The year is 1950 & I,m 14.The first car I drove was a T Model Ford.The T Model had traverse springs,one front one rear so at any speed into a corner it was rock & roll baby,brakes operated on the back wheels only & would lock up on wet or dirt roads & slide to a halt,hopefully about where you wanted to stop.Stopping any of the old cars had to be planned ahead.The handbrake worked on the tail shaft so it was a good idea not to apply it while moving as this could rip the leather universal joints out.The windscreen wiper was hand operated from the drivers seat by a lever at the top of the windscreen.Tyres naturally had no tread as this was a decadent luxury.The tyres,as were most tyres of the 30s were mounted on split rims.Tyre levers could become deadly missiles when trying to force the rims into position.Hope I remember this correctly,the gearbox was a planetary arrangement so on the floor you had four pedals,accelarator far right,footbrake,forward pedal & reverse pedal.To move forward the pedal was fully depressed & slowly released half distance,when you had momentum fully release the pedal to go to a higher ratio.When you came to a hill the pedal was pushed halfway down.The reverse pedal could be used in an emergency to help slow the car going downhill but wore out the belts quickly.No starter on this one so flashing up was a black art,set the hand throttle lever on the steering wheel to a fast idle,set the mixture control to rich,set the spark control to retard ,go to the front of the car & crank the handle.Too rich or lean & it won,t start, too much idle & it will run over you (good idea to chock the wheels before you start) but the best bit if you don,t know how to crank properly, retard too much ,no go, advance too much & the backfire will break your arm. Cars certainly have come a long way,but not much is really new.
When I started driving there was an abundance of old cars around of the 20s & 30s which became my source of transport. The deal was to buy an old car with a few months rego on it for between 5 & 10 pounds, drive it until out of rego sell it to SimsMetal for 3 to 5 pounds & buy another.Over a period I owned many beautiful & interesting cars which I didn,t really value & most ended up at SimsMetal , they included not in any order a T model Ford, A model Ford, B model Ford, 1928 Buick Tourer ( still have the supplied piece of cord with brass ends to measure toe in ) fitted with a vacuum tank mounted on the firewall that drew fuel from the rear petrol tank, if it wasn,t sealed properly & had a leak it was nearly impossible to find, 1928 Chrysler Tourer, 1927 Singer (overhead chain driven camshaft, two bearing crankshaft, had a habit of throwing rods at anything approaching reasonable revs & the block had been stiched up at least twice), another early Singer all steel coupe with the handbrake outside the drivers door, 1927 Austin Meteor (bobtail two seater), 1926 Citroen two seater, 1926? Chevrolet all steel sedan with two wheel brakes, 1928 Dodge Tourer, 1928 Whippet Tourer,192? Oldsmobile Tourer, 1934 Plymouth Sedan, 1934 Terraplane (made by Hudson, the inlet & exhaust ports were copperplated , the clutch was wet cork & silky smooth. Went like a rocket, didn,t stop or handle,had a bad habit of tearing the centres out of the wheels when cornered hard but fun), 1936 Hudson, same clutch & wheel problems as the Terraplane, 1928 Wide Track Morris Cowley with a dickie seat ( a real chick puller in those days. Had a combined chain driven starter & generator. Press the start button, the starter whirrs almost silently, engine starts & now it’s a generator .The unit was huge, nearly half the size of the engine.Coming home one night the gear selector fork broke off, no problem, lift up the floor boards,all old cars had floor boards, take the top off the gearbox & with the help of a mate change gears with a tyre lever.We got home but covered in oil). 1936 Ford Club Coupe, 1934 Vauxhall sedan. Getting into modern cars now, still can,t afford tyres, plenty of used ones around with a bit of tread for 5 or 10 shillings.
It,s about 1956 & it’s the era of the 30x30 used car warranty (30 yards or 30 sec. or until you drove off the concrete, new car warranties weren,t much better). Before I try other subjects let me finish the list of cars that I have owned,not only cars but a few bikes in amongst them.First motorbike was a year unknown James 2 Stroke with a two speed gearbox.Absolutely useless.Then a B.S.A. Bantam.Great fun.Lastly went halves in a Four Sqare Ariel.A big bike that went but the rear cylinders tended to burn out at sustained speed.This car I did not own.While driving past the produce store at Baulkham Hills I saw someone working on the body of an old two seater.It had a for sale sign on it for 400 pounds which was nearly three years wages for me at the time.It was a type 35 Bugatti with an unpainted aluminium body.The owner was seated beside it using a cork covered with sandpaper to put a pattern of swirls on the bodywork.Must have taken forever.I just drooled.1948 Hillman sedan.Couldn,t work out why the bonnet was so heavy then discovered it had a huge dent in it that had been filled in with about 15k of lead.No bog back then.Removed the lead & beat the dent out.Much better.The Hillman had one of the fastest gear shifts I,ve ever used.1946 Mercury woodie.1948 V8 Ford Pilot.The Pilot was made in England after ww2 from prewar bits & pieces that Ford had .A very innovative car apart from the old running gear.Full beautiful soft leather upholstery, flower vases in the rear of the car,a hose that screwed into the spark plug hole to pump up the tyres,one shot lubrication via a screw down grease container under the bonnet & a Jackall system.What,s a Jackall?Built in stands like the V8 Supercars,operated hydraulically by a short lever under the bonnet.All four wheels could be raised together or either side independently .Absolutely magic.The brakes were a worry ,hydraulic front & rod operated mechical rear,never really worked together.Painted this car in enamel by hand with an applicator like a big powder puff,it looked great.Mk1 Zephyr.This was the first car I had with a full set of tyres with tread at the same time.1962 I actually have access to money so buy a NEW XL Falcon wagon I,m not talking Triumphs yet. Valiant station wagon,a heap of work vehicles,Morris J van,a larger Morris van which I sold to a professional roo shooter who took the windscreen out & fired through the front on the move,this while driving through paddocks etc.at night,I did one trip with him but since I didn,t have a death wish once was enough.Morris Minor panel van,Bedford panel van,V W Kombi van,3 Mazda Bongo vans,they were like little tractors & launched & recovered boats with ease,Mini Minor panel van,X D Falcon 4sp.manual,X D Falcon automatic,XJ 6 Jaguar,XF Falcon 5 spd,another XJ 6 Jaguar & NA Ford Fairlaine, NL Fairlane Concorde,AU11 Falcon .Apart from Triumphs that,s about the it for my cars.Over the years I,ve driven everything I could get my hands on,got to try them all,friends cars,dealers etc. just love cars
First a word on maintenance.CONSTANT.Probably up to 1960 the recommended intervals for a grease & oil,tune up (plugs,points & carb adjust) was 1000 miles (1600 km).How long does it take you to do that distance?That was for cars in good condition.Old cars required a lot more attention so it was a Saturday morning ritual to tune the car.Using heaps of oil?No worry,the local garage will let you have all the old sump oil you want,strain it through some old stockings & settle it out for a week & it,s as good as new,well almost. Decoke & valve grinds were also part of the fun,especially on the Ford V8 motors with shims for the valve adjustments.Brake lining could be bought by the yard (metre) & clutch facings supplied blank.Just drill the holes & rivet them on.Don,t forget to countersink the holes for the rivet head.Hand scraping white metal bearings to fit the crankshaft was very,very tedious.Scrape too much & start all over again.The Buick Tourer I had came with a piece of cord with brass ends attached to it.This was to measure the toe in of the front wheels.
Enough of that.Like probably all members I have been interested in cars & motor sports all my life & I have had the opportunity to observe many facets of it from watching Jack (now Sir Jack) Brabham driving at Parramatta Speedway (Cumberland Oval) in what was one of his first drives,to the Indy at Surfers Paradise.In between their has been so much.I,ve worked the flags at Bathurst on the esses when the track had no barriers on either side anywhere & the surface was barely two lanes wide.The humps on conrod were very pronounced & no chicane.It was a lot of fun,very casual then so the deal was to do a few laps at night until the law arrived.Everyone should go over Skyline at speed ,it will get the adrenalin pumping.A lot of the early cars racing were local made.Stan Jones in the Maybach,Frank Kleinig in the fabric bodied Hudson Special,Tom Sulman,s Singer Special & so many more.
Parramatta Park was the venue for some pretty dangerous G.P. racing.The surface was very ordinary & their was a natural tunnel through the rather large trees with the river waiting for the unwary.No barriers between the trees etc.Not too many events were held here.
Katoomba had a track just out of town in a natural ampitheatre,concrete walls on one side,nice solid banks on the other & in winter black ice in parts.Also a short lived dangerous track.
Is Amaroo still open I wonder? I lived not far from Amaroo when it was being built so used it a fair bit.
Warwick Farm was another track I used. Not bad except for the wooden boards placed over the horse track.Come off the turn before the boards wrong & you would be launched into the air.
Not long after radial tyres were introduced into Australia there was a demonstration in Parramatta Park to show how they would not come off special rims if there was a blowout.I won,t name the driver or car but it was a well known racing driver & car that was fitted with them.The news people were there,cameras ready,the car is rolling along,small charges attached to the rims on WIRE wheels were detonated, the tyres stayed on the rims but the wheels collapsed.
If anyone is still reading I may inflict more on you later, yours in Triumph,