The Boat Tail

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I have always been partial to boat tail automobiles – all the way from the speedsters of the pre-war period to modern custom cars. Even in truncated and watered-down form, as might be seen on some modern Mazdas and Renaults, I think it makes for the most elegant and sporting of finishes. In the case of some of the older cars I do not imagine that it produces much air smoothing – seeing as they are pushing pretty square radiator cowls at the front – and it certainly does not have as much boot space as square or slope backs…but deco style does not carry much luggage anyway.

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I first encountered this 1925 Vauxhall at the Hyde Park motor show. That’s a summer affair under dappled tree shadows and sometimes the photography there can be hit or miss. The weekend at the Government House Open Day was much better light – and fewer people crowded around the car to obscure the view. One still had to park in the best position and wait for the viewers to part but the chances were much better.

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It was also probably a more comfortable venue for the car’s owners as there was a park bench just beside it in the shade. Like all veteran car enthusiasts, they had shone it up beautifully but were condemned to sit there alert so that they could prevent people from clambering over it. At least the Perth crowd was better than Melbourne, though there was still the same pattern of leaners and graspers, and it was the same ethnic group that did it. I gently growled at one lady and I think she took the hint…

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I was delighted to see the owner of the car open the boat tail boot – the wooden deck at the back of the car. She fetched a T-spanner and undid the bolt under the protective shiny flap there in the middle. No-one else was going to get in there and fossick around.

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The curious may wonder at the boat tail, but they can find it on many sporting models of the period – it goes perfectly with the stance of the car and the size of the wire wheels. They may also puzzle at the scooped-out portions of the bonnet there at the side of the panels. These are a characteristic of Vauxhall cars of the period, and while they appear to be just decoration or style, were probably very useful if the car was fitted with twin machine guns.

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The silvered bonnet is also a continental affectation – most often seen with bespoke bodies. Perhaps it was meant to point out the rest of the body as especially made. You see them frequently with racing cars of the interwar era. That, and the leather strap over the top that many cars had – presumably to make up for the inability of the manufacturer to make a bonnet catch that caught. At least Vauxhall got that right – the bonnet may be odd but it stays shut.

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