Hardtop Anniversary 2007 - "The First Attempt"

The FCCA (Ford Coupe Club of Australia) and the Falcon Cobra Club embarked on a journey into the unknown as planning got underway for the first Hardtop Anniversary in November 2005.

The clubs knew little about each other apart from their mutual enjoyment of the sleek lines of the coupe body. They met at Bathurst for the Hardtop Revenge only weeks before and because of their experiences that weekend, decided to organise a coupe only event of their own. Enthusiasm was at a very high level after the first meeting between the two clubs at the Notting Hill Hotel in Melbourne’s South East.

After much discussion, multiple Bathurst winner John Goss was selected to be the special guest for the weekend. In addition, Murray Carter was approached to be the second special guest. Both accepted and plans got underway to create a weekend around them.

Registration

Registration was conducted in room number one of The Georgian Motor Inn. It was very low key but the boys were in learning mode and it got the job done.

Saturday

The masses assembled at Morley Ford at a very early hour to be briefed on the day’s activities. An observation run had been set up by Colin Morley to make the trip to Shepparton a little more interesting. The entrants were flagged off at thirty second intervals to avoid congestion. A small advance party had already departed about an hour earlier to set up at the DECA complex in Shepparton. When everyone arrived, scrutineering took place and drivers were briefed on the activities on offer. They consisted of a driving skill course around witches hats, a go to whoa and a lap around a short course. Around lunch time, John Goss strode onto the short course in his driving suit with helmet in hand. The assembled coupe enthusiasts looked on as he got behind the wheel of his 1975 Bathurst XB Falcon GT. They watched attentively as he completed eight laps of the short course, gradually getting faster until he rolled to a stop on the infield with a gearbox issue. The crowd applauded as he got out of the car. It was certainly a highlight of the weekend.

Saturday Night

After DECA, everyone made their way back to Echuca to wash their cars and get ready for the Saturday night festivities. Around ninety people boarded the paddle steamer “Pride of the Murray” for an alternative evening of steam power coupled with wining and dining. All passengers enjoyed a relaxing evening and the air was full of stories of the day’s adventures.

Sunday

Sunday morning saw a lot of bleary eyed coupe owners assemble once again at Morley Ford ready to make their way to the site of the show and shine. The site chosen was the car park of the shire buildings in Hare Street. The coupes made their way through the town in convoy and were marshalled into position in the car park and along the old railway line, which passes behind the offices. It was a spectacular sight never before seen. Over eighty coupes parked in one place thirty five years after the first coupe rolled off the production line. There were caps, stubby holders and T shirts on sale at the merchandise stand. Over the course of the day, Murray Carter and John Goss signed autographs on anything from shirts to glove box lids. Around four o’clock the site was vacated and everyone went back to the motels to relax before the presentation dinner.

Sunday Night

The Moama Bowls Club was the venue for the presentation dinner. The room was full of people anticipating a great evening. They weren’t disappointed. Tiny Hansen and Stuart Dearden, the presidents of the two clubs, co hosted proceedings. Several items of interest were auctioned including a signed 1/18 scale model car of John Goss 1973 Bathurst XA Falcon GT, a signed poster of Murray Carters 1978 XC Bathurst car and the event banners.

Trophies were presented for best in each category and runner up.

John Goss spoke of his early years in motorsport including racing at the famous Longford circuit in Tasmania and the dangers involved in motor racing in the 60’s. He talked about the evolution of the Falcon, his experiences in motor racing and the problems the coupes suffered. Murray told of similar experiences, the camaraderie between the drivers and how they helped each other during an era when it was still motorsport.

Tiny and Stuart thanked the sponsors and all the people that helped to make the weekend such a success. It was a great experience and everyone went home looking forward to coming back to Echuca two years later.

Hardtop Anniversary 2007 sponsored by Shannons Insurance with huge support from Morley Ford and numerous smaller sponsors.