Cars and Theirs Stars – 50th Anniversary

The April General Meeting for the past few years has been held at the Sporting Car Club rooms and has allowed the Sprite Club to display members cars on stage and have a chance to talk with their owners about the cars, their history and any special stories.

This years “Cars and Their Stars” night started with alarm bells and a police presence! Once the correct PIN code had been entered into the alarm system we could get the members and the cars into the venue. With the bar open and a few pizzas, the night started with members mingling and talking Sprites, Midgets and associated discussions.

President Gordon took to the stage and completed an abridged version of the Monthly Meeting. Once these formalities were completed it was time to get the “Stars” on stage to talk about their “Cars”. This year there was a 50th Anniversary theme, and cars that have had a long association with the Sprite Club were on show.

The Blue Bugeye of the King’s was first on stage. Starting as a Sprite body with a Holden 179 engine, and associated odd parts, the Sprite was restored in to a 1098cc powered Bugeye. Used for daily commutes, racing, motorkhanas the Bugeye was around from the very early days of the Club, and still attends various runs and events these days.

During its life SUS-600 has also has some transformations including the fitting of a Galant engine and gearbox, plus a few other creature comforts. It has also had the duties as a Learner Driver vehicle and featured in the 1977 SA Film Corporation movie “The Sound of Love”, starring John Jarratt (of Wolf Creek fame!). It even travelled four up (2 x adults, 2 x kids, plus camping gear) to Bordertown for the annual SA vs Vic motorkhana.

Next on stage was Des and Penny Chabrel and their Green MK IIIA Sprite. This also started off as a white vehicle which was used for a few years in the Riverland by a mate of President Gordon, and was also part of the Sprite Club during the mid-1980’s. Later dismantled for painting, Des and Penny purchased the Sprite and restored to it’s current glory. A coat of British Racing Green and a general tidy up has seen this Sprite attend many Sprite Club runs and All British Days over the past 35 years.

Des also described his and Penny’s other interest in motorcycle trails having competed and now official at the 24 hour Motorcycle Trial in the lower-mid North of the state.

The yellow Kestrel Clubman of Sean Power was the next car to review. With Clubbies SA having it’s 21st birthday last year, Sean explained the similar story of the early years where like minded people got together to talk all things Clubman. From this simple beginning grew Clubbies SA. Sprite Club members the Doube’s, Tye’s and Edson’s were part of this group and continue to own their Kestrel Clubman’s to this day.

Sean described the build of the Clubman, it’s first outing in the Grand Prix Rally , the speed events at both Mallala and Collingrove hill climb and other associated competition events. Being a SA designed car, Sean discussed the various engine configurations used in a number of the Kestrels (generally Toyota powered) and how each owner has added their own personal touch to their car.

Last on stage was the Red Bugeye of Grant Stephenson. Grant followed the usual path as a young man buying a sports car that was in need of restoration. He outlined the process of working with his fastidious father to form body panels and other parts to complete the body work before painting.

Joining the Sprite Club over 40 years ago (something he said he should have done during the restoration) Grant started attending various events including Sprints, motorkhanas and various social drives. The National Challenge was an important event on the calendar with Grant driving to the interstate event, competing, cleaning the Bugeye for the Concours, and then driving home!

Grant also outlined the latest engine rebuild and repainting of the engine bay which has taken longer than expected, but the Sprite is driving better then it ever did!

There were two other Sprites that unfortunately were unable to attend due to various issues. The Green MK III Sprite which has been in the custody of Reinhard Walker during the early 1970’s and was one of the very early cars to form the Sprite Club. Later John and Judy Bowering and now, Dean King have had the pleasure of owning this Sprite. Unfortunately dental problems prevented the Mk III from attending – days before the meeting – it lost teeth on first gear and decided to throw gear teeth out of the differential housing!

The other early Club vehicle was the Mk III owned by Kevin and Marilyn Warren. Kevin sold this Sprite to Dean Harty who used the car in the club for a few years, before transferring to Western Australia , where he still owns the Sprite. Dean was able to supply a few photos, with the car still displaying it’s Sprite Club of SA sticker on the windscreen, and the WA version of it’s original registration number – a nice touch to add to the history of this Sprite.

After a quick raffle draw, with an array of fine wines as prizes, the evening concluded with the President thanking the owners who brought their vehicles along for the night. Thanks were also passed on the Michael and Pat for arranging and serving the pizzas, and others for helping on the night,

Photos courtesy of Robin Dunk and Gordon Boyce.

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