Thursday, May 5, 2016

A new outback diorama begins ...

It's on again, I'm rallying around Australia in a 1950s Peugeot, but this time it's a 403, and the year is 1956. Some of you may remember my earlier effort, which you can see here. and pictured below.


That dealt with the first ever "Reliability Trial", the Redex of 1953. Well, by 1956 this had become almost a craze for Aussies, with two major oil companies (Ampol — owned by Caltex, and Mobil) both staging around Australia trials in the same year.

I'm choosing the Ampol Trial because a Peugeot won again! And also because the Ampol Trial covered some of the same roads as the initial Redex. And that has led me to my first and biggest-ever fudge ... for this Ampol dio I'm going to use the same river-crossing terrain I built for the Redex dio. That's because I don't have any space left here to build another huge 45 x 45cm hunk of terrain. So it all comes down to modding some cars and plonking them on the pre-made river crossing.

Here's the winning team with their Pug 403, Wilf Murrell and Alan Taylor. These are all the photos I can find of them (so far). In the grand tradition of these Aussie Trials, Wilf and Alan weren't motoring pros. They both came from a small country town in NSW called Hillston, Alan was a grazier and Wilf (a former flight lieutenant in World War Two), owned and operated small country town power stations, including the one in HIllston.

And here's the runners-up, Max Goldsmith and Bob James, in the only photo I can find of their 1200 VW, number 17. VWs performed superbly in all the reliability trials of the 50s, winning a few, including the 1956 Mobilgas trial.

I'm building the Pug from a Heller plastic kit, which was the same brand of kit I used to build the 203 for the Redex diorama. The advantage of the plastic kit is that it's much easier to convert to right-hand-drive, and to modify in various ways.


For example, I have started to fashion from little plastic bibs and bobs the beginnings of their roo-bar/headlight protector. Much more filling and sanding till it's smooth, but it fits well enough for starters.

Getting a "correct" VW Beetle is more of a problem. The VWs of the mid-50s had small oval rear windows, while the VWs of the earlier 50s had small oval split-screen rear windows. I found this split-screen VW (by Vanguards) on eBay for two English Pounds, so I am using it as a starting point.

I've also located an old 1950s documentary on the Ampol Trials available on DVD, and my local library has ordered it for me on an inter-library loan. For my previous dio I located a great full colour movie of the 1953 Redex which basically provided more reference photos for modding the three cars in that diorama than I ever found by searching Google. So I am hoping to find lots of info there. If I see a split-screen rear-windowed VW during the DVD, I'll be tempted to base my VW on it.

AND ... I'm looking for a candidate for a "third" car in the diorama ...

There were four Simca Arondes entered, but none finished. 1/43 models of Arondes to modify, however, are easy to come by and are a tempting choice, as Simca Arondes were a well-known and (I think) fairly well liked car of the late 50s and 60s in Australia.

I'm not sure how many Morris Minors entered, but one did finish. 1/43 models of Morry Minor vans are a dime a dozen, but the sedans are a bit harder to find at a suitably low price.

Fourth and sixth placed were Standard Vanguards, but at the time there were two different Standard Vanguards being sold in Australia. One was the older model with a very rounded 40s-look body shape, and the other was a tidier more modern model. The older Vanguards had done well in the reliability trials of the previous years, and so a few were entered in 1956, but I also have a photo with the more modern car in it, so I guess I could include either in the dio, but the problem is that models for both aren't that cheap to source.

An Austin A90 did OK, but 1/43 models of it fetch ridiculous prices, and a Ford Customline finished, too, so it's a prospect as well.

What I plan to do is wait until I get the DVD of the 1956 trial, and that should answer some questions about which car becomes the third one in the diorama.

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