ALMOST 50 years ago three drivers were finalising an ambitious plan to run the first-ever Aussie entry in Europe’s famous Rallye Monte Carlo.
Accelerate to 2012 and another three drivers are set to replicate the feat in a fastidiously prepared copy of the original 1948 Holden 215 (FX) for the rally’s 60th anniversary.
It will be on display in Warrnambool this weekend before heading off for final testing in Adelaide and Sandown in preparation for the January endurance race from Glasgow in Scotland to Monte Carlo, Monaco.
Derrinallum plumber Gary Poole, who spearheaded the project, will team with V8 Supercar champion Craig Lowndes and Richard Davison, son of original 1953 team member Lex Davison.
Mr Poole and other south-west enthusiasts retrieved a rusty old Holden backyard bomb to produce a gleaming green racing machine with trimming matching the original unit.
Apart from huge driving lights, electronic monitoring gear, modern tyres and a re-built engine, it’s pretty much what Mr Davison, Tony Gaze and Stan Jones drove through snow, rain and fog in 1953 on challenging European roads.
In a few months the new team will drive the 3500-kilometre route non-stop, apart from changing drivers, swapping tyres and refuelling. They will be supplied with steel-spiked tyres for icy sections.
“We’ll be giving it our best shot,” Mr Poole said.
“I’ve had a bit of snow-driving experience from my time spent working in Antarctica, but for Craig and Richard it will be a first.”
Warrnambool motor dealership Callaghan’s has donated the team support car, a SV6 Commodore station wagon, to carry fuel and spare parts.
“The Commodore will be fairly unique in Europe,” dealership principal Steve Callaghan quipped.
“We saw this as a great way to help mark our own 80th anniversary next March by helping someone who also appreciates these vehicles.
“After the rally it will return to Australia and will be in Warrnambool again for our celebrations.”
Local federal MP Dan Tehan has been named an honorary member of the team. He used his parliamentary connections to get approval for the team to photograph the car at key Paris landmarks and replicate similar shots taken by the original team.
The Holden will be on display at Callaghan’s until Monday afternoon.