A Life In Cars

The life story of Dickie Sutherland


Mini Van Mt Gambier Trip

Mini Van Supercharger or SUs Adelaide to Melbourne and back.

6th September  1969 Saturday

The Group of friends planned a trip to Mount Gambier, to see Trevor who was living and working there during his transfer within the PMG.  I would accompany them and from Mount Gambier go on to Melbourne and then Puckapunyal to visit Darryl.

Background before the start.

Trevor had left his Triumph TR4A at an Auto Electrician on Brighton Road to replace the Generator with an Alternator.  Graham and Julie had volunteered to drive the TR back to Trevor in Mount Gambier after the work was done.   When Graham went to pick up the TR4A the cost had blown out so, Graham needed to go to the local bank to get the balance of the bill.  Memory tells me Graham had to leave the spare wheel so he could drive away in the TR4A to the bank, then with payment, the wheel was returned.  No credit cards in 1969.

Trevor and the TR4A

Trip starting from home  Odometer 258300, Petrol ½ in each tank, Left Adelaide 2.00 p.m.

I was to pick up George Heart on the way to Berrly Sparrow’s house to meet the others, her house was just off Cross Roads near Glen Osmond Road the departure time was to be 7.00 pm.  When I got to George’s place he was humming and haring if he would go.  I said I would wait while he got ready and as we would miss the meeting time at Beryl’s place I convinced him if the group had left at 7.00 pm we could catch up with the group by the time we get to Murray Bridge.  George agreed to go after he showered and packed a bag. 

Heading off as fast as I dared without speeding through town, I opened the Mini up on the highway to Murray Bridge.  Stopping at the outbound service station for petrol I asked the attendant if he had sighted a white Triumph sports car recently.  He thought there was one there a few minutes earlier.  Well, let’s go George we’ll go flat out until we catch them.

Murray Bridge 3.25 2588A Petrol 6 ¼ galls $2.79 + Firzone (cylinder lube for the Supercharger vanes) (Dick)

Flat chat all the way, with the Mini achieving quite good fuel economy considering it was being pushed hard.  Murray Bridge to Keith 27 mpg. (around town I would get 23mpg).

Mt Gambier 7.30 p.m. 26120.0 George paid me $3.00 for petrol, thanks, George.

Where were the others? Well! They waited for us before not leaving until they assumed we were not coming.  Arrived about an hour after we did, sorry, but, but, we thought!

Mt Gambier 26162 6 ¾ gall 8.30 a.m. $2.85 

7.9.69 Sunday 8 September Monday

I did a bit of shopping, Film (36 slides) Soap was $6.28. Postcard and stamps $1.20.

Leaving the Mount at 9.37 a.m. with a view of improving or proving the fuel economy of the Mini I had the plan to travel at 50mph for the first leg, stopping for fuel when the tank required a top-up.  Well, touring those back roads heading toward Geelong the drive was bordering on boring, encountering road works and needing to reduce speed to 30mpg for around 5 miles, then I got to thinking, I’m driving a Minivan equipped with a Supercharge.  At the end of the road works I put my foot down, pretty soon I was touring at around 60mph and the drive began to be entertaining. 

The Mini was going well until around Hamilton, there was a rumble from under the bonnet, nothing I could think of why, so I stopped at a service station to check out under the bonnet.  Looking under the bonnet at first I couldn’t see anything obvious, but then I noticed the belt driving the Supercharger pulley at the water pump was almost off the flange.  The pulley was a press fit onto the water pump pulley flange.  With the aid of borrowed tyre leavers, I managed to prise the pulley back into place and with many thanks to the service station owner I was off on towards Geelong, at normal touring pace.  I made Geelong in good time with no more trouble.

Geelong 2.25 pm  Petrol & Firzone $3.68. 26396.1  8 galls

 Mt. Gambier 26396 Melbourne 26162     234 = 29.2mpg

I Found Jack at about 5.15 p.m. He had moved, or his brother had moved out to Heidelberg, Jack was living with his brother and family.  Jack was otherwise engaged so I headed to Hawthorn to call on Pauline to catch up with the latest gossip on the Melbourne scene.

Well on the way I encountered snowflakes falling from the sky, they only made it to the ground before melting without leaving the white covering that you normally get with a snowfall.   Cold you beat that!

Melbourne in September is freezing.

One (left-hand) quartz headlight globe blown.  Shaken to death, otherwise, the car is running well, well.

9.9.69 Tuesday Fill up 26541.7 $3.57 5 galls

10.9.69 Wednesday 26713.8 6 galls $2.48 average 28 mpg

Melbourne to Puckapunyal found Darryl after some difficulty, he changed into civvies we went to Seymour conversations over dinner for $2.00.  Then we drove to a pub in Tallarook where we had several bears, ‘beers’, and at 10 pm we drove back to camp.  Left Darryl at 12 and ‘soft home back to Jack’s


Shopping during the day I needed a Jumper for $3.99 Myer Bargain Basement.  Later that evening I took Pauline in the van to the local Drive-in, which cost $2.00, I did not find the film worth noting however driving around Melbourne was more notable, I tried leaving the Mini in third gear, driving it as a one-speed transmission, however, the noise from the Supercharger vanes chucking about gave the impression the engine was shattering itself to bit internally.  Pauline was not impressed with the noise requesting I go back to changing gears thus reducing the noise.  While on comments about the unique features of the Super Van, Pauline related her Dad thought it was a Christmas tree with all the lights hanging on the front.

The Christmas tree front


Windshield wiper blades $1.00 (pair)

I was up early and thanked Jack his brother’s wife for putting up with me before heading off.

Left Melbing 26847 6.00 a.m. (Eastern Standard Time)

Ballarat 26934 7.30 (c) 8 ¼ galls $4.25

Dimboola 270728 9.45 (c) $3.35 5 ½ gall

Murray Bridge 1.00 p.m. $4.10 petrol and Firzone – 8 ¼ galls

The drive back was relatively uneventful, I maintained around 80mph on the open roads making sure I observed all speed limits posted for built-up areas.  One chap I came across in a Monaro appeared to have difficulty accepting the fact that I passed him and kept pulling away, 85mph Mini is stressing the Monaro to keep in touch.

Arrived in Adelaide at 1.30 p.m. 7 hours 30 mins, not a bad time, if I was to deduct the 30 mins time zone 7 hours sounds better, although not actual time.

The Fuel average for the mileage is 26.5 mpg.

Return Trip to Melbing 24th September 1969

After the last trip for the return trip to Melbourne, I decided to remove the Supercharger with the need to gain more economy from the Mini.  Maxwill Motors set up the Twin SUs and I was all set to go.

Melbing, Melbourne trip September 24th 12.45 p.m.

Petrol tanks full – Mileage 27201.8

$4.87 at Horsham  $1.87 at Ballarat

Ballarat $2.17 7.00 p.m.

How cold is this place, in all my trips through Ballarat it is always cold and or raining, mostly raining.  My feet are knurled frozen lumps, all twisted up with absolutely no feeling, frozen stiff.  I mentally made a momentous decision, at no time in the future would I ever buy a car without a heater, no heater no car.

Mt Gambier $2.94 6 galls 1 pt oil.  Friday morning at a local tyre shop they changed tyres around 11.30 a.m.  One of the Pirellis is egg-shaped, with plenty of tread but seriously out of round, egg shape, fitted to the right rear.  Tyres balance, front = $2.96 12.00 noon.

Hip, hip, who, ray, It’s my birthday today, 23.  I thought I would write that so that I would see it in writing.  While in the Mount I caught up with Trevor, he is enjoying his time here working for the PMG.


Homeward bound

Mt Gambier $1.34 Replaced fan belt 12 miles out of Millicent.

Murray Bridge $3.40  Food 86c

On the road out of Murray Bridge, there is quite a long straight stretch, most of the way home I had been sitting on 60 to 65mph, as I was closing up on a convoy of 6 or 7 cars doing around 55 to 60mph, a car coming the other way caused me to pull in joining the convoy.  Once the road ahead was clear I selected third gear and gunned the Mini pulling out to pass the convoy.  Well, there I was just sitting out there edging inch by inch past the last car in the line, after a few minutes, seemed like an hour I gave up, and dropped back in line, I was not going anywhere soon. 

What a difference a Supercharger makes

With the Supercharger I would have pulled out in top gear, blasting past in seconds, not so with twin SUs just not enough power.

Soon after the end of the trip, I had the supercharger back on and the Mini back to Maxwill’s for yet another tune-up the second in the week.  I craved power, I was addicted to the Power, Power at any cost.

The Supercharger had effortless power; power on tap, and the SUs were for the economy.

Never did calculate the fuel consumption on that run.

Found this copy of the Maxwill Dyno Tune, showing the first tune with Supercharge, then with Twin Carbs, and back to Supercharges

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