One for history buffs

By Georgia Smith

Vintage emergency vehicles will be out on display when Historic Winton hits the Winton Motor Raceway for its 42nd year.

The restored vehicles, including an old ambulance and fire engine, will not only display their unique looks, but also their colourful histories.

One fire engine set to feature at the event is an antique 1917 American LaFrance, which was used by a fire department in Reno, Nevada until 1955.

Owner Alan Maden said the old fire engine never failed to pull a crowd wherever he took it.

‘‘You quickly learn to vanish if you need a restroom or a coffee, otherwise you’ll be answering 20 questions right away,’’ Maden said.

In 2014 Mr Maden drove his American LaFrance on an Adelaide-to-Darwin rally, where he quickly discovered its poor fuel efficiency.

‘‘The first day I used 200 litres to 200km,’’ he said.

‘‘Some put the poor fuel economy down to low gearing and others to the massive 14.5-litre cylinder engine.

‘‘By some miracle the ALF made it to the finish line and was voted as the winner of the People’s Choice Award by the other rally participants.’’

Since then Maden has spent considerable time restoring the vehicle by improving its gearing, breaking and body work.

‘‘It is now very drivable and can cruise comfortably at 80km per hour with a top speed of 100km per hour and can now do about 3km per litre, as proved on a recent trip to Bonnie Doon,’’ he said.

Another emergency vehicle to be displayed is a 92-year-old ambulance.

Ambulance aficionado Ian McCorkelle recreated the interior of the vehicle using just a photograph, which he will also display at Historic Winton.

‘‘The hardest part was getting the correct stretcher and bell on the roof,’’ McCorkelle said.

The Ambulance Historical Society will also display some of their best vehicles to show spectators past medical emergency practices.

Historic Winton is on this weekend, May 26 and 27, with the Benalla and District Car and Motorbike Tour on Friday, May 25.