The Cut Lunch And The Water Bag

I am getting to be three things in my old age; smarter, cheaper, and more determined. It does not prevent me from being taken advantage of in the first place, but it does prevent a repeat performance. Next week I am going to test myself out in all three characteristics.

It is to be the occasion of the annual big hot rod show at the Claremont showgrounds. A weekend affair, I will go on both days to see different things and to take different photos. I am delighted to be a guest of another car photographer who is a regular shooter for the car clubs…he invites me and it means a free entry at the door. I will also take advantage of the free public transport card that allows a senior to travel on bus and train. Since the photography can be done with the Fujifilm X cameras, there is no film or paper cost either. So far, so good, so cheap!

But the trap for old players is at about 1:00 or 2:00 in the afternoon when you get a bit hungry and wander over to the fast-food stand. The pavilion that houses the show has a contracted caterer there who serves hamburgers, chips, and nachos…no-one else is permitted to do so. there may be a coffee stand up, the other end, but they are bit players, and the caterer is sited near the only bar in the venue.

Needless to say, they clean up with all the hot rodders and their kids wanting to eat at once. Their prices, like their name, suggest the charge of a wounded bull.

Well, this year there will be no more bull. I am going to take my own lunch in my camera bag and buy a beer in the bar. There are plenty of tables to sit down at, and so far in this country you can still make your own sandwiches without government interference. I wish it were possible to do this in pubs as well, but I guess there is a limit to how cheap they will let you be.

It’ll be interesting to see if the days can be as nice as the one spent at the NSW hot rod show a month ago. All I need is a half a dozen new cars to see and it is all worthwhile.

Popped On Show


Pop would appear to have been spending the last ten years in worthwhile endeavour. The ten-year period is how long he has been engaged in building this Ford Anglia hot rod.


I encountered it yesterday on a trip to the local light-plane airport to take test shots for a camera review. A fortunate glimpse of his bright green car in the traffic lane a couple of hundred yards ahead led to a rather low-speed chase until he fetched up in a parking lot. To his credit, he was not at all nonplussed when I asked for permission to take pictures of the car. What a fortunate combination of opportunity and equipment!


It apparently was a rusty wreck a decade ago – he set the body aside and started to do research and restoration for the mechanicals. As you can see, there are quite a few well-known speed equipment names that have supplied different parts for the car. The combination of restored/bought/invented parts is one of the charms of hot rodding. No-one seems to make exactly the same decisions every time and the variety of goods used is amazing.


Well, the decade ground on and I daresay there were times when the project could have gone down several pathways. There are always going to be decisions forced on the builder by road rules and the necessity to have the thing approved by the engineers and the police. You are always going to see some form of wheel covers or fenders is WA as it is part of the road laws. You are always going to see efficient turn signals. You are always going to see hydraulic connections done well and brakes that stop and suspensions that suspend properly. I must say that sometimes you do not see things done as cleanly as you see here on POPPED, but then there are other rods that are deliberately presented in a grungy fashion. I am prejudiced toward the clean and neat look of this Anglia…as well as being prejudiced toward the colour.


“Why the colour?” I asked. Apparently it is a hue that is shared with his motorcycle. A brand colour for him, if you will. Plus it stands out in the rod show from the more common red or yellow. And it is a wonderful flash of colour in the white/grey/black mush of normal road traffic. Green cars show style and artistry and a driven by individuals…( Note to self: insert picture of my green Suzuki before publishing this…)


And a final note. We did not race through the back streets of Jandakot scattering pensioners and chickens. To start with there are no chickens…and in my experience the hot rodders that take their prized iron out on the road are the most conservative of drivers. Anyone who invests ten years of their life, $ 25,000 of their money, and every other knuckle joint they own is going to be very possessive of the final product. When the results are this good we can hardly blame them.


Please note the wonderful gentle lighting today. POPPED was at Gillam Drive last Sunday but the harsh contrast would have been murder on the colour pictures. We luck out some days…

PS: I knew I’d seen an Anglia somewhere before…Here’s POPPED at the Nostalgia Drags a couple of years ago.



The Smallest Car Agency In The World


That might be a bit of a misnomer. The post isn’t really about small agencies, but rather about small cars. Not as small as model cars, but small enough. The sorts of vehicles that children get to drive. Kiddy cars…but of the most elaborate kind.

This was prompted by another visit to the York car Museum. A year ago I went and tried a new camera and lens in the place – this time it was the same camera but a different lens – and a different photographic experiment. If you want to find out about that you’ll have to go over to my to read about it…

The cars themselves were the joy toys of children in the early part of last century. I was not sure of this, as there are any number of reproduction  and pedal cars made today – but the evidence of the lamps on the bonnets of many of them seems to put them back in history.



The first one seems the simplest, but the chain drive in it meant that the rider had a pretty good chance of getting up some speed. Later cars that adopted a push/pull set of pedals driving and eccentric crank may have been able to be produced more economically, but were never as easy to operate as a bicycle-style set of pedals. I was made acutely aware of this at 5 years old when a company representative from Caterpillar presented my Dad with a metal ride-in model dozer with working crawler tracks and a blade. My Dad was vice president of a construction company and in line for this sort of bribe.

Well it had the push/pull swing pedals – rather like the rudder pedals of an airplane. They worked, but the combination of the force needed to throw the crank over the centre and the friction in the crawler tracks made it all but impossible to operate for a little kid. I was always disappointed in it.


Our second candidate is much more streamlined, as befits a later model. It’s almost a Ford and has full running boards to prove it. The opening boot is a nice touch.


The third one is the prize of the lot, being far more detailed and painted with a distinct set of pinstripes as well. The petrol tank is probably functional, but what you would put in it is anyone’s guess. Perhaps acetylene gas for the carbide lamp…And there’s the intriguing thing about this and the little brown number at the start. The single lamps on top of the bonnets are functional and bolted on the cars, which argues that the children were allowed out to drive around the streets after dark. Perhaps they had an excess of kids and didn’t mind them occasionally disappearing under a coal lorry at twilight.


The motor bike is a puzzle – I am saying it was intended for kids to ride based upon the size, but that little air-cooled engine might be capable of propelling it far faster than a child could control. And again, a functional headlamp, so perhaps this got a run after dark as well.

My own experience with mini scooters was based upon my Dad getting two nose wheels from Firestone Tire in Akron as a present and building a bike round them. They were nearly ball-shaped, which was the whole point of the exercise. Power was a Briggs and Stratton lawnmower engine, and transmission was belt drive with a rider to snug the belt onto the pulleys.It worked…not well…but good enough to get me arrested by the RCMP and hauled back to my folks in back of the RCMP squad car. Never got into legal trouble for it, but I wasn’t allowed to ride it into town after that.

I can proudly say that I provided an electric motorbike for my daughter when she was a little kid, but we had a big enough brick back yard to allow it to be used there. They were a craze in the 80’s but as the batteries never lasted, neither did the bikes.

Cue Red Baron And Snoopy Jokes


Either they needed to get a new company name or design a different vehicle. I’m a little surprised that they did not realise this at the time.


Postwar Germany needed a lot of things: food, antibiotics, coal, less Russians, and some way of earning money. They also needed transportation – some way of getting from the cities that had been bombed flat by the British at night to the cities that had been bombed flat by the Americans in the daytime. And out into the countryside to do a little black marketeering of a weekend.


Who could they turn to? Who still had enough metal, machines, and unemployed fighter plane designers to oblige. Willy Messerschmitt. Out of gaol after only two years, ‘Ol Massa Willy started making sewing machines, prefab buildings, and these little Kabinenroller.


They worked, and seem to have lasted well enough to be seen on the show circuit and in museums nowadays. They are ingenious, and either stylish or naff, as you wish. There is a small motorcycle-sized engine in the back and three fat little tyres. A steering tiller and just enough instrumentation to give you that old Bf 109 feeling. That and the plexiglass canopy were what really riveted the eye and garnered the snide remarks.


One of these – the nice one – is outside and running around in Melbourne. The other resides in peace in the York Auto Museum. I would willing pay a C note for an afternoon on a deserted road trialling it out, but I would not for the life of me try driving it up a freeway in traffic. Not without the addition of a couple of 9mm machine guns and a ring sight.








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Well, that’s what they are.

I see ’em at all the hot rod events I go to. I have no understanding of them at all, but I respond to them as works of art. Sometimes the owners are works of art as well, but I’m not sure they want to be stared at.

As works of art they are infinitely more useful than public sculptures or abstract paintings – they can at least be ridden in some fashion. I have a private suspicion that many of the builders do not ride them, however, but reserve an old 250cc farm bike in the back of the carport for their normal jaunts. But what the heck, artists are artists and you have to expect anything…

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Morning In The Valley


The sky is blue

The sun has riz

I wonder where the hot rods is?

They is in the Swan Valley at the Cheese and Olive place – doing a charity show for pre-80’s iron. And they is doing a perty good job, too. Here’s a selection of the more colourful ones…and you need to remember that rust is also a colour…





Events in the valley attract a large turn-out on a Sunday as the place has any number of cheese, chocolate, wine, beer, food and coffee places attached to the farm properties along the Great Northern Highway. A fine day and a car or music event will see the roads packed and sometimes – as today – the amount of trade overwhelms the available parking space. The late comers find that they are just unable to join in. I’ve learned to read the advertisements and arrive an hour before the things open.


Today I was just that little bit late and found myself nabbing one of the last parking spots in between the sleeping grape vines. It’s a great place, the valley, but organisers need to put their heads together to see if they can overcome the logistics jam.

Nana x 8 = Batman


You’re speaking to a veteran here. Have some respect.

I saw the very first Adam West/Burt Ward television episode of Batman in January 1966 – sitting in the television room of Sage Dormitory at Wasatch Academy in Mount Pleasant, Utah. The room was packed with the senior boys at the start of the show. There was a metric tonne of junk food. By the end of the half hour there were three of us left. We watched religiously for the first season – in spite of the derision of the rest of the dorm.

” First In – Last Out”….a fine motto. I believe the Royal Engineers use it as well…


Well, there have been Batmen and Robins since then, and Catwomen and Jokers and such, but the defining characters were set in the 120 episodes of the TV series. This also clearly defined the Batmobile, Batplane, and Batcycle designs – all since then are mere imagination. I do pity the youngsters who have never seen West and Ward climbing sideways down a skyscraper…

But at least there is an abundance of Bat Accessories and Bat Models to please the crowd. Here’s the crop at the Super Model Car Sunday.


Be patient – my own studio shoots with Catwoman are in the planning, as I have secured the original 1966 Lincoln-derived Batmobile for my exclusive use. Catwoman has her Catsuit and we are just searching for a suitable set of cat ears and a mask. I doubt we will be able to find anyone with a set of muscles suitable to play Batman but I know I can scare up a Penguin and a Joker amongst my friends.


As soon as we get a new bulb for the Bat Signal we should be ready to go.

Will We See British Cars Again?

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Great Britain is set to consider their trade and political ties with the European Economic Community in a referendum or plebiscite in a short while. We have been tossing the question back and forth in our house about what they might get or give, grab or grieve over once the voting is done.

No great political wisdom here and no idea whether the British imagine that they can crank-start the Commonwealth/Empire again. I privately doubt it – the UK ended the thing as an economic cartel in 1973 and they have been out of the political empire game since 1964. The former members use the Commonwealth as an excuse to have their own Olympics in the interim of the real Olympics with the added advantage that they don’t have to try to beat the Russians or Americans at anything. But they all stopped trading in a cosy fashion as soon as China got enough economic power and the Arabs started to blackmail the rest of the world with oil and madmen.

We sat here gloomily trying to think of something that Britain could make and export that would put them on the top of an empire again and the only things we came out with were Eccles cakes and Changing the Guard. Or they could rent out the Royal Navy and RAF as regional thugs to various crucial states or small rulers. ” A Gunboat In Every Harbour ” seems a good slogan. The BAOR probably isn’t O the R any more these days and doesn’t really want to be, but they could still infest Africa or South America for a fee.

One thing I do hope for if the British decide to keep calm and carry on, is the revival of the large British car industry for small cars. Disregarding the current Mini, which is nice but really a BMW design, and the splendid excesses of Jaguar, Rolls, and Daimler, I really want to see the return of the workaday small sedan, hatch, shooting brake, or van. Particularly the van. Or the little two-seater sports car. And I want them to return in simple form – not bedizened with all the plastic must-haves of the Asian car. I’m a flat cap and rubber floor mat driver.

British cars still appeal to people who remember the older days. We would still buy them if offered. Look at what the British motorcycle industry can do with their classic marques – they sell all they can make. Time to try it with four wheels.

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.

The Quiet Chopper



I’m going to keep a promise to a chap I met this last Sunday at the Vintage Retro Markets. It was one of the nicest of these events I’d been to for ages and I found myself open to new sensations.




These bikes are one of them. The chap asked me to send them along to their Facebook, and I’ll try to do that as well, but here they are for the world to see as well.



Well, who’da think it. Chopper bicycles. As a chap raised on Schwinn and Raleigh and subject to daily doses of the Jefs on the road in the lycra shorts and expensive sunglasses, these come as a revelation. They actually look like fun – not just hard work.



Oh, there is hard work there all right. I don’t think these come out of cardboard boxes looking the way they do – I suspect there is a lot of design and engineering and then a lot of cutting, welding, grinding, re-welding, and swearing goes into these bikes. The builders have decided not to be governed by the latest in euro trends – any more than the hot rod builders are.



Hard work pedalling them too, I daresay. I don’t know, but I suspect that the geomertry that places the rider down low will change he way the muscles have to work to give the thing a go. My daughter has a lay-down bicycle that I get to try when I have been good and done my chores and promise not to bend it…and it is a strange sensation to be pushing forward rather than down. I’m also not too sure about the ape hangers as steering, but then I was never sure of them on the motorcycles. The reinforced silver bars look to be a good compromise.



I am also a little puzzled at the tandem with the dual frame, three wheels, and two cranks. One assumes that the senior commander is up the front steering but how does he keep the rear compartment pedalling and not coasting?


Never mind – I do have a favourite – the burgundy bike with the light coloured tyres. No idea who built it or how much it cost but it is a stylish beauty. Never mind the Mexican Chevrolets – this one is a REAL lowrider.