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Buick Royal Appointment

BUICK by Royal Appointment
A couple of years ago an article was run in Buick News about the Prince of
Wales (the one that scarpered, not the current one) and Mrs Simpson’s Buick
and its luxurious silver fixtures.
However having come across a 1986 copy of the UK Buick Club’s magazine
(supplied by WA member Alan Chapman who migrated to WA with his family
and his Buick ‘37 8/80 Roadmaster), it seems that there were six royal
Buicks.
The firm of Lendrum and Hartman in London’s west end was the franchise in
1936 for sales and service of Cadillac, Buick, La Salle and Marquette motor
cars.

Buick-Royal-Appointment

BUICK NATIONAL MEET AT COLORADO SPRINGS, USA

BUICK NATIONAL MEET AT COLORADO SPRINGS, USA

It was a wet Friday evening that we boarded our Qantas flight through to Tokyo and then by American Airlines through to Los Angeles. Arriving in LA about 10.30 am we headed to National Car Rental to pick up our previously ordered Buick Lucerne or a Lacrosse. But no, said the bloke behind the counter, we no longer keep Buicks! Alan’s motto is that you always upgrade, never downgrade so we drove out of the National lot in a pretty snappy Cadillac CTS which had only done about 4,000 miles. We bunked down locally and slept off the rigours of 20 hours flying time.

Sunday saw us in Las Vegas in hot weather. I walked into the Imperial Palace on the strip and booked for two nights, the first night was $20 per night and the second was $40. We had a lovely room on the 10th floor so this was a real bargain.

A visit to the Auto Collection at the Imperial Palace revealed an awesome 1954 Skylark Convertible for sale at $125,000, and a 1980s Gran National for $45,000.

54
1954 Skylark Convertible at Las Vegas

Australian group Human Nature was playing at the Imperial Palace so we booked for their concert which was tremendous. Talking to the blokes afterward as they signed our CD, they said they had been given a one-year contract at the Imperial Palace. They were certainly well received by the mainly American audience.

Leaving Vegas we headed north in Nevada and then across to Utah. There is a hair-raising road in southern Utah called the Moki Dugway with a speed limit of 5 mph as the road snakes down towards the flat country near Mexican Hat. This is not for the faint hearted as there are no safety rails and it is better not to look over the edge. A rainstorm swept across as we reached Mexican Hat on the San Juan River with the river turning blood red from the red dirt being swept into it. Blood red waterfalls cascaded across the road from rock ledges. The storm disappeared as quickly as it had begun and we found ourselves in a very clear and freshened Monument Valley. We drove someway in and stopped at a sign which told us that this was where Forrest Gump in the movie had stopped his run and returned home.

That evening near Twin Navajo Rocks Diner at Bluff, we came across a 1949 Buick Super abandoned without its engine. The body was a bit rusted but wasn’t too bad. Perhaps it will be snapped up by someone one day.alan

A project waiting to happen

The next day we had reached Colorado and the town of Durango at about 8,000 feet. We booked on the Durango-Silverton narrow gauge steam railway for the next day. The coach we had chosen had a glass curved roof but open windows so safety glasses were a must to avoid grit in the eye. The scenery was awesome with waterfalls and vertiginous drops into a fast flowing river. A lot of “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” had been filmed from the railway, including the scene where they both leap off a cliff. This cliff was actually only about 20 feet high but looked a lot more in the movie. Silverton was an old mining town and had a 19th century charm about it, despite being cold and wet.

silvertonA hair-raising ride on the Durango – Silverton express

We pushed onto Colorado Springs and soon found the Crowne Plaza which was the host hotel. Its wonderful to pull into a huge parking area and see Buicks bustling around, being washed, hoods up and every make and model that you can imagine. The 59s (about 29 I think) had pride of place in the lineup in front of the hotel, this being their special anniversary year.

Happy 50th birthday for these Buicks!

At registration we met up with Colin Hinxman and Adrian Dearling from Queensland and Ray and Mary Cook from Melbourne. Somewhat later we spotted Dave and Aileen Chaffey from Tasmania and Doug Hawkins from Queensland who seemed to have bought his usual swag of cars to take home. The following morning we ran into Jack and Barbara Gertskamper who had driven from Washington state. Those who attended the Queensland Nationals will remember Jack visiting from the US. Simon Fraser from Victoria and two of his friends made up the Aussie contingent.

The town of Colorado Springs is very pretty with some lovely houses and old historic buildings. Strategically it is the centre for the army base of Fort Lincoln with 24,000 grunts on site as well as the Air Force Academy and the Petersen Air Base. As well as all this, there is the NORAD base (North American Air Defence) in Cheyenne Mountain, about 400 feet underground and bristling with all sorts of antennas.

The Buick Club of America had planned a good assortment of events including a cog railway ride up to Pike’s Peak which is over 14,000 feet. The air was somewhat thin at the top and there were patches of snow. The day we went up was remarkably clear and you could see down to five American states from there. Other events were a trip to the Cripple Creek Casino which was a lot of fun plus a coach ride to the Royal Gorge with its suspension bridge and aerial car across the gorge. One of the benefits of these events is that you eventually get talking to the other Buick members and some great stories get swapped.

A very well attended event was the Flying W Chuckwaggon dinner. There was some rain as we all alighted from half a dozen coaches so it was decided that the mob would eat inside a large barn building instead of in the open. We bumped into a rather grim Doug Hawkins who told us he hadn’t been able to find a bar. Unfortunately the venue was totally dry (except for the rain). I must say that there are a lot of Americans who do tend to wowserism and if they consider an event is a family thing, then its dry! We found a table up the back and sat with Ray and Mary Cook. The feeding was along prison type style with everybody getting in a queue, taking a tin plate and being served. The food was okay, beef or chicken with beans and bread. Afterwards you had to scrape your scraps into a bin and return to your seat. The entertainment was a group of country and western musicians and singers who were excellent. This was for about an hour and then we headed back to our coaches. I guess those of us who had attended the R M Williams Spectacular in Queensland were pretty spoilt as far as food, drinks and entertainment went. This was the gold standard and anything else was less!

With the American nationals, the judging of the cars is a big thing. This seems to take up most of the Saturday and is taken most seriously. Some of the cars are trailered in but most do seem to have been driven. Some Florida cars had certainly covered some ground to attend. There were nearly 300 Buicks on display.

The dinner was in the Summit Ballroom with a lovely view of the mountain peaks out of the windows. Mind you, everywhere in Colorado Springs has a view of the peaks.

The centrepieces on the tables were red, white and blue as it was after all Independence Day. The Aussie table consisted of Adrian, Colin, Ray, Mary, Alan and myself, Simon Fraser and his two friends. Prize giving for the many categories took place with pictures of the cars shown on large screens. There was a special category for modified Buicks which seems to be gaining ground compared to the Seattle meet. The President of the BCA and other Buick luminaries gave speeches.

The next morning saw the Cooks, Adrian and Colin and ourselves at the local IHOP for breakfast. This stands for International House of Pancakes (not I hate old people). This was the usual total American overindulgence with the table soon jam packed with breakfast fare ranging from oatmeal to grits and everything in between.

Farewells were made and the group split to go in various directions. All the lovely cars from the main parking area were leaving or had already left. It is just so amazing to see such a superb collection of Buicks. These can be viewed on our website.

From Colorado Springs we drove south into New Mexico. We stayed at Taos for the first night and then drove up to Los Alamos in the Bandelier Mountains. Los Alamos was the site where the scientists such as Oppenheimer, Fermi and Teller and others worked on the A-bomb in utmost secrecy. The guard stations to the town were only removed in 1957. Today the town is on a high plateau with pine trees and wonderful museums showing the workings of the scientists. The Los Alamos National Science Laboratory is still a going concern with an annual budget of $2.2 billion dollars. This sort of thing certainly reflects a country’s wealth.

About lunchtime we noticed rumbling thunder and some lightning. As we walked between museums we could hear the sound of hail. We took cover under a small tree and watched in horror as hailstones about the size of golf balls struck the cars in the street and the car park, including our Cadillac. One large hailstone hit me on the head and nearly laid me out so we decided to make a run for the shelter of some office buildings. For over half an hour this icy deluge continued. Hanging baskets with petunias were stripped bare, as were the street trees. The ground turned white as the hail mounted up and the temperature dropped considerably. When it was all over we examined an old Buick (about 80s model) and marvelled at the dents all over it. And then we saw our car …… with at least a hundred indentations over the roof, the hood, the trunk and a red plastic strip below the back window had been shattered. At this point in time we were glad we were not the owners! We drove down to Santa Fe and there was sunshine and warmth and no sign of any storms. We checked into our favourite El Rey Inn and notified National about their peppered Cadillac.

On our second morning we were in the lovely breakfast room and who should come around the corner but Ray and Mary Cook. They had been down to Albuquerque and Ray had bought a 1954 Buick Roadmaster convertible for a pretty good price. Apparently Richard Nixon had sat in this car in his prepresidential days. It was great to catch up again. The Cooks were heading towards Durango and we were heading south to Alamogordo so our trails split at this point.

We turned west at Alamogordo and drove past the White Sands Missile Base and over the mountains to Las Cruces. At Deming we headed north. The border patrol is fairly active and have checkpoints in this region but usually they spot two gringos in the car and wave you through.

We stopped for a break about midday and had some fruit and a drink. We spotted a police car pull in behind us. Sheriff Loma from Luna County very courteously asked us were there any problems. We had a chat to him and he said there had been a report about an abandoned car on our road. Seeing we were alright he took off up the road. I noticed he was half crouching down when he approached our car from the rear. It probably pays to be cautious in this neck of the woods.

We passed some huge copper mines further up the track. At Eagar we branched off to the Gila Wilderness Area. Geronimo who was a Chiricuhua Apache, was born in this area in 1809. His famous portrait, kneeling with a rifle, certainly portrays him as a wild eyed bod. We trekked along side a river and then climbed up to where there were cliff dwellings of the early Indians in this area. This was very enjoyable and it was good to stretch legs a bit.

We drove through Fort Apache on the San Carlos Apache Reservation and through the stunning Salt River Canyon. What a road and what it must have cost to construct. It was like driving down one side of the Grand Canyon and up the other side.

Arizona was bakingly hot. We came out of a diner about 8 pm one evening, south of Phoenix and the temperature was 111 ° F. We decided to head for San Diego and hole up there for a few days.

Because the road runs so close to the Mexican border, there were about four border patrol checkpoints for traffic, obviously looking for illegal immigrants. They actually call these people illegal immigrants, because that is what they are. They are entering the USA illegally, somewhat like our asylum seekers who are entering Australia illegally. We had no problem here and got into San Diego late one afternoon. Accommodation is very easy to come by so we booked in for four nights.

Spent a great few days sightseeing including the USS Midway, the aircraft carrier which is permanently moored at Navy Pier. When this was finished in 1945 it was too large to fit through the Panama Canal. Its great that some of the blokes working as guides had actually been sailors on the Midway. One was giving a talk on the flight deck about the difficulties landing on a carrier.
The pilots have a saying that a carrier is the only thing that appears to get smaller as you approach it.

The USS Midway at berth in San Diegomidway

Because San Diego is a naval base as well as a submarine base, there are 37,000 sailors permanently based there. We cruised past the naval dockyards and saw all sorts of modifications and work being done.

San Diego is only 15 miles from the Mexican border, so we decided to take a short trip down on a little tourist bus. There were only 16 of us on board as the driver said not too many tourists were interested in going to Mexico because of the drug cartel wars and violence there. He asked Alan what we were doing in the US and Alan replied we had come over for the Buick Nationals.

When we arrived in Tijuana a Danish bloke from the back of the bus came and introduced himself as Eric. He had heard Buicks mentioned and he himself had a 1970 Pontiac in Denmark. He is a member of the American Wheels Club in Aarlborg which has about 200 members, including some with Buicks. They sounded a fairly active bunch (only in the summer). They weren’t into judging but from his photos they seemed to enjoy BBQs, drinking and driving around. Sounds familiar. We swapped websites with him and promised to keep in touch. Its great to network with international likeminded people. While the rest of us were doing some serious shopping in Tijuana, Alan and Eric were showing each other car photos and discussing engines!

The next stop was LA and then dropping “Al Dente” off to the National Car Rental. We drove into the return lane and about four Latinos’ jaws dropped open. “What happened?” was the cry. We explained what had happened, handed the keys over, got our luggage and headed off for the shuttle to LAX. Thank heavens for insurance.

A quiet day on the Avenida Revolucion in Tijuana

The long flight home is over and we returned to cold rainy weather. All of a sudden the heat of southern Arizona is very welcoming.

We saw a lot, caught up with old friends at the National Meet and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The US never disappoints.

L M Haime (WA Buicks)

BOATTAIL IN THE KIMBERLEY

Return Back to the Full List of Posted Items. BOATTAIL IN THE KIMBERLEY
Monday 11 April 2005 and two Boattails headed north out of Perth. Unfortunately Tony
and Marny Howe could only escort us to Regan’s Ford where we would have lunch on
Day one of our trip through to Darwin. After a pleasant lunch on the riverbank, we
parted company and we headed north.
The first day was a short trip to Geraldton, only 400 or so kilometres to stay with in-laws.
Pulling into a garage in Geraldton to fill up, the young bloke at the pumps said
admiringly – “What a great car, what is it?” Alan replied, “It’s a Buick.” Young
bloke says, “Who makes them?” Alan replies, “Well……. Buick does.” Oh.
The opposite occurred the next day however, while the car and us were having a
breather at Billabong roadhouse, a very dusty bloke pulled in on a motorbike with
camping gear loaded on. He walked over and said “I never expected to see a 72
Riviera up here!” It seems he had come across the Tanami Track but had actually
ridden 32,000 km including around Tasmania.
The temperature was starting to climb rapidly during the day and we were glad to pull
into Carnarvon that night. Carnarvon is a very pretty town and after checking in at a
motel we drove alongside the lagoon area and found an incredible seafood restaurant
near the fishing boat harbour. What a great photo it would have made of the Buick
parked near a palm tree and a crescent moon overhead.
Morning tea under Ghost Gum at Minilya
Next morning we drove out through the banana plantations for Karratha to stay with
friends. Stopped at Nanutarra roadhouse for a pie. You had to be quick, the flies
were in droves so careful eating had to be achieved. Drove into Karratha and
received thumbs up from the local aborigines who appreciate a good car. They stand
on the side of the road and say “Aiiee!” It probably helped that the car is red too.
Word had gone out that the Buick was in town and blokes started to arrive to check it
out. Usual bonnet up and blokes standing around it. What I call the seagulls on a
chip look. The temperature was about 38 ° at 10 p.m. in the evening. We were
most happy to leave the BBQ area outside and head into an airconditioned bedroom.
It was decided to get going next morning before sunup to beat the heat. The air
conditioning on the car certainly made the temperature gauge swing up. It was
decided to only have it on if it wasn’t so hot! There is a logic here only known to men.
An early start means keeping your eyes peeled for roos and massive cows that loom up
at the edge of the road.

A quick stop midmorning at the Whim Creek Pub for a lemon squash was most
welcome.
We checked out South Hedland, called at the local golden arches and then drove
across into Port Hedland to get fuel. Alan asked the bloke at the garage not to fill the
car beyond the click. OK replied the bloke and then filled it until fuel was pouring out.
Snarl from Alan. This entailed a drive around to use up some of this fuel with the
result that when we pulled into our motel to check in, the car had a surly boil in protest
of its treatment. The temperature at this time was 43 °. A cold shower, a snooze, a
few beers and room service smoothed out ruffled feathers.
A long haul the next day to Broome across Roebuck Plains which seem to go on
forever. One has to hand it to the early explorers and cattlemen in this area for their
tenacity and endurance. Broome was a very welcome site as were the faces of son
and daughter-in-law who had driven down from Derby.
A few days R and R at the Mangrove Resort. This is a very special spot and sitting out
on the deck over the mangroves and gazing at the amazing turquoise waters of
Roebuck Bay lined with the ochre red dirt surrounds was great. Broome has certainly
developed its own unique style now with many artists now living in Broome and creating
a particular style. Broome was gearing up for the usual influx of caravans from down
south (referred to as the SAADS – See Australia and Die brigade).
North again to Derby where son Martin is part of the thin blue line. Derby gets a bad
press in comparison to Broome but is actually a very pretty town with its boab trees,
frangipani and bougainvillea. Unfortunately its situation on the mud flats of King
Sound deprives it of beaches.
After a couple of days break, we were ready to leave for Darwin with son and daughterin-
law. We made the decision because of the heat to leave the old girl in Derby (not
me, the Buick) and travel in the nearly new Nissan Patrol with the kids.
What a great drive the north-west highway is. Not as scenic as the Gibb River Road
but still interesting. A spot on the Mary River called Mary’s Pool was the chosen
lunch spot. Pelicans and other wading birds were on the river, the bank lined with
magnificent river gums.
We stopped at the sign for Haime Hill. Alan’s earlier engineering days had involved
designing the Kimberley Microwave System. Many of the hills used for the
communication system had never been named, hence he took the opportunity to name
a hill with microwave tower after himself.
The Haimes at Haime Hill
That night we arrived at Kununurra and our unit faced the lagoon with the Sleeping
Buddha rock in silhouette. What a spot. Before daybreak we were on the road and
stopped at Timber Creek in the Northern Territory. Couldn’t get over the size of the
Victoria River, absolutely massive with water in it too! Something you don’t see in
most of our rivers at that time of the year.
Katherine was the next stop and was very lush and green. From there the trip to
Darwin was interesting, especially to read about the WWII activities in the area around
the Adelaide River.
Our accommodation was at a great place in the CBD area of Darwin which meant you
could walk to restaurants and shops. We made a point of getting up early and
attending the Anzac Day Dawn Service at the park overlooking the harbour. This was
attended by thousands of people and was very warm already at that early hour.
A visit to Darwin wouldn’t be complete without visiting the Museum and to learn in more
detail of the pasting Darwin took by Japanese bombers in WWII. Apparently the same
planes that had bombed Pearl Harbour had bombed Darwin, only more of them. In a
yearly period, Darwin and the Northern Territory was bombed 70 times. The Aircraft
Museum was especially interesting.
The rebuilding of Darwin has made it a very well laid out city. The lifestyle, climate and
attractions are well worth a visit. We were all most impressed and vowed to return at
a later time.
A few days later we headed south again and reached Katherine in time for lunch.
Choosing a picnic spot under a large shady tree, we proceeded to eat. Big mistake.
The tree was full of bats and they seemed to be annoyed at us being under the tree and
let fly with bat poo. A hasty retreat on our part.
Back to Derby again for a weeks rest before heading back to Perth. One of the best
kept secrets in the north must be the seafood cafe on the Derby Wharf. This looks so
nondescript to be almost invisible but has the best seafood. When we were in Derby
it was the time for the peak tides, which means a 10 metre tide. Nothing can beat
sitting on the Derby Wharf at sunset with a few drinks, in about 30 ° heat, watching the
tide come in and eating barramundi and chips (or seafood coconut curry).
Sunset and Low Tide at Derby Wharf
Unfortunately this idyll came to an end. The Buick was made ready for the trip south
and we headed off at 5.30 a.m. one morning.
Stopped at Sandfire Roadhouse for a break and were descended on by a bunch of
peacocks. They walked past us and headed straight for the Buick grille where they
proceeded to eat insects out of grille. Probably was a hot meal for them.
Peacocks cleaning-up the Buick
By the time we reached South Hedland we were picking up some rain and by the time
we had reached the Kumarina Roadhouse, there were floodwaters across the road.
The Buick drive quietly through flowing water, and we kept an anxious look out for any
huge mining trucks coming in the opposite direction.
At Meekatharra some locals gathered around the car again. Its incredible that some
people know exactly the make and model. Apparently a Ferrari had been through the
day before and we wondered how deep the water was he went through.
Down to the Queen of the Murchison, Cue, which according to the locals, is about to
experience a mining boom again. Nice to see the place come to life again.
An overnight at Mt Magnet in deluging rain. We had a superb meal at the pub which
would have done a city restaurant proud. This sort of food must be an eye opener for
tourists from overseas to get this sort of quality in the back of beyond.
The next day was dry and we headed for a much colder Perth, the Buick having
travelled 3,493 miles to Derby and back.
L Haime (WA Buicks)

ARBROATH – DAVID DUNBAR BUICK 150 YEARS ON

ARBROATH – DAVID DUNBAR BUICK
150 YEARS ON
Last year was the 150th anniversary of David Dunbar Buick’s birth in Arbroath
Scotland. Buick Owners Club of WA member, Ian Carrington-Jones passed
on a newspaper article, clipping and photos given to him by a friend who
attended the event when a plaque was installed commemorate his birthplace.
The plaque has been fixed to the wall of the only remaining building in Green
Street (apparently high up the wall out of vandals’ reach).
The following is an excerpt from the Arbroath Herald, dated 14 September
2004:
“Plaque unveiled at moving ceremony.
Many famous men have come from Arbroath — James Chalmers, inventor of
the adhesive postage stamp; and Patrick Bell, inventor of the reaping machine,
to name but two. Few people however, have ever associated the name of
Buick with the town. But David Dunbar Buick who was born in Green Street in
1854 has ensured that the name of Buick is one of the most famous names in
motoring history.
David Buick’s innovative skills were to earn him his place in the history of the
motor industry and that the man, who helped launch a giant industry, whose
name has appeared on more than 32 million automobiles over 90 years, was
honoured at a ceremony, in what is left of Green Street – Lodge St Vigean No
101, yesterday when a plaque marking his birthplace was unveiled by Buick
General Sales and Service Manager, Robert Coletta. A number of vintage
Buicks from the company’s 100-year old history were on display.
The plaque reads:
“David Dunbar Buick – September 17, 1854 – March 5, 1929. American
motoring pioneer and founder of the Buick Motor Company of America.
David Dunbar Buick was born at 26 Green Street, Arbroath which lay
approximately 90 metres north of this, the only remaining building to show
the line of the original street. Sponsored by the Buick Motor Division of the
General Motors Corporation of America”
Plans for the plaque and dedication were arranged by Buick Public Relations,
Angus District Council and Eric Buick, an Arbroath resident who became
interested in David Buick because of his name, but who claims no genealogical
link to the Buick firm’s founder. Buick executives in Europe on business also
participated in the dedication. Along with Mr Coleta, the party included Chris A
Wolf, assistant general sales manager for customer satisfaction, and Rick
Pellafone, director of customer assistance.
Mr Coleta said, “Buick has been one of the great names in American
automobiles through virtually all of the 20th century. It is certainly appropriate
for us to honour this man, not only because his name identifies our automobiles,
but because his genius and hard work formed the beginning of an unsurpassed
automotive success story which is still being written.”
On behalf of the Angus District Council, Provost Brian Milne said, “We are
honoured to have helped Eric Buick and Buick Motor Division in providing this
tribute to the life and achievements of David Dunbar Buick.”
“It is most fitting that the founder of perhaps the worlds most famour car
company was born in Arbroath, a town which has traditionally prided itself in its
engineering excellence.”
Mr Eric Buick, no relative of David, said he first contacted Buick Motors in 1991
with a view to writing an article for the “Arbroath Herald” annual. “I am
absolutely astounded that so many people have turned up to make this such a
special occasion. It has taken several years to come to fruition but it has
turned out very well. This plaque represents a man who was an engineering
genius and the true fighting spirit he showed throughout his life. I would like to
thank the Brethren of Lodge St Vigean No 101 for their help and for allowing us
to use their building: Angus District Council who organised the ceremony; and
Buick Motors”.
A letter of fraternal greetings and a Lippenon Angus plaque was presented to
Mr Coletta by Provost Milne on behalf of the people of Arbroath”.
Arbroath local dignitaries unveil the plaque. Eric Buick is second from right.
Ian also provided the following clipping covering the plaque unveiling event.
L Haime (WA Buicks)

ANNUAL STELLA AWARDS

ANNUAL STELLA AWARDS
The Annual Stella Awards were named after 79-year old Stella Leibeck who
spilt coffee on herself and successfully sued McDonalds for $3.85 million. That
case inspired the Stella awards for the most frivolous, ridiculous, successful
lawsuits in the US.
This years runaway winner was Mrs Merv Grabinski of Oklahoma City. She
bought herself a new 10m Winnebago motor home and on her first trip home,
set the cruise control at 110 kph on the freeway.
She then calmly left the driver’s seat to go back and make herself a sandwich.
Not surprisingly, the Winnebago left the freeway, crashed and overturned.
Mrs Grabinski sued Winnebago for not advising her in the owner’s manual that
she couldn’t do this.
The jury awarded her $2.3 million plus a new motor home. The company
actually changed its manuals on the basis of this suit.

ALL THE WAY THERE AND BACK

ALL THE WAY THERE AND BACK……..
From the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and return.
It was pitch dark and bitterly cold at 6 am when the burble of a boatie could be
heard approaching our driveway on 24 August 2008. Tony and Marny Howe
had driven from their place to join us for the long haul east for the Queensland
National Event.
With both boattails fuelled up and packed we headed due east. There is an air of
excitement when you’re starting out on a major journey and weeks of planning
have all come to fruition.
We stopped alongside the Avon River at Northam but this was colder than the hills
of Perth. Our coffee chilled quickly in our cups and we decided to press on. A
cold wind followed us to our lunch and fuel stop at Southern Cross. The cars
drew their usual crowd of interested parties and questions were fielded.
When we pulled in at Caiguna for lunch an old gentleman could be spotted
approaching the cars in some excitement clutching a half eaten sandwich in his
hand. He turned out to be an 81-year old American who had worked at Flint at
the Buick plant after the war and then became a project engineer at Detroit for
GM. He said he couldn’t believe his eyes when two Riviera Boattails had pulled
in. He himself was driving a T-model Ford with two others and a backup vehicle
across Australia. There was a lesson here that you and your car are never too
old to get out there.
Buicks at Caiguna
It never fails to amaze me the quality of meals and the decent bottle of wine which
can be had in restaurants in far flung motels. From Norseman and across the
Nullarbor we were well looked after. We even had a bottle of Goundrey Reserve
Shiraz at one place!
Our driving plan everyday was to get going about 6.30 am and put quite a few
kilometres on the clock (or miles in the Buick) before stopping about 5 pm in the
afternoon. When the road runs close to the cliffs there is spectacular scenery as
far as the eye can see and when you look at the Southern Ocean rolling in, the
next landfall in that direction must be Antarctica. The eagles are magnificent but
one has to slow down if they are eating roadkill on the road. The crows can get
going quickly as a car approaches but the eagles are much slower before they get
their revs up. One flew over the top of the Riv and you can appreciate the size of
their wings looking up at their underbelly.
The road up to Port Augusta goes through some spectacular desert type scenery
with bronze-red hills. Driving this road in the summer would be a challenge.
At Port Augusta Marny and I popped into the post office with the admonition “don’t
be too long”. When we returned to the cars, both bonnets were up and there
were a crowd of blokes looking at the engines. Apparently someone who knows
Buicks had seen the cars stop and immediately rang all his mates who have
Buicks to come and see the cars. At this point “don’t be too long” had gone out
the window. These blokes had left their workplaces and whatever they were doing
to come and inspect the cars. There is obviously a need for a Buick car club in
South Australia! Unfortunately we had to press on as we still had many miles to
cover.
Broken Hill was a great place to stay. They really seem to appreciate their
history and in one park was a memorial to the band which had played and gone
down on the “Titanic”. There was an air of Kalgoorlie about the place and the
surrounding country.
The roads deteriorated in northern New South Wales with lumpy surfaces and the
trucks seemed to be more numerous. Our empty road cruising was coming to
an end.
We entered Goondiwindi late afternoon and saw the statue of the Goondiwindi
grey “Gunsynd”. Casing the town out and admiring the lovely old Queenslanderstyle
houses, we had stopped to reconnoitre when a woman parked her car in
front of ours. She said her husband had a ’26 Buick he was restoring and
couldn’t wait to get home to tell him what she had seen! They knew that the
National Meet was on but unfortunately couldn’t make it.
The scenery changed again from there and we drove through lush farming country
to Ashmore. Great to pull into the Ashmore Palms and see and hear Buicks
(and their owners).
On Thursday 18 September, after a simply wonderful time in Queensland (which I
am sure has been fully written about by other members) we headed to Macca’s at
6.00 a.m. for breakfast. John and Kaye Cook who had purchased their ‘71
boattail in Queensland had decided to drive it back rather than truck it and decided
to accompany us which was great. Stuart Syme and John Bell were driving their
Buicks to Tenterfield to pick up John’s truck, load the Buicks and then head west.
At Tamworth we spotted Ian and Margaret Baxter’s ‘46 and pulled over to have
lunch with them. They were heading for the Bay to Birdwood run.
The Baxters, Cooks, Howes and Haimes at Tamworth
I drove in the afternoon and managed to cop roadworks, hilly rough surfaces and
huge trucks. Not ideal driving.
We reached Warren about 5.30 pm and pulled into what we consider about the
best motel on the run. It’s about 500 metres off the mainroad, very comfortable
and clean and virtually nobody staying there. We could walk to the United
Services Club a few blocks away and have a decent meal and a few drinks.
The weather was warming up a bit as we headed towards Cobar. The three
cars were driving alongside the railway line watching a big train tonk along. We
couldn’t believe our eyes when we saw a small four-wheel drive nip across in front
of the engine with about two seconds to spare from getting whacked by the train.
The woman pulled up and had her hands to her face, leaning on the steering
wheel. Obviously the enormity of her stupidity had struck home. The train also
slowed and stopped, no doubt the driver had a pounding heart.
We had estimated that Bev and Peter Nicholson (who had flown home after the
Nationals, trucked their Buick and picked up their Hupmobile for the Hupmobile
rally in Cessnock, New South Wales) would be roughly between Cobar and
Wilcannia when we would spot them on the return journey. Sure enough there
was the Nic’s four-wheel drive towing the Hup. The three boaties wheeled
around and pulled up behind the Hup. Great to catch up with people in the back
of beyond. Pete and Bev said they had spotted John Bell’s truck further along
ahead of us. I think these blokes roughed it a bit more than us.
Never know who you will bump into in the outback!
Broken Hill again and Tony’s birthday. The blokes fiddled and polished the cars,
laundry was done and then it was time to celebrate T’s birthday in the motel
restaurant.
Off early next morning, morning tea at Mannahill with a cold wind blowing. Just
the other side of Peterborough John Cook’s car developed a knock. An
inspection revealed that the universal joint had died. We drove back into
Peterborough to the local mechanic but the chances of getting parts weren’t
looking good. We decided to head for Port Pirie and hole up for the night.
Pitstop at Wilcannia
The drive was beautiful through lush paddocks and towns with lovely old stone
houses which South Australia is noted for. This was a bonus as none of us had
driven across on this road before.
We booked in at Port Pirie and discussed the various options about the car. John
was feeling a bit glum but this was just bad luck as it could have happened to any
of the cars. The three blokes crawled under the car to inspect the situation (see
photo). We womenfolk were initially horrified to see a pile of paving bricks
under the rear wheels of the car but fortunately there were no holes in the paved
courtyard as they had found residual bricks in the garden.
From a Buick 8?
It was decided to truck the car to Adelaide and John and Kaye would bus it to
Adelaide and then fly home to Perth. Regretfully we made our farewells and
turned north to Port Augusta.
That evening we pulled into Minnipa, a little town in the boonies with the usual
huge, white wheat silo dominating the town. The hotel/motel was shut but we
managed to ring the owner who turned up about 5 .30 pm and let us in. Nice
units out the back of the old pub.
At dinner time we headed into the dining room. Through most of the trip we
three had been trying to convince Tony not to have his steak well done, but to
have it medium-rare. Tony was eventually convinced of the error of his ways.
Anyway, Tony and I ordered steak for dinner, mine rare, Tony’s medium-rare.
Eventually the meals came out and the owner said carefully to me, “yours was the
rare one” and to Tony “yours was the medium-rare”. The reality was that they
were both cooked to shoe leather consistency (Ron Noonan would have loved the
steak). However one must realise that we were in a place where you couldn’t
drink the tapwater so you have to just get on with it sometimes.
The next morning we encountered rain all the way into Ceduna. Lunch at
Nullarbor was bitterly cold with a high wind. We all ate lunch back in the cars.
Further on down the road we saw a dingo sitting at the edge of the road surveying
the scene. They are a lovely looking dog (I don’t subscribe to the baby-taking
reputation they have).
The spectacular (and breezy) Nullarbor cliffs
Managed to get the last two rooms at Eucla, Norseman the next night and then
Perth.
All in all for the trip both ways and the National runs we had travelled some 10,600
km and spent $2,850 on fuel. We all agreed that we wouldn’t have missed it for
quids.
L M Haime (WA Buicks)

ALL AT SEA……

ALL AT SEA……
I was re-reading Lois Haime’s fine article on her journey to Russia. Like all
travel stories, one starts to remember the personal journeys and the enormous
good luck that counters enormous stupidity. How must of us survive
excusrions to foreigh countries still mystifies me.
My travel story started in late 1972 when I had an urge to go back to the old
country. I had been actively urged to do so by many people since arriving in
Australia in 1966. I was never sure of their motives. This is the story of how I
got on the wrong ship going to the wrong country.
My first act of stupidity was to think that making my own way to Perth from
Sydney would save me money. After all, wasn’t Perth closer to London by
4,000 km? Five days of hitchhiking and a near death experience in a runaway
truck found me in Perth. I stayed with some old mates who had mastered
time travel, making Sunday sessions last for a fortnight. During this time travel
experience, I had managed to register my name at the Department of Shipping
and Transport as a workaway on a ship. This allowed practicing idiots like
myself to travel on a cargo ship being paid one shipping per week in exchange
for passage.
Within a few days, a bulk carrier at Fremantle needed me to replace men who
had jumped ship. This should have been my second wake up call but my mind
was still focused on a cheap trip to London. I signed the ”Articles” assuming it
was just a technical legality for this trip only. Mistake number three.
As the 60,000 ton bulk carrier thumped its way out of Fremantle into the night, I
asked Mick, the Irish steward, how long it would take us to get back to London.
He looked at me as if I had been on a fortnight of Sunday sessions and said
with a malicious smile – “We’re not going to the UK”. I suspected that Mick
had lied to me purely because he could but as we headed across the South
Atlantic for the eastern seaboard of the US, it became apparent that London
was getting further away by the day. The bright news was that I was being
paid a wage and not a shilling a week! In addition, I was even allowed to play
with the steering wheel for ten hours and get my steeing certificate. The crew
also treated me to hours of maritime horror stories eager to scare the village
idiot on his first voyage out. I hid in my cabin when we crossed the equator.
Our first cargo of mica sands was unloaded in Baltimore, Maryland and I
headed straight for a shore ‘phone to ring the British Consulate in Washington.
I explained that I was a workaway and if I wasn’t repatriated to the UK, then the
crew would go on strike because I wasn’t a union member. I indignantly
maintained that I was being detained against my will!
The consulate official was diplomatically patient with my description of my
personal shipping disaster and then explained the implications of the “Articles”
that I had signed. I had signed on for two years, had been paid full wages
been automically enrolled in the seamens’ union. That, to me, was the true
meaning of being sunk.
Nevertheless, by the time we had unloaded our last cargo in Mobile, Alabama,
our crew were informed of our impending rotation back to the UK.
Unfortunately we were also involved in the biggest British seamens’ strike in
recent history and the company had arranged a multi-airline exit designed to
deceive the union bosses in London. The union had dictated that any British
ship rotating crews during the worldwide strike would be blacklisted when
returning to home waters. I have never boarded so many different aircraft in
48 hours and I was petrified they would route us through a Botswana Airlines
DC3. We passed our incoming crew at O’Hare in Chicago and they looked
decidedly wild eyed. Eventually we arrived at Heathrow where a smiling West
Indian born immigration man surveyed my passport, questioned my entry and
asked me why I didn’t have a suntan. It seemed that everyone wanted to be a
commedian.
This is a two-part story about my maritime career on another ship but it is even
more embarrassing than this one. Some people say that if you were never
young, you were never stupid. However, good luck still favours the stupid.
Keith Crane (WA Buicks)

AIRBORNE FOWLS

AIRBORNE FOWLS
In order to simulate the frequent incidents of collisions with airborne fowl,
scientists at NASA built a gun specifically to test the strength of windscreens by
launching dead chickens at the cockpit glass of airliners, military jets and the
space shuttle at maximum velocity.
British engineers heard about the gun and were eager to test it on the
windscreens of their new high speed trains. Arrangements were made and a
gun was sent to the British engineers.
When the gun was fired, the engineers stood shocked as the chook hurtled out
of the barrel and crashed into the shatter-proof windshield, smashing it to
smithereens before blasting through the control console, snapping the
engineer’s backrest in two and embedding itself in the back wall of the cabin.
The horrified Brits sent NASA the disastrous results of the experiment along
with the designs of the windshield, and begged the US scientists for
suggestions.
The reply came back: “Thaw the chicken.”

ALTERNATIVE RETIREMENT HOME

ALTERNATIVE RETIREMENT HOME
Whilst driving down Route 66 some years ago and listening to the car radio,
there was a lady talking about the situation she found herself in after her
husband had died.
The family home was too large for her and her adult children had married and
moved away. I think the state she lived in was Oklahoma.
Her plan was to sell the home and move into a retirement village whereby she
felt she would be safe and have easy access to medical care if needed.
However she soon realised that the bulk of the capital from the sale of the
house would be needed to buy into the retirement village and it turned out in
this area, that it wasn’t guaranteed that the local doctor could turn up
immediately. Often you just had to take yourself off to the hospital in town
and wait.
She did her sums and invested her money from the sale of the house. She then
had a chat to the local Best Western Motel manager and they agreed on a
reduced rate of about $60 per day for a long term stay (compared with about
$200 per day in the retirement village). The motel room was also somewhat
larger than the retirement home.
She was pretty hale and hearty at this time but the benefits were that Best
Western guaranteed a doctor attending to their customers within an hour.
Breakfast was included in the day rate and she had access to the motel
restaurant (or room service) for other meals. For a few dollars extra all her
personal laundry was done — sheets, towels etc and cleaning being part of the
motel stay.
As a permanent resident, the manager agreed that she could bring a few items
of small furniture – bookshelves etc.
She had access to the swimming pool and there was 24-hour security around
the motel. When her family came to visit her, she booked extra rooms for
them and they could enjoy a BBQ and a few drinks around the pool.
During the day the free shuttle bus from the local airport called at the motel and
she had a free ride to the airport for a meal and to browse the shops. This
same shuttle bus took her into town for shopping, movies and catching up with
friends.
While the financial benefits were obvious, she was not socially isolated, had
access to quick medical attention, there was good security and she could get
out and around without much cost as well.
I don’t know if you could swing such a deal in Australia, but it certainly sounded
attractive.
L M Haime (WA Buicks)