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.

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$600 Worth?

NKERA number of my friends are contemptuous of personalised licence plates for cars here in Western Australia. They’ve written that anyone who has one is merely identifying themselves as a wally. This is one point of view, sure, but I think it might be a tad harsh. A customised plate can be a lot of fun.

Now, I would agree with the sentiment in the case of the plates that are made up to look like European plates. Long thin things in white with the numbers and letters in weird places. The only reason I can see to go for them would be if the Fandazzo XXK8900LS ” Motzarrella ” car has a specially styled licence plate recess that could not take any other shape. But I fear most of the Fandazzo cars could also be equipped with a regular WA plate and the reason that the long one is selected is so that the owner can pretend to be European nobility. Guys, if you come from Winthrop or Leeming and the closest you’ve ever gotten to Europe is Singapore, it is just wank. We ain’t gonna believe it. We’d believe an 888 plate, though…

I’m happy with plates that have a commercial message as this is a clever form of advertising. A local baking company has a brand of cracker called a Sao Biscuit and for years their vans have run around with SAO 1, SAO 2, etc. The trucks are painted like biscuit tins as well. It’s cute and it sells biscuits.

My daughter has a personal plate that will follow her when she changes cars – soon, I hope. BINKY. Theres a sad and humorous tale with it but that is her story – suffice it to say that is her nickname amongst friends and the car has been BINKY ever since it was bought.

But. But. But what do you say when you look at a plate that is just, well…The large grey sedan in the car park with GLAMRUS on it. The immaculate red BMW coupe being driven very well on the highway with the plate saying MEATBALL1. The aggressive NFORCER plate. And the plate that makes no sense at all – the combination of letters and numbers intended to make a well-known kewl buzz phrase that you can’t figure out. Say it in as many combinations as you like, nothing ensues.

I suppose I should not grumble. The plates cost from $ 450 to over $ 650 and there are other administrative fees that add onto it. It is pure gravy for the department of motor vehicles and less trouble to maintain than another speed camera. And a plated vehicle might be better cared for than others. Oh, wait. Scratch that…

The Plastic Bumper Club – Or The Personal Car Club

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I have recently been going to car shows that referred to themselves as ” Chrome Bumper ” shows. This was to limit the entries to a certain section of the history of automobiles. That was after narrowing it down further by era and time and type and nationality and degree of reworking and…and…and a great many fun things would have been excluded.

The cars that did show were fine – and presumably fitted into slots that the organisers set up. I had a good time. I got some good shots and some new weblog posts for the column. But I couldn’t help think about a different approach.

Of course this is nothing new. You can have a car show for British cars, Italian cars, VW cars, Veteran cars, etc and the very name sets out the criteria. You can ask for classic cars and the question becomes a wider one – and one that I suspect is driven by money and prestige as much as enthusiasm. You can ask for new cars. But I am thinking that you could have a great show asking for Personal Cars.

Cars that have been taken past the factory fit-out to to become something special to their owners. Driving cars, as opposed to show trailer queens. Cars from any nation and any era that have been endeared to their drivers with something extra. It might be a fully chopped, slammed, sectioned, shaved, and pink fuzzy diced ’49 Mercury. It might be a fuzzy diced Nissan S Cargo. It might be a classic Roller or a classic baby Austin with rebuilt everything. All it needs is to show the hand of man – or woman – after it rolls out of the factory and it is a Personal Car. Paint jobs count big-time. Interiors count big time. Full undercar ricer lighting counts big time. No-one gets excluded because of the bumper or rego sticker or country of origin.

Big show. Fun show. Lotsa food trucks. Shannons making a mint on insurance and the tee shirt guys throwing ’em off the racks. Pinhead striping a silver Audi TT with pink flames. The Forged girls on 15″ high heels. All kinds of a good time being had by all.

Let me Espresso My Surprise-o

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I like coffee and particularly enjoy the espresso style. A good thing, because it is becoming more common here in Australia – nearly every café and restaurant serves it and I even have a Nespresso machine at home for my after-dinner cup. Users of this sort of thing know that there are as many different blends of espresso as there are advertising writers who can invent vaguely Italian names. One assumes the writers are named Julio or Ignacio or some such –  and that they come in sleeves of 12…

The cups you serve the stuff in also seem to vary like snowflakes. The Nestlé people periodically send an advertising book that has been hand-crafted from the trees of a vanished civilisation and in it they advertise cups, saucers, and little tiny glasses that presumably complete the artistic experience. Theyelevate you to a higher plane of consciousness. If you pay for a set by credit card you will be fully conscious when the statement comes in…

I have two sets from the local cheapie store at home – two cups and saucers in each with just enough volume to take the smaller shot of hot water that steams out the coffee liquor. If you essay to make a milkolattiokersplut or whatever the professional term is you need to do it in a plain old cracked china mug to accommodate the extra volume. Never mind putting shots of syrup or booze or diesel injector cleaner in the cup – you’ll just run the risk of blow-back. Drink that stuff from the bottle and make the espresso the regular way.

But this week at a multi fancy restaurant I was introduced to the tiny little thick glass tumbler trick – and was not impressed. It may be how they do it in an Italian railway station automat at 4:00 in the morning but it was awkward to hold and drink from and I don’t reckon I got as much coffee in there as in the regular tiny cup. All style and no substance.

Note for coffee lovers. ” Lovingly hand-roasted from beans that have passed through an animals digestive tract and sold at a fabulous price ” seems to be a new variant of the monkey brain scene in the Indiana Jones movie. I have no objection at all to coffee that has passed through one animal’s digestive tract as long as that animal is me. After I am done with it you may do with it as you wish.

An Italian Curse On You

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I wish I knew the Italian language. I need it. I need it badly.

I have just tried a new-age gluten-free vegan eco-friendly pizza that probably wears a kaftan and Birkenstocks on its multicultural sabbatical. I need the Italian language to provide me with a suitable curse on the shop that made it. In the end I would settle for a mild bout of bad language and a health department order closing their doors.

Pizza? There is no part of this flat sheet of nasty taste that suggests pizza, or Pisa for that matter. It is round, and packed in a square cardboard box, I give you, but so is a teller mine. I would rather cook the mine.

I will also be realistic – there are pizzas that are not round – square sheets of perfectly adequate pizza have been made for years – if there are no round pans you may have to use a cookie sheet – and if there are a lot of eaters you can make more pizza per oven rack on rectangular trays.

But take note. Pizza contains a number of essential ingredients. Leave them out or substitute house dust and hummus and you end up with no-pizza. You need:

Pizza dough with gluten. Italian gluten. Gluten that loves football and red cars and girls. Loud gluten.

Tomato sauce base – with oregano and basil and garlic and salt and pepper. Maybe thin slices of tomato as well.

Pepperoni sausage sliced thin. LOTS of it. Ask about the sausage maker – if his name is Mario or Luigi or Paolo and his last name ends in “one” you’ll be fine.

Green pepper pieces.

Mushroom slices.

Olive slices.

Onion slivers.

Cheese – Mozzarella and parmesan are a good start.

Anchovies. Just a few, and if the eater doesn’t like them they can be chewed around.

Stop. Add a portion of Stop Immediately right here before the temptation to add sweet potato or Indian frog spleen paste or raw cauliflower becomes irresistible. Put the pizza in the oven and let it bake. Take it out and slice it and serve it hot. With vino or birra, as you wish. Finish with espresso. And gelati.

Do not try to make an essentially Italian thing anything else – just enjoy it for what it is. If you wish to serve unicorn cupcakes do it some other time.

 

 

 

A Small Amount Of Prejudice

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I really should be ashamed of myself – prejudice being one of the sins that we most condemn in modern society. Mind you, some societies that exist in modern times celebrate prejudice and would see me as correct…Well, bless or curse as you wish – I am guilty.

I have never driven a Mini. I have seen them here in Perth since 1965 and have yet to set my bottom in one of the seats – except for a brief trial in the Ilich Motors showroom on Canning Highway in 1966. Put it down to about 4 minutes worth of seat time. In those 4 minutes I conceived a lifelong dislike for the car.

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And isn’t that a foolish thing to do! I love little cars – the kleinwagens of the auto world get all my attention – indeed I own a small sedan right now and would not trade it for a BMW or Mercedes. But not Minis.

The 4 minutes were spent while shopping for my first car. I saw a vast variety of vehicles that were better and worse than the Mini – Hillmans, Isuzus, Renaults, FIATs,VWs, and Cortinas all were carefully studied and dissected. Even the Lightburn Zeta was inspected…but the Mini never made it to the 5 minute mark. Why?

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Wasn’t the sporty nature of the car or the reputation it had – that was a plus in my mind in those silly days. Wasn’t the size of it – I quite like the small cars. Wasn’t the square shape or the retro styling ( Was anything retro in those days? ). Certainly it wasn’t the price because they were quite cheap.

It was the interior appointments. The sort of appointments that reminded you of…well, of an appointment in a proctology clinic. Comfortless and plain. The instruments, such as they were, were set in a central cluster and required you to look down and away from the road to see them. And you weren’t rewarded with any luxury when you did. They looked like something the Italians would have rejected. The thought that they were connected somewhere to British electricity was another sobering thought. I had seen British electricity in Land Rovers in Canada and heard the Master Mechanic of a large construction firm discuss what he thought of the designers. He was a man with definite words…

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The clincher was when I turned my head and looked sideways at the headliner as it crossed the B pillar of the car – near the seat belt bracket. The head liner had not even been tucked into itself around the edge – just left to quietly fray away on the painted metal. Remembering the finish on everything else, save the Zeta, I gently climbed out of the seat and slid out the showroom door.

Please note that this was the old Minis. The newer ones may have improved. There were many cars from BMC in the intervening years and right now BMW seems to have revived the Mini name with a car that has many of the same external design clues as the original. Perhaps it is time to go look inside again. Dear old Ilich is gone but there must be other enterprising car lots.

Atsa Nice…Atsa Really Nice.

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What’s small, square, blue, and full of Italians?

A FIAT station sedan, that’s what. A 1964 100D Riviera in two-tone to be exact. Sit-up styling with just enough of the Pininfarina to jazz up the edges and give it balance. A little chrome, some small over-riders, a trim strip that relly does a job, and smooth lines back down the roof to the tail.

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Note the clear trafficators on the front – it is that age. Also the amber side running lights. Little touches, but functional.

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Note as well the hinging of the rear hatch – no fussy risers or gas struts to replace here.

Disc wheels, vented. Real hubcaps.

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Enough controls on the dash in the original to motor – not too many to confuse the issue. No need to make it look like an atomic power station. Sensible seats.

And enough space behind the rear seats for a picnic, or luggage for a weekend. This car was made for people to use for their real lives.

Oh, please bring this sort of thing back. Never mind the super-luxury Sporto-Engorgo GTO whatever. Give us a car we can drive. Please.