A Mystery of The Occident

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I love a good mystery…if I can solve it. The unsolved ones give me the brain-ache. A case in point is tonight’s hot rod.

I spotted it at the recent Super Model Car Sunday in Malaga. Someone motored up from Bunbury – 99 miles away – to park out the front of the West Coast Rod and Custom club. I liked the look of the vehicle but the more I looked, the more I wondered.

I guess it to be based on a 1939 Chevy or other GM product, judging by the general shape of the fenders and the hood length. The front part of the greenhouse seems to be Chev but the back is problematical. It appears to be a ute, but I suspect it is a utelett. Let me explain.

For North American readers, an Australian ute is best thought of in terms of a Ford Ranchero or Chevy El Camino – passenger car adapter for light haulage. Shares the same sort of philosophy as the pie wagon or delivery van. The British made quite a few as well for the Australian market, but they were small things with small capacity beds. If Chevy made one, it would have had more of a bed than we see on this green rod.

The shape of the back half of the canopy also suggests a roof section moved forward, with not altogether aesthetic matching of glass areas.

Now if I’m wrong, and this is a genuine ’39 body from GM in Australia, you can scold me in the reply section. As it is I think it might be a project undertaken in fine style by people who otherwise would be engaged in putting home-style plywood canopies on wooden boat hulls or renovating fibre-board houses. Both activities more than possible in Bunbury…

It is the detail of the build that rivets my attention. Arrr, I wish I hadn’t said rivet…well take a look at the nose and the 4 holes. I could not quite trace them into the engine compartment so I assume they are air scoops for the engine. Equally, they could be launch tubes for photon torpedoes. If the former, one wonders about the airflow through the grillwork, and if the latter, at least this would explain the locked panel on the left hand fender. Inside that well-fitted door is s square steel box just about the size of a teenager’s head. It is sealed at the back and does not seem to connect to anything. I should describe it as a perfect place to store stacks of cash and negotiable bonds.

The tail-lights seem almost tame in comparison. I believe they are made from milkshake containers and I can forgive a few surface cracks as there is a lot of bodywork there. You can love or hate the striping, just as you please.

I like the vehicle – it has as much attention to detail as most of the road-worthy ones and this made it 99 miles to be at the show. But what the hell is in that locked box? Meat? Fuses?

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