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I often wonder whether the Ford Motor Company realised just what good fortune they had when they named some of their motor cars ” Victoria “. It seems to be a name that was added when the Model A was born in 1927, thought there may have been a style of coach body made earlier in the horse-drawn days that was similar. Given the immense prestige of the British queen, Victoria, in the 19th and early 20th century there must be literally thousands of product and places that bear the name.

Such as the state of Victoria…the one sandwiched between New South Wales and South Australia. Perpetual rival of NSW…so much so that the federal capital had to be placed in a special administrative territory between the two states…more or less out in the boonies. ( A good place for it, as it keeps the pollies away from the rest of us for much of the time. )

But away from this, the name ” Victoria” applied to sedans made by Ford – such as these seen at the recent VHRS in Melbourne – must have sold cars to Victorian buyers by appealing to that deep-seated home instinct.

Even if they do not admit it, the pull of a locale name always boosts the popularity of a song or product. And in this case the consonance between place, royal association, and the word for winning would have been worth millions to the car company.

Other makers have tried it too – Austin tried to foist a terrible car on us by calling it a ” Tasman “. Holden stacked on Monaro, and there have been others. No-one has had the nerve to try ” Adelaide ” or ” Mount Isa ” but there were probably moments in the board rooms when the danger was clear. I am hoping for the Renault ” Manangatang ” some day, but the company has stopped returning my phone calls.

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The Little World – The Scale Model Ferret Sniffs Around

screen-shot-2017-02-06-at-10-29-37-pm-copyAnd I don’t mean a scout car. I mean the investigative scale modelling ferret who has a sniff of a good thing and starts to use all the resources to hand to find out where the smell is coming from.

The heading image is a screen shot taken off a website that deals with historic trucks here in Australia. It shows a Southern Cross Petroleum filling station in the Melbourne suburb of Clifton Hill in 1927. Like the other two similar images on the site – from Malvern and Hawthorn – it shows a standardised form of building. The architect, L.M.Perrott must have made the plans available for a number of builders.

The petrol station is distinctive and gorgeous – and I want to make one for my diorama collection. It would be perfect for the old model cars of the period – the Fords and Reos. 1:18 is imminently do-able, if only one could get the basic dimensions and some more detail shots. The search is on.

Up to now, research has been conducted with Google Earth – an effort made to find the original plots where the stations were sited. It’s not as easy as you’d think… 90 years time makes for a lot of knocking down and rebuilding.

Clifton Hill is gone entirely – replaced by a modern block of units – even the gasometer seen in the photo went a long time ago. It was the best way of finding the actual corner as it featured in histories of Melbourne civil services.

Hawthorn still has a petrol station on the likely site, but the buildings are so modern and scrappy as to suggest that the old station was carted away in a skip.

Malvern has a Shell station there and it looks as though there is a building on the site – re-roofed and hedged in and re-windowed and generally pulled about…but it might just be the original structure now sadly down at the back of the lot. I am hoping it is so, and will be ferreting around it when i am next in Melbourne. I’m prepared for disappointment but the chance of measuring the original dimensions will make all the difference to a good model.

Wish me luck.