Mobilgas 1958 Around Australia Trial

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Mobilgas 1958 Around Australia Trial

Class Winners:

  • Up to 1000cc: Y. Nanda / K. Okuyama, Datsun (1129 points)
  • 1001cc to 1300cc: L. Perkins, Volkswagen (11 points)
  • 1301 - 1600cc: R. Holden, Peugeot 403 (794 points)
  • 1601 - 2600cc: Anderson / McAllister, Holden (58 points)
  • Over 2600cc: Murray / Muirson, Chrysler Royal V8 (194 points)

Women's Prizes:

  • Most successful woman crew member: Elaine Lenaghan (Holden)
  • Most successful all-woman crew: Valma Jerrard / Camille Wright / Mary Waters (Fiat 1100)

New Zealand Award: Alma McMillan, Nash Metropolitan
Overseas Award: Tubman, Skoda
Teams Prize: Volkswagen, for cars 48, 53, 68 (Cusack / Smith / McGlashan)

Please Note: You can sort this listing by simply clicking on the column heading
VEHICLE DRIVER(S)
1
Volkswagen E. Perkins
11
2
Volkswagen G. Cusack
55
3
Holden D. Anderson / L. McAllister
58
4
Volkswagen S. Flashan
68
5
Volkswagen H. Smith
117
6
Holden L. Fiebig
125
7
Standard Vanguard M. Brooks
154
8
Volkswagen H. Firth / K. Young
155
9
Volkswagen H. Gunn
158
10
Chrysler Royal V8 W. Murray / W. Murisan
194
11
Holden A. Calnan
394
12
Skoda K. Tubman
429
13
Ford Zephyr J. Nalder
480
14
Holden Elaine Lenaghan
520
15
Volkswagen J. Mather
658
16
Holden A. Parker
695
17
Rover 90 Lorna Gamble / K. Gamble
786
18
Peugeot 403 R. Holden
794
19
Holden O. Roberts
820
20
Hillman Minx C. Turner
904
21
Peugeot 403 J. Perkins / P. Perkins
911
22
Holden P. Cullin
939
23
Hillman Minx W. Eremin
1012
24
Skoda N. Saville
1018
25
Datsun 1000 Y. Nanba / K. Okuyama
1129
26
Holden C. Chappell
1157
27
Hillman Minx F. Pitts
1183
28
Ford Zephyr A. Sharpley / K. O'Neill
1227
29
Austin Westminster A. Melrose
1255
30
Chrysler Royal Jack Murray
1295
31
Skoda M. Warwick / M. Watson
1486
32
Morris 1000 D. Rose / J. Hillman
1545
33
Morris 1000 L. Young
1780
34
Datsun 1000 Y. Ohya / Y. Minawa
2003
STARTERS AND FINISHERS
CAR
STARTED
FINISHED
Datsun
2
2
Chrysler Royal
2
2
Ford Zephyr
4
2
Hillman
3
3
Holden
12
8
Morris Minor
2
2
Skoda
6
3
Standard Vanguard
4
1
Toyopet
3
0
Volkswagen
12
7

A Test Of Car And Driver



Unlike the Ampol Trial held earlier the same year, the Mobilgas event circled the continent clockwise. Starting in Sydney, the entrants would again pass through Sydney and end the trial in Melbourne, travelling some 10,000 miles (16,250 km).

Interestingly the trial by-passed the east coast of Queensland, instead going through Isa, Cloncurry, Winton, Longreach, Charleville and Brisbane. And unlike the Ampol trial, the Mobilgas event was designed to stretch the cars to the limit of their endurance.

Mobil forbid anyone other than crews to work on the cars, sealing all main engine and transmission components, submitting time schedules to police for approval, re-introducing the hated secret controls to check speeding, and giving scrutineers the power to check brakes, tyres, steering and, if a car was found to be in a dangerous condition, the ability to eliminate it from the event.

Mobil were also keen to promote vehicle safety, as evidenced on the Mobil "Circle Of Safety" commercials in the media section of this site. To that end, it was a requirement that all drivers wear seat belts, their cars be fitted with fire extinguishers, first aid kits and a weeks supply of food and water.

But best of all, the Mobilgas event again attracted overseas competitors. Toyota sent three Toyopet Crowns, Nissan sent two Datsun 1000's, New Zealand sent over a Nash Metropolitan, and even Kenya entered the fray, their team driving an Auto-Union 1000. Czechoslovakian carmaker Skoda was keen to bolster its profile in Australia, and sent no less than six Skoda 440 crews, including quality drivers such as Ken Tubman and Major Warwick.

But the number that turned up to the starting line must have been a huge disappointment for the organisers. Only 67 would take part, and 12 of them were factory entries! Things would quickly get worse, with three private entries withdrawing by the time they reached Melbourne, and two more by the time they reached South Australia, one a German entered Porsche.

Due to heavy rains that had fallen just prior to the competitors arrival at the Nullabor section, the organisers extended the time limit by three hours. Many would get bogged, and two Toyota's rolled. Many witnessed the Volkswagen service teams "illegally" working on the VW's, but it seemed the organisers were now turning a blind eye for fear of even more withdrawals.

Three more cars had withdrawn by Norseman, but a controversial detour through Jurien Bay and Green Head all but finished off the faltering event. This “new” route meant the competitors were forced to traverse sandhills, swampy bogs and water hazards up to 1 metre in depth. Only 26 cars made it through, and as the dust settled it was the team of Perkins and Witter in their Volkswagen that had taken the lead.

Between Broome and Derby a third Toyopet would be forced to retire when it collected a kangaroo, and at Carnarvon the Nash Metropolitan finally called it a day, although this was many thousands of kilometers further than most thought it would get. By Derby five more competitors had retired, then two of the works Skoda teams crashed in the dash through the Kimberleys. Another four would retire on this section alone.


Just before Katherine Witter’s Volkswagen collided with two trees – Witter broke his arm and Stewart his nose. At Darwin yet another Toyopet retired. On the section between Darwin and Tennant Creek, Jack Phillips rolled his Morris Major, both being thrown out of the car. Tragically Phillips would be dead within 10 minutes.

At Renner Springs Jack Vaughan would roll his VW, the organisers must by now have been very concerned that there would be no competitors able to cross the finish line, particularly given the treacherous Mount Isa – Cloncurry stretch lay ahead. But the drivers in these events were a pretty determined bunch, and onwards they traveled.

But retirements would not abate, next out of the race was a Vanguard at Cloncurry, then at Blackall a Holden called it a day, and next at Dalby a Skoda was forced to retire. As the remaining competitors slowly hauled themselves into Brisbane, spare a thought for K. Hapgood, who was black flagged by the scrutineers when they discovered his Holden had faulty brakes.

From the initial 67 cars that left Sydney, there were only 36 left to make the run down the east coast of Australia. A Ford Zephyr would retire at Sydney, a Holden at Cooma and Jack Murray’s Chrysler Royale broke an axle near Manila, but he was able to limp along to Melbourne.

Unfortunately, given the toughness of the event, few bothered to turn up at the finish line to welcome in the 34 remaining competitors, and this in arguably the countries most sports crazed city. But at least there was a winner, Canberra businessman Greg Cusack in his VW had taken the honours with the loss of only 3 points. It was fortunate for Cusack that the committee had overturned an earlier decision to award him with 52 points at Green Head.

But just as the trial had thrown up countless obstacles en-route, in a cruel twist of fate a protest committee would overturn the overturn, effectively re-instating the original 52 point penalty. Eddie Perkins was now awarded the victory. Of most note however was the performance put in by Harry Firth to finish eighth in his Volkswagen.

Between the ’58 Mobilgas trial and 1964, Firth would become Ford Australia’s motor sport guru, until switching camps and joining the General in 1973. In the end the organisers were forced to lick their wounds, the in-fighting and repetitiousness of the events had seen them fall from favour in the publics eye. Would there be a Trial for 1959? The answer was no, and would remain that way for a further 6 years…
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