She Blows Cap’n! Thar She Blows!


‘Tis the Great White Whale of Gillam Drive*!

Actually, as it happens, ’tis only one of the great white whales of Gillam Drive…and Whiteman Park, and Hyde Park. In fact, there are schools of them all over the metropolitan area and they broach the surface at specialist car shows all the time. Some of them are baleen and some are toothed but they are all large and rounded.

The 1930’s and 40’s were the best years for them. There was enough space on the world’s roads to move and they expanded accordingly. Longer, wider, higher, and closer to the road. with wider and wider tyres. The engines got bigger and more powerful and the interiors similarly expanded in volume. Passengers could sort of sink into bench seats and there was no problem fitting three fat arses side by side in the front and the back.


Those cavernous interior spaces were also invitation for more activities than just driving. The advent of the drive-in movie, lover’s parking spot, and no-name trailer court contributed to a great deal of social interaction. We’ve seen the film noir movies of the time and read the dime novels from the drug store and are a full bottle on the subject. Mind you, the only personal experience of this was restricted to sleeping sideways on the back seat of a ’49 Buick…when you are 3 years old it is a luxury suite.

The big white cetacean has not disappeared from the roads even today. People who have seen the KIA Carnival or the Honda Odyssey will know what I mean. I do not decry them, though I would not have enough cargo to fill one. They are magnificent vehicles in a wide channel. Anyone who has ever steered The NIMITZ through the Panama Canal should have no trouble parking one in a two-car garage.


The other thing that impresses one about this style of car is the ride. They are big and heavy and the response to steering and suspension is bound to be ponderous. No fun on a driveway in Darlington but perfect for the wide spaces of WA’s outback – the action is damped and the thing must just glide. Of course the older vehicles may not have provision for air conditioning beyond rolling the windows down, but then that is what palm-leaf fans and sweat is for after all. At least on this Chevrolet Fleetmaster there is a wireless and stubby holders fitted so even if it is hot you have something to do.

*Note: Possibly this is the Great Cream Whale of Gillam Drive. Mmmmmm…Creamed Whale. Bet Nigella Lawson is reaching for a pan right now…

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