After I had collected my Aprilia from the Melbourne docks in January 2007 I stored the car for the next five months.
I was living 400 kilometres away in East Gippsland, we were in the middle of a record drought and large bush fires were threatening the district, on top of this were the remnants of the mental breakdown I’d suffered in 2003. The only place I could find to store the car was Harewood, a property near Koo Wee Rup I had bought with my now ex-wife in the early 1990s and still in her hands. We took the Aprilia down there and left it under cover in the machinery shed. That 90km trip down the South Gippsland Hwy went without any issues. The only known problems were the speedo being a bit erratic and difficulty selecting second gear.
It’s now early June, winter in these latitudes. I got another unregistered vehicle permit from VicRoads. My brother gave me lift back down to Harewood to collect the car and bring her up to W Tree. When I arrived and tried to start her the battery was flat but a quick jump start, you can jump start 6 volt cars with a 12 volt battery just don’t have any lights on and do it quickly, got her running. It was late evening and too dark to risk taking a run out onto the highway, so ten minutes running up and down the drive had to do.
7:00am Tuesday 5th June
Get ready to start the 350km journey. Another jump start, then 300 metres down the drive to the highway. She’s running very rough, it’s a cold dim dawn. I have to go left for a few hundred metres on the divided highway do a U turn and head east. Halfway up the crossover she stalls. Nothing in the battery yet. A slight panic, there’s not a soul in sight. The crossover has a slight gradient, select reverse, roll down a bit and she bump starts, relief.
Off we go, running on two and half cylinders, a few kilometres to the first turn. Approaching the intersection, select third, foot on brake, nothing, major panic, pump the brake pedal and we slow. We make it through a few small towns without disaster. Then as I’m approaching a slightly up hill round-a-bout with a steep bridge on the exit, with a bloody Holden Commodore right up my bum, we have to slow, pump the pedal, then select second, crunch crunch, in the middle of all this out from the side walks a family of Wood Ducks, Mum, Dad and half a dozen ducklings, by some total miracle we miss them, get around the roundabout and up the bridge.
On to Pakenham and find a service station that has a slope. Fill her up and she starts easily. The rest of the journey was relatively uneventful. She started to run on all four cylinders, could sit comfortably on 100km/h, I think. By this time the speedo had stopped working, a total pain when going through the town of Sale, were there are nine speed limit changes at school times and I had no idea how fast I was going, just followed the car in front. To show how good these little cars are, what would normally be a four hour journey in a modern just took five, complete with no brakes, no second gear, my first time driving a non-synchromesh gearbox and an extra couple of nervous loo stops.