Yup. It’s A Car Wash.

And not just any car wash. A hand car wash. As opposed to the ones that they operate with their feet or ears…

Our local shopping centre has used up one of their limited car parks for the hand car wash. The building’s being finished and the signage is going up. Soon employees in rubber boots will be standing in the winter rain washing cars. Or not, if the state of the other hand car wash facilities in the area are any indication…

The proliferation of car washes has been an interesting phenomenon here in Perth. I remember the establishment of one of the first ones on the site of an old petrol station. It straddles a major highway and a busy feeder road and stands opposite a 24 Hr McDonalds. ( for our North American readers, McDonalds is a franchised fast-food restaurant. ) It was probably a good choice of location as it gives the people who leave their cars to be cleaned a place to go during the process. Interestingly, the owners of the car wash also put up a café on their site. This, and the stated prices on the signage, indicates that they would like each post to be a winner…

I suspect this is the case, as well, for the owners of the shopping centre. They have already leased out a great deal of their land to a tavern, Asian restaurants, and…a McDonalds…but would seem to want to cram more on the area. I’m betting that the rent they demand from the car wash owners will make the washing fees pretty remarkable.

I mourn the loss of adequate parking, but as I own a bucket, a sponge, and my own hands, I am not too frightened by the car wash.


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.


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.


The Grand Touring Extra Luxury Sports Model Dumptruck

With the wire wheels and the leopard upholstery.

With the possible exception of the Zaporogets, I cannot think of one car maker who has not introduced some sort of luxury or sporty model into the range of their standard motor cars. They might have started out with the most basic pots and pans carrier in an effort to capture the rutabaga farmer market in Riga, but eventually there will be a variant of it that has fat tyres and a fat price. I often wonder whether this is to match the head of he prospective client.

I must be fair – I did get to drive a sports car for a few months when I was 17 – a Mk1 Triumph Spitfire. It was all that spit and fire could be when combined and as I did not run it into a tree I am satisfied. I should not like to try my luck again at my age because I remember what you had to do to get into the Spitty seats.

But why ” sporty cars “? I understand that some people like to be enthusiasts and drive racing cars on tracks. They are catered for with the modern day equivalents of the old Mk1. And their money is needed to keep the industry alive.  They supply constant transfusions to repair shops and accessory dealers. There are sports for these cars to do and places to do it. Well and good.

But the spoiler-equipped sedan in the right hand lane of the freeway that tries to go 120 in a 100 zone ( Monday )? Or drag races from every set of lights on Leach Highway…neatly shutting down the container trucks ( Tuesday)? Or the full-house new $ 15,000 Jaguar sedan in the local IGA car park with the 80 year-old driver trying to get from his zimmer frame into the driver’s seat? ( Wednesday) Has sanity gone the way of the leaf spring?

Perhaps I should look on the bright side. At least when I park my little car next to one of the low sporty types in the car park, I can see over it as I back out. The SUV, van, and traytop don’t let me do that.

Combatting Evil, One Tin Of Caviar At A Time

Here at the headquarters of The Australian League Of Virtuousness we have a motto:

” One Born Every Minute, And Five Born To Administer Them ”

It is engraved on the doorpost of the entrance*, and again on the lintel across the entrance. It is embossed on every chair in the visitor’s lounge, every place at the director’s 20 metre mahogany dining table, and every stall in the Executive Washroom. Nothing will wash it away, though, God knows, we’ve tried. Especially after Champagne Night.

Don’t get me wrong – I am not decrying the basic sentiment – it is just that it limits the number of divisions into which the contributions might be made. What do we do if we engage more staff members. The motto specifies five, but there is room in the stretch limo for more…and Bubbles, Brandi, and Trixie promise to be tireless workers in the cause.

I think that we need to take a broader view…and I have a black book full of broads’ names to hand. There is no sense restricting our activities to just the poor or downtrodden. The rich and arrogant are also in need of virtuousness and can afford to purchase a better quality product – or at least a lot more of it. We have contacted Kargotich transport for a quote on their high-capacity dumper trailer to haul more virtuousness as there is bound to be a saving in bulk. As yet the council has not replied to our enquiry about whether it is legal to dump it on the verge.

Goodness and mercy have often been said to follow the virtuous and this may very well be so. To that end we are suggesting that members of The League take sensible precautions and change their mode of transport and route frequently to elude pursuit. It is no good getting complacent about this sort of thing – if you are always kind and helpful you are one day going to be caught out at it and then where are you. Canonized, most likely. And some of those canons have a fierce recoil.

*   At an angle of 45º.


Park Between The Mercedes And The BMW

I am a pragmatic man. I used to be pragmanual, but I got tired of downshifting and double de-clutching. Particularly when it was a question of one argument or another in the middle of winter and you had to put on tyre chains.

But back to the pragmatism. I have long realised that the neighbourhood I live in has a high percentage of emigrants as residents. I am one of them. Many others are people of my own age who have come to Australia on business visas, and have the requisite skills and abilities to succeed. They also have the requisite finances…this is something that the Australian government makes sure of before they arrive.

In their native lands a great deal is attached socially to the possession of wealth. Part of this possession is the ownership of motor cars. In some places the price of even a small car is astronomical, and the more expensive cars proportionally more. It is a real staus symbol.

Not so here in Australia, unless the car is indeed expensive. Thus, to carry over their status here, they purchase large and expensive cars – Mercedes, Audis, BMW’s etc. Unfortunately there may be a disparity between the wealth necessary to purchase this status and the ability to drive it. Or to put it in crude terms, they drive like newbies.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. A careful learner or cautious probationary driver can be as safe as anyone else on the road – perhaps more so if they are not inclined to be entitled or domineering.

On the road unfortunately also includes in the carpark; next to other people, and dodging down small lanes to get into the parking spots. Many things can be taught by feel – reading, sex, and a pot-throwing come to mind. It would appear that parking may also be one of the skills.

I have learned not to park next to maroon Nissans, old Commodores, and Chery cars. The problem is not the cars – it is the drivers. I do not think that they mean to be savage and  destructive, but it comes upon them unbidden. I shudder to think what they could do with a Kenworth and a wet road…

I’ve learned to slot in between the Mercedes and the BMW. The owners may be arrogant and entitled, but they are also protective of their own door edges, and that protects me. Short of bolting a length of 5-inch channel iron on the outside of the Suzuki ( And don’t think that I haven’t considered it…) This is the only way to protect the paint.

The bumpers have to take their own chances…

Hot Rod Heinies

dscf5142Wait a minute. That didn’t quite come out the way I meant it.

dscf5113Oh well, at least it sounds better than Kustom Krauts.

It’s all because we just don’t see all that many German cars that have been taken through the hot rod or custom car mill. But there is no reason why not.

Well actually there is, the older Volkswagens are becoming thin on the ground, the middle-aged Volkswagens are pieces of junk ( I owned one… ) and the new Volkswagens are immutably locked into computers – either honestly or dishonestly, depending upon who programmed them at the factory. And the BMW, Audi, and Mercedes cars are generally too expensive to fool around with. Add to that the fact that they have attracted a sort of unhealthy idol-worship amongst the well-to-do…and they are just not available for the car enthusiast to rod or customise.

dscf5144Here are two exceptions, however. The first one is the VW with the football knees. Or at least I think that is the problem – the rear wheels seem to have deviated ever so slightly from the vertical. It might be a trick of the light, but I don’t think so. I do hope the driver has some way of rectifying it as driving past a Goodyear, Bridgestone, or Beaurepaires shop would probably set up a series of screams from the staff.

dscf5145The windscreen adjustment is nice, however…if a little impractical in the face of dust, insects, and rain.

dscf5112The Mercedes seems to have been subjected to the sort of bonnet work that we see on the drag strip or in the more extreme of the street race cars. I was surprised to see the grill work lift up with the front of the bonnet, but Google images show that happening to other 1971 280 SE cars as well, so I guess it is stock. The blowers are a good idea if you want to make a street sleeper out of it but the fact that they poke pipes up through the bonnet is a bit of a give-away.

dscf5115I think the rear venetians are a nice period touch – do we all remember them from the late 60’s… and the cushions and stuffed animals on the rear window sill? They were a trophy of love in many cases, as well as a practical aid to accomplishing  it.

dscf5114And are the rear wheels of the Mercedes suffering a bit of the Volkswagens or is that just imagination?


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.

Portholes To Adventure


One of the earliest memories I have of motor cars is of a deep green early 50’s two-door Buick that my parents bought in Canada. I was unaware of many aspects of it, but I was convinced of two things: the doors would deliberately slam and trap my fingers, and the portholes on the side of the bonnet were really exhaust stacks – like on a fighter plane. Nothing I have seen in the intervening years has convinced me otherwise. I never go near Buick doors and I never put my ear next to the portholes in case they fire it up.


Here’s a selection of them. Some are local in Western Australia and some are in Victoria. I think it is very cleaver of the owners to clean them up so well…you can hardly see any trace of exhaust smoke down the side of the cars.









Note that Buick could not decide whether they needed three portholes or four. It must have been a source of considerable argument in the Fisher Body works canteen at lunch time.

For students of mythology, Elektra was a vengeful daughter…hence her connection to Buick doors and fingers.