President's Report - August 2003

Greetings All,

What a month! So much has happened, it's hard to know where to begin. Catching up with the Redex Rerun cars on July 8 at Wycliffe Well campground, just south of Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory, was a great experience.  Sue and I just "happened" to be in the area on our Central Oz tour, and were pleased to share a pre-dinner gin & tonic in the late afternoon sunshine with club members Ian Brock and Chris Reid. Leaving Wycliffe Well the next day, we headed for Mount Isa, while the Redex cars headed south to Alice Springs.

Three days later, Sue and I were back in Canberra, coming home via Longreach, Charleville, Bourke and Cowra. The following Saturday afternoon (July 19), I joined the Redex cars at the driver training course on the Sutton Road, where I timed one of the special events. The weather was warm(ish) and bright sunshine bode well for the following day. That night Sue and I joined an enthusiastic group of club members at Ardeche Restaurant for the annual dinner, and a good night was had by all.

The next day, Sunday July 20, dawned overcast, and stayed that way all day. However, spirits were high as the Redex cars were flagged away from Old Parliament House. Then followed French Car Day, with about 50 vehicles on display, with participants nourished with a continuous supply of barbequed snags in baguettes, courtesy of Peter Rees, Graham Thompson and helpers. The day culminated in the award of prizes, including the Lew Edwards trophy for the best restoration.

Fittingly, the trophy went to Bob Edwards who brought the immaculately restored 403 panel van originally owned by his father, Lew. Understandably, Bob was quite emotional when I presented him with the trophy, which also came with a generous prize of a Michelin jacket, cap and key ring, and a free wheel alignment and balance, all courtesy of Dennis Backhouse at Woden Tyre and Exhaust.

Other prizes included a fine bottle of French vintage champagne donated by Vintage Cellars at Manuka, as well as a $100 service from Alpine Motors.  Continuing the Redex theme, this month's meeting at the Italo-Australian Club will feature tall tales and true (with photos) from our own Redex rerun survivors, Colin Handley, Ian Brock, Dave Rowell and Chris Reid.  Unfortunately it looks like I will be away (again), this time in the land of the long lost vowel (aka New Zealand).

Keep on Pugging,

Brad Pillans

Picture of Brad


Lionising!

On July 8 2003 Brad Pillans was thrilled to catch up with the Redex Rerun cars at Wycliffe Well camp ground, just south of Tennant Creek. The camp ground was filled with pre-1970s Pugs, but camped next to Brad was a very '90s Ford ute being driven by father and son team, Alan and Jack Cherry.  Jack finished a creditable 5 in the awesome 1953 trial, and 50 years later he was one of a handful of original entrants doing it again.

In the course of early morning chit-chat, Alan mentioned to Brad that he lived in Lithgow. "Ah yes", said Brad. "My great-great grandfather was mayor of Lithgow for many years". "What was his name?" said Alan. "Robert Pillans," said Brad. "I live in Pillans Road" said Alan. Small world!

Your travelling president recently found himself in the "biggest little city in the world" - Reno, Nevada, for a scientific convention. The 1100 or so conference attendees were housed in the 2000 room Hilton Hotel casino, which offered very little beyond a sea of poker machines and blackjack tables. And of course, the US has been Pugless since the 505. However, Reno has a very fine car museum, at which the conference reception was held. [The conference dinner was held at the Ponderosa Ranch, where the 1960s TV series "Bonanza" was filmed, but that's another story.]

The museum houses a wonderful collection of unusual American cars, liberally sprinkled with overseas marques dating back to the 1890s. The collection includes one Peugeot, a 1913 Bebe, but is most memorable for the number of obscure American makes - it seems that almost every engineering company in the US had a go at car making in the period between the two world wars. Who has ever heard of the Frontmobile? Not surprising really, since only one example of this World War I era front-wheel-drive car was ever made, and it's in the museum.

A quick survey by Brad revealed that all cars up to World War 1 were right hand drive, and those following were left hand drive. On asking one of the attendants, Brad was informed that the change to LHD was to allow ladies to alight on to the pavement without stepping onto the manure-laden street. On reflection, that presumably means that the yanks initially drove on the "other side" of the road.

Take a look at the front cover of the new Isabel Allende book, My Invented Country.  Great to see the classic lines of the 404 displayed so nicely from the rear.