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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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.

 

The Mobile Billboard

I was passed one day, on the inside, in rainy weather and heavy traffic, on a notoriously busy road by a person who used the old ploy of zooming up the road shoulder and then lurching into the lane. You’ve all had that at some stage of the game and cursed the fool who did it.

In this case the fool had an advertising screen attached to the back of her hatchback car – the type that are see-through but can carry signs and telephone numbers on the outside. I observed that it was one of the belly dancers that I take pictures of at dance shows.

I’m afraid this is probably another case of  the first-day-of-wet-weather syndrome in Perth. Edmonton and Calgary used to have a first-snow-day show of about the same sort. It paid to leave the car at home and take the bus that day.

Perhaps I can persuade this lady to take up driving in Alberta instead of here.

The New Ride

Travis Corich, the genius at Pinhead Kustoms, has a new ride.

He confessed that he always has several in the stocks – we saw his other ute last year and now there is a new one to see. I belive it is a 1938 Chevy half ton pickup with additional strakes added to the roof of the cab. If I’m wrong Travis can write in and correct me.

As you can see it is still not carrying a front WA license so there may be more to be done – or perhaps it was just taken off for the show. As you can tell, however, the finish is the thing and as Travis is engaged in striping and painting for others, his vehicles act as rolling signboards.

The interior is well in keeping with the mild customizing of the exterior – no gaudy space-age decor. I do not see a radio or MP4 player – perhaps Travis does what I do when I drive – hums and whistles along to himself.

Somewhere There Is An Artist…

And this clothing is covered in little burns. His skin as well. Because he is an artist in arc welding.

Of course there are some arc welders who do art that involves massive iron gates or sculptures or railway bridges. Whoever did this tractor can move into their ranks – and I must lift the studio hat to him for bringing it to the hot rod show.

Really there is nothing that can be said that is not to be seen – save the fact that the Thor mannequin with the big hammer might not have been needed to get the attention of the show goers – the tractor does that all by itself.

For my part, the most impressive part is the blue and white license plate. Mr. Saywell did something that many other builders at the show can never do – got his creation over the pits and legal to actually go on the road. I would have liked to see the inspector’s face when it rolled into the licensing centre…

Note: if any construction sites seem to be missing an inordinately large amount of rebar, we can put them onto a solution to the puzzle.

The Big World – Playing With 1:1 Model Cars

I am going to go out on a limb with this column today. I have no idea whether I have correctly understood something and am going to make either an honest report of it or a complete mess. If the former, I am eligible for the Pulitzer Prize – if the latter, it is a sure ticket to talk-back radio stardom…

I mentioned the Toyotas On The Quay event that I attended and the number of what appeared to be racing cars displayed there. I was delighted to see them and thought that they were very well presented. Of course, an open air car event is a lot less sophisticated than an annual show at the Convention Centre, but there is this about it: the vehicles got there under their own steam – legally – and will make their way home again at the end of the day. This proves that they are real devices and not just the products of some dreamer’s imagination…as some show cars on the hot rod circuit seem to be.

Ignore my note of cynicism there, folks, because I do like the show cars as well…but there is more authenticity in a daily driver than a trailer queen.

Or is there?

I asked myself this when I looked carefully at a number of the ” race cars ” that were displayed. I’m quite unfamiliar with most motor sports – I can recognise the Indianapolis 500 cars from the 1950’s and I know the difference between a rail dragster and a Caterpillar tractor, but after that is all gets to be hazy. But I did look rather carefully at some of the racers and decided that I might be seeing model cars. Big model cars.

Take our featured image – the Toyota in the Castrol colours. Is it really the car that Didier and Denis piloted to an overall whatever place in the Rootyabouti Rally. Or is it a clever reconstruction of that car based upon a local Toyota – a 1:1 full-scale model, in fact? Made with loving care by enthusiasts who should be admired for their skill and artistry?

I like to think that this is the case. I should be equally impressed if one of the people who restore older vintage cars were to make General Montgomery’s staff car or Barney Oldfield’s racer. It is an entirely new level of enthusiasm, and should be encouraged with deliberate recognition.

If I’m wrong in this assessment, I am sure the local car fans will put me right.

Note: if you are a restorer or maker of racing cars…and drive with a standard WA licence plate, I’ll bet you are pulled over and grilled every time you venture on the roads.

All At Sea In The Car Park

I am a car expert. I can tell, after a hour’s careful observation, the difference between a 1973 Chevrolet Impala and a 2002 Hyundai Getz. No problemos. I can sort out Hupmobiles from Mattel Barbie cars. It’s a gift…

But when I encounter the out-of-the-ordinary car that has been rescued from the restoration fiends and made into a proper street rod I can flounder badly. Such was the case with this car in the car park of the 2017 NSW hot rod show. I knew it was gold, I knew it was good, and I knew it was locked up and impossible to steal ( don’t ask…) but I was in trouble as to what sort it was, and how much what I was seeing had departed from the original.

I know it was metal, because when you hit all the various panels with a ball-peen hammer they made a ” Doing ” sound. Not the windscreen. That was more of a crunchy noise, but we won’t dwell on it.

I was pretty sure that the mirror-polished engine compartment panels weren’t stock…unless the owner was the King of Sweden. Also the Mr. Horsepower logo on the side. Few cars of the period rolled out of the factory with a woodpecker. But I fell into a revery when it came to the shape of the fenders – they were distinctive and complex, and not the sort of thing that you generally see in ads in Street Rodder magazine machined out of aluminium. They looked suspiciously real – if enlarged a bit for the wider tyres.

Likewise the three rivets on the front to the windscreen posts. This sort of detail is not the kind of thing that rodders add to a car – they are generally grinding everything that they can off flat. These rivets argue that they are an original feature of the car…and they also suggest that if you did grind them off the windscreen would fall into your lap.

The roof worried me, frankly. There are three longitudinal strakes up there and the last time I saw a car with this feature was my old 1966 Renault 10. I haven’t seen that car since 1972, and anyone could have gotten hold of it. I was trying to picture this gold one in a two-tone blue to see if it was just a re-paint but decided in the end that it wasn’t.

Nothing else helped at all. I looked carefully at all the external lines, trying to imagine whether they had been altered or were a faithful reproduction of the original car. The dash and steering wheel were no help. No help in identifying it, I mean. I’m sure they are very useful for turning and that.

In the end I had to give up. I’d gone from the front of the grill to the back of the rear panel and the only thing back there was some pinstripes, tail lights, a square bumper and a paint job that said 28 ESSEX, so the whole thing was a mystery. Unless I can see the DMV records I’ll have no idea what brand of car it is.