Sunday, October 4, 2009

Binalong time since our last club run

Last Sunday on the coldest September day in 40 years, four members of the Canberra and District Leyland P76 club, set off on a run from Canberra to the Binalong Motor Museum. The plan was meet, travel to Binalong, visit the Museum, have a picnic lunch, then return to Canberra.

We met at the NSW/ACT Border at 11 AM and then headed off in convoy along the Barton Highway, to Yass, where we turned left towards Gundagai, and travelled along the Hume until the turnoff to Binalong. Alex and family, Col, Bryce and Myself arrived. Geoff was unable to come due to his cars air conditioner failing. The weather was not warm, so he probably could have attended and not been concerned about remaining cool in his car. It was raining before we met, rained while we assembled, and rained all the way to Binalong.

Alex was the first to arrive at the carpark, and when I arrived he was warmly ensconced in his car with the junior Shoemakers and the missus. He joked about my car smelling of coolant (my radiator hose exploded on last years run to Jugiong…) and then didn’t believe me when I pointed out there was a small pool of green coolant under his engine bay. You can see it in the photos.

The trip along the Barton was rather slower than usual due to a flock of mopeds and scooters who left the carpark on the border just before we did. Although after they turned off to a vineyard, egress was still slowed by a Daihatsu travelling on a two-way road posted at 100km, at 80kmh.

Once through Murrumbateman, the convoy travelled to the Yass Junction service station, where I refuelled and Alex checked his coolant, which seems to be leaking from a pinhole in a NOS water pump. Then despite the best efforts of a Commodore to ram Alexs P76 as we left Yass Junction, the convoy then headed off to Binalong and arrived just after 12 PM – to a sign that said closed 12 to 1PM. 

We then circled around Binalong, a charming rural locale, before stopping at a public park adjacent to a swimming pool. We produced our picnic lunches and stood there shivering and chomping, while Alex’s kids climbed all over the playground equipment.

I noticed an electric BBQ, and decided I would fire it up and see if I could warm myself, as I had no chops to burn. This idea was scorned at first, then followed by people warming themselves on the electric BBQ. Thanks Binalong town council.

As 1 o’clock approached we were about to drive back to the now hopefully open museum, when a couple in a Valiant stopped to talk to us. The gent used to work as a detailer in a Leyland dealership, and when they closed he received a set of Leyland numberplates and one Marina numberplate. These are the promotional numberplates fitted in the dealerships on display cars and are fairly scarce. I have set of these blue P76 numberplates, but have never seen a Marina one. He was pleased as punch o have some Leyland people to show his plates to. 

It turns out that many years ago, Alex had heard of this gent and these numberplates through a mutual friend. He was keen to buy them until the buyer changed his mind. He is still fond of them and has no plans to sell them. They were keen to show them to Leyland fanciers who might be interested though.

We then drove to the museum. It was now open for visitors. Five dollars gained us entry and in the first area was a Bugatti undergoing restoration, and another vintage car with an overly complex chain drive set-up, also undergoing restoration. In the entrance area was a very scarce rotary powered Norton motorcycle. Its an odd setup, like a giant backyard garage with incredibly valuable vintage cars in various stages of repair. You can wander freely, but are asked not to touch. 

 1991 Norton F1

This is a 1991 repro of the 1989 Isle of Man winner, done up in John Player Special (ahh the cool refreshing taste of burning tobacco) colours. 

1927 Bugatti Type 43

This car has a 2.3 litre supercharged engine, good for 110 MPH – in 1927!

 1908 Malicet Et Blin

1990 Binalong Special
Based on a 1961 Jensen chassis, with Jaguar front and rear independent suspension and a supercharged 5.3 litre V12 jaguar engine. Impressively it has a 100 litre fuel tank, a spare tire and room for luggage. This was my favourite car. 

1924 Amilcar

A proper basket case…. 

There was also a pair of Bolwell Nagaris – running 351 Clevelands. They are damn attractive cars, I think I prefer the hardtop. The interior looks comfortable, and the lines are not dated, while still clearly 1970’s in design. These cars would really move. Sadly ADR's killed further production and after the Ilinga project, Bolwell abandoned car production and returned to its core business of fiberglass pools, spas and truck bodies. 

Bolwell Nagaris

After the short museum tour ended, we headed back to our warm cars and drove back to Canberra. It was a very successful club run, even though it rained from Canberra to Binalong and stayed below 8 degrees all day. The museum is very interesting, but only has a small collection of cars. There were a few Ferraris and 1920's American cars, and some cutaway engines on display also, as well as a replica of Bleriots monoplane hanging from the ceiling. A rather odd and eclectic personal museum. Perhaps its being run as a giant tax dodge ? 

I don’t know of I would make a special trip to the museum unless I was a mad keen Bugatti aficionado, but if I was on my way to Coota or Temora it would be worth dropping in. Its only a few minutes off the Hume, so this could be a nice diversion to break up that long Melbourne to Sydney drive. 

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