When Someone Says ” Why The Hell Not? “

You end up with The Prospector.

You may have read magazine articles and books that said Australians are perfectly normal, everyday people, just like the rest of the world. Those magazines and books were lying. The Prospector was not made by, or for, normal people. It did not come off the design board of a major European car maker. It is not eco-friendly. It does not come in silver or beige and you cannot pick the children up from private school in it.

It also does not comply with the laws governing noise emission, smoke emission, or any form of occupational heath or safety. Indeed, the OH&S inspector hides behind the sofa and won’t answer the doorbell when someone comes to talk to him about The Prospector.

Some may question the utility of this form of transport in the metro area – well The Prospector comes from the Goldfields and they have enough utility out there to last for decades – they need a little play sometimes. Hence the truck drags. It makes a nice change from the drinking, gambling, and vice that occupies the rest of the week. And that’s just in the diocese – it gets worse out in the secular world…

Don’t get the wrong impression. The Goldfields is a wonderful district but you have to adapt yourself to the expectations of life out there. Many of us city people see it as tourists but fail to appreciate the real culture of the place – The Prospector brings a little of it down to us at the coast.

Note: The engine that you see slung between the rails at the back with the enormous exhaust and other piping is just for show – the real motor is a 1954 four-cylinder Austin behind the louvres of the yellow bonnet. They like to keep it hidden in case the opposition see it and take fright.

 

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Blue Dreams

I am a fan of blue cars ever since my first one -a Renault 10 in light grey-blue in the late 60’s. It seemed to be the epitome of style and grace…in a small car. Since then I’ve owned other colours, but always looked keenly to see if whatever I wanted to drive could be had in blue.

This my attraction to this Chevrolet pickup a this year’s VHRS in Melbourne. It was on the inside, which means thee lighting was mixed – and I would have liked to see it out in the sun – but that doesn’t lessen the admiration for the paint job.

A restrained vehicle like this one is perfect for the dignity of the blue. I must admit that from the other side of thee floor I thought I was seeing a restored historical car rather than a rod. Closer inspection showed the lowering, rh shaving, and the other touches that have made this look so good. I love the whitewall and beauty ring treatment, but then I would love that on my little car if I could do it.

 There is a terrible temptation with something as nice as this – that is also a practical vehicle. The temptation would be to make a daily driver out of it and take it down to Bunnings and load the bed with MDF board and kegs of nails. And then where would the superb finish be?

Perhaps the best solution to this would be to make two cars the same – one for show and one for go. Yes, that’s the answer. Now all we need is Lotto to supply the question…

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.

A Personal View Of Gillam Drive

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Ahh…Gillam Drive. That annual three hours of sweaty torture that we love to undergo. Armadale at its kindest ( Note for overseas readers: ” Armadale’s Finest ” is also phrase in Perth’s vocabulary but that is dark humour…). Gillam Drive makes up for that as it is fun, safe, and exciting. That’s the thing about the rodding scene – it is all three things rolled up in one.

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Well, this year there were two or three…or more…appearances by cars that are not generally considered to be hot rods or customs. ( May we shelve the word ” Kustom ” at this point? It has always seemed an artificial sort of thing like ” kewl ” or ” far out “. Let’s just push it behind the shed and get on. Let’s face it – if ” Rod And Custom ” was good enough for the 20th century it is good enough for the 21st.)

Where was I?

The cars. Right. I look at everything at a car show. I might bite my lip but I do see the cars. And here is the important point – they all have a right to be there. It doesn’t matter whether they are dodgy old ricketybits that have been trailered in to sag in the shade or red hot mechanical hormonal storms that sit there and seethe…they are all interesting and they are all valid artistic expressions.

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The veteran cars that sit there and gasp are a canvas from the past – they are the cutting edge of a technology of fifty or a hundred years ago. Look carefully at them and you see some remarkable thinking from designers and mechanics who had no-one to tell them that they couldn’t do it that way. They were far luckier then as they did not have layers of jobsworth legal/engineering position fillers to stop them from thinking. They might have thought wrong but they did think.

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 The sports cars were an expression of the desire to be fast and sexy in a world that was becoming slow and sexless. You are not generally allowed to walk down the street with your privy parts on display…but you can drive by in a Triumph Stag and suggest that you are a member of the swinging upper class. With a bit of luck you will attract a bird.

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A one-off excessively modified-in-the-factory specialist sports/luxury/we have no idea what we are doing but look at the size of the tyres and engine oh dear god give us money sports car is also quite legitimate. If the owner of this De Tomaso had not rescued it we would never have had an idea that such a thing exists. It is magnificent in its own way. We wish it well, and welcome its appearance at any future event.

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And here is the kicker. Gillam Drive has shown that it is not all just ’32 rods and HQ Holdens. It has opened its driveways to vehicles of all sorts. It points the way forward for the WA car scene. Automotive shows need not be exclusive, and would be far better for not being so. I admit that an entire all-encompassing  car show would probably not be possible…there are too many devices on wheels out there to get them all into one venue at one time. ( Unless it is Leach Highway at 2:00 on a hot Wednesday and then every car in the state is lined up along the stretch in front of Bull Creek Drive. I know. I try to get onto Leach Highway at Bull Creek Drive. Join me some Wednesday and I will teach you new words…).

Let’s mix and match, guys and gals. Lets have an eclectic car show with old, new, hot, cold, sport, staid, and everything in between. Let’s have a show where the rice rocket can sit side by side with the steamer – the rod with the rootmobile. If we get in the food trucks and the mobile cocktail bar it will all work out well.

 

Industrial Relics

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Well, it’s not like I discovered the lost Powerhouse Of Machu Pichu…all I did was find an old iron turntable in a back lane of Perth. But I still reckon it is a find.

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The lane runs off Queen Street and serves a set of old buildings on Murray Street. I reckon they must have been large stores at one stage of the game that received wagons or lorries full of goods. The lane was probably considered too narrow to turn a wagon in so they installed a flat-bed iron turntable in a concrete well. It was made a close fit to the well to prevent hooves or wheels from going down the crack.

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At some stage of the game they must have decided to bolt it shut – probably to prevent someone going arse over on it in a modern car and sueing the lessees.

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From the bolt pattern  I think there is a 5-point framework under the iron plates – it would have been designed to take a fair tonnage – and it probably has a centre pintle.

I just itch to go down there, unbolt it, and see what happens when you spin it… The black car you see in the picture had to exit the lane but did so by reversing to the street using its rear-mounted video camera. Cheating.

Note: Ledger turns up as a name associated with the railways and East Perth power station in the early 1900’s so it is a local engineering job.

 

Heavy Harry

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I used to avoid cars at the shows that were obviously unfinished – it was not snobbery so much as not wanting to look when they weren’t quite dressed…I was sympathetic to someone who desperately wanted to show their build but just hadn’t gotten enough time or money to finish for the opening date. Now I have been to enough shows to realise that there are some vehicles that are just never going to be complete – so I might as well love ’em when I see ’em…

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Here’s a January 2016 view of a Ford F600 – a seriously large small truck on a tray-top chassis. It is obviously a work in progress and I hope that it does go further – and that the builder has the chance to bring it back to Melbourne in the future as a finished deal.

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The idea of a truck-rod is not new – ever since the Model T/A small-bed pickups were made people have been using them and eventually relinquishing them to hot rodders for the glamour treatment. Bigger cabs, though, are not as common. Big modern cabs the least common of all. I wonder if the price of them means that they are used far longer in their commercial life before falling into the enthusiast’s hands?  Then again, the extra weight and size means you need to be dedicated to want to take the art of work and make it into a work of art.

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That’s a big cab. It would be a great ride for someone who themselves were larger – as many truck drivers seem to be. The seats are big. The dash is not overcrowded with instruments either, so there should be plenty of space for a bigger stereo and some air conditioning.

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In the back, apart from the box that crowds out the front of the tray, all is pretty plain. If you had the full tray you could stack some pretty heavy goods out there – I’ll bet the owner dreads it when his mates move house because guess who gets the first phone call…Maybe that is why it has the red warning plate.

Road Signs

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I like those memes that have silly road signs from around the world – the ones with warnings about falling moose or rising damp. I look out for them constantly here in Perth but rarely see any that Facebook-worthy.

I discount spelinge errors – these can happen to the beast of us, as can auto-corrects that make a finely-tuned literary work look like a Macedonian milk-note. I actually have an affectionate memory for a Polish butcher shop that had a carefully hand-lettered sign that advertised ” smollgoods “. The fact that it did so for over 20 years is a testimony to something – probably the nervousness that people feel telling a man with a butcher knife that he is a bad speller…

Whenever I go out now, I try to take a small digital camera to record the scene. Someone said it was illegal to shoot pictures with two hands while you are simultaneously steering the car with two hands, and shifting the gears and operating the turn signal with two hands. I wasn’t so sure about this so I went and asked at the local Hindu temple. They referred me to higher authorities who said they could see no problem with it.

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So I snap away. The concrete truck that I followed seemed to have enough signs for everyone. I took to reading them until I got frightened. They warn against drinking water or dying, or putting your hands anywhere. There are signs that look like bombs falling and signs that say they can’t see you. I think that there were probably fewer signs at Chernobyl, because it was safer than driving a concrete truck.

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Nearby was someone driving by in their dental car. Normally you think of dentists as needing chairs and drills and needles to practise their profession, but these aren’t really something that you need a car for. Perhaps it was rushing emergency supplies somewhere – cotton wool rolls, or old magazines, or rifle ammunition…At least it gave the dentist a chance to advertise that you could have 12 solid hours of treatment every day – though 7:30 at night is probably not the time to go in for a scale and clean if they didn’t get a lunch break…

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Of course what would a road be without a political statement. And the roads in North Perth are as political as they get. They are echoed by Fremantle but I don’t go there because I have not had my booster shots.

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Here’s a sign that the 100-year old railway bridge underpass was built for carts and horses…

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And another sign that the black car driver is a fool – the white Toyota was parked there hours before him.

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And the sign at the top of the page? A sign that someone has been overseas and thinks it’s a good idea to import this trick here. And a sign that there are not enough cop cars on the road in the middle of the day.