Monthly Feature Story

Birdsville Track 1977

The reason this trip came about, was after a conversation with the public relations officer Harvey Grennan of Chrysler Australia Limited, his territory was all New South Wales and Queensland. His thoughts were a comparison between two Chrysler built products spanning 50 years, he talked to a well known motoring journalist Pedr Davis, and then the fine details were sorted out, Ampol were going to supply fuel and oils, and Chrysler the comparison motor vehicle.

The accommodation was to be hotels motels and caravan parks, courtesy of Chrysler, and Finelec supplied a liquid solution for preventing punctures in tyres and tubes, the Sydney media grabbed the concept, and previous to leaving a number of articles appeared in the press. Previous to leaving had an invitation to go to Ampol’s head office and meet the top brass, Ted Harris was the managing director, and was presented with an Ampol Touring Atlas of Australia. A hard covered metric edition, which over the years has been the atlas that all of my trips have been planned off although this is only trip number two; I’m sure many more will follow.

The Valiant car was from the press test fleet, and they usually cop a bit of a canning, the engine was a Hemi 245 cubic inch, or 4 litre capacity, fitted with automatic transmission. The only extras were a light skid plate under engine and transmission, and a tow bar to hitch up the 6x4 box trailer that would be towed to Birdsville, where the trailer would be hooked to the Plymouth for the return journey The trailer was loaded to the gunnels, ex army jerry cans filled with water and petrol, inflatable rubber bags blown up off exhaust gases, capable of supporting 200 kgs each. We had 8 of these on board, an capable of keeping the Plymouth floating if they were needed, one each to the road wheels, another under the rear luggage carrier, and one more under front bumper bar.

When the day finally came to leave, from an Ampol Service Station at Enfield a western suburb of Sydney, a lot of members of the Chrysler Restorers Club turned out to wish us bon voyage. When the club was first formed I was the first president, and they boasted around 600 members Australia wide. John Rollings an upholsterer and club member, made a special cover for the radiator and bonnet, and also a padded bag for my compass, a very important possession in the outback.

Want to read the rest of the Birdsville Track Adventure plus other stories including:-

Simpson Desert - 1978

Bourke to Burketown Bash - 1985

Plymouth Explorer - 1988

Endevour Rally - 1989

Plymouth Rattler - 1990

Blast From the Past - 1999

then contact Phil and buy "Just Poking Along"

email Phil

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