Club Cruise to Kyneton Farmer's Market & Valiant Museum
9th September, 2017
9th September, 2017
No one doubted Hoota when he said "This'll be a good one. You'll enjoy it". Hoota had visited the Valiant museum housed in the old VDO gauge factory in Kyneton a couple of times previously, so he knew just how good it was. What an awesome day it turned out to be. Bloody excellent work Events Guys!
A larger than normal group of club members - over 25 cars and around 40 people - arrived at the Clubhouse at 10am for our 10:30 departure. This looked like it would be one of our bigger runs, with several more members planning to join us in Kyneton. I'd brought the Rota out for a drive today because I thought we were taking the freeway route to Kyneton, with a couple of deviations into Malmsbury and Taradale - a slice of our own Route 66. I guess this would be called Route 79. Anyway, how happy was I when I heard we were taking the old shitty Sutton Grange scenic road. Roughest road in the world. Thought I'd done this before and swore I'd never take the Rota this way again. 10mm of suspension travel is really not quite enough. And the road was worse than I remembered it. Damn. Gotta love the way Brendan's Falcon just in front of me glides over the huge bumps and massive craters in the road. Just like they're not there. Unlike me - who was swerving all over the road trying avoid them - he wasn't even aware they were there. Don't always see them, but we feel every single one as it tries to kill us.
It was still a lovely morning for a cruise though as we wound our way through the countryside. There was almost some shenanigans when it looked like Shane and Deano might have been planning a standing start drag race coming out of Taradale as the road divided in to two lanes, but a communication error between them stopped them doing anything silly. At least on this occasion. The Farmers Market in Kyneton was - surprisingly - pretty much just like a farmer's market. Seen one, seen 'em all. The bacon and eggs rolls were good.
After re-grouping at 1pm it was a short drive to the dis-used VDO factory which reportedly housed a huge collection of Valiants, tractors and memorabilia. From the outside though, none of that was obvious. The owners - Ivan, June and their son Greg came out to greet us and ushered us into a room where they told us some history of the family, the museum and the building. We then got the chance to go inside and explore. memorabilia was everywhere - from collections of spanners, tools, posters, tractors and a couple of old cars from the very early 1900's. Ivan was always up for a chat and was eager to share details on the vehicles. Every one of them had a story to tell. As we grouped around the "Green Door" (you had to be there) Ivan began to explain what was in the next room. As a teaser - just to the left of the Green Door was an engine on a stand. Was just a little 245ci hemi six - nothing special. But it was. It was the first ever 245 assembled by Chrysler Australia. There began a tour into history. Inside this room was the first ever Australian delivered Valiant, and one from every year from 1961 through to the last ever produced Valiant - affectionately known as The Last Bastard. They had sedans, there were utes, they had coupes, they had E49 Chargers. Valiant Heaven.
For anyone with an ounce of petrol in their veins, the story of the very first Valiant was incredible. Used as a daily driver and having been owned by several diferent people - it seemed no-one knew the significance of this vehicle. In the early '70s after being sold to a farmer in the back blocks of South Australia, it was stripped and turned into a paddock bomb for shooting foxes. Checkout the photos - no roof, no guards, no rear quarters - it was turned into a ute! A chance discovery by the owners brother in law saw the numbers on the radiator support panel decoded as the number one build in Australia. What a massive restoration it was. To see it now, it looks like it just came off the showroom floor.
Which is what happened to the last Valiant ever. Austrailian delivered Chrysler number 565,338. Never registered, never driven on the road. 25 klms on the clock. The Last Bastard. Given to Purnell Motors in Sydney by the Chrysler Corporation in August 1981 due to them being the long standing number one dealer in Australia. It was on display there for 22 years. Zoom in on the photos below to read more of the stories.
This museum is recognised as the only museum in the world that has on display both the first and the last of any make of car. That's pretty special. As a Club, we have been a lot of places over the last 5 years. But none more fascinating than this. As individuals you would never gain access to this museum. Ivan and June only open up for a couple of times each year and only by invitation. Those members that were able to take this opportunity were extremely privileged. Thanks again to Hoota and the Events Guys for this awesome day.
And a huge thank you to the owners Ivan, June and their son Greg for sharing their stories and guiding us on this wonderful experience. And also for the coffee, tea and cakes.....
Gonna have to do some research - that cog thing doesn't look right.
We'll see you on a cruise somewhere!