Sour Grapes Plates

The personalised number plate business in Western Australia is booming – closely followed by a number of people who decry it. For every citizen who is prepared to pay the state government $ 535 to $ 685 for their own lettering on the plates – there is another internet poster who thinks it is foolish and believes that it is their mission life to scoff.

Well, I like scoffing as much as the next anonymous Facebook writer, but in this case I think the detractors are in the wrong – for a number of reasons:

  1. The decision to buy a personal plate is not forced upon any motorist. They are free to take whatever the dealer places on their car at a lower cost.
  2. The wording of the plate must pass some official scrutiny and the rules that govern it are fairly spelled out. No profanity, no incitement, etc. A plate doesn’t appear without permission.
  3. The money raised from the plate sales presumably goes into general coffers – and thence to public works, like roads, schools, and hospitals. More money than standard plates, hence more contribution to state welfare.
  4. The plates are distinctive. This is both a good and bad thing for the driver – they are more likely to be remembered and spotted than if they have standard plate. if they behave with care and distinction on the road this means we can praise them and if not, they can be easily identified.
  5. The are sometimes amusing to read – sometimes puzzling -and sometimes a prudent warning about the mind set of the driver. This can be very useful when the motorist is an hoon or idiot – you can avoid them.
  6. They are a harmless amusement. Hard to find harmlessness these days as everyone is uptight about everything, but a Mini car with ” The Moocher ” on it is a pretty cheerful sight.
  7. All too often we are a number -a Centrelink number, a bank number, an ABN number. Or just a series of passwords and PIN numbers. We often lose our names to everyone else. How nice to have a distinctive plate that we choose.
  8. A personal-plated car is more likely to be cherished, maintained, and driven carefully by the owner.
  9.  A personal plate on a Mercedes, Volvo, Lexus, or BMW that features a number of “8”s on it is as good an identifier as a roundel would be on an Air Force plane. Sort of an IFF signal, but in this case an IFW. If you know what to look for you know to give it a wide berth in car parks.
  10.  For my part I would like to see a return of the old-fashioned yellow ” L ” plate and red ” P ” plate fixed at a standard height on a standard position – the bumper bar or the grill of the car. The practice of plastering something behind a windscreen or rear window that cannot be seen other road users defeats the entire purpose of the warning.

I would also like to see similar plates for us elderly drivers – perhaps a red/yellow striped plate that warns others that we are going to drive more slowly and cautiously.

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Hot Rod Tow – Hyde Park Part Four

I reviewed my car pictures shared in this weblog column for the last few years and discovered that I had never shown you Brighton Towing. I can’t say whether this is because it is new or I am just unobservant. Thank goodness it was sunny at Hyde Park and the truck was parked in a good spot.

It is a hot rod, as evinced by the GMC blower on top of the large engine. But I should say that the power it develops is not wasted on a race track – this is a period hauler supreme.

It can, and undoubtably has, hauled many a motorist out of trouble over the years. The winch and crane may not be the modern electronic marvels that the towies deploy at the side of the freeway or in your driveway, but they have enough leverage to raise a car on a cradle and away you go.

I suspect the red esky is a recent addition but we’re not going to be super fussy.

It is wonderful to see a hot rod that is not too much nor too flashy. Let’s hope others go down the same route. Note: Here is a COE seen a few years back at a Rust And Shine that also fits the working rod bill.

 

A Side Order Of Lingotto To Go – Hyde Park Part Three

I thought I knew all the different types of pasta – spaghetti, linguini, tagiatelli, etc. Today I discovered a new variety – this sort is shaped like a Fiat racing car.

Given the recent record of FIAT cars here in Australia – the FIAT 500 and some of the other cooking-quality sedans that have been briefly seen on the streets of Perth before retiring and expiring – you might be given to thinking that this Italian car maker is not one of the icons. Not a Ferrari or Lamborghini. But remember that long before F. or L. were feuding, FIAT was racing all over the world. They were also making fighter planes and giant locomotives.

This FIAT 502 may yet be on the ground for a closer inspection at future car shows – I am going to go to them to see if more can be seen inside it. The outside details scream of the period and promise a great deal of interesting design inside.

Oh, to see it in operation on a track…

I must look out the next Italian Car Show day here in Perth and hope. Wheel ’em Danno…

Le Blue Streak – Hyde Park – Part Two

I have a passion for blue French cars – my first vehicle was a blue Renault – but do not think I have encountered this Delage before today. It would have stood out sharply in my mind. As it is I was delighted with it.

From the radiator cap that doubles as a thermometer en francais…

 to the rather intriguing ” oleometre ” … ( I suspect the red segments of the cross open up to white as the oil pressure rises in the engine )…

to the extremely discrete speedometer and tachometer…

this is a triumph of Gallic style over substance. Or rather of French thinking which can be done after a long lunch in the shade. I recognize the laterality of it all from some of the ideas found on my Renault.

The back seat is positively decadent, if you can persuade anyone into it with you. I tried and the case comes up Monday.

I intend to plead diminished responsibility on account of the colour of the car and the polished metal bonnet. I shall tender a photograph of the capped crank coupling in front of the engine and the friction shock absorbers to prove that I was lead astray.

 

Why Don’t You Want To See This Ad?

Facebook asks me this question twenty times a day as I hide advertisements but only provides a limited number of possible responses. Let me correct this by supplying the real reasons the ads were turned off:

a. There are too bloody many of them. Whatever shit is being shilled, the fact that one cannot goggle over the love life of friends or look at cat videos is the real irritant. Reduce them to one an hour… and I’ll let you know which hour.

b. They are blatant and/or sneaky. Either way, they are trying to sell something to someone who is trying not to buy.

c. If I wanted to read an advertisement I would google up the product I fancied, in the sure knowledge that I would be inundated with the spiels. I read Facebook for gossip, not commerce.

d. Who engages you to press debt upon us? We are fighting like cats to repel it – you do yourself no good by trying it on. We know how it fits already.

I realise that you have purchased my profile from Google, who sees everything I do and that you are on-selling it to the people who want my money. This is basic piracy and I respect that. But how can you get it so very wrong? I want model airplanes and hot rods and Chinese camera lenses and pin-up girls. You must have some somewhere – why try me out with cruises to tropical hell-holes or on-trend shoes? If you must pester me, pester me with the stuff I want…not the dreck that other people choose.

 

Random Fandom

If you are playing to an audience you generally want to see their reaction. I can only think this to be the case when I see some of the vanity license plates on the road. The owners who have paid a stiff price for these plates want an audience to applaud them as they drive by.

But everyone is busy with the steering wheel and gear lever…or at least with their mobile phones and stubbies of beer – there are no hands free to clap. And so few people toot their horns or flash their lights. It must eventually be a source of the deepest frustration for the performers.

Tuesday’s random was a large SUV with I  AM  AD as the plate. Either someone is named Adam or someone runs an advertising agency. Either would be valid.

Some plates are fun. THE MOOCHER on a Mini is a clever cultural joke. PAYD 4 is another. KILLER or DV8 are not – they are a tin revelation of what is behind the wheel. Rather like an E plate* that someone paid $ 400 for but is in no hurry to lose.

I plan to ask for the heading image when I buy my gold-plated Maserati.

 

*  Our local Plate’O Shame that marks the convicted drunk driver who has been able to cozen a magistrate into special dispensation from becoming a pedestrian for a year.

 

Another Bluebird Of Happiness

Only this one wasn’t made by Datsun. This is a Morris Minor of 1953…65 years later. Lets face it, Folks…none of us reading this looked as good when we were 65, whether we were bright blue or not.

I’ve commented before in this column that it is surprisingly to see many of the cars that we were familiar with in the 50’s and 60’s here in Australia taken up in the hot rod or custom scene. Oh yes, there are Ford Customlines and Holden Fj’s and such, but the percentage of Dodge or Chrysler is low and the percentage of British or French cars that also get taken into the fold are even fewer. Least considered are the Japanese imports of the time. Hot rodding can be surprisingly blinkered.

This makes a car that is as well turned out as this Morris Minor a real pleasure to see. It is of a size that can lend itself to some of the smaller modern engines – my brother-in-law built a MM ute with a Nissan engine and he was the fastest old man in Mandurah for a while. But every project eventually gets finished and his MM finally was…and then interest was lost…

Well, thankfully the man who made this blue beauty carried it through to a magnificent conclusion. I envy him not only the finish but the practicality of it. That was meant to be a small commercial hauler and it still is – albeit a faster one, with better seats. Given the modern tyres as well as engine and suspension parts, this would be a magnificent wanderers van for Western Australian summers.

Winters, however, in cars of this vintage can be a damp and misty experience. Ask anyone who has travelled in Perth in rain with a tea towel to wipe the steam off the inside of the windscreen  and listen to the historic language. The 60’s saw a complete industry of add-on demisters and heaters and none of them worked a damn. Eventually you just wound down the side windows and froze or swam your way to your destination.