R’oil Can Rally.

July 15th, 2012

I didn’t get much (well, anything) done on the car this weekend as I got to go on the R’Oil Can Rally with the Waitemata vintage car club. The rally is basically a drive all over the place for a whole day with stops for morning tea and lunch then ending up somewhere where everyone stays and has drinks and dinner. This year they headed north to end up in Whangarei. We got to drive on some great back roads. Lots of unpaved ones.

Someone asked Joss who couldn’t go so he suggested me so I got to go along. I went with Alistair in his 1920 Vauxhall D type. It looks like this:

IMG_0259_1  IMG_0286_1 1920 Vauxhall (next to an MG Midget).

This car is very low mileage having been stored for most of it’s life so it is very original.  Apparently it’s running on original pistons, rods (made from duraluminium) and the engine bottom end, gearbox and diff have never been apart! It has no front brakes. And the brake pedal only operates on the cardan shaft (driveshaft) so isn’t used much. The main braking is done with a lever on the right hand side of the cockpit. But because of the way the steering is geared you need to use both hands on the wheel. So cornering involves setting the brake to what you think is the right point before you reach the corner, use both hands to wrestle the car around the corner and then straighten up and let the brake off. The car also has no shock absorbers! The ride is amazingly good though, even over rough roads. The springing is good and it has massive wheels. But if the road is corrugated, as the unpaved ones often are, the car sort of skitters around over them. We had some interesting cornering moments!

We also had several near misses. Twice there was cattle on the road and once we nearly collected  a dog under a front wheel. We saw many dead possums and one dead cat. We also had an incident where a Suzuki Swift bounced off us!

Due to my terrible navigation we missed a turn so we stopped to back up to take it. A car came up behind, slowed and then went around us. The car following that (travelling fast) apparently didn’t see the massive Vauxhall and almost ran right up the rear of us. Luckily she swerved at the last moment and side-swiped the rear right guard of the Vauxhall. Every panel down the side of the Swift was scraped and the mirror and side light smashed.

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IMG_0251_1 IMG_0252_1 Side swiped Swift.

And the damage to the Vauxhall:

IMG_0255_1 IMG_0256_1 Vauxhall damage.

Yep, that was it. A small scrape on the guard and a slight dent. And this is just steel with a wire edge. So, after swapping drivers details, we continued on. The car goes well for an old one. Acceleration is rubbish though as is braking. But they can move ok once up to speed. We passed one of the Delages doing just over  60 mph at one point!

IMG_0275_1 IMG_0313_s Fast!

The route takes you on random (often gravel) back roads and through some nice scenery.

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Anyway, we made it in the end without too many problems. There were loads of other great cars on the rally. We were second oldest I think, just beaten by a 1919 Lancia (this car seen at Hampton downs). I grabbed some random (bad) photos of the other cars.

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The little silver Austin 7 special was very nice and had come up from down south somewhere. It didn’t finish though but I am not sure what happened to it. Several other cars dropped out also (including one Austin 7 with pulled block studs). Another car has a run in with a bridge but made it to the end ok.

The rally is all day Saturday and we stayed overnight at the final destination in Whangarei. Since Alistair lives half way between there and Auckland it made no sense him going all the way back to Albany (the start) to drop me off where I had left my MG. Instead I got a lift back in a different car with Steve and his kids. His car is a 1926 Delage. Very windy in the back but great fun and not cold today surprisingly. We also beat the rain which was forecast. The rally must be completed top down whatever the weather so when I came home I continued that and left the MG topless for the drive home. Didn’t get wet at all!

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1926 Delage.

Was a great weekend and I really enjoyed it. Great old cars, great (mostly old!) people, nice scenery. Well worth going on. I hope to do it sometime in my own little Austin Seven when it is done!

I plotted where we went on Google Maps when I got home. The route is a bit off in places since some roads don’t seem recognised but this is the basic route:

Start to morning tea: http://goo.gl/maps/wMNk
Morning tea to lunch: http://goo.gl/maps/Tzga
Lunch to end: http://goo.gl/maps/K4Ky

And this is a little film (nothing exciting) of some typical NZ back country roads filmed in the Vauxhall.

And in the end Alistair volunteered to ‘win’ so he has to organise it for next year!


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