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 Naked Mexican

In case you are looking for girls, they are on the next page.

This one is about the Chevrolet coupe that I discovered in the car park at the Rosehill Racecourse during the 2107 NSW Hot Rod Show. It is a prime example of the advice never to leave too early and always look everywhere. It is the last car on my camera roll and I would not have missed it for a thousand Pesos.

Chopped, of course. Lowered, indeed. Shaved, but badly. This is a traditional custom/rod of the old Southern Californian border type. It rides low but does not do it by jacking the front suspension up. It is a bad man’s car, and knows it…

The decision to leave the scars and marks that this car has earned is deliberate – it is coated with something that preserves the metal…mostly…but lets us see the muscle underneath. The fading and graphics on the top are done because it is artistic. The boot lid is done because it is important to let people know with whom they are dealing.

There are no badges. This Chevrolet does not need esteenking badges…

Are you surprised at the interior? Do not be. It will become something different as time goes on. Do not expect knitted seatcovers, however – this is not that kind of car.

Is the radiator leaking? Is that water under the front grille?

No, it is blood. You would be wise not to notice it in future.



Flames In The Frame


Call me irresponsible, call me unreliable, throw in undependable too.

But I’m undeniably mad over flames.

Not, you understand, to the extent that I run around setting fire to paddocks. I mean flames on hot rods. They are such a part of the look, the style, the culture – they reward nearly any car that sports them. And I hesitate to say that about a couple other aspects of the genre…but more on that in a future post.


The first thing that drew me to this blue Chevrolet were the flames on the bonnet and fenders. Faded, lined, and accented, their warm tones complement the cool colour of the body perfectly. they break up what might otherwise be vast stretches of curved sheet metal and serve to introduce the car to the viewer as something more than just a restoration job.*


At the same time, this builder has been conservative enough ( …conservative flames…) to leave them on the bonnet and fenders and not extend them to the entire surface of the car. This can be done and I can think of one Victorian Shoebox Ford that is renowned for it, but you have to know where a curve fits.

Note to self: Must enquire if we see more pre-war Chevrolet  cars here in Australia as rods or as restorations? Do they have as many in North America? Logic says yes, but are the figures distributed evenly? Are they tougher restorations than similar-era Fords?


Well anyway, this is no trailer car – this one drives beautifully – that interior is everything that a man could want in a car, and the stylist has not fallen into the skull and decal trap. But that is another post…

  • Nothing wrong with a restoration – I also go to the Australia Day RACV car show in Melbourne and have a glorious time.


One Of These Cars Is Not Like The Others

Cottesloe car 14

And you can Sesame Street along with me as I play the game.

Cottesloe car 16

No-one in Australia drives a 50’s Chevrolet Corvette by accident. It is not the sort of vehicle that you pick up from the panel beaters as a courtesy car while your Hyundai is in getting a plastic bumper replaced. I have tried baiting my local panel beaters with any number of bumpers but all I get is a directions to the bus stop.

Cottesloe car 15

I don’t think that anyone got to drive one out of the Holden dealer’s showroom here in the 50’s, either. They may have been imported by the rich and entitled then, but most have been brought here recently by the rich and entitled. Or at least by the rich and enthusiastic – because you have to be an enthusiast to contemplate either maintaining one as LHD or ( gasp ) paying a fortune to have someone invent a dashboard to convert it to RHD.


Okay, that’s your clue and you can go straight to the answer. But as you say “Aha” consider looking at the clues that you see on the other cars. Of course you can see instantly that the ’57 Corvette has the 2 headlights instead of the 4 of the ’58 and ’59 model. And the white ’58 stands out from the red ’58…

Oakover Show 2014 31

But the red ’58 can bear some careful scrutiny. Can you see what is interesting about this car? Look closely.

Whiteman 2014 169

Remember, no-one drives a red ’58 Corvette by accident…

Whiteman 2014 171



Last Of The Two-Eye Chevys


I have a deep affection for 1957 Chevy sedans – it was our family car in Canada from ’57 to ’63. I am surprised at the short space of time that encompasses – 7 years – when I compare it to the length of time that I have kept my own cars here in Australia it seems piddling. I got 15 years out of the Ford Ute and it would have still been going if I had cared to root out the electrical bugs. 7 years is just getting started.

Yet…we went all over Canada, the US and Mexico in that ’57 Chevy and more or less wore it out at the time. I wish I could have been more attentive in those days as there are questions I cannot answer as to the engine or drive train that I’d like to know now. I do know that when you are a little kid you can sleep sideways on the back seat for hours on a long drive. And the car track is exactly 4 feet eight and a half inches. We found that out by lowering the tyre pressure and then straddling on the main rail line of the Canadian Pacific Railroad outside of Calgary and driving along with hands off the steering wheel at 60 miles an hour. It sounded smarter at the time than it does now, eh?


Well, 57’s are seen quite a lot at Perth and Melbourne shows. I guess there is enough of a trade in their parts to allow for extensive rebuilding or maintenance with authentic bits. Of course that should not really be a hindrance to the dedicated car person – they will find ashtray springs for 1943 Hupmobile ambulances if they really need them from somewhere. Still, it is nice to have a selection of good stuff.

Every time I see a ’57 I indulge myself with the whatif’s and mentally plan how I would change what I see. It’s not disrespect for the cars or the owners as such – it is just the inveterate tinkerer and designer in me. I’ll never have the dough nor the time to do it, but the mental exercise is nearly as much fun.

I don’t think I would go though the exercise, however, with this red two-door ’57. It seems too nice and too complete to need any more fiddling. The owner tells me that the engine is a standard small block – though we didn’t get to see it open, I’m willing to bet it looked nice.


He was able to open the passenger’s side door for me, however ( That is always a kind act, hint,hint…) and the interior is just as rewarding as the outside. There is a style and flair in there that you just cannot see in a modern black/grey/silver plastic sedan. 1957 lived larger than now.

I wonder if they would let me sleep on the back seat?

Tech note: Car is a little redder than that – the Fujifilm camera mode is Classic Chrome and it dulls the colour slightly. But it’s authentic to the look of 1957.




Drove My Chevy To The Levee…


Tread softly here, folks, for you are walking amongst my memories.

My Dad bought a 4-door Chevrolet sedan in 1957. We had just returned from a failed business venture in British Columbia and as part of the failure he surrendered our car to the company that bought the equipment from the business. I suspect that one to have been a green Buick but I am not entirely sure…I was interested in other things, and part of my mind may be blocking out some of the parts of that time. In any case when we got back to Calgary and my Dad recommenced work for his old firm, we got the Chevy.


I was unimpressed with the colour – black with a silver trim piece at the rear quarter. There was silver trim in the interior on the dash and the bench seats, but for the most part it was black. Unbeknownst to me at the time, my Dad opted for the largest and most powerful engine in the Chevrolet range at the time to be put in. This was to prove a good move in future years.

My part of the car was the back seat – shared with various dogs and bags of groceries. No seat belts at the time, but my Mother always made me sit well back all the time – no standing and gawking over the front seats. They must have trusted my 9-year old’s judgement – there were no child-proof locks for the rear doors. The wonderful thing about the rear seat of the ’57 was the width of it. Many trips started out at dawn as we travelled across the US and Canada and many times I was sleeping stretched out on that seat until morning tea.

The car was in our possession until 1964 – 7 years of hard work. It hauled work barges in Alberta, dredging parts in British Columbia, and the whole family as far east as Quebec and as far south as Mexico city. The dog set it on fire briefly in Red Deer but it survived. It also survived an earthquake and innumerable blizzards and when it was finally traded in on an International Harvester Scout in ’64 it was still not dented or burning oil. I WISH I HAD THAT CAR!

Well, I guess I do, in as far as I have seen its Australian kustom twin here at the Father’s Day hot rod show in Fremantle. Please look at the black ’57 4-door – the interior is RH drive and tuck-and-roll pleated upholstery, but the outside is pure 1957 McLeod Trail Motors in Calgary…or at least I like to think so.





Please also look at the wonderful stock job on the turquoise ’57 seen last year at the Malaga Super Model Car Sunday. The trim is flawless on this one – you can’t mistake the ’57 Chevy machine guns on the bonnet. I always liked to think of them as being a stylistic carryover from a Curtiss P-40. My own Flying Tiger.







This year also brought me a different and more sombre take on the car. You might wonder how much more sombre you could get than a black Bel Air but look at what has been done on the purple one. I can understand the concept here with the repainting of the chrome, and in some spots it seems to smooth out the lines, but part of me thinks that the restyling has gone wrong. I do like the bow ties on the side flash, but the same pattern on the dash looks kind of cheap. I would quietly re-edit the trim if it fell into my hands. Either re-chrome and display the heritage or go radical kustom and shave everything and french in the machine guns to make turn signals. And plush up the interior.

Note – the black 4-door never had a nickname or a fancy licence plate. We never thought it needed one.