The New Ride

Travis Corich, the genius at Pinhead Kustoms, has a new ride.

He confessed that he always has several in the stocks – we saw his other ute last year and now there is a new one to see. I belive it is a 1938 Chevy half ton pickup with additional strakes added to the roof of the cab. If I’m wrong Travis can write in and correct me.

As you can see it is still not carrying a front WA license so there may be more to be done – or perhaps it was just taken off for the show. As you can tell, however, the finish is the thing and as Travis is engaged in striping and painting for others, his vehicles act as rolling signboards.

The interior is well in keeping with the mild customizing of the exterior – no gaudy space-age decor. I do not see a radio or MP4 player – perhaps Travis does what I do when I drive – hums and whistles along to himself.


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…

Jail Bar Is Not The Same As Jail Bait

If you are old enough to know the difference between the two terms, you are old enough to appreciate the red Ford pickup truck at the VHRS show. If you have no idea, I believe there is a Pokemon hatching around the corner and you’ll want to take your iPhone and chase it…

Okay, now that the adults are alone, here’s a new addition to the car collection. Melbourne 2018. As sweet a Ford as any inside the Exhibition Buildings but parked out in the free section. But, as the appearance is so close to the stock 1940’s look, you’ll have to examine it carefully to see whether this is a hot rod or a not rod.

Look at the trim work. Seems to be all there. Including the rubber edging between front panels.

Look at the interior. The interior. The interior…Oh, for crying out loud, stop looking at the girl. You’re supposed to be older than that. No sign of an air conditioner or Bluetooth connection. A column shift…but is that column really Ford…?

Wheels. Okay, there’s four and they touch the ground. Very funny….but is that rear tyre diameter really stock? Or is it bigger and fatter? Is the ground stance really what a farmer in 1946 needed to get over the local rail lines? Or has it been lowered…?

Now the tail gate has to be stock. It’s obvious that this truck was used to haul manure and other nitrogenous wastes and that an adequate ventilation was needed – hence the Ford-standard louvred tailgate to vent off the chicken gas. Simple logic, really.

But here’s the dodgy bit, that makes me think the owner of this truck has been fiddling with the specs. The front end. The ” Drive Safely ” flying horse is a later addition…because Henry Ford never endorsed anyone else’s logo in his life. The club permit plate gives the game away. You don’t get them in Victoria unless you need them, and I suspect that somewhere on this wonderful pickup, the owner has substituted a modern part for a historic one. You only have to do this once, and you need to go over the pits, fill out the forms, fall on your knees in front of the departmental mechanic, and pay the required fee into general revenue. In short…

This is a hot rod. A resto-rod, if you will…a mild rod rather than a wild one, but fully entitled to sit proudly in the VHRS car park. If I had a million dollars and a million hours it could sit in my car port.



Buying The Dream

Going to a car show is a little like being a psychiatrist; you see crazy people hear a lot about their dreams. Or, perhaps that should be changed – you see a lot of dreams and hear about crazy people. Sometimes there are couches involved.

Whichever approach you take to it, a car show is also a commercial affair – even in the simplest open park affairs there will be someone selling something. Insurance, ice lollies, or Isotto – Fraschinis. Or in the case of hot rod shows; spare parts, wheels, black tee shirts, and paint jobs. And also, apparently, the hot rods themselves. And I don’t mean just the owners who have put a cardboard sign of whatever price ONO on their half-finished project – the WA hot rod show had some pretty complete items for sale.

The sellers that caught my eye were a commercial firm of automobile retailers who maintain showroom premises in  two suburbs. One of the showrooms is not too far from my home and has been an auto site since before 1964. It used to sell Morris, Austin, and Wolseley – then Saab and Volvo – and now is given over to exotic cars from all sorts of makers. I don’t know if there is a new-car agency in it or not, but considering the nature of the vehicles it offers, it hardly matters. This is all enthusiast big-money stuff.

I’m not qualified to talk about big money, as I do not have any. Very few of the people I know personally do either, though I have met some people through my former employment that might. Or then again they might not…I remember meeting a high-roller and high-spender in the 1970’s that proved to be financially and morally hollow. Best not to go back to those memories nor speculate about current people.

But I can sort of wonder about who the customer for the yellow Chevrolet pickup that you see in this post will be. It was a noticeable feature of the Xoticar display, and for good reason; it was darn near perfect. Maybe it was entirely perfect – I did not get to see it driven in or out. But from the look of the finish I am willing to give it the benefit of the doubt.

The pictures and the sales board tell you as much as anyone could about the car, but the real questions remain unanswered. Who built it? How much did they sell it to Xoticar for? What can they tell us about the bits inside that make it go? Why did they sell it to Xoticar?

More. Who is the target customer?  Are there target customers for turn-key rods and customs as much as there are turn-key customers for sports cars and any standard vehicles? Speaking as a turn-key driver of a small daily-driver hatchback I can see where that is a perfectly valid model for normal transport, but I always associated rods and customs with people who built their own.

More, still – I associate rods and customs with people who design their own as well as build them. Tastes can be as variable as the wind, and the idea of buying someone else’s taste – or dream – seems strange. What if they did not do it the way you wanted? Would you have the courage to break it down again and build it differently? Or would that be like overpainting a picture in an art gallery?

And who has $ 94,888.00 dollars to play cheque book hot rodder? I’m a bit cynical about the 888 in the price because I live next door to Leeming and Winthrop, and the doors of my hatchback show it…but have my neighbours taken to rodding?

Will we see a flurry of moon disks and lakes pipes on the BMW and Mercedes? I tremble to think.

You Can Make A Hot Rod Out Of Anything

When you read the title of this column, you might think that I’m being snitty to the builders of hot rods. Or that I’m being elitist. Far from it – I say exactly what I mean and I mean it as a compliment. The people who have opportunities to go outside of the mainstream…and take those opportunities…are the ones I especially treasure.

I see it here in the west occasionally – builders select a classic Japanese or British car and re-think it in the same vein that the American rodders would. In most cases it is awesome, and fully rewards all the work that its put in. And the work seems to be even harder than it might be for Ford or Chevrolet  builder – fewer re-made parts are seen and a much smaller stock of historical parts is available. There’s a lot of parallel thinking for the out-of-stream rodder.

This is a preamble to viewing the powder blue International pickup at the NSW rod show. Every part of it looks like it presented a challenge – not the least of which was the tilting bed. The classic lines of the cab have also been wisely preserved – it is a mini-truck and has been left to look like a mini truck. The complexities under the bed aft of the passenger compartment are what they are – the builder chose to go this route and at least we were spared hearing the bad language as he worked his way through them.

 And what do you think about the chromed rack that holds the bonnet halves up to display the engine…is that clever or what? I’m usually a fan of closed side panels but these look so professional that I love them.

I guess the crowning bit of pride is the radiator surround – so very different from the average run of repro or fibreglass Ford shells. It immediately tells us that we are seeing a one-off.


Googling The Monster – The Work Rod


Going to car shows is all very well and taking pictures is all very well, but what do you do if you come home with a find that you can’t identify? If you’re lucky it will be a registered entry and you can harvest information from the show placard – if it is just an interesting vehicle in the car lot with no owner about, you are on your own.

Thank goodness for Google. I puzzled for a long time about the basis for this pickup – I knew the rear wheel guards were a modern product because I have seen that chamfered profile before on tray-tops. And the bed and box might be just anything. But the basis – the cab shell – was the sticking point.


I ran through Dodge, Ford, and Chevy with no real hope – I know their shapes intimately. I tried to convince myself that it was Studebaker, but pictures proved otherwise. I knew there were no Olds, Buick, or Cadillac pickups…and Mercury was Ford-shaped anyway. Then I remembered that we once owned an International Harvester Scout…


Sure enough – mid-fifties International 1/2 ton pickup. I’ve found examples in the US from 1954 to 1956 with that distinctive little chromed side vent on the edge of the bonnet. All the rest of the build may indeed be a Frankenstein’s monster, but at least I know the main source.


I like it, and I think the owner has done an interesting job of it. I particularly like the choice of the black and green scheme for cabin top and interior but probably not for the same reasons that the builder does. You see this scheme always echoes the Euclid earthmoving scrapers, trucks, and belly-dumps that I was familiar with in my youth. Of course they generally were covered in dirt as well as scratches. Most of them had fewer skulls attached to them as well…

Aw, that is just being fussy. This International has more chrome on it than the originals but that is hot rod style. The basic shape of the pickup was excellent and rewarded nearly any of the factory paint schemes of the time with no chrome at all. And they could look good as stock highboys, too.

I think rat rod is too harsh a word for it – let me propose a new one….work rod.

The Dude-ranch Cowboy – The Dude Ranch Car


When I was a kid there were dude-ranches in Canada and the US…and they did a pretty good business. They were the brainchild of ranchers who found raising cattle or horses or sheep or gophers did not pay enough – they needed extra income. As they had large ranch buildings that could accommodate far more cowboys than they needed, they were in a position to cash in on the glamour and legend of western life. All they needed to do was get fresh Mexican blankets for the furniture and find a cook who could make edible food and they could open a dude-ranch.

They advertised for local rubes who could teach eastern city slickers enough riding to get them up on a horse at the start of the day and down off it at the end. They advertised for eastern city slickers who imagined that it would be fun. The cowboy movies and pictures of Dale Evans helped a lot – business boomed. It may still be booming, for all I know.

I am not sure if it ever did so here in Australia. Dude-stations might have some appeal but some of the locales in the bush are pretty primitive and some of the locals even more so. Even bush pubs can be a trial for the nerves and digestion…fun is only delivered at specified times of the year and if you are not there then you miss out.


Likewise, the business of the vehicle for the dude ranch. In North America they might have been wooden-sided passenger cars or quasi -working variations on standard items, but when they were designed it looked as though neither the manufacturers or the buyers really had any confidence in what they were buying. The Ford Ranchero and the Chevy El Camino were real, but no-one thought of them in the same way as they thought of pickup trucks. As a result, far fewer of them were really seen out on the prairies – their appearance in restoration and rodding shows notwithstanding.

Here in Australia it was the other way about. The ute was the bush variant of the passenger sedan and the country took to the idea immediately – far more utes circulate than ever do pickups. I suspect that Australians have more confidence in the ability of the ute to actually haul stuff in rough conditions than do their North American cousins. Maybe Australian utes are just built tougher – a step between the ranch wagon and the pickup.


All to introduce the subject of this post – this fine example of a Jeep ute/truck/4wd/show pony seen at the Rods ‘n Rust show. It is dedicated to a horse riding firm and this would seem to be absolutely right for the shape and condition. I love the chrome bolts and in this context they are perfect bling. I did not see the driver on the day, but I was hoping they would have an Akubra, if not a Stetson, and I would even have been willing to accept a cowboy shirt and bolo tie…