Moto Magazine

1953 Redex Trial Diorama – the Build Log – Part 1

Posted on the 31 May 2015 by Gardenamateur

While I've long been a maker of dioramas, I've mostly used Photoshop for my work, but for this project the only role my computer is going to play is to create the decals I need for the cars I am modifying, and to provide regular updates here on "The Die is Cast" blog.
And so, for however long it takes, I plan to provide regular updates on how the 1953 Redex Trial diorama build is progressing. 
The topic itself is one that has always interested me for many reasons, first of which is that a car I owned – a Peugeot 203 – won it! The 1953 Redex Reliability Trial was the first of its type in Australia, and spawned a succession of long distance endurance car events throughout the 1950s. Conducted over 6500 miles, it pitted ordinary road cars against the worst road and off-road conditions Australia could inflict on motorists at the time. It was sponsored by Redex, a fuel additive maker keen to promote its product.
The Trial itself was a huge success, the biggest media event in Australian motoring at that time, and indeed a huge media event locally as well. As the trial passed through countless quiet country towns, all the excited townspeople gathered to see the show pass by, to wave and cheer the drivers on, and to lend a hand if needed. In its own way it was a more innocent time, in the early post-war days when a sense of adventure was still in the air and people were hoping for better times and a brighter future, and also wanted to blow off some post-war steam.
The route
1953 Redex Trial diorama – the build log – part 1

Here's the best I can manage for a map of the route, just follow the bright red line. It started and finished in Sydney. Heading north, the roads were fairly easy all the way up to Townsville in north Queensland, where the route did a right-angle turn for the inland, heading for the mining town of Mount Isa. It was along this route that the roads turned to dirt, sometimes sand, and stayed that way for the next few thousand miles. Hundreds of creek crossings, thousands of adventures and, yes, lots of mishaps and broken cars.

In the center of the Northern Territory they turned right, heading up to Darwin and the coast. After a brief rest they turned round and came back down south, all the way through the Northern Territory, via Alice Springs, down to Adelaide, the capital of South Australia. Then it was down to Melbourne and back up to Sydney, for the finish.
But as the leading quartet of the rally were all still on 0 points lost by Melbourne, the organisers devised the so-called "horror stretch" of rough bush tracks near Goulburn. This truly did separate the leaders, and by the time everyone got back to Sydney, the protests were heard, the vehicles inspected ... the winner was a Peugeot 203 driven by a pharmacist from Maitland, NSW, Ken Tubman, with his co-pilot John Marshall.
The cars
My diorama is going to consist of three cars from the Redex trial.

Peugeot 203A

1953 Redex Trial diorama – the build log – part 1
1953 Redex Trial diorama – the build log – part 1
These two photos are of Ken Tubman and John Marshall's rally winning car. Unlike modern rally cars, this one was almost completely standard, and as you can see from the livery stencilled onto the doors, even that was ultra basic.
For the diorama, the Peugeot 203 will be crossing a creek somewhere in our outback.
Holden FX
1953 Redex Trial diorama – the build log – part 1
The first of a long series of Holdens, this model was formally called the 48/215, but later became just as well known as the FX. Several competed in the 53 Redex Trial and proved their toughness and reliability, which translated into further good sales. I am going to create car number 5, driven by Arthur Kipling for the diorama, in which he will be on the road, waiting his turn to cross the creek.

Peugeot 203 Commerciale

1953 Redex Trial diorama – the build log – part 1

1953 Redex Trial diorama – the build log – part 1
Filming the whole trial as news footage, and driving the entire route, was this Peugeot 203 Commerciale which belonged to the Cinesound Film Unit. For the subsequent Redex Rallies in 1954 and 1955, the Cinesound team was back again in a Peugeot 203, but in those later years they drove a Peugeot 203 Fourgonnette, which is mechanically almost the same as the 53 car, but it was a new car with a slightly different body.

For the diorama, the Cinesound team is there at the creek crossing, filming the action.

And so that's the idea. This is my first car diorama build. I have been developing some model-building skills with planes and ships in the last two years, and that includes dioramas ranging from Ford Trimotor planes in Antarctica to fishing trawlers on the North Sea.

Now it's my turn to get into Australia's outback, creating creeks, bushland and, most important of all, replica cars from the 1953 Redex Rally. It will take quite some time to complete, so check in when you can and there probably will be an update on how things are progressing.

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