AUSTINS ON SHOW

AUSTINS (FROM EVERYWHERE) ACROSS AUSTRALIA 2017

WORDS PHOTOS CLIFF CHAMBERS

Every second year at venues across our vast nation, row upon row of Austin motor vehicles are displayed in all their British glory. This year’s event centred on Ipswich, 30km west of Brisbane, where the Easter Saturday display brought together a total of 152 cars.

More than 30 of the Austins on show were Sevens which had joined the main event after spending a week cruising the Darling Downs to commemorate the 95th Anniversary of Austin’s economy model.

Every car the crowded into the Ipswich Turf Club’s grassy carpark was buffed to look its best, but not in pursuit of maximum points from finicky show-car judges. Apart from the

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AUSTIN KIMBERLEY MARK 2 Alex Slota ALEX SLOTA from Geelong in Victoria is a big fan of the last Austin-badged cars to be built in Australia. His business card features a Tasman and the scarce Kimberley Mark 2 he displayed at the 2017 gathering is in exceptional condition.

“I’ve owned that car for round 10 years and throughout my life I’ve owned BMC and Leyland cars,” Alex explained.

“In 1969 I bought a brand new Mini Cooper S and used to take it to Calder Raceway and drag-race the Holdens and Falcons.”

Alex saw his Kimberley in a hayshed and drove past the car numerous times before finally calling in and asking if it was for sale.

He is unapologetic about the lengths and expense involved in bringing the Kimberley to its current impeccable condition.

“People say I’m nuts given the money I’ve spent but it has had a complete professional body restoration and paint job, the suspension , trim, chrome, everything has been done and when you come to an event like this it attracts a lot of interest.”

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AUSTIN FREEWAY Nairn Hindhaugh FORMER BMC advertising exec Nairn Hindhaugh is nothing if not dedicated to his former employer’s product. A member of the Austin Motor Vehicle Club of Qld, Nairn had three cars from his fleet of BMC/Leyland models on display; an 1800 that has been in the family since virtually new, the Maxi and this Freeway sedan which he acquired in 1983.

“In reality the Freeway and companion Wolseley 24/80 probably came onto the market three years too late to have an impact,” Nairn explained. “By 1962 the XL Falcon was available and Holden was ready to move on from its ‘grey’ motor cars so the Freeway was outmoded.”

The car during its 34 years of current ownership has been treated to a full engine rebuild and respray but hasn’t been left to languish in a shed between automotive outings.

“It’s been to Perth and Tasmania and all over the place for other Austin events,” he said “It’s on full registration and copes easily with day-to-day running if needs be. With the massive boot and roomy interior it also makes an excellent load-carrier for swap meets.”

“APART FROM THE ‘PEOPLE’S CHOICE’ TROPHY THERE IS NO JUDGING OR COMPETITIVE DISTRACTIONS”

‘People’s Choice’ trophy which is awarded based on a public vote there is no judging or competitive distractions.

“These events have been running for about 25 years and over that time people have made strong friendships,” long-term participant Nairn Hindhaugh explained.

“Most of us live long distances apart and the rally gives people an opportunity every couple of years not to compete but just enjoy each other’s cars and company.”

Oldest of the vehicles on show was a 15HP Roadster built in 1908, most recent a 1974 Maxi 1750 nicknamed ‘Mrs Fawlty’.

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1929 AUSTIN 7 SPORTS Doug & Robyn Clark ‘ALBERT’ THE Austin Seven was acquired by the Clarks in 1983 but wasn’t fully completed until the 1990s when the hood bows and some photos were acquired.

The basic structure of the car came from a farm property west of Brisbane and arrived at the Clark home strapped to a trailer. It took some time to work out what was there and where things were meant to go.

“All the bones of the car including the woodwork and guards were there so once we had an idea of the shape it was just a matter of having a replica of the original body made. Fellow by the name of Bill Cardino did that,” Doug commented.

Like most of the Sevens on display at Austins Across Australia, the Clark’s car had just participated in the 95th Anniversary event, but does most of its touring on a car trailer.

“We don’t drive it long distances as it’s so bloody uncomfortable,” Bill said. “I’ve had to 60mph so it isn’t slow but it’s got cable brakes at the back and hand brakes at the front so you take a long time to stop.”

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1934 AUSTIN 18HP CABRIOLET Bob & Steve Hayes YOU WANT an Austin with some interesting history? Take a look at this recent arrival from New Zealand. The Austin Six Tourer with its unique Hayes Variable-Speed transmission is jointly owned by father and son Bob and Steve Hayes and, since early 2017, resides in Brisbane.

“I’m getting on so it’s time to hand custody over to Steve who will get more use out of the car over here,” Bob said.

Early in life the Austin was sent from England to NZ in anticipation of a Royal Tour by the Prince of Wales; shortly to be crowned King Edward VIII. However, upon his accession the Tour was cancelled and the car sold to a doctor in Timaru.

Bob acquired the car 1992 and restored it in 1996. It qualified for a second repaint in 2014 and remains in very ‘regal’ condition.

Fortunately the transmission has remained operational because this is one of only two vehicles with this transmission left running in the world – the other in the UK.

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AUSTIN A40 FARINA CONVERTIBLE Bob King DEDICATED car-watchers who wonder why they have never seen an open-topped A40 Farina shouldn’t feel too mournful. Just one of these cars was originally constructed and it survives as a prototype in South Africa. It was from that car that owner Bob King of Wyee in NSW took inspiration to build the ‘Austin That Never Was’.

Bob bought his ‘donor’ car two years ago and then spent 12 months on its conversion and restoration.

“This is the only A40 Farina convertible registered in the world because the owners of the South African car can’t get an engineer’s certificate,” he said.

Close inspection of the A40’s rearward section reveals the degree of attention paid to strengthening, with longitudinal and lateral support members ensuring a structure that has to be significantly stronger than the original design.

Beneath the rear tonneau cover nestles a purpose-made fabric top which, with Bob out of earshot, we might quietly say makes the A40 look even more elegant and professional than when ‘topless’.

“ATTRACTING PLENTY OF INTEREST TOO WAS A LOCALLY MADE AUSTIN KIMBERLEY”

Australian-made Austins made a solid contribution to the display with cars on show including Lancer Mark 1 and Mark 2 models, six-cylinder Freeway sedans and a scarce wagon, an Austin 1800 utility plus an array of A40 Devon Tourers and utilities with locally-supplied bodywork.

Attracting plenty of interest too was a locally-made Austin Kimberley and alongside it a rare long-wheelbase Three-Litre. The elongated Austin was intended to compete against Rover and Jaguar but never officially sold in Australia.

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1929 AUSTIN 12 ROADSTER Gary Leckie GARY’S 1929 model Roadster ably demonstrates the diversity available to 1920s Austin buyers. Where the Seven is narrow and obviously built with economy in mind, the 12 has room to spare in its main passenger area plus a fold-out ‘Dickie’ seat for an extra adult or couple of smaller children.

Like most cars of its era, the Austin was imported as a chassis then had bodywork locally supplied. In the case of this and a sister car which also survives, the body is by Damyan Brothers of St Kilda in Victoria.

The 12 was one of nine cars trucked from Victoria by the Vintage Austin Register. According to Gary, all of the owners were intending to be drive their cars back to Melbourne.

“My car is happiest at 60-65km/h and the others aren’t much faster so it’s going to take us five days,” he revealed. “Then again, with cable operated brakes - or ‘retarders’ as I call them - that speed is plenty.”