Saturday, June 11, 2016

1956 Ampol Trial diorama - update 3

The decals are drying for both the Peugeot and the VW Beetle. I apply a special stuff called Micro-Sol which effectively dissolves the decals onto the surface, and they crinkle up a bit in this process, but they should look OK by the next morning. The Peugeot, of course, is going to be splattered in so much dust and mud that you will barely be able to see the decals (and all the many other blemishes on the model itself.) 

 Ditto all those comments with the VW. The real historical VW had white-edged decals, which I can't produce on my laser printer. So I have stuck to the outlined font, but have made it red. The "Ampol" decal is actually two laid on top of each other. I have white-backed decal paper, so I've laid down a rectangle of white, and then the Ampol logo on top of that. Hopefully it will work.

I have very few reference photos for Jack WItter's 1956 VW, so I am making things up here. However, as he won the 1957 Ampol Trial there are plenty of photos of that car, and it was absolutely plastered with graphics. Jack owned a "waste textile" factory (I think that's a polite way of saying "rags") and so he promoted himself in both 1957 and 1958 with "Witter the Waster" slogans, so I figured he might have used that line in 1956, too.

Oh, and as you can see, I've left the rear split-screen window in place. I decided in the end that cutting off the divider in that section would not only be a lot of relatively useless work, given that in the diorama the VW's front is facing the viewer; it would also be a problem to smooth off and repair the cut section and then match the paint job with that nice green colour. So an "incorrect" old Veedub it remains.

The last part of the diorama has arrived, the Morris Minor. It's a pretty ordinary little Corgi Morris 1000 from the 1960s, and the eBay seller has added some extras, including windscreen wipers, an exhaust pipe and some shaky hand-done paintwork here and there. As I plan to mod it further then fling mud at it later on, it's a perfectly good starting point, especially as it cost less than two pounds, plus a few quid for postage.

The radiator grill was matt black, not the look I wanted — I wanted the horizontal bars to show up a bit, so I gently sanded it with 600 sandpaper and the bars came up well enough for my needs. Then I searched through my spare-parts bin of old sprues and leftover bits of photo-etched metal bits and got lucky, finding a very nice looking candidate to "split" the windscreen in two, just like a Series II Morry Minor. The eBay guy's windscreen wipers were easy enough to flip off with a scalpel point, so I then repositioned them so they looked very Series II as well.

Here's the three cars, ready for their adventures in mud-world.

Friday, June 3, 2016

1956 Ampol Trial diorama - update 2

We now have the beginnings of a blue Peugeot 403

And we have a driver and navigator in position in the interior.


Here are Wilf and Alan, the Peugeot-driving winners, at the big presentation night, where the prize was 14,000 pounds, which was a heck of a lot of money back then. They also won a replacement Peugeot 403, trips around the world and lots of other goodies. It was the richest motor racing prize in Australia at the time, by a long way. One thing I've realised with my little model Wilf and Alan is that I've got their ultra-short hair all wrong!

And here's a pic of Wilf and Alan somewhere during the rally, with a busted windscreen. They look a whole lot cooler in this photo than they do at the prize-giving. Based on this photo, and the notorious story of the 1956 Rally's extremely muddy roads, I plan to grunge up the 403 with more mud and dirt than I used for the Peugeot 203 in the Redex diorama.

As for the other entrants, in the VW and the Morris Minor, I've got a little bit lucky, but I'm also out of luck for good reference photos of the cars themselves, so I'll have to ad lib how the cars look in terms of livery, etc based on the few stills I have from the colour DVD.

This is the cheap Corgi model of the Morris Minor that I will base my diorama car on. It's actually a later Morris Minor 1000 from the 1960s, but I am going to "add" a split winscreen bar to the windscreen. Fortunately, the later Series II Morris Minors of 1956 did have the horizontal grilles of the later Morris Minor 1000s of the 1960s, so I can leave the grille as it is.

Where I ran into some good luck was with the Morris Minor team, father Cyril Davidson and his 16-year-old daughter Lesley, who as the youngest entrant and also a female entrant attracted lots of press attention, including these cheesy photos:

The Davidsons' car was entered by his garage, "Zane's Drive Yourself Cars", a car hire place in Melbourne which advertised Holdens for 8 pence a mile or Morris Minors for 6 pence a mile. So that gives me a few ideas for the car's ivery, which isn't very distinct in the stills I have taken from the AmMpol Trial colour DVD documentary.

Also, in the newspaper article, Cyril Davidson says he chose Lesley as co-driver because he weighs 15 stone, and she only weighs eight stone and she could also drive well, so in a little Morris Minor saving every pound of weight was crucial. Onya, fat Dad!

Sadly, their car #46 failed to finish, but it wasn't Cyril's first Round Australia Rally. He was also in the 1953 Redex trial (in a Holden 48/215, which also didn't finish).

Also failing to finish in 1956 was the green VW I spotted, #78, driven by Jack Witter. But the good news with that car is that Jack Witter won next year in the the 1957 Ampol rally in a VW, so he has a good story attached to himself as well. Even though Jack DNF'd in the end in 1956, he was in second place behind the Peugeot 403 at the half-way point at Alice Springs, so his 1956 Rally performance wasn't too bad at all.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

1956 Ampol Trial diorama - update 1

At last, I have the full colour DVD in my hands (thank you local library) and I have struck paydirt on several fronts. I wanted the winning Peugeot 403 to be light blue, and even from the black and white photos I suspected that was the case. The first pic is from a home movie of the brand new 403 before they added bullbars etc, and the second pic is on the finishing line, complete with broken/non-existent windscreen.


And as I also suspected, the second-placed VW was dark blue, but even better, I have discovered a green VW to match the 1:43 scale one I've bought recently.

The old colour film stock used in the 50s has a greenish tinge to it, so all the lighter coloured cars at various angles looked green, but fortunately there were multiple shots of cars to check again and again, and the VW spotted in the rally is definitely green.

As for the third car in my diorama, I've decided I'd like a Morris Minor, and I've bought an "incorrect" Morris Minor 1000 model which has the full front windscreen, rather than the split windscreen of the earlier model. The Minor 1000, says Wikipedia, first appeared in 1956, so I was hoping there might be one in the 1956 Rally, but there isn't one in the DVD at least. So I'll enter this in the background for my dio, with these numbers, as it was a father and daughter team who both entered and finished. Conveniently enough also, the little Corgi 1;43 model is also a light blue.

Finally, I was totally thrilled to note that the Press Unit car for the rally was still a Peugeot 203, which I had modelled and modified in my earlier 1953 Redex Rally diorama. It doesn't look like it was the old Cinesound 203 Wagon, but it is nice to know that the sterling performance of the original 203 Wagon had made it the camera team's choice. I've seen footage of other round-Australia rallies between 1953 and 56, and sure enough there are Peugeot 203 Wagons hauling around the film units in those, too. There isn't going to be a Press Unit 203 in my diorama, I've just included it here because I was so pleased to see it going strong.

Next update very soon ....