Moto Magazine

A New Outback Diorama Begins ...

Posted on the 05 May 2016 by Gardenamateur

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.

A new outback diorama begins ... 
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.

A new outback diorama begins ...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.
A new outback diorama begins ...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.
A new outback diorama begins ...

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.

A new outback diorama begins ...
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.

A new outback diorama begins ...

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 color 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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