A Life In Cars

The life story of Dickie Sutherland


Mini Minor 850 Van Dark Blue 1967

3 in a Van 2 Surfboards on top

1968 Mini Minor 850 Van

Only photo taken showing the front of the Van

Enter the Super van.  I trade the MGA, All Star Motors in Pulteney Street, and there were 2 minis on offer, I considered a Cooper S, finances and practicability the Van won out.  The Van was as new and drove well, like a Super Van well yes, I had plans. It was not long before I had a set of twin SU Carbies fitted, however the thinking of the day regarding hotting up motors was to fit a Supercharger.

All Star Motors in Pulteney Street,

Auto Welders modify the head, bigger exhaust valves, Stellited top and bottom, and ported to increase gas flow.  The head ported, and enlarged combustion chambers, my thinking was to create a larger combustion chamber to enable more fuel-air mixture, and bigger exhaust valves to help removed the exhaust.  The Supercharger came with a Holey carby, I fitted extractors with a one-and-a-half-inch system.  No brake upgrade, and drums all around. There was little thought given to stopping.  The Bugatti theory, is built to go not stop.

Maxwell motors did the tune and final setup of the Supercharger.  Yes, it went like steam, did 29mpg at 85 miles per hour, best consumption ever at 30mpg at 60mph, and 23mpg at 35mph around town.

I fitted an additional fuel tank, (acquired from a Mini sedan’s boot) with filler as per a sedan and a two-way tap was mounted under the front of the passenger’s seat.  The Battery shifted from behind the passenger’s seat to a box under the rear floor with an access lid made from the floor section I removed. 

Another modification was a nudge bar on the front with two Flame thrower spotlight and fog lights attached  All in all a neat setup

The Van friend Dyke on location at the Mallala racing circuit.

During the time I drove the Van, I have had 6 persons including me hitch a ride home from the beach, where they all managed to fit was a surprise.


26 /12 /1968

Those who went – Dickie – driver-passenger-vehicle builder and lasted Loon – hypocrite, annoying, driver, and also a passenger.  Mileage 16315.  Time 5.50 am, err p.m. day 26/12/68. 

Well, we got away to a good start i.e. early start i.e. 5.55 p.m., yes a good early start.  Dick is driving.  Now – man is he driving – like a beautie one – writing is something to be desired.  Car is too jerky (that’s Dickie for ya) so I’ll put the pen down.  Loon 5.10 p.m.

Murray Bridge 7 p.m. Mileage 16367 $1.90.  Many rabbits on way.  Just passed the cops 5 miles Adelaide side of Keith.  Dickie was everso worried about excessive noise.  “Oh, Poo”, Dickie has said many times.

Keith 16468 Petrol purchased $1.80 4,25 gallons  16367   23mpg

Horsham 16596-16468=   128

Ballarat 3.25 gallons 167277-16596= 131    40mpg

Raining at 2.25 am SA time

Scribble.  It is this morning now and we’re leaving for Melbourne i.e. it is 10.35 a.m. – we believe in getting an early start – ask Dickie.  We slept about 2 miles Melbourne side of Ballarat.  We had a good night err.  I was OK thanks.  It drizzled from about 2.15 Australian Eastern time.  Hell, it’s cold (COLD).

Melbourne 16825-16727=  129 @ $ 2.00   26mpg

Yesterday (Friday) we doodled around.  We parked the big 850 in a downtown car park and then proceeded to purchase a film.  Much to our dismal we couldn’t get one but we were told that Kodak had one anyway so naturally, we went to Kodak’s.  Finally at last we got one and installed it too. 

Oh yes!  We had a country today and a cuppla beers, also I flogged some “Courage” coasters. 

We wandered around aimlessly through Melbourne trying to find our car.  Richard got so pissed he couldn’t remember where he had parked it – that’s a lie because we were sober, we err I purchased 2 bargain “Tee” shirts at F.J. Coles (patronising Dyke) – Snapping up the bargains was the word alright.  Then we moved to the surf shop and bumped our gums to an average babe regarding a place to stay tonight.  She couldn’t help us due to the fact that she is going steady anyways. 

Dickie was everso pleased about the babes over here because he reckons they’re untold messes.  I agree because really the quality of growl in the streets is poor.  3 meals a day Dickie is OK thanks if he gets his 3 meals a day.  We then went to a pub and sucked at a couple of marines which was great.  Then we found our vehicle (still with boards on) and proceeded to find Dickie’s mate Jackie Bowie who lives at Sandringham – out past St Kilda.

We didn’t have a real lot of trouble finding same and we managed to score a bed each for the night – goodie.  We unloaded our gear and then headed for the phone box to ring up some babes that we met at Easter.  Two of the sheilahs I knew were in Sydney and the other two weren’t on the phone.  Oh, Herrings.  Dick rang up a tart he dropped onto at the big 20 plus in Adelaide but to our dismiss no one answered.  This lad Jackie is a champion lad and a typical MGA driver i.e. he just had a prang and tore down a fence.  It’s in the panel beaters now.  This pen is a bit of a mess, don’t you think.  Dickie baby reckons I’m rotten.  He’s right.  We then went home to Jackie’s and whilst unloading gear we saw a beautiful babe walk past.  We got the binoculars on her and found out which house she lived in for future reference.

We then had a shower etc. and headed for the big smoke to have a counterey but we were somewhat late so we ended up purchasing 2 splatts (hambergers) with the “lot”.  Jackie had the same but Dickie had 2 splatts without the lot.  Needless to say Dickie nearly threw up the “lot” which he didn’t have.

We partook of a few more marines and then went to Sebastian’s Disco “tit”.  It was crowded to hell and the beat was evil.  The bands were grape (great) and the dress was untold i.e. really unbelievable.  Dylan or Hendrix hair was “IN” and sandals all sorts of beards, sidies (sideburns), moustaches and long hair was in (we were out?).  We ballsed around and inspected the show.  The babes were hard to con because we didn’t know anyone.  We got home about 1 or 2 or something.

Saturday 28/12/68

We woke early i.e. 9.30 a.m.  Oh, there was a huge fire yesterday.  The ballroom in St Kilda Road was gutted something awful.

We were staying with Jack who was living with his brother wife and two little girls.  They were pleased to have us stay making us feel very welcome.

The road to and from Melbourne to Sandringham is as well known by us as Regency Road now.

With Jack in the back navigating, Melbourne is a breeze to drive.  Slow approaching the lights hang back get into the left lane, now give it some gas and move into the right lane. 

The Sandringham road has lane changes morning three lane in one lane out, afternoon three lanes out one lane in, how very sensible and the drivers are content, with in a paint thickness to observe the rule.  Having the local knowledge is just great, thanks Jack.

Surf at Lorne we rode on South westerlies and Northwest at Fairhaven.  The South Westerlies need, a big swell and low tide.

Friday night we three went to Sebastian’s which is a 3 floor evil place with a people packed like sardines on the dance floor (lower) and the other two floors are refreshments and cloak room, and general lounge ‘conning’ area.

Saturday morn we loaded Jack’s motor in the boot, and took it to town to Repco.  Saturday morning in Swanson Street was slack, and thus we soon went out to sunshine to see Allen, Jack’s mate.  Allen told us of his being at Sebastian’s and how he could line us up with some birds (girls).

Photo snapped from Video screen- streets of Melbourne

Well, Saturday night we missed Jack’s mates John and Allen cause we went to the Sandringham local pub.  Checking out the International pub we found some quite average girls but, because we knew no one it was BF hard to even none other than even talk to them, (how much had I been drinking when I wrote this)?  But they had their friends and didn’t think we owned an E type anyway.  After some frigging around we (AJH 309 127) managed to make it to a dance called “That’s life” situated in an old picture theatre.  It was quite full, mainly younger set, 16 years old or so and the music was similar to Sebastians, extremely loud and of the Jimmy Hendricks type – evil. (Loon).


Evil Oh!  There was an evil-looking Mini van chopped 4 inches through the windows.  Front window laid back and guards flared, wide wheels, complete with square headlights customized into the guard. 

Wild-looking effort.

Sunday morning we managed to get up at 11.30 a.m. for brunch.  Sunday I decided to change my bald front RH wheel, removed the air cleaning elementary, and attempted to tune the carburetor, it was Sunday after a night on the town that’s what I’d do.

Jack was on the move trying to locate his cap, he had lost some time on Saturday by 3 p.m. he managed to conclude he lost it.  So we three set out for Route 1 to check our Torquay and Lorne.

In Geelong, the Caltex man reckons or said he never heard of straight oil, only multigrade, so I bought Ampol oil 30.  Geelong $1.89 5 gallons Oil 20c 17024-16856=   168   33.5mpg

Sunday the surf at Torquay was slack,  after almost being written off by an MG TD on the way to Lorne, the town appears even slacker than Victor Harbour.  The girls are as depraved as in Melbing (Melbourne) and even harder to talk to.  Steak sandwiches were in order for tea. 

Geelong ‘6c off per gallon’ $1.48 a galls 17201-17024= 177 miles @ 44 ¼ mpg

Today is Monday and we checked out Torquay – loose surf.  Then to Bell’s beach, which also was slack.  We were later told that Bell’s only works from 6 feet and upwards.

We then went back to Lorne where the surf was poor.  There was a small wave running, but of poor shape and besides, we couldn’t be rooted going in. – Rooooot.

I just saw a dog doing poo near a telephone box.  Last night we strolled around aimlessly trying to con babes (at Lorne).  To our surprise, we found them unfriendly so we didn’t want to con them anyway.  We found one babe who actually took the time to speak to us.  Wowee.  We got shitted off so we went back to Torquay and sneaked into the caravan park. (Loon)

Sunday/Monday 30/12/68

At the sparrow’s fart (5 a.m.) Jackie woke us and we sneaked out due to the fact that we’re mean besides we reckon it was pretty smart and daring anyway.  Dickie was a bit upset because he was scared we might get caught.  I didn’t care because it wasn’t my car nor was I driving.  I’m all right thanks, Jack.  Jackie wasn’t scared anyway because he is a Victorian.

Quietly Please

We are now heading back to Melbourne to rabble the poor workers and also buy some gear so we can show the Adelaide crew up.  Wowee Dickie, just put on his driving glasses.  He looks a mess.  Also, we have to see a chap by the name of Allan who will give us some birds.  Time 10.25 am place outside Geelong (Melbourne side).  Another Ian W.D. Mc Laver.  GF. (Loon)

Melbourne petrol $2.00 4 ¾ galls milage 17377—17201=176 miles  35 mpg

Girls met at the Dance, Pauline Harber 1 Hall Street Hawthorn 205754, Sue Halton 19 Aberdeen Road Prahran

Bronwyn Jones 180 Pattison Road Bently (Bentleigh) Victoria

Also in Lorne one big front-wheel drive Morris 850 van had quite some trouble getting up hills.  i.e. the same vehicle would sit stationary with front wheels spinning furiously.

 Yes, where were we? Mmmm!!  

We stopped in to see one of Jackie’s mates who owns an Alvis machine of some 1934 vintage.  4 seater sports – quite a wild-looking machine. 

Alvis 4 seater as sold new.

The Alvis we were looking at has motor cycle guards similar to this 2 seater of the Victorian Club
Photos of an Alvis from Victorian Alvis club, very similar Jack’s mate’s car.
On into the big smoke and wandered through the shops. We rabbled untoldly because we were messes, unshowered, unshaven and stinking.  We managed a few more bears also much to my delight because I had trouble conning the fellas into drinking.  We filmed many women actually there were very few good-looking birds but we filmed them anyway.  We got booted out of the museum because we never had any shoes.  Oh!  We had a few more marines and then purchased a Pizza each which was rotten and horrible.


We got in the car and went back to Jackie’s joint decision on what we were going to do.  Drive around Melbourne attempting to find Jackie’s mates.  I fell asleep for a couple of hours so Dickie will have to enlarge on what happened.  When I woke I got rabbled by the team (of course).  We drove around some more then parked and got a drink.  We were bums again, unshowered, unshaven and of course, we stank – or the fellas reckon I was the worst. 

After this we went back to Jack’s, Dickie read his book and I played my radio.  We awoke bright and early on the last day of 68 (31.12.68).  (Like about 11 a.m. and had brekka, oh beaut!!).

Tuesday (New Year’s Eve) was a quiet one for a while.  I helped Jackie put valves in the Morris Minor – (Oliver type) motor while the Raging Dickie washed his (3 meals a day) Mini and read his bloody book.  I strolled around the shop and got a large bottle of Coke for the team of workers(?)  Poor old Jackie was suffering from a throat virus that had hit Lorne with something awful.  I was waiting to catch it but so far I haven’t – Yippee!!

We went down and had some beers, Jackie a few rums at the new Sandringham Pub which overlooks the sea.  A very neat pub that one.  Dickie was on his ear again (usual effort).  We still had nowhere to go on the big New Year’s Eve.  On the way home from the pub we took movies of babes at the station and in the street – it was great fun because some of these sheilah’s didn’t know what to do (?)  We went home and had a few more marines (beers) with Jackie’s brother and then some tea.  We then washed up and discovered that it was nearly 8 pm.  Still, nothing to do.  Dickie & Jackie rang up some foreign numbers (?) and got onto some babes.

We were supposed to meet them at the Heidelberg Town Hall at 9-9..30 some distance from Sandringham.  I rang up the Repat Hospital and found out how to get there in a roundabout way. Anyway, we got there at 9.33 p.m. and they were not there anyway.  Then we screamed to a pub to get some grog.  Dickie ran over a chap’s foot.  He was everso happy.  We got our grog and then some petrol and proceeded to check out the dances etc.  Alas – we didn’t have a can opener of a bottle opener so we attempted to batter the shit out of the gear with Dickie’s tyre holder contraption.  We were then OK thanks.  After driving around for what seemed hours.

The front-wheel drive that can’t climb dirt road hills in first.

Once in town and after purchasing petrol, we left for the International Pub the Sebastian’s to find Allen but he was not there so we went to Opus which was closed for a New Year’s Ball.  After being arsoled (thrown out) from there we went back to town.  By this time we had tied a bow around the van with white toilet paper which was flapping behind merrily proceeded on our way with Jack laying yards of yellow streamers out the roof air vent up Swanson Street paper trolling behind.

Tuesday night at 11.30 p.m.  From town, we went to 451 (club) out to St Kilda where we found untold beautiful babes walking around Loon dropped onto one, delightful babe.  Dear Jack got asked to dance by one gorgeous sort which later he lost.  Eventually, Dickie found a bird to dance with that was willing to talk to him, as time went on her friend wanted to leave so we offered them a lift, quick discussion they decided to go with us.  Well, when Loon started to hum and har, so Loon dropped out leaving Jack and Dickie to take the two girls home.

Leaving the birds at their place, Jack and Dickie went after Loon, but we didn’t find him at the dance and decided to try town.  Dickie drove while Jack let out the toilet paper thru the roof vent yards and trailed our van. Cleaning up the palce!

How did Loon get home?  After we left he hung around a while, then girl he met had to go home with her friends, they exchange addresses and said they would write, kiss, kiss and Loon found a Taxi to take himself to Jack’s place.

The next morning up at the sparrows good byes all around we were off, (we had been off) most of the time we were away.  The drive home did not rate as there were no comments only place names and fuel stats.

Camperdown    17553-17476=  077 39 mpg 2 galls 75 c Loon paid

Pt Mc Donnell  17761-17553=  208  45 mpg 4 ½ galls $2.35 Loon paid

Mt Gambier 17792.1 miles Left-hand rear Pirelli tyres (Oval shape) replaced fitted  $ 2 trade-in   $39.70

Mt Gambier 43c tinned food 15 20 (35c)

Mt Gambier $2.00 food

Left Mt Gambier 11.30 a.m. 5/1/69

Naracoorte  17909-17792 = 117 29.1 mpg  $1.80 Loon 4 galls 12.35 p.m.

Tintinara  $1.04 Dick 18002  2.5

Hahndorf 18114-18002= 112 98c

Just thought you might like to gaze upon this ALVIS, no other reason

Melbourne New Years 1969

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