I Did Not Have Sex With That…

I was shocked.

Shocked, I tell you. It was all I could do to catch my breath. I felt faint – had it not been for three stiff brandys I don’t know what would have become of me.

I remember the day well when I heard the news. It seared itself into my memory. The headline ” French Leader Had A Mistress ” blared out at me from page 23 of the local grazier’s and stockbreeder’s gazette. It was as if the fabric of the world had crumbled beneath my feet.

I felt my gorge rise – to think that a trusted leader of a Catholic country could abandon morality so blatantly – and for such a long period of time. How could any citizen of France emerge from their house and walk along the street after this news? What new horror lurked in the dark streets of Paris? Next thing you knew there could be women dancing bare-chested in cabarets and after that the earth would open up and swallow us all…

Well, we recovered. Eventually. Enough anguish was pressed into enough ink and printed in enough papers to eventually lay the whole sad thing to rest. France has recovered. Morality has been re-asserted. Curfew is tolled each night at 18:00 hours and everyone sleeps with their hands outside the bedsheets. And I think it has done the world good – even the world of the United States.

They seem to have been able to take possible revelations of their President’s liason with a strange woman in their stride. The thought that he may have paid her hush money when he realised that he would actually make it to the presidency and that she may have wanted more after she realised it too – the thought that she may have decided to take her story to other political entities who might also have access to money – and that now the money is nearly irrelevant – has occurred to many. It has occurred to me.

There may be some outraged by it all – for outrage is a powerful and useful emotion. There may be some  genuinely concerned for the morality of it all – again, morality is a real thing.

And there may be some who, like myself, have exhausted all our tears on His Majesty King Louis XVI, and have none to spare for Mr. Harding. And as we have not been paid any money to care, we don’t.

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Before Cadillac Were Too Much To Swallow

I do not wish to be disloyal to the Cadillac motor car company or to the greater entity that is General Motors…but Cadillac has been too much for too long. Too big, to heavy, too much over the top in style and construction. This is not surprising, as it was promoted and eventually realised as the most expensive of the GM cars – a vehicle that would capture the imagination and the money of the rich and famous. It’s been outdone in this lately by the excessive offerings of Europe, but for a great deal of time it was the North American Rolls Royce – the one that the newly rich could actually get their hands on.

Wasn’t always so, and this delightful Cadillac Eight attests. There was a time when it was well-crafted motoring but could still be seen to be a normal design. Around the time of the First World War – 1915 –  this was their first 8-cylinder engine. Note the L-head design and the delightful priming ports for the cylinders. This sort of engine has been reliable for a very long time – enthusiasts have discovered examples that have not been fired up for 60 years and have gotten them running in short order.

The car is a tourer, obviously, and the sign at the front said that the body is an authentic example sourced from Boise, Idaho. Of course it shows a very great deal of attention to the upholstery and fitments but the casual onlooker might be surprised at what might seem sparseness in a Cadillac dash.

Thank goodness the restorers have opted for authenticity rather than modern convenience. Others are sometimes not so fastidious.

 

Jail Bar Is Not The Same As Jail Bait

If you are old enough to know the difference between the two terms, you are old enough to appreciate the red Ford pickup truck at the VHRS show. If you have no idea, I believe there is a Pokemon hatching around the corner and you’ll want to take your iPhone and chase it…

Okay, now that the adults are alone, here’s a new addition to the car collection. Melbourne 2018. As sweet a Ford as any inside the Exhibition Buildings but parked out in the free section. But, as the appearance is so close to the stock 1940’s look, you’ll have to examine it carefully to see whether this is a hot rod or a not rod.

Look at the trim work. Seems to be all there. Including the rubber edging between front panels.

Look at the interior. The interior. The interior…Oh, for crying out loud, stop looking at the girl. You’re supposed to be older than that. No sign of an air conditioner or Bluetooth connection. A column shift…but is that column really Ford…?

Wheels. Okay, there’s four and they touch the ground. Very funny….but is that rear tyre diameter really stock? Or is it bigger and fatter? Is the ground stance really what a farmer in 1946 needed to get over the local rail lines? Or has it been lowered…?

Now the tail gate has to be stock. It’s obvious that this truck was used to haul manure and other nitrogenous wastes and that an adequate ventilation was needed – hence the Ford-standard louvred tailgate to vent off the chicken gas. Simple logic, really.

But here’s the dodgy bit, that makes me think the owner of this truck has been fiddling with the specs. The front end. The ” Drive Safely ” flying horse is a later addition…because Henry Ford never endorsed anyone else’s logo in his life. The club permit plate gives the game away. You don’t get them in Victoria unless you need them, and I suspect that somewhere on this wonderful pickup, the owner has substituted a modern part for a historic one. You only have to do this once, and you need to go over the pits, fill out the forms, fall on your knees in front of the departmental mechanic, and pay the required fee into general revenue. In short…

This is a hot rod. A resto-rod, if you will…a mild rod rather than a wild one, but fully entitled to sit proudly in the VHRS car park. If I had a million dollars and a million hours it could sit in my car port.

 

 

The Blue ( Thunder ) Bird Of Happiness

A visitor – a welcome visitor – to the 2018 Victorian Hot Rod Show was this imported 1955 Ford Thunderbird. It would have been equally at home inside the hall, but by being in the car park it meant we could get much closer to see the details. And all for free.

You can think what you will and say what you might about the way that the Thunderbird evolved over the years – how it got bigger, and lower, and heavier, and ultimately indistinguishable from the sedans that took over the personal car market. And how Ford tried to wind back the clock when they restarted production to match two-seater modern cars…But you cannot deny the impact and the style of the first models.

They were never sports cars…nor were Corvettes or Studebaker Hawks. They were personal luxury cars for a market where the average Joe or Jane might just be able to afford one – and to do so while they were young enough to appreciate it. They had a big enough engine and adequate suspension and reasonable brakes, and the rest was just style and salesmanship…and quite frankly that was a reasonable answer to what people wanted.

The Europeans who decried the style or the weight or the handling fell into two classes; those who had enough old-family money to buy faster, better handling cars with astronomic price tags, and those who had enough money to buy an Austin A40 but were jealous of the Yanks. Their children and grandchildren are still echoing their shrill sentiments now, but paying 10x the price tags for modern sedans tricked out with spoilers and LED lights to do the same thing that the Thunderbird drivers did; cruise the beach strips on warm nights. They might cruise more expensively but they don’t cruise in better style.

Note the wire wheels. They are real and simultaneously unnecessary  and cool. Likewise the chrome bumpers…though I might say that the chrome and over-riders probably does a 200% better job of actually protecting the bodywork than the plastic parts of today. I note any number of dangling things on the freeway every time I drive into town – either the plastic pans are not attached very well or the people who snag and smash them cannot afford to have them ripped off and replaced. That’s not surprising considering the price of spare parts.

Note also the porthole. This is one of the last cars to have one and actually get away with the style. It is design folly, of course, but we wouldn’t be without it on a T Bird. The bird is also one of the few cars past the 1930’s that has made a wheel arch cover look good.

You might bemoan the standard look of the tail light assembly as well – it’s the style of the Fordsedan cars of their time – but remember that Ford was a reasonable-price manufacturer and any use of standard parts would have made good sense. You never had to complain about not seeing a Ford tail light when it lit up.

Is the interior luxurious enough for you…in a spartan sort of way? There is much less of the sculpturing of the dash area that you see on other North American maker’s cars, while still not retreating to the woodwork and flat panels of the European marques. It’s not padded – so you can expect to bounce your head off that dash if you stop quick.

The seat, however is pure romance, and I am willing to bet a number of them got started on those T Bird benches. Washable vinyl, too…I think the cup holder’s a later addition but the radio and the heater controls look pretty standard for the period. Is that a tape deck? Does it have Conelrad? Do you know what Conelrad was? And look at the wheel – ribbed for your pleasure.

Finally…consider the statement that the paint job makes in these days of grey and black. This is a car for people who want to have fun and colour. Truly Happy Days.

Red and Green – Port and Starboard

Or in this case – Avant 1 and Avanti 2.

I never expected to see a Studebaker Avanti in Australia – it was such a rare car in North America in my youth that I only saw one of them in Canada. Of course far more were made – you can google up the statistics of production for yourself – and there were always Avanti model cars in 1:25th kit form. It was the sort of thing that attracted the scale model market…even if the full-size customers shied away.

Studebaker was always pretty advanced – from their Raymond Loewy designs to their Lark compact cars and then on to the Avanti. Though I sometimes wonder if the high point of the company was war-time truck production for the US Army. In any case, the Avanti was one of their last hoorahs before they closed the plant. it would appear that it was really only a two-year project.

But what a project. Four seater, fibreglass body, Lark chassis. Unique body style and pretty good performance – many records at Bonneville.

And here’s two of them down under – one converted to RHD and one left in the original configuration. The LHD Model 1 has the advantage of matching the bonnet scoop moulding to the driver’s console. The green Model 2 has to make it serve as a style statement.

I’m afraid that not everyone is as impressed with the styling as I am – one of the female spectators at the 2018 VHRS thought it was the ugliest car on show. I wondered if she could see it for what it was. And I wonder if she could have accepted ” The Pickle ” better if it had an Italian or European name attached to it. The rear elevation is surprisingly reminiscent of some Alfa or BMW lines.

In the end I hope the owners of the Model 1 and Model 2 are going to be proud of their unique cars. They will never be worried about the bodies rusting out. Or being stuck behind five identical cars on the freeway.

Your Email Of The 15th Inst. Has Been Noted

And unlike previous forms of communication, will not be considered to be private, inviolate, confidential, or secret. It will, indeed, be copied innumerable times, and made available to anyone who bears you a grudge. Prospective grudge-bearers who wish to invest in material for future use will also be accommodated at a special early bird rate.

Please note that the privacy disclaimers and instructions routinely included on the bottom of all official forms from this office are for theatrical and humorous purpose, and should in no way be construed as legally binding unless you have more powerful lawyers than we do. In this context, ” Three Finger ” Louie Custozza and the Boys From Missoula are considered to be a legally practicing entity and can be cited in negotiations.

As it is impossible at this stage to determine what the year’s cause célèbre or political opportunity will be, we would like you to send a great many more communications on the computer. It would be appreciated by our Chief of Blackmail if you would moderate your use of stimulating substances before typing, as some of the spelling can be very difficult to deal with if you go past certain limits. Please feel free to express yourself as violently and controversially as you wish as this makes for juicier scandal. Photographs are always welcome. No need to dress…

 

 

The Virtue Signal Has Two Settings

Australia’s national civil holiday is called Australia Day. It is celebrated on January 26…recorded as the day that the First Fleet…of convict and settler ships… landed in what is now New South Wales. Like the 4th of July in the United States, the 1st of July in Canada, and the 14th of Juillet in France, it is generally a day of national pride and joy.

Some claim not so. There are some indigenous groups and political activists who refer to it as Invasion Day, and like similar minded activists in some cities in the USA who want to rename Columbus Day, they seek to press their sense of outrage upon modern citizens. Some local councils who have a high proportion of activists in their area have gone along with this in the past couple of years and refused a civic celebration of the day.

In most cases the residents of their communities have ignored the political opportunists and gone ahead and had a good time on the day, but it is interesting to see the occasional person try to join in on an individual basis…for whatever purpose they imagine will be served.

The federal government is having none of this nay-saying on a local council level. If local councils refuse to perform citizenship ceremonies on the day, they face the prospect of being dismissed and replaced. So far no state government controversy seems to have arisen.

Silly? Petty? Opportunistic? Well, the readers have to decide for themselves…but I must say I have taken a little amusement on my own social media page to see a chance acquaintance try for her moment of virtue with a posting. I’m sure she’ll get it. And it would be churlish to deny her…people in the entertainment business need all the publicity available.

As for me, I’m going to watch the Australia Day parade and cheer the dancing Japanese ladies and the Indian Seniors as they go by. They are happy to be part of the nation and so am I.