Western Australia Goes Up In Flames


I hope that headline is not going to be echoed this summer – Here in Western Australia we do bushfires like Siberians do blizzards – in an intense and workmanlike manner…

No, this is a small glimpse of the flames of WA as seen on the local cars. The tradition of flames on hot rods and customs is as long established as the first rodders. I’d be willing to bet the first thing the first teenage builder reached for after re-assembling his Model T as a speedster –  with open everything and the fenders off – was a paint brush and a pot of red paint. The look of flames delights the rodder and horrifies the sports car enthusiast. The classic limousine collector refuses to admit such a thing exists…

Well, they can go into denial if they wish, but here is proof positive seen over a number of years at WA events that the flame is as popular as ever. Sometimes it becomes stylised and streaks out like a rocket exhaust. Sometimes it takes on the look of an Art Nouveau painting. Or Psychedelic Art. Or Art Carney*.

The doing of good flames is no small feat – design is a big part of success in the end as the painter has to look at what the manufacturer has pressed into the metal or fibreglass as far as a body panel or line. Some panels look great with any sort of flame – some negate the effect of the flame. And some flames can spoil a panel line. It would pay any rodder to sit with a carefully-taken photograph of their car in its basic form – perhaps when an overall grey or white primer was in place – and lay it out on a computer for Photoshop design and manipulation of colour. If this was undertaken it might save a lot of angst when the masking tape hit the metal.

Note: I do this in Dick Stein’s Little Studio. I’ve experimented innumerable times with paint modifications for my own little green Suzuki without having to lift a spray gun. No pixels are harmed…

Laying the tape and spraying the layers is another thing – and I will post a column showing this being done by trained professionals here at the last Hot Rod and Custom show at a later date. For now, just enjoy the flaming artwork on our local rides.

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