Tony Goninan, retired local businessman and wife Toni are Classic Car Fanatics, and their current collection includes restored, modified and award winning vehicles. All cars are garaged, covered & registered for daily use. Tony tells us more about his ‘car addiction’.
Do you remember when you first became interested in motor vehicles?
To be honest, I don’t think there has ever been a time when I wasn’t interested in cars or bikes. I remember clearly making a deal with my dad when I was about 8 years old that I would mow the lawns for no pocket money if I could polish the ports on the old Victa and, much to the disgust of the neighbours, adapt a straight through muffler system to it. This progressed to owning a 1927 Chev and a 1932 straight 8 Buick before I got my licence.
> How many cars / motor bikes have you previously owned?
Goodness, I have really lost count, but it would certainly be at least 50 to 60 to this point in time. Put it this way: I certainly wish I still had some of them, as they included classics like FX Holden, XY Ford, Triumph Spitfire, Modified HR Holden, Triumph Stag V8 sports car, A model Ford, VW split window Kombi, Renault Gordini, Toyota Crown deluxe, modified Izuzu Bellett and the list goes on …
Motorbikes … well, quite a few, ranging from dirt bikes to Harley Davidsons.
> What cars do you currently own?
A black 1962 ‘R’ Series Valiant – a rare car now, as only 1,008 of these were ever produced with the dummy spare wheel in the boot and push button auto. (Love this car!)
Modern classic in a 1994 modified black MX5 sports. A real cutie in the modified 1956 oval VW and a superb example of a multiple trophy winning concourse 1960 MGA Coupe. Again, a very rare car. My run-a-bouts include a Toyota Corolla and a Nissan Pathfinder. I love them all (some a little more than others.)
> Do you have a preference for any style of car?
Yes, definitely. Classic 1950 to late 1960s cars had real style and shape – unlike modern cars, that all look the same. Way back then, accessories were items such as a cigarette lighter or AM valve radio. Seat belts came later on.
> Where did your passion for motoring come from?
My dad and definitely my uncle, who always had shiny black cars like Ford Customlines, Mercury and Jaguars. I drooled over them. My dad also had a rare black REO sedan.
> What associated interests have you been involved with in the past?
Cars and bikes have always been a major part of my lifestyle. I remember racing speedboats, go karts, stock cars, Moto X, car racing and some rallying. I was Senior RTA Riding Instructor in Coffs Harbour for many years and have attended advanced driving courses at Mt. Cotton in Porsche and Formula Ford at Oran Park.
A highlight of my motorcycling would have to be an exciting, to say the least, ride with my mate Alan Cameron in 2001, from Cairns right to the tip of the Cape on Suzuki DR 400s. (Some stories there, eh Al!) More sedate activities such as car / bike shows of any type are more on the agenda nowadays.
> Does your wife Toni share your passion?
Fortunately, yes. She hasn’t had much choice, but I’m sure she has had some enjoyable experiences. She too raced go karts and has had trail bikes, two Harley Davidsons and currently a Yamaha XVS Classic cruiser.
She also has a preference for classic cars, but doesn’t share my enthusiasm for the modified custom cars that make loud noises.
> Are you a member of a local car club?
We are both members of a fabulous, friendly club here in Coffs.
> What is the official name of the club?
The Coffs Harbour Ex Services Sports Touring and Classic Car Club. If nothing else, we get first prize for the longest name.
> How did the club originate?
In December 2000, a group of like minded enthusiasts met at the Coffs Harbour Ex Services Club and decided to form a club which catered for later model cars, i.e. 1950s onwards. To make life a little simpler, they asked the Ex Services Club if they could fall under their inter club program. This was granted and has proved to be a very successful partnership.
> How many members do you have, and what area do you cover?
In 2000 we started with 16 members, and currently we have over 100 members and growing. We range from Nambucca in the south to Grafton in the north. On average, we regularly have approx. 40 members at our meetings.
> Tell us about some of the cars that are a part of your club?
It is not necessary to own a sports, touring or classic car, as we are more about promoting, fostering and encouraging the understanding, restoration and use of our cars.
We have a very diverse range of vehicles in our club, ranging from a 1950s Austin, a variety of magnificent MG models, extensive collection of modern MX5s, Morgans, Bathurst Cortina GT, Triumph Stag, Porsche, Classic old Holdens and Fords and many more. Everybody is welcomed with open arms, as there is no bias to any particular marque.
> What are some of the benefits and member activities?
Toni and I enjoy the company of very nice people with a common interest. There is a wealth of knowledge in our club that astounds me, and everyone is willing to offer assistance in helping to maintain your special car. We have people like Charlie Smith, a renowned racing car legend, Dick Willis and Mike Gosbell, who still race Heritage open wheelers, to retired mechanics, panel beaters and just enthusiasts like myself.
There is a monthly magazine aptly called Idle Torque, which has all the past and coming events plus a member’s profile each edition – which makes enlightening reading.
> What activities are fun for members?
The club conducts regular car runs, display days, tech workshops, attend motor sporting events and social functions, such as dinners and barbecues. We also associate with other car clubs, bodies and organisations with similar aims.
> What are you and the club looking forward to in 2011?
During the year we try to have 3 events each month, and the planned events include short morning tea runs, mid range weekend day trips, mid week coffee runs to a couple of overnight trips. Of course, any car sporting events are published for members to attend individually or as a group.
> When does the club meet and how often?
Our meetings are held at The Coffs Ex Services Club on the first Monday of each month at 7.30pm. If anyone is interested, please come along as a visitor.
> How can interested people get involved with the club?
Please contact our president Peter Titmus on 6656 1818 or our secretary Pat O’Carroll on 6653 5585 or email: email@example.com for an information sheet.
> What is your all time favourite car?
Now, that’s a hard one. I just love so many, but if I had to pick an all time favourite it would have to be a 1963 Corvette Stingray with boat tail and rear split window. Yep, they are very rare but truly magnificent – and now, very expensive.
And yes … Toni said I can’t have one!
> Thank you Tony.