On Sunday 6th October we had our first Economy Run in at least four years organised by Graeme Collie and what a superb job he did. Not only did he plan a scenic and interesting route around the north western shores of the Manukau Harbour but somehow he managed to organise blue skies, no wind, a high tide and ‘calm as a mill pond’ harbour waters. I’ve never seen the Manukau looking so magnificent.

The run started at Craigavon Park in Green Bay where the ten participating cars were weighed-in. We had the old, Harald’s 1950 180B, the new, Neil’s 2012 E350, the small, Marion’s 2000 A160, and the big, Ross’s 1974 450SEL. There was much surprise when it was found that a 1992 500SL weighed 200kg more than a 1974 450 SEL. Some say it was the occupants but I couldn’t possibly comment! The lightest car was the A160, the heaviest the 500SL. Most cars fell into the 1700 to 1900kg bracket. The purpose of weighing the cars was so that each vehicle would then produce a ‘litre per tonne per 100 km’ figure. The winner being the vehicle with the lowest calculated figure. This allowed all the cars to compete on an equal footing.

After being weighed, each car set off with a list of directions, the driver theoretically driving as frugally as possible. If the others were anything like me, they initially forgot about the ‘economy’ part of the run. It was only after four or five lead-footed accelerations out of corners or up hills that I remembered the whole point of the exercise. I tried to keep a mantra in my head for the rest of the run that was something like ‘smooth, slow, easy, gentle’. Not only did we have to drive frugally and navigate, but we also had numerous questions to answer and challenges to perform, like press-ups at French Bay. We had several members flying solo so they had their work cut out to cover all the bases.

The run took in many of the bays and beaches on the way out to Huia. We visited Wood Bay, French Bay, Titirangi and South Titirangi Beaches, all looking stunning in the perfect weather. The roads provided a stern challenge to drive economically as many were steep and winding. We stopped at the lookout overlooking Huia and Little Huia. The bush clad hills, sheer rock faces and twinkling water supply lakes providing a stunning backdrop to these little villages. All of this just 30kms from the Auckland CBD.

On the way back from Huia we stopped at Kaitarakihi Bay. For me this was the highlight of the run. I’d only heard of this beach about a year ago so I was delighted to get to see it. The beach was ample proof that the best places in New Zealand are indeed at the end of gravel roads.

We all met up at Cornwallis Beach for a picnic lunch, where we also had to answer the question ‘what was the gender of the top character on the Maori carving?’ The comment ‘men are always on top’ proved to be correct. With lunch consumed, toilet stops made and dogs exercised we all hit the road again for the last dash to the finish line at Alexandra Park. But first we had to visit Laingholm Bay and Hillsborough Bay where the final question, ‘what does the white triangle represent?’ proved problematic for some. The route then took us through some busy suburban roads where, more than once, I resorted to turning the engine off while stuck for many minutes in long lines of stationary traffic.

The Alex Bar at Alexandra Park was where we finished. Calculators were thrashed and heads were scratched before the results were in. The Quiz resulted in a draw between Greg & Barbara and Ross. Ross being declared the winner as he was flying solo and therefore had twice the work to do.

But the real question was who had the best economy? In third place was Ken & Noelene driving a 1965 230SL manual with a figure of 6.99. In second place was Bill & Teena driving a 1994 E280 auto with a figure of 6.85 and in first place Greg & Barbara driving a 1978 350SL manual with the winning figure of 6.38.

Many thanks again to Graeme for organising a great event. Thanks to Graeme’s niece Phillipa and her partner Haru for assisting Graeme with weighing at the start and calculating at the end. Also thanks to the Porsche Club for the use of their scales.

See you all at the next event where it’s out with the lightfoot and in with the leadfoot at our Grass Gymkhana, Sunday November 17th.

Greg Lokes