Today is one of those days when too much news is barely enough. We have the on-the-spot report from the Leyburn Sprints, the Porker that isn’t a Porker that went from 100 to 25 (million) in one second, we expose the retro caravan fetish and we ask if the Adelaide reader’s Evora will cost Lotus the $670,000 Range Rover had to pay out.
First up the Leyburn (pronounced Leeburn) Sprints where 200 cars, 15,000 punters, Dick Johnson, Kevin Bartlett, Colin Bond, Bob Holden, John French, Fred Gibson, Michael McMichael and John Connolly crowded into the 1860s town (pop: 416) to watch Ken McAndrew try to dive his very pretty 1967 Ford Cortina into the 154-year-old Leyburn State School swimming pool. Luckily, he didn’t make it (the pool was empty) and instead found the tennis court.
Confusingly, the 24th annual sprints celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Australian Grand Prix run on an ex-wartime aerodrome circuit near the Darling Downs township on September 18, 1949. Now I love Leyburn and there’s a lot to see and do even if the Royal Hotel (the oldest continually licensed establishment in Queensland) is no longer owned by league legend Shane Webcke (who was actually in town on the weekend), but can I warn you not to take the tourism council’s advice to visit the historic WWII airfield and the racetrack.
The old bloke and I drove the Nissan 4WD dual cab mine-equipped ute with red flashing lights ($84 a day from Hertz) the reported 4km to said attractions. After 20 minutes wandering around dirt roads we were about to give up when Mick saw a plaque. Yes, friends that’s all there is to see. Two plaques. So, it was back to the Royal where the Sultan of Stepney enjoyed the XXXX breakfast of champions at 10am the day before the start.
Lismore motorsport tuner and legend Dean Amos boringly won for the sixth time in his Gould GR55B-Judd V8 single-seater. Now if you haven’t been to a race around the streets of a town can I explain it by reference to the Olympic 100m race. The 100m has to be the greatest waste of time in sport. You train 10 hours a day for four years, you turn up at the Olympic stadium and wait for six hours, get to the start, the gun goes and 9.5 seconds later it’s all over. That’s it. Four years of your life decided in under 10 seconds. In Leyburn it’s the same. You wait for two hours, queue for 10 minutes. Cross the start line, rush around 90-degree corners on suburban streets and 54 seconds later you’re crossing the finish line.
Anyway, Mick was Mr Sad when he thought I’d beaten him by two seconds. As it turns out I made a mistake on the calcs and was a fifth of a second behind him. Suddenly he was Mr Happy. You can see snapper Peter Trapnell’s pic of the WART Beemer in action on this page. Pete won his class in a very mean historic Ford V8 special. Thank you to all the readers who came up and said hullo. No thanks to the readers who came up to Mr McMichael and said how much younger he looked than his photo (ie: my photo on the top of this column).
Now hidden away behind the Royal Hotel beer garden was the vintage caravan competition. There were 30 exquisitely restored caravans from mainly the 60s pulled by equally beautiful classic cars from the same period. No, they weren’t grey nomads. Lots of hipsters, millennials and early boomers dressed in 50s and 60s clothing (Mick and I looked right at home) complete with little patios outside. Tony Sullivan rightly won with his 1969 Olympic Riviera caravan with 1960 Chevrolet El Camino utility tow vehicle, but special mentions to a van towed by a Ford Woodie, a matching green (looks better than it sounds and one of the best paintjobs I’ve seen) van and turbo Ford Zephyr and a 1963 black Valiant with handsome owners, push button auto (note to Fezzer and Beemer: bring this feature back and sales will skyrocket) and surfboard on top.
OK at the Leyburn of California, the Monterey Peninsula, all the publicity around the very funny but completely incompetent attempted auction of the 1939 Porker Type 64 distracted from really dismal results all around. You can watch the RM Sotheby’s debacle on Youtube but basically the auctioneer was Dutch (nothing wrong with that, some of my best friends, etc) whose accent made any teen call sound like tens. So he started off at (and the board showed) 30 million, went up in increments of 10 million to 70 million until finally someone realised he was actually trying to say 13, 14 and 17. Frank Jung, head of Porker historical archives, told CNN the Porker was not the first Porsche. The true description of the Type 64, he said, was a “race version of a pre-Volkswagen”. No wonder the VW is still up for sale.
Huge reaction (really) to the story of the Adelaide reader badly treated by Lotus. Next week we will give you an update and we’ll once again call for a royal commission into the car industry. But there is hope, as News Corp journalist John Rolfe wrote a few months back.
James and Sally Murphy’s successful battle for justice over their dud car is changing the way carmakers treat customers. Jaguar Land Rover Australia has not only had to refund Sally and James Morphy the $280,000 they paid for the top of the line Range Rover Autobiography, it has been made to cover the Geelong couple’s legal expenses of $140,000 after a lengthy consumer tribunal battle. JLRA has also been forced to pay the dealer’s litigation costs of $150,000. Then there’s the estimated $100,000 outlaid for its own failed defence. All up, a $670,000 bill for this lemon.