A Plea From The Car Photographers To The Clubs


When you are planning your next car show, could you please park them a little further apart?

We are thrilled to bits that you will be bringing your vintage-veteran-hot rod-street car-sports car-truck-bus-tank to the park-stadium-exhibition hall-mudflat behind the asbestos works. We don’t mind paying at the door-gate-edge of the car park for the privilege of seeing your prize machines and we want to make great pictures of them.

mel2014 642

We promise not to stand on the running boards like the punters do, and poke the dashboards like the punters do, and scratch the duco like the punters do. We will be respectful.


We will be utterly patient as the tag-teams of lurching punters slowly walk in front of the cars and progressively block the view…never allowing a clear sight of the edges of the cars. We are trained to stand still in one spot until the exact quarter of a second when the mob clears. We are frequently consulted by still hunters and snipers about how to remain motionless. Ninjas envy us.

Italian 99

But we need a helping hand. If the cars are parked too close together we won’t be able to do them justice. We’ll have to use extremely short focal length lenses and the cars will look distorted as hell. Of course if they are Italian supercars no-one will be able to tell, but the regular British and French sedans will look odd and it will be a dead giveaway.

Oakover Winery 2015 78

Likewise, if you park them with their back to the sun, most of the exposures will look too dark – we’ll end up trying to light the front of the car with a reflector or a fill flash and it will look most unnatural. Again the Flopatelli Snazolla III Supraeformaggio won’t suffer too badly, unless it is the open Monza version with the folding wings. And they look bad in ANY light.


We do appreciate the trust and kindness the drivers show by leaving the passenger’s side window down – the interior shots will be so much better – but if you can’t manage that, it’ll be all right anyway. We can boost the shutter speed to 1/180 second, stop down to f:16, and fire a fill flash up at the headliner from the quarter window position while the camera looks in through the side. It’ll be a little dirty but not too bad. If you leave empty beer cans and dirty novels on the front seat that is your affair.

Gillam Drive 2014 255

In exchange for these small changes we promise to take good pictures of the way your cars look. We will photoshop out the rust holes – unless you are driving a rat rod, in which case we will photoshop more in for free. We will draw a discreet curtain over the state of the interior floor.



Let Me Show You My Insides



No, really – come back! I’ve just been to the Hot Rod And Street Machine Spectacular and the crowds weren’t too bad. A few minutes hacking away in front of the Oldsmobiles with a machete and you could get an unobstructed view of the whole car.



I’ve compiled a little visual game for you – I want you to match the exterior to the interior for the following cars. They are as different as they can be, and actually express their genre very well. If some of them look like the ruins of Berlin from the air, you have to understand that this is a valid form of the hot rodding art. It doesn’t reflect any less dedication and indeed I suspect that in some cases it does not reflect any less expense. There is some very costly patina out there.



Complexity is not a criterion either – some of the smoothest customs and rods have the least gauges. There may be other ways that driving information is presented to the operator – I’m thinking discrete idiot lights that are more carefully attuned than Detroit supplied. Perhaps some of the drivers can hear engine revs and clutch sounds accurately – I know that those of us who learned to drive in the late 50’s certainly could. We had no tachometers to peep at – just the feel of the clutch and the sound of the engine. And if you could double de-clutch an International truck down a long hill you were bidding fair to cope with just about everything else.



Is one seat better than another? You’ll know after a day in it. If you ever travelled the Nullarbor in the pre-sealed days you will have an acute appreciation of the upholsterer’s design skills. Either that or a bum that is so broken that it can predict the coming of wet weather…My vote for the best small car seats were the front set on the Renault 10 – pure overstuffed luxury. My vote for the worst was the 1966 VW beetle fronts – they created an chronic ache in the pelvis, not unlike that engendered by the federal treasurer.



Of course sometimes the interior designers were not so much designing as plotting – the inclusion of plush seats, velour, and sueded finishes was made in defiance of the fact that Americans, Canadians, and Australians eat things in their cars – things that spurt and drip. They drink liquids that spill. Any seat that can be soiled,will be, and some of them can be brought to a state that would gag a buzzard. Never mind the fake walnut trim or the chrome accents – if the seat itself looks like the wreck of the LEXINGTON no-one wants to sit on it. And just trying to be clever by making it brown plush ( ” That’ll disguise the Flake chocolate bar stains, Sam…) means nothing in a drive-thru world of mustard and mayonnaise.



Ah, but I am keeping you from your game – match them up and send the results to this blog. There is no prize but it will make you more observant when next out at the car shows.


Hints And Tips At the Car Show


Or – How To Have A Good Time At The Asylum.

1. Go early. Go before the mums and dads have been able to organise themselves and their children. This tip is brought to you by John Harney who should know because he is covered in car show scars.

2. Go with everything that you are going to need in one pack. Don’t go back out to the car because the business of finding out which entrance is out and which exit is in will tax the patience of the door staff.

3. You do not need all that much. Avoid taking the canvas deck chair and the pizza cooling trays.

4. Wear comfy clothes. It is a car show – no need to dress up. Dress down. You have NO idea how far down you could dress and get away with it. Make sure you and your shoes are good friends – not new acquaintances.

5. Bring money. I know you said you are not going to spend anything but I don’t believe you and you don’t believe you.

6. Don’t bring big money. You may persuade yourself to surrender it for a ’51 Mercury coupe that ” just needs to be finished off “. The phrase ” finish off ” also applies to bank accounts, marriages, and the owners of ’51 Mercury coupes. If you see the seller wiping sweat from their brow and giving everyone the high five you will know that you have made a bad decision.

7. Bring lunch in a back pack. Catering at car shows generates enough income to buy a house in Sydney or the affections of the federal treasurer. If you cannot make a sandwich for under $ 12 at home, you deserve to go hungry.

8. If you are taking pictures, you can use a flash, but be careful about using a tripod. Reserve it for places and times that have few other visitors – not that you are going to be an inconvenience to them, but the general public can be cow-like to an incredible degree. They have two gaits – stagger and lurch – and would fall into a fire if you let them.

9. The car show girls are going to have a long day of it. Be nice to them. They are attractive ladies and have dressed up to make the experience fun and glamorous for all. Plus if you annoy them they will kick you hard and some of those shoes have wicked heels.

10. Never tell an owner that his car is the ugliest vehicle that you have ever seen. If it is a show car he will be insanely angry at you. Worse, if it is a rat rod he will be delighted and follow you everywhere.

11. It might be, or it mightn’t be, but you are not licensed to bonk it with your fist to find out. If you can’t tell if it is fake, it is a damned good fake and deserves to be left alone. If in doubt watch it when they start it up for the drive-off.

12. Yes, those wheels really do cost that much. Makes your old rims look good. At least you own them.

13. Never pass up a chance to pee – this hint is brought to you by HM King George V. Really…

14. Rome was not built in a day and neither was anything else that rolled into the show. These vehicles are years of work for some. If you are jealous of them, consider what other things you did in the last 5 years. If is still seems like a good hobby, think what you want to do for the next 5 years. If it still seems a good idea, go buy yourself some books and start to plan…

15. Go look at the knuckles of the car builders and mechanics. Yes, yours will look like that in 5 years. For exactly the same reasons.

16. Don’t be put off by the false barriers people put up to define hot rods or street cars or customs – there is a vehicle somewhere that is just perfect for you. It might be as close as a shave job and coat of paint or as far away as a sand-cast engine block and a flat file, but there is one for you. If your car is gonna be simple, be glad – make it happen and drive it EVERYwhere and be happy. If your car is five years of cold garages and welding burns and trying to find the last part then be glad that the journey is hard – your car will be unique in the world. So little else in our lives approaches that. When you are driving it you will be THE man.

17. You can spend just as much for parts that are sort of right as you can for parts that are nearly right. And that is the same amount of money as parts that are exactly right. Wanna spend once, twice, or three times?

18. If she brings tea out to the shed on a cold night, buys you a steering box link, and lets you go to Knuckleup for the annual rod day, you are the luckiest man in the world. Don’t press your luck. Turn down the ’51 Mercury coupe.

19. If you DO buy that damned coupe, finish it well. And paint it in a colour she picks. And shut up about it.

20. If you try to get away with it by saying it is her car be warned that some day she will take you at your word.

Getting Less For Your Money and Loving It

Victorian Hot Rod 2015 291

It is difficult to sell the idea of minimal living isn some markets – and particularly for some products. This is borne home to me each day in our camera shop and even more on the roads as I drive to work and home again.

I am surprised at this – as I am a a fan of the Bauhaus designs and the minimalist styles of the great Scandinavian furniture designers. Not, I hasten to add, the IKEA people – the more artistic of their forebears.

I can appreciate the house styles of the 50’s and 60’s – and some of the motor car designs of the times. and I wish fervently that they could be preserved for our own use.

Consider – I purchased a small French motor car in 1966. It had a small 1100 cc engine, four wheel independent suspension, 4 wheel disc brakes, and the best seats in any car I have ever driven. More was not needed – more would have been excessive. It had rubber floor mats, a small AM radio, and no air conditioning. I’ll grant you the comfort of the last named in today’s world, but the other two can stand. None of us need 16 channels of pumping bass to go to the shops nor do we need unborn-Persian kitten wool deep shag carpet or leather seats . Not if we live in the real world.

Nor do we need to go 150 km/hr, even if we are rushing to our mistresses in Margaret River – mistresses can wait. We do not need to rush to them in 20 tonne SUV concoctions – there are paved roads all the way. We do not need metallic gold/bronze black $ 4000 paint jobs either – plain light colours will do the trick and not need two surgeons and the Master of the Royal Academy to retouch stone chips.

A light on the front in the daytime may make us safer, but it need only by one light – not an LED sneer or cartoon eyeballs glaring at the rest of the world.

Spoiler? Generally it does – leave it off. Large exhausts? With 1100-1600 cc you don’t need  the tailpipe of a MiG 23.

You can suit yourself if you put a stick family on the rear window – they are cheap enough and harmless enough – even if they do raise the ire of the judgemental. Likewise “Save The Whatever ” stickers. Save away. As long as the stickers are not obscuring forward vision you can make your self as visible and risible as you like. Even the Bundy stickers have a purpose – they enable the cops to see who to target in the pub car park.

In short. Drive less, drive smaller, drive cheaper, drive slower and drive quieter. Drive more carefully, and drive better for it.



Light Green And Not Mean


Hot Summ 15 168

If you are indifferent about Oldsmobiles you can go away – just go away. This blog will do you no good at all.

Hot Summ 15 169

The rest of us can thoroughly enjoy ourselves with the 50’s beauty that was lurking under the trees at the Hot Summer Night 2015 car show. The afternoon of the show was balmy, and the night promised to be equally so. How perfect for this roadster – a car modified to provide pure pleasure in fine weather.


Now 50’s Olds are slick machines even in stock form – see the maroon Rocket 88 in the studio shot. But like all 50’s GM products there were styling touches that amounted to extra bumps and protrubances. Chrome was possible and chrome was supplied. Under all the trim, though, were those airplane lines…

Hot Summ 15 167

Lose the top. Just lose it. Screw your courage to the sticking point and get out the cutting torch and hacksaw and chisel and just lose the top. And now you have…a body that sags. Okay – reinforce the frame and carry on.

Hot Summ 15 1

Strip off the chrome – but don’t touch the magic Olds headlight bezels. Wipe the nose, clean the grille, chop the windscreen.

Hot Summ 15 173

Shave the doors, wipe the bum, upholster the interior, and find a wheel that just says CLASS!.

Hot Summ 15 171

Wheels and tyres? Hard decision. Moons? Too plain, too period. Caddy spinners? Too busy. Busy? Bussy? Bus-like? Hmmmm. I wonder if there are some chrome wheels that have a semi-industrial look and a semi-race look to offset the smooth lines of the Olds?

Hot Summ 15 174

Colour? Clean and clear. Light blue, light green or light orange. They all work with a white interior. No striping, please – we’re going for aeroplane looks here. Expensive aeroplane.

Final note. Wipe your feet before getting in this roadster. Wear clean chinos. No thongs. No KFC boxes on the upholstery.