This year we headed off to Murray Bridge for the Nationals, which was hosted by four FX FJ clubs in SA.
Four club members debuted their cars at the Nationals;
• Jason and Janine King with their V6 FJ ute;
• Gary and Judy Hislop with their supercharged red motor FJ panelvan;
• Steve and Sue Whiting in their “wild” FX sedan which was previously owned by John Cadona in Canberra, this car has been to every Nationals since Jindabyne in 1994; and
• Tim and Luke Sells with their grey motor Group Nb race car. This car was last seen at the Jindabyne Nationals in 1994 when owned by Bob Harris.
December 27 was the day most of us chose to drive to Murray Bridge, early on the weather forecast was for a hot day and they got this one right. My car showed the temperature as high as 45 Celsius as I drove over and hats off to the guys who drove their earlies in the heat. I trailered my van across so I had an air-conditioned ride in relative comfort. A few of the guys had overheating issues with the odd blowout but everyone made it over.
December 28 was the scrutineering day, as it was also a hot day a lot of us were there ready very early when the day kicked off and we got through scrutineering quickly. The scrutineering was a little different this year with many cars going into the higher class compared to other Nationals.
That afternoon about 10 of us went down to see Ian Jeisman’s NOS collection. Rod picked up a few $5 bargains while other deals were settled after two days of haggling. I did pick up a NOS tail-lamp switch with wiring loom for my stock 49 project which made the trips worthwhile.
That night we had the Welcome BBQ and the Les McVeigh Memorial boat race was held, the club was well represented, and club members came first and third. Ray Jones was expected to do well for the Melbourne Chapter but didn’t want to rush the free beer so sipped his way into last.
December 29 was the Show N Shine, the organisers separated the sedans, utes and vans into three groups and this was a great display. There were 16 panel vans on display which is the highest seen in more than 20 years. There were five 265 vans including two recently completed baker’s vans complete with sign writing.
As you would expect there were lots of previously not seen SA vehicles on display including two barn-find utes, widened sedans such as 308–053. There was a father and son team who had a sedan with a Garrett turbo red motor on the road from the mid 80’s along with his son’s 6.2 litre unfinished project (winner top mechanicals). Even the mayor of Murray Bridge was there with a recently completed V8 FX ute, this won people’s choice, not registered but who’s going to stop the mayor?
The calibre of the stock vehicles was very high with more than 10 stock FX’s on display and a higher number of stock FJ’s. The modified earlies included a stretch limo, not one but three 2‑door coupes, an FJ with a rear spoiler, half a dozen race cars or drag cars. Two of the drag cars had supercharged red motors and even an FJ taxi. The cars were from all across Australia including two from WA including our old mate from the Mansfield Nationals.
Leigh Mackin had his recently retrimmed FJ sedan there which was my pick for Grand Champion. The judges didn’t seem to be getting their knees dirty and they judged a FJ ute from Queensland as superior.
December 30 was the cruising day where we headed out from the showgrounds to the National Motor Museum in Birdswood. Early on I could count 21 earlies in procession around 100 earlies took the trip across. There was a wide variety of vehicles on display with the first 48–215 off the production line on display, it maintained many of the one offs for an early build. A prototype Torana GTR‑X and WB Kingswood were on display. Many people took the long way home visiting Hanhdorf and other towns.
December 31 was the driving events were held in the racecourse carpark. The first course had you coming to a stop three times to place an “egg” in an egg cup. The second course was a go to whoa, followed by a reverse garage park and then a slalom to the finish line. Our club was very well represented in the competition with many people having three or more goes. Luke Sells put the race car through its paces and Sue Whiting took my van around a couple of times. That evening we had the presentations and auctions with the banner going for $3,250. Congratulations to Steve and Sue Whiting on having the only car to win a trophy from the club.
January 1 we stopped in at The Bend after the farewell BBQ and a Mustang was the pace car for some slow laps and then one faster lap. I was third in line and Tony Dowsett was the actual pace car holding me back. We could see the whites of Tony’s eyes in his rear view when I lunged late under brakes a couple of times just to spice things up.
Special thanks to the organising committee and club members from the SA clubs that put this event together, they did a great job and we are all looking forward to Cooma in two years’ time.