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.

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Shoe Two – The Ford That Makes Me Nervous

I get it. I really do. I was puzzled at first but I’ve seen enough now to say that I do get it. But it makes me nervous.

The rat thing. The Baxter Basics movement in the hot rod world that thinks it remembers what rodding was like in the late 1940’s and wants to suggest that it is bad to the bone. And who am I to say they are not…?

 I am a spectator – a photographer and gawker at the hot rod shows. I can be amazed and amused and no harm comes of either experience. The rodding enthusiasts and custom builders are marvellous artists as far as I am concerned and I applaud nearly all I see. I know that I could never display a hundredth part of the car-building skills that they show.

But I am also not a police motor vehicle inspector or a patrolman on the roads. And the fact that I admire the rodders and ratters counts for nothing, if one of these officials takes a dislike to a car or driver.

I’m not accusing the police of bad behaviour. They may be executing their duty in a perfect manner. But sometimes there are temptations placed in front of them that would be nearly impossible to resist. It must be a very finely run thing for them to look at a vehicle on the road and make a snap decision about whether it should be driven over the pits…or into one.

The artistry of the rat is a very strange mixture of dilapidation and deliberate provocation. Some of the local cars in this style seem to be works of low-brow art – so much so that you wonder if they have not been made as a parody of themselves. Others, like this NSW shoebox Ford – have a genuine air about them. The authenticity is the thing that would trigger the vehicle squad…and I would be afraid that if they ever started in on this car they might not let it escape their clutches.

 Like every car, it is a work in progress – heck, my standard suburban sedan is that, as is every car on the road. But mine would be less likely to get a sticker on the windscreen as it does not advertise itself.

Well, I hope it all comes out well in the end. If there is a gleaming 16 cylinder Hispano-Suiza engine and a racing car chassis under the Ford skin, all might still be well at the Vehicle Inspection Centre. I didn’t see under the bonnet, so, like the US Navy and nuclear bombs, I can neither confirm nor deny. Let’s just hope the NSW cops do not fiddle with the fuse.

Googling The Monster – The Work Rod

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

It Takes A While To Digest A Fat Rat

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This vehicle appeared in this year’s Hot Rod and Street Car show but I have just now gotten around to considering it. It takes a deal of looking.

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I can recognise the basic cab as one derived from a Holden – the sharp bulge shape of the belt line confirms that. After that it is an entirely different thing. Overseas readers may be tempted to think that all Australia cars are made by the same people who produced Mad Max…this is not generally the case. There are milder versions. The small sedans that the local Sisters Of Mercy drive for their convent work do not have machine guns, though they do have scythes on the hubcaps. They’re not THAT merciful, you understand…

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I will leave it to the eye of the beholder to discover the beauties of the car. Likewise to discern exactly what has been used where in the build. The quick will see the silver fern on the radiator cowl and understand that a person from New Zealand has built it. That would also account for the rat-cage headlight housings, air cleaner, and tail gate.

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I suspect it is a work in progress and will re-appear with additional embellishments in the future. Whether they include licence plates is uncertain yet, but the vehicle inspectors are brave and stalwart men and you never can tell.

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The Tribute Car

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I wrote several years ago about tribute cars that are made by hot rod enthusiasts to duplicate famous vehicles from movies. I’ve seen Mad Max cars here at Gillam Road and the local version of General Lee 01 at Baldivis South. I even think I saw a Knight Rider car once, but the memory of both the show and the car are hazy.

I daresay we will see a Blues Brothers car, a Ghostbusters ambulance, and any number of local depictions of cars from television shows. I probably won’t recognise them  – TV is a vast mystery to me these days. In any case it is all a bit of fun, a good exercise in observation on the part of the builders, and in some cases works of art. Heck, Barris made a Batmobile from a Lincoln and that was a lot of fun.

The other type of tribute car seems a little more…well I’m not really sure what it is. I see it every now and then at various car shows. It is a hot rod or custom car that has all the characteristics of the genre – whether it be a ’32 Ford type or a low rider or a rat rod. If you saw it with a plain  hot rod paint job it would be what it was – a personal car made by a skilled enthusiast and proudly displayed. But the addition of a graphic converts it into something else. And I can’t really be certain what that is.

In any case, here are a number of vehicles seen through the years – the latest one at the Rods n’ Rust event in the Swan Valley. The only thing I can be certain about all these is that they are probably never on-sold by the builders. They mean too much.

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This Al Ain’t Big Enough Fer The Both of Us…

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Well, actually it was – the Big Al’s Poker Run this year stepped across the road from the previous venue to a bigger park, and quite a few new – to me – vehicles sat under trees and out in the sun. There was more space to set out the lines. Of course, it was not organised – there was a different sort car in each space, but that is the charm of the thing.

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I wandered around until I made my self dizzy with joy and dehyydration and photographed the ones that took my fancy. Amongst the Cadillacs seen earlier – and the few others seen in posts about British rods – was the featured car today. I can’t exactly classify it, but I don’t think this makes any difference to the enjoyment. I should not like to have to ride it out 400 miles on a hot day to the goldfields, nor yet to Albany in the middle of a rainstorm, but around the suburbs on mild summer evening…

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Mind you, it does remind me of  the English ” shooting brake “. I know they meant something different, but then they didn’t have to cope with rabbits, foxes, and ‘roos in the top paddock.  I should want a padded cage on the back with some mounting rail for the spotties. And an Esky holder.

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Might change the wheels and tyres before heading out over the ploughed section…

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Freshly Baked Rat – Get It While It’s Hot

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And it doesn’t get much hotter than Gillam Road in Armadale on a summer’s morning. No shade, asphalt paving, and tilt-up buildings all around reflecting the Western Australian sun. At least you are not bothered by snakes – they are far too sensible to venture out in the heat.

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Not so the intrepid rod enthusiast, or the novice car photographer. I learned of the Gillam Road gathering through the grapevine and ventured out of a Sunday morning. Before I was felled by brain fever and dehydration and had to be revived at the pub with beer, I managed to capture a number of good looking vehicles. There is no formal show about it – just enthusiasts gathering – but there is the sort of focused interest that you always get with machinery.

Spectator rules as per usual – lookee see, no touchee. I’m fine with this, as I can capture the things I see pretty well with modern cameras without having to climb over anything. I do appreciate it when owners leave a passenger’s side window wound down as it allows me to take a view of the instrument panel and driving position clearly. If they leave the window up the reflections from outside kill the shot. Still, this is a free show and it is their car.

This was the first car I lit upon. It has more fun detail in  the construction than any modern sports car you can name. I am willing to bet several minds went into the design – and the design didn’t just happen overnight. It grew by sections. Bet it isn’t finished growing, either.

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Thanks for looking, Folks. Do try the baked rat on a stick – Mr Dibbler’s special recipe.