a vertical steering column upstairs.
And the braking system which you might note has a power booster, fed from a large cylinder of compressed air.

Useful air vents

In the days before triple core cross-flow Statesman radiators and the like, we city-slickers of the time had a very real problem with overheating in our Nagaris during the summer months. In order to get some air flow through the engine bay many owners opened up the back of their power bulges. This really didn't do much because (and I have never learned the physics of it) air rushes down the windscreen, not up, creating a pressure point that doesn't encourage the hot air out. In March 1977 I bought what I considered a lovely yellow coupe, B8/26, in Melbourne, becoming its third owner. It had very aesthetically pleasing and very effective air vents at the outside rear of the bonnet. These were able to flow hot air from the engine bay around the side of the base of the windscreen and down the side of the car creating quite an airstream. In the four years that the car was my daily driver it always remained cool even when driving home from work at peak hour in the sometimes 40+ degree heat (and despite the daggy old Falcon radiators of the time). I have never seen these vents on another car before or since. B8/26 is no longer that Bolwell Yellow, being painted Pepper Red by Udo Selter in 1981. The car is still alive and well and living in Queensland in the hands of John Davies. Here are some photos of the vents and you will see what I mean.

I bought the car from Robert Moore of Torquay in Victoria. He didn't know the origins of the venting system. I don't know who the original owner was but the rego number when I bought it was BJ-302 and therefore I am assuming that B.J. was that person's initials. Rohan may be able to help me here. Robert Moore was a go-kart racer and B8/26 was his transporter. The bootlid had a very substantial rack bolted to it. While you can't tell from the outside, there is still evidence of where the bolt holes were on the underside.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

There are Mark 1 Cortinas and Mark 1 Cortinas

From my posts yesterday and today on the Bill Griffiths and John Hartney Mark 7s has come a comment from Peter G that "it's interesting to note that the Mk 1 Cortina parking lights were used (by John) as they were in Bill Griffiths build of his Mk7". Due to my somewhat "blinkered" Nagari existance, I didn't recognise them. I always thought Mk.1 Cortinas had the front blinkers like the ones in pictures 3 and 4 as seen on the first 80-odd Nagaris. Now that I am enlightened, I find that the ones in pictures 1 and 2 are just as prevalent as the others.


Here is a clip from Auto Action dated 12th July 1974. The photo shows Bill Griffith competing in a MSCA hillclimb at Morwell. In a previous post I had mentioned that the Denise Marcos car and the Bill Griffiths car had similar tail treatments. This was based on Denise mentioning to me when she arrived in Adelaide in 1972 with a somewhat unusual Mark 7 that it was built in conjunction with another one and that was Bill's. Well Bill's was standard bodied and I apologise for that mistake. (Not even Austin A90 tail-lights). It remained standard bodied until sold to Ron McPherson who stretched it a bit in order to get a back seat into it (he had kids).

Monday, January 19, 2009

Henry's upgrade.

There were 3 Bollies at the small gathering at Bill's property near Bendigo yesterday. Among them was Henry Stork's Nagari which was having its first major outing after a yearlong update which included fuel injection, new heater, new tank, new headers and numerous other mods, most done by Ron McPherson. The white Mark 7 in the picture is Ron's, which he has owned for approximately 30 years but it is the original Bill Griffiths car from all those many years ago. That's John White's Boxter in the background by the way.

A very nice yellow Mark 7.

Yesterday a group of Victorians went for a drive in the country to visit Bill Griffiths. Bill is very much revered over that way and with good reason too, I'm sure. He was responsible for starting this whole movement, over 40 years ago now.
Among the vehicles taking part was John Hartney's ex-Peter Marr Mark 7, frest from its recent revamp. As you can see, the Nagari nose is gone and a more original Mk.7 front replaces it. I like the glassed in place to put the numberplate. It's not revolutionary, Ron McPherson has something similar on his white Mk.7, but a nice touch nevertheless. Without it, on Marks 5 and 7, you wonder where to put the plate (which you can't dispense with) and they end up looking just tacked on.
The rear looks pretty tidy as well. As it is originally from NSW, the back window doesn't have the rounded off bottom corners which Peter Garvin was telling me was done to give the window a better seal. (Reducing the number of joins in the window rubber and lowering the chance of rear window leaks).
You've done a great job, John.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

More IRS

Here's some photos of the IRS under the ex-Andrew Kluver Nagari sports which is currently advertised for sale on Carpoint.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Camper vans.

There were lots of Kombi vans at Woodford but this one deserved a photograph. I'll bet it made it home to Victoria too, which is more than we were able to do.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Reynard Inverter

Jim S sent me the following press release:-
"January 11, 2009 Reynard is a name familiar to all motorsports enthusiasts - founded by the brilliant automotive engineer Adrian Reynard, it quickly grew to become the world's largest racing car manufacturer before some financial disasters led it to bankruptcy in 2002. No-one ever questioned Reynard's abilities to produce remarkably competitive race cars though and now he's back with a ballistic road-regiserable, two-seater named the inverter. Powered by either a Honda Fireblade 1000cc motorcycle engine, or a Suzuki Hayabusa 1300cc motor, the Inverter weighs in at 400kg with all fluids and is so named because it has been designed to generate F1-levels of downforce - enough to deliver 4G cornering forces. Given a Hayabusa produces 250 bhp, the Inverter has a power-to-weight ratio in the stratosphere - equivalent to or better than cars that cost an order of magnitude more money. So that's the equation - F1-levels of downforce, a stellar power-to-weight ratio, oh, and it has been designed to be manufactured VERY cheaply. The Inverter will be very special and very very affordable."

Jim's comment - I note that the chassis is made from square tubing (aluninium?) rather than autoclaved epoxy/carbon. Simple is best!
Here's another report on it:-

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Mark 5 bonnet

It looks a bit mottled because it's parked under a pepper tree on a hot day (today) but the scoop has been glassed in and the bonnet itself is getting stronger by the day. When it was sanded back, it was a bit of a sorry sight, paper thin and holey in places. Some of the low spots have 4 layers added. Anyway, it's taking shape and it's going to be good. Just when we start to get pleased with the look of the scoop, up bobs a picture of George's with the same bloody one. He certainly has good taste.

Nimbus Stratus

If you haven't checked the comments in the previous post you won't know what this is about but this is a Nimbus Stratus. The above car was in the SA club in the 80s. This photo was taken at the Renmark Show in 1984. That's Monica and Julie. They don't look much different today.

Monday, January 12, 2009

"Aussie Barn Find"

Here's another Jalopnik page. This "discovery" of 297 cars is actually a collection of a fellow Gawler Club member and former Bolwell owner.

Jag rear ends

The info line received the following email:-
Subject: Nagari coupe

Around 1980, I had a perv at a red Nagari coupe in Artarmon, Sydney. Always lusting about the Nagari design since 1970, this was a real treat.

However, I noticed the camber of the rear wheels did not convince me that all was right. A study under her rear end (if you'll excuse) proved she be fitted with a Jaguar rear suspension set-up including in-board discs.

Can anyone tell me any info of these conversions please?

Sincerely, Brett Hart.

Jag rear ends were popular on hot rods and Cobra replicas and I know they have turned up on the odd Nagari, which ones I'm not sure. At some stage, everyone seems to talk about how good they would be and I do remember having seen one on a Nagari in the flesh. What do others know about them?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Bottle Trees

Here are a couple of bottle trees. We tried growing a bottle tree last year but last summer, when we had 16 days of over 40 degrees in a row, it was just a bit much for the little tree and a couple of young fruit trees and we lost it.
On the road between Cobar and Wilcannia we encountered another branch of the bottle tree family (below). Maybe we should have planted one of these.