Early 1998 Crowded With Wheel Events

The Age

Tuesday October 7, 1997


IT'S GOING to be a busy first three months of 1998 for Melbourne. To the Melbourne Festival, the Melbourne Motor Show and the Australian Grand Prix have now been added the finish of the first Sydney-Melbourne solar car race and a huge "Wings, Wheels & Water" event at the RAAF Base, Point Cook.

The CitiPower "Sunrace 98" will be the next biggest solar/electric car race in the world after the 3300-kilometre Darwin-Adelaide World Solar Challenge. Starting in Sydney on 16 January, it will cover 1800 kilometres through Canberra, Wagga, Hay, Mildura, Swan Hill, Shepparton and Bendigo to finish in Albert Park on Sunday 25 January.

The organisers ran an initial low-key event from Adelaide to Melbourne last January, but the South Australian Government's decision to buy the rights to the World Solar Challenge from promoter Hans Tholstrup meant they couldn't get as much support as they'd wanted.

So with CitiPower - which has already been working on electric vehicle technology with the CSIRO - it was decided to switch the start cities. The event director, Mr John Hoerner, says that Australia's achievements in zero emissions technology are setting world benchmarks at a time when Australia is under increasing scrutiny on greenhouse issues.

CitiPower spokesman Mr Stephen Whitworth said: "It is important that government and industry support ensures Australia continues to lead in the advancement of sustainable energy technologies and derive the tremendous benefits of the export potential for their applications."

This will be in sharp contrast to the Point Cook extravaganza, which will be a celebration of cars, bikes, boats, traction engines, hot rods, street machines and aircraft making grossly inefficient and polluting use of fossil fuels. The organisers claim there will be everything from horse-and-carriage rigs of the 1920s to in-car audio competitions.

To be staged on Australia's oldest RAAF base on Australia Day, the highlight will be flying displays by aircraft from the RAAF museum there. They include a Sabre jet, Canberra bomber, Mustangs, Tiger Moths, Vampires, Sopwith Pups and a rare Fokker triplane, plus an aerobatic show by the Southern Knights "Warbirds".

There will be a match race between a World War II Mustang and a 1966 Shelby Ford Mustang 427, one of only three in the world. Scienceworks is contributing something slightly slower - its eight-tonne Sentinel Steam wagon and roller.


THE famous Glass's Guide has gone back to its roots - the Australian operation has been sold back to Britain by its owners, the Canadian-based Thompson Corporation. Glass's is the best-known supplier to the motor industry of market values, specification data and consultancy services - its yellow books are the "bibles" of the motor trade for second-hand values.

Founder William Glass was a highly talented engineer who when young worked with the de Havilland brothers on early aircraft design. The company says he was even invited by Cecil Rolls to join him in an ambitious plan to build the world's best prestige car, which Glass turned down.

Instead he started producing his own line of small cars and commercial vehicles, called Firefly, but the business failed after two years. It's said his company opened the first British all-night service station, with uniformed attendants, and during World War I he worked for a Government aeronautical department that helped develop the first synchronised machine gun to fire through an aircraft propellor.

Glass's UK says he kept inventing things while developing the business of motor shows and publishing. They included a self-filling fountain pen, a collapsible deckchair, an electric kettle that switched itself off when the water boiled, and a self-inflating car tyre.

Glass's Australia will continue as before, but with operations much expanded under general manager Mr Tony Robinson, who has a range of expansion projects under way, particularly in the area of electronic communication.


NOSTALGIA of a different kind comes from the indefatigable Trax Models people, who have celebrated next year's 50th anniversary of Holden with a superb boxed set of the two original 48-215s. Often wrongly called FX, the first Holden rolled off the Fishermans Bend assembly line in Melbourne on 29 November 1948, under the proud eye of the-then Prime Minister, Ben Chifley.

Trax has produced a number of memorable Australian models, all on a limited production run with a policy of no repeats. They have included milestone Bathurst cars, the original XK Falcon sedans, wagons, utes and vans, Holden Monaro coupes and Valiant Chargers and the original Torana GTR XU-1 painted in a color Holden called Strike Me Pink (the green was called Lin-A-Mint).

The new 48-215 sedan model is finished in Gawler Cream, the ute (which appeared in 1951) in Cavalier Grey. Trax marketing director, Mr Robert Hill, says several collectors have already ordered two anniversary sets, one to display and the other to store until the Holden 100th birthday in 2048.

Priced at $64.95 plus $2.95 delivery, the set comes in a gold-and-black presentation box with clear plastic windows showing background photographs of that famous November day. It's available only direct from Top Gear Pty Ltd on Freecall 1800 635 508.


THE EUROPEAN launch of the fourth-generation Golf was a massive event that started at the Frankfurt Motor Show last month and is still going - after all, it's Europe's top-selling car. And an outback South Australian postman, Mr Peter Ware, became one of the stars of the whole shebang.

Volkswagen sent a film crew to Australia to shoot a video presentation of him at work, and last month he was flown to Europe to be part of a series of presentations surrounding Golf IV.

It all started with a local story that he was using a standard Golf instead of a four-wheel-drive or a commercial vehicle to deliver mail, food and the other essentials across a huge "beat" based on Copley and spreading across north-eastern South Australia.

The video made of him is one of six used for the Golf IV launch to show how the car is used in different ways around the world, and Peter Ware and the five other "stars" were invited to appear on stage in front of 30,000 VW employees.


AND TALKING of utes, a New South Wales south coast accessory maker has come up with a unique new range of lockable hard cargo covers to replace the fabric tonneau. Called HardCover, it's produced by Custom Pick-Up Accessories of Bemboka for all late-model Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon utes as well as most Japanese pickups.

It's not a canopy but an aluminium-framed flat fibreglass "lid", hinged and with gas supporting struts. It has normal latch locks or remote "keyless" opening with optional coupling to an alarm system and rear spoilers are also available.

The main cover has rubber seals around its edges plus extensive insulation through the sandwich-style construction to maintain an interior level between extreme levels of heat and cold. RRPs start from $980; for further info call 1800 629 593.

© 1997 The Age

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