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.

 

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Raising Your Sights And Aiming Lower

” Low-Brow” is such a wonderfully wrong term…and yet we hear it all the time in publishing, art, and entertainment. The people who use it are generally rather proud of it, and hope to make money by applying it to products, concepts, and events. Sometimes they succeed wonderfully.

The idle philosopher who contemplates it immediately realises that if there are ” Low-Brow ” things , there must be ” High-Brow ” ones as well. And presumably ” Middle-Brow “. It’s hard to say whether there are equivalencies or whether there are exclusive concepts in each division.

I’m tempted to say that there are, using the motor car as an example. And further – that there are genuine examples and fake ones – theatrical representations, if you will. And we are such weird and weak creatures that we all play along. Here are some examples:

 

a. Real low-brow. A Cadillac fallen upon hard times in a foreign land. The heart of darkness in white and rust. Let us hope for a resurrection one day.

b. Faux Low-brow. The overblown graphics of what might be popular culture.

c. Real High-Brow. The one-of-a-kind preserved exclusive car that once defined the social status of the owner…and for that matter still does.  A social strainer.

d.Faux High-Brow. Harmless – rather pretty, but susceptible to exposure and the scrutiny of judgemental people.

e. Real Middle-Brow. As average as a beige Dodge. Or in this case a beige Toyota. Honest, if plodding. A car that we might all resort to if we had to leave town surreptitiously. The modern Australian equivalent of the Nash Rambler in North America.

 

f. Faux-Middle-brow. An abandoned Musso in the airport car park. It is not healthy to run away from your troubles too much…

The Little World – I Wish I lived There…

It is no secret to say that Little Worlders wish they lived there – in the Little World. They spend a great deal of their time and an undisclosed amount of their money building their place in it – railways, houses, businesses, vehicles and aircraft…they sew clothing for it and make fabulous scale treats. They make the LW a grander, cleaner, safer, more colourful place than they occupy right now. It is only fitting that when they show this to us, we look carefully.

Thus my visit yesterday to the WA Miniature Society exhibition. I had a stake in the show too, as my ” Pearl Of El Paso ” set is displayed at one end of an exhibit table. But for me, the most fun was looking at the other Little Worlds.

Pearl of El Paso being filmed.

M. Vincent’s studio.

The fish van.

The pub.

Just a quiet garden corner.

1:48th bungalow.

Every scale vision is a little different and every one is a new destination for the Little Worlder to go to when life gets tiresome. It may not be cheaper than a Bali holiday but it doesn’t leave a hangover.

Do Photo Bombers Use Norden Sights?

Work that one out for yourselves, folks.

The featured photo was taken at Rosehill Racecourse during the recent NSW Hot Rod Show when I happened upon what is becoming my show favourite – a small kid being hot rodded along by his Dad.

I’ve seen and photographed this form of transport in Melbourne, Perth, and now Sydney, and it fills me with glee. My own father had a tiny Caterpillar crawler tractor that I could ride in and I loved it. My daughter was put on a battery-powered motorcycle that caused terror on the back patio. It is an honourable tradition. And if you get the battery-powered ones you don’t have to push…

I have to apologise to the Mum and Dad in Sydney – something in the setting of the flash seems to have made it all look like bad science fiction, but at least your boy looks great. I’m not sure who the visitor is, but at least he looks as if he is having a good time.

Did your feet survive the day? I know mine were calling to me by the time I got back to the hotel and they were demanding something to drink! I took sympathy on them. But wasn’t it a good show? I loved the Caddy on the second floor with the sugar skull upholstery – I am going to try to make one in a scale model. Who says you can’t win at the racecourse!

 

A New Departure For Collectors

Diecast car collectors in Australia who wish to depict the local car scene are not all that well served. Oh, there are expensive exotic cars from Biante and Classic Carlectables of the street rod and motor racing kind, but the number of average driver daily vehicles in the large scale is quite small. The prices are high, of course because there is no economy of scale. I rather despaired of making up a modern Australian section of the collection…until I went to the car show today.

It was some sort of charity show with an eclectic mixture of sports, rod, classic, and all-too-recent beaters. I enjoyed it once it was found, and didn’t think my $ 5 badly spent – because it opened my eyes to the idea of a wider net for modern Australian collecting. You see, I can do what the car owners are doing in ever larger numbers – importing overseas cars to become local prides and joys.

Hitherto I shunned the idea as it seemed counter to my goal of making a real little world. Now the real big world is changing and I can use this to branch out. Look at some of the North american iron that people actually have here – as well as some of the European stuff.

I still have hopes that someone will get in a supply of 1:18th scale modern oriental cars that are not Japanese drift specials or Winthrop wankwagons. I want workaday wheels and industrial vehicles on my roads – so many of them are on the full-size street.

Arrested In The Park

dscf5131I often wondered whether I would get through my life without being arrested. Until this morning I was doing alright. Then I went to the 2017 Big Al’s Poker Run at Parry Lakes.

It is ostensibly the last of these events – the organiser, Mr Big Al, passed away, and this was the tribute show to remember him. A charming idea – I hope it was a success. Whether anyone else has the money and skill to stage a similar event in the future remains to be seen.

dscf5135But back to the arrest.

I was walking through the lines of parked cars when I came upon the vehicle in the heading image. It is apparently a late-70’s Cadillac Eldorado Seville Coupe. It stopped me dead in my tracks.

dscf5129I can look at most pieces of machinery and see where they are coming from. Whether it is a toaster or an army tank I can work out what the designer meant when they finished the drawings – and in the majority of the cases I can see where the engineers, production managers, and accountants added their specialities before the executives signed off on the project and the factory wheels started to roll. I understand that cars are made to appeal to customers who will give money to the makers for the vehicles. But I frankly confess that I cannot imagine who would have thought up, drawn up, authorised, and built this vehicle.

dscf5128I initially thought it was a local thing. Perhaps someone got a chassis from somewhere and decided to build something down the back shed. Sort of the automotive equivalent of a bondwood boat. Goodness knows we’ve seen enough of those. But no, this is a factory build. It is, by and large, Cadillac’s idea. There are a few hot rodder touches – the black vinyl wrap that covers over the name badge, and the red plush pattern down the side. I suspect the stance of the vehicle and the fact that the bonnet and grill shell do not fit are also the result of enthusiast work.

dscf5132But the false spare wheel half-way along the front side is really Cadillac. The tiny cabin perched 3/4 of the way along is Cadillac. The overstuffed interior with just about the same space as my old Ford ute is Cadillac. I have no idea who thought of the roof rack. Perhaps the owner needs something to haul his boogie board to the beach…

dscf5133I do understand the motivation of the owner of the car. Once in every lifetime one needs to own a car like this. I know I did – I owned a 1975 Volkswagen Passat Variant. The memory of it has stayed with me and even returns occasionally – particularly if I have eaten cheese or mustard late at night. I do not think in my time that I could have brought myself to the point of contemplating fake spare wheels on the side of the Passat, but there are stronger minds and more adventurous spirits than I.

dscf5136Anyone who has a cogent explanation for this Cadillac design is cordially invited to write in to this column. All correspondence will be treated in strictest confidence.

Note: I have found a picture of an ’84 car and it still has the fake spares on the side…

 

 

A Jaundiced View Of A Cadillac

dscf4405Don’t be put off by the title of this post – I am not at all unhappy with the Cadillac custom car I saw at Gillam Drive in 2016 – the ” jaundiced ” in the title refers to something else.

I came across the car in one of the side lots that they open up for the morning – car worker’s workshops and parking areas that are put to use for extra display space. This is getting bigger each year and the inclusion of these extra areas is a real service to the owners and the viewers. Bigger IS better.

Well, I was doing the line looking for new metal and I kept seeing this frontispiece parked there – and it kept bugging me. I could recognise some of the lines but there was something so strange that I just could not put my finger on. So I started to look at it carefully.

dscf4411Cadillac, certainly. The only other things that big are aircraft carriers and they don’t generally paint them yellow. But what year? What model?

dscf4407I am guessing ’72-’74 and the Eldorado plate… But the characteristic grill work , sidelights, and headlights have all been altered remarkably. And the extended fins at the rear are pure California Kustomland. And the windscreen and rear glass…the stock ones are  broad curves instead of being the split slits you see here.

dscf4414The dash also makes me think of the 1957-59 series, with some considerable thinning of the opulence of the period. I think it might have used the instruments of the time but be comprised of other parts of other cars to fit with that split screen. I’m left guessing.

At this point I hope the owner can write into the answers section column with some of the details – I think it would make a fascinating story.

Remember the ” jaundiced ” bit? Well I am convinced that the Fujifilm X-trans sensor has a problem when it encounters extremely saturated paint colours out in the field – particularly on a bright sunny day. It has blown out the yellow on the bonnet of the car until it almost looks like a pearlescent beige. I assure the readers that the car overall had a smooth and consistent mild butter yellow rather like the image of the tail quarter. The rendering fault is in the camera – not the car.