I’ll Have The Green One, Thank You

Well, it was that time of year – the Australia Day weekend and the Victorian Hot Rod Show was on at the Exhibition Buildings again. I approached it with some trepidation…

Not because of the Australia Day parade and the visit to the NGV or any of the good things that had happened on the day – because the RACV had cut short their annual car show on the 26th and I was afraid that when I visited the VHRS the next day it would be as sad a disappointment. As it turned out, I had nothing to fear.

This fine Holden EK visited the open section at the front of the building. This year then committee decided to send the bulk of the front visitor’s cars to the rear of the building , which left a little more room at the front for yet more cars. A good idea – more cars increases the chances of seeing something special.

American readers can see Chevrolet…or at least General Motors influence in the styling, though they will recognise that it is an Australian body and a little smaller than the cars they were used to. Still a good big hefty vehicle for the late 50’s and early 60’s and made doubly attractive by being a station sedan.

No idea what is under the bonnet, but I would be willing to bet it is a clean example of the standard engine of the time – an upright 6. The good looks of the outside of the car practically guarantee that the owner will have done as nice a job in the engine bay. I note that the styling touches have been kept to the conservative side – wheel trims and removal of badges being the most I can see…though I do note that there seems to be an effective air conditioner and some extra sound in the interior. And did EK’s have a floor shift…?

Well, anyway, we come to the paint job. Faced with the long, long roof line of a station sedan, the designer did the very best thing that he could – striped it all the way, and then put in tasteful internal scallops in some of the panels.

I am particularly impressed with the use of the silver striping down the middle. Was he influenced by the design motif that Pontiac had on many of their cars?

One question…with a car as nice as this, why wasn’t it inside in the show section? Would it have made some of the other owners feel jealous? I know I’d swap my dog and horse for it…

 

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B, C, Or E?

I am undecided as to which of the mid-series Holden cars I like best – the FB, FC or FE. They were the products of GM-H between 1956 here in Australia but sometimes went for several years – hence we tend to refer to them by the two letters rather than a model year. This practice was also adopted by the Ford and Chrysler when they named their cars. Australians are good at remembering these codes.

Aside: The ones who are really good at this are the train enthusiasts. They have a three-letter code for most rolling stock on the different rail systems in the country. It makes reading a model railway magazine somewhat of a chore, though, and probably has contributed to the popularity of North American layouts with their colourful – and named – freight cars.

 Back to the Holdens. Overseas readers might be forgiven for thinking that the FB was the first of the line, followed by the FC and then the FE. And wonder what happened to and FD. Uh uh. This is Australia, remember…the FE was the first, then the FC, then the FB. Then, wouldn’t you just know it, the EK, and then the EJ and then the EH…Aww stop it, before I fall off the seat…

 Now you would expect the next model after that to be in the ED or EC line, wouldn’t you? Nope -the HD, then the HR, then the HK. Then I lost any sort of interest…

 But here is the red and white ’58 FC at the Curtin Car Show. 2 seats for 4 people. 6 cylinder engine, fair-sized boot. Enough chrome on the front and back to please anyone and doors that can defend themselves in a Leeming car park. ( I miss that kind of door…). A two-tone paint job that looks good. And you get an AM wireless. What more could you want?

 

Dead Cool Legends On A Dead Cold Night

There are car people and there are car people. You can separate them into different camps according to the sort of cars they favour, but eventually you have two sorts; they ones who will stay at home on a 12º cold night and the ones that will come out to a petrol station car park to meet up. You may decide for yourself which are the crazy ones.

Here is some of the cool crop:

I bugged out after my fingers froze, but the enthusiasts were still rolling in. Bless them and here’s to an early and warm spring to make the next meet a more comfortable one.

Dashboard

Every time I open the WordPress site I get a dashboard that lets me control the weblog. Every time I get into my little Suzuki I sit behind a dashboard that lets me control the car. It is a comfortable place to be in both cases and I can see the wisdom in naming the set of electronic quizzes and sliders that we operate for sites and computers the same as the automobile – we are nearly all familiar with one somehow.

Well, leave the weblog and the computer aside and follow along to a couple of car shows as I look at the dashboards. I find them a fascinating insight into the minds of both the designers and of the society they serve.

DSCF0114The first dashboards literally dashed the mud aside as buggies and wagons followed horses. I’ll bet that the horses were not fooled – they could think of ways of spattering the people behind them anyway. But the dashboard of the wagon might only need to have a footrest, and no other controls. This leaked onto the first horseless carriages – they have few things happening in front there either, though they start to add pedals and switches to deal with braking and transmissions. Sometimes with the acceleration of the engine, though in many of the old cars this was still happening around the steering wheel.

Sometimes pipes and gauges were added to cope with fuels, or water, or oil. There might even be electrical gauges if the driver needed to know what was going to fail next…

Gradually the gauges took on more significance and prominence. People might not have needed to know how fast they were going early on because they were not going fast at all. When they sped up, someone wanted them to slow down, and quantified that – speed limits were evolved and drivers needed to know how quickly the vehicle was moving. The speedometer appeared. Followed by the speed trap and the fine.

Technical brother to the speedometer was the tachometer – how many revolutions per minute the engine was making. The driver could use the information to decide when to shift gears, if the screaming of the transmission or the passengers did not supply the signal. Old timers probably paid more attention to this one and regulated themselves in their district on hills and turns they knew by watching their revs.

People needed to know how much petrol or other fuel was in the tank and for a long time the only way they could determine this was a dipstick in the tank. That or a glass gauge with a tube in it somewhere near the tank. Or sticking their tongue in the tank. It was a long time before a reliable petrol gauge appeared on the dashboard…and I am waiting any week for one to show on mine…A guess is as good as a mile in many cases and that is how far you’ll be walking when you ignore the little floppy needle.

Oil? All engines and many navies needed it, but the original measure was a dipstick on the crankcase for when you had it and a grinding clank when you didn’t. The idea of putting an oil gauge on the dash to worry the driver came along pretty quickly but it was generally done by means of a tube from where the oil pressure was to the gauge in the dash where the needle swung over. The inevitable vibration and fatigue fracture would send the hot oil somewhere unpleasant. It was quite a while before they thought of a sensor and electrical reporter for this.

Electricity, coming or going, is invisible. You only ever hear it when you are holding a spark plug lead and the block and some comedian cranks the engine over. Then it makes a noise like bad words. For some time the designers did not really know what to measure as far as electricity went and there were few sensible gauges. Eventually they settled on a little bobbing needle that went one way when you were using it up and the other way when you were making more. You could even measure the battery to see how much electricity was in there but it was always a blasted lie.

Most other measurements and reports were only commentary. Various makers decide to tell you or not, depending upon the market and whether they thought you wanted to know or would understand the message.

Will post later…must dash…

 

 

The Crew Car

No, not the young lady from Crewe. This is not that kind of a weblog column. You can’t pay to get out of it…

I mean the crew car from this year’s Big Al’s Poker Run. The silver and black N0.51 Holden. She’s an FJ Ute, and as Australian a device as you could ever find. She wasn’t out on big bad open display, but up near the scrutineering tent. What a great daily driver this would make, if you didn’t have to go anywhere near shopping centre car park drivers. That, or hang some 5-inch channel iron bar on the sides of the car when you leave it in a parking bay…and give the dog in the back a revolver…

The Holden was a true Australian design made through the auspices and finances of General Motors in the late forties. It is still going as a brand but the powers that be have decided to close down the Australian factories that made them and to just badge imported cars to keep the thing alive. No-one I have ever talked to think this is a good idea for any reason whatsoever – perhaps I talk to the wrong people. Australia needs factories and workers who can make real things to do real tasks.

Well, the owner who refurbished the FJ ute obviously knows how to do things – the finish is wonderful. The smooth style of the rear end is not that far from what they were in stock form – Holden always seemed to make a slicker tail than Chrysler or Ford. The pronounced rear hips did not hurt either. There is a good deal of hauling space in that ute bed undisturbed by encroachment.

Remember I said that no-one I ever talk to thinks stopping car production is a good idea? Well the reverse of the coin is equally well-moulded; no-one in the car game that I have talked to would hesitate to buy this same design if they would make them again. We’d eschew air conditioning and MP4 players and GPS rubbish for just a good old bench seat and a good old 6-cylinder motor.

In fact, the whole crew want one.

The Political Holden

dscf4368If you have had enough of politics after the American election you can skip this post, but it really isn’t too bad – no Trumps or Clintons will be used.

The title was suggested by this car’s licence plate. Seen at Gillam Drive, and at other car venues around Perth, it represents one of the slightly up-market models of native design that Holden produced last century. In this case it has been further boosted by what I suspect may be a lot more engine. Or at least a lot more horsepower.

dscf4373The year looks to be about 1968 – perhaps this is the HK model. It is unlikely to have had a similar model in North America or anywhere – this body style is Australian. The locals will immediately recognise it and, if they are not Ford tragics or Chrysler fiends, will acknowledge that it was a fine staple car for the period. It had as many suspension and steering quirks as any medium sedan in those days and the usual level of interior vinyl/bench/ column shift that similar models from the other two big makers. They were bigger than their Japanese counterparts, cruder in some respects, but much more long-lived and long-legged. You can get parts, panels, and publications for them, so that they are a viable option for both customisers and restorationists.

dscf4371If you are determined to increase the power available in the engine there are also packs that will turn the local 3 litre engine into a competent performer. Not all of them require you to use a can opener on the bonnet or put a cluster of instruments onto the fascia. Or out by the windscreen wipers, for that matter. If you do it is style. The cars themselves had a great deal of style just stock – they were, after all, the up-market version of the Holden Special of the time.

dscf4372Politics? Well, here in Australia our state heads of government are known as Premiers. We also have Governors, but they don’t – they are a leftover from colonial days. There is Prime Minister in Canberra and if we are lucky, that is where he stays. But the use of a state title is prestigious so GMH chose Premier. Later one, Holden also brought in the Statesman and the Commodore before reverting to the workaday world of the Crewman, Drover, and Jackaroo.

I am never sure whether the names of cars actually stimulate purchase – whether the idea of status sells cars. I’m pretty sure you can get the opposite when you name them ” Cedric ”  or ” Lloyd “. Fine cars as far as that goes but as far as that goes, they went. And I have never seen one rodded back into existence…

Just Gonna Leave This Here…

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Two-dimensional art has taken many forms in the past; paintings on walls, tile frescos, paintings on canvas, etc. Then one day someone invented the motor car, air compressor, and airbrush…

Here is an advertising brochure from a firm that does airbrush art. And an example of their work on a Holden ute at Gillam Drive. Any further written description would be superfluous.

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Pretty much self-explanatory, though I do have one technical question; does he wash the air brushes out between coats with lacquer thinner or blood…?