Thursday 28 April 2011

Thursday Pitch

Start Me Up

I find some mechanical rituals fascinating. Particularly starting classics.

My '77 Fairlane would only start if you flicked the key twice to let the electric fuel pump prime the carb, pumped the throttle once to let the accelerator pump squirt a bit of juice in to the manifold and swore a little bit as you hit the key. Anything but this and you'd crank the battery flat without so much as a cough.

I knew a triple-carb six cylinder Valiant that took two people to start on a cold morning - one to hold their hand over the middle carb as a choke and the other to turn the key. It'd try to drag your hand down the Weber, then fire on two cylinders. The rest would chime in a moment later. Magic.

Anyone who has had a kickstart motorbike knows about finding top dead centre and jumping on the leg, trying to hold the throttle and your tongue just right.

What's your ritual?


Tuesday 26 April 2011

Big Sky

Wanted to share a photo Daniel took of my truck beside the Carnarvon Highway on the weekend.

I've always loved this F-truck photo, from a promotional poster for the movie No Country for Old Men:

But Daniel's is better:


Monday 25 April 2011

Some teaser shots - Ironbark Drags

As promised in a previous post, here are some teaser shots of what ColumnShift Media came across at the Ironbark Raceway in Roma, Western Qld.

These three are my personal favorites, so I have processed them in a way that I think suits the shots - the only downside it that they don't match the rest of the shots that will be featured in print, so at this stage, they will only be published here (except for the last shot, which I did two versions of).

There are obviously quite a few more from the weekend, so keep your eyes peeled for the upcoming issue of Gasoline.

 Let us know what you think!


Sunday 24 April 2011

Field Report: Roma Drags

Well, we've just returned to the hotel after a great weekend at the eighth-mile drags at Ironbark Raceway. We've met a bunch of great people, photographed some awesome cars and eaten some very satisfying trackside ice creams.

Quote of the weekend was from a local racer Daniel was photographing leaning on his car, who said "I'm too scared to smile - I have to get back in this thing!" You'll never, ever guess what he was driving.

Some teaser pics will follow when we get back to Brisbane tomorrow, but for the full story grab next month's issue of Gasoline magazine.


Thursday 21 April 2011

Thursday Pitch

As you may have read below, one of us drives a home-made pickup truck and the other drives an overpowered taxi-cab. The closest Nick has been to a proper European sports car is a few illicit blasts in his father's V12 Jaguar. Daniel is still trying to find Europe on the map.

We believe that this would give us a unique perspective from which to road test an iconic sports car - the Aston Martin DB4. Daniel is keen to use his lens to capture the beautiful, handcrafted details of this classic shape. Nick is prepared to ask the tough questions - Are they worth the money? Do they stack up against modern cars? Are they as useless for towing rubbish to the dump as they look?

All we need is someone willing to lend us their million-dollar classic car for the day. Contact us at

Tuesday 19 April 2011

Upcoming Event - Drag Racing in Western Queensland

ColumnShift Media has been asked to travel out to Roma in western Queensland over the Easter break to have a look at the 1/8th mile drag racing at Ironbark Raceway.

Both being certified big-hat wearers, we're really looking forward to a few days in the bush.

Weather reports this morning are saying that Bungil Creek is up 7 metres and the Warrego Highway is cut off, so we might end up reporting on submarine races, but that's all part of the fun.

Stay tuned.

Sunday 17 April 2011

The Narooma Blues

Narooma is a sleepy seaside town in southern NSW. They have an oyster festival, a historic village and a very picturesque national park. The deep, cold water there lent its name to a Ford paint colour, Narooma Blue. Daniel and I met when I tried to sell him an old Suzuki roadbike, painted that very colour. He wanted it to match his XR8. I painted it to match my truck. When we say we've got the blues - we're not joking. 

We've photographed and written plenty about other people's cars. Here's something about what drives us.
As my mates have been telling me for years, there's something seriously wrong with my taste in cars. While other people drool over Aston Martins or Falcon GTs, I've been lusting after unloved models of Fairlane, 4 door HQ's and pickup trucks. My true love for nearly 10 years was a 1977 ZH Fairlane, Sherwood Green with a cream vinyl top. I poured money in to this thing and drove the wheels off it.

All of a sudden one night, bathed in the glow of the RACQ truck's flashing yellow light, I realised that love had died. A beautiful but dangerous and unreliable sedan was no longer the answer to all of life's automotive questions.

So I swapped it for a big, blue F100. It's not beautiful and the only danger now comes from my driving, not the car's overwhelming need to swap ends and catch fire all at the same time. It's done hundreds of thousands of hard k's now, everywhere from paddocks to highways to drag strips. It's not true love, but it's home every night in time for dinner. Which is the next best thing.


So give or take twenty five years after Nick's truck first saw the light of day, here is my Falcon XR8. This is my first V8 and my first semi quick car. After owning various six cylinder mid nineties Falcons, with the odd Escort thrown in here and there, I figured it was time to enter the mystical world of V8 ownership. My interest in the good old bent eight began with my Dad's sky blue 253 Kingswood wagon. With it's wind down tailgate window and thong slapping exhaust note, I was hooked. 

Whilst I'm sure six cylinder cars with loud exhaust's have their merits in some cultures, with me, nothing beats the sound a a lazy V8. They usually sound best with the drivers window wound down whilst going for a good long drive on one of the many back roads in and around south east Queensland, not to mention anywhere else you care to venture.

This particular Falcon is fitted with a full exhaust system, which means it sounds much faster than it really is, but I'm okay with that. A few choice suspension and gearbox modifications here and there have transformed it into a great cruiser that is more than happy to eat up as many kilometers as I care to throw at it. Whilst it only ever sees a few thousand clicks a year, the times it does see the blacktop are some of the hardest driven miles a car would see this side of Targa Tasmania.


Saturday 16 April 2011

Micra vs. Oldsmobile Outtakes

By now I'm sure you have all gone out, purchased a copy of the latest Gasoline magazine and made your own mind up about which car was better. As you can imagine, we had a great time spending the day with the Olds, which means that not all the photos we took were published in the article.

Below are a handful of shots that didn't make it...


Thursday 14 April 2011

Hey Tru Blu

Daniel's love of all things Dick Johnson is on record. He makes regular trips down to the DJR workshop at Yatala to check out the memorabilia and cars. I find it hard to get too excited about the modern V8 supercar competition, but there is one thing I agree with Daniel on - old touring cars.

There's just something about an unrestored race car that stirs me - the buckshot-spray stonechips, the wonky panel gaps, the hasty fixes, the little mechanic jokes ("WATCH THIS!!!" in marker pen under the oil pressure light).

Running your eye over Tru-Blu, Johnson's 1981 Bathurst-winning Falcon in the DJR race workshop, you can feel the heat of the sun at Lakeside and the squally, cold rain of a bad day at Bathurst. You can hear Dick swearing as he bangs doors at the old Surfers Paradise raceway. Best of all, if you get really close, you can smell that beautiful fuel-and-hot-oil 351 V8 smell.


Website Launch!

Hi everyone,

As many of you would be aware, we've now had our work published in a number of magazines, and we thought it was time to make the step from enthusiastic amateurs to... enthusiastic amateurs with a website.

Early days with the site now, but we're adding content all the time. The website won't just be a showcase of work that's been published - we'll add new pics, pitches, comments, articles and events every few days . Please feel free to leave a comment or subscribe for updates.

We're available for freelance writing and photography for any publication - big, small, print, online, whatever. We specialise in automotive journalism, with a focus on providing work that isn't the usual "here's-the-car, isn't-it-great" article.

One step closer to giving up the day jobs!

We hope to talk to all of you soon.

Nick Holliday & Daniel Peut
ColumnShift Media

Nowhere Road

I wrote this many years before Dan took the photo, about a different car. But the road in the backwoods of the Sunshine Coast is the same as it ever was. The pic captures everything perfectly - the green valley, the big sky, that sweet hard-packed gravel surface and a car that's been waiting 30 years to tackle it.


Open door, slide in. Buckle up. Start. Clutch in, first gear. Crawl down the drive. Right, left. Creep out on to the narrow dirt road, turn left. Stop.

200 metre straight ahead of you. Curves right then left over the old creek bank, another short straight before a decent hillclimb. One hand on the stick. Seconds tick by.


The straight is gone in a moment, you've just changed to third, but now you're back to second, engine screaming as you throw it through the switchback and up the hill. Slight left-hander over a crest, then a long straight downhill run. Pick up plenty of speed.

Second gear corner, a wide sweep of hard gravel. Plenty of throttle and balance it sideways, straightening out as you come through the big dips, gum trees high on both sides. You feel the engine screaming, begging for third gear, but hold as another hill and right hand turn loom in the windscreen and disappear.

Down a snaking track of loose gravel, the first serious braking point. Tiny slide as you reach the bottom and it's a hill climb again, 30 metre drop on the left and a high bank on the right through trees. Suddenly, another crest and you burst out in to open farmland. Down another big set of ruts to a sweeping left hander. Another short drift, then straighten up.

The dirt disappears in to blacktop. Now the fun begins. The first straight run is good for 150, if you don't mind a little bottoming out on the dips over bridges. Up between the twin pines and a huge sweeping left hander opens up in front of you. Back to third gear and pick your line through it, praying there's not a cattle truck coming the other way.

You're now flying through open farmland. Barbed wire fences and green, green paddocks. The engine's singing in 4th, the wind's in your hair. Brake gently for a sharp right-hander past the dairy, then hard on them for the left hand hairpin. A short uneven section, a dip for a bridge.

Now there's rolling hillside on either side, tall trees beside the road. Lovely wide s-bend, you slip across to the right hand side and pick a line through the centre. Blood's pumping now. Biggest straight of the journey unfolds over the hill and you nail it. It's over in a moment, and you're past the third bridge and braking hard so you don't shoot across the main road.

Roll to a stop. Breathe.

Thursday Pitch

So every week we're going to post up an idea for a piece, the plan being that this gets picked up by the New York Times. They'll be done on Thursday to give us time to get on-location for the weekend paper. See how we go. 

War Machine

I’m not sure we’ve got the profile to get a big, overseas assignment yet, but I saw something on the news the other day that the motoring magazines really need to take a look at. Hot cars in war zones.

You see any number of interesting cars on the ABC news – big old black ZIL limousines everywhere from Russia to central Africa, 50’s and 60’s Chevies bombing around South America running diesel stationary engines, those ageless white Land Cruiser pickups that will survive anything.

My eyes lit up when ABC24 showed a good 20-second shot of Libyan rebels launching a surface-to-air missile out of the back of a ute, parked up on an embankment above a roadway. Usually this occurs from one of the aforementioned Land Cruisers, but this war machine was something special.

It was a big, blue-and-white, dual-wheeled GMC longbed pickup, one of the early 90’s ones that ran an EFI 454 big block. The force of the rocket going up bounced the back of the truck off the ground and I saw a set of headers and a big sidepipe underneath. What was it doing there? Someone needs to get the story of that thing down on paper.

Dan and I can fly out on 20 minutes notice. We await your call.

Wednesday 13 April 2011

Vintage Affair - Ford Galaxie

Vintage Affair is a classy new magazine catering for lovers of vintage styles - music, art, cars, books, fashion. Issue 1 is about to be launched with our article on the iconic Galaxie hardtop.

For more info, go to

Glory Without Power: RG500 on the Dyno

This article about a friend's motorcycle was published in Classic Bike, a UK magazine. Photo is sadly not by Dan Peut, it's by my wife. But she's nice too.


So I went to the Laverda club's Story Bridge Concours in Brisbane on the weekend. My mate Bish was there with his RG500.

There's a portable dyno there, $20 per run. Bish decided he'd give the Gamma a blast. He proclaims confidently that it'll make "over 80" and runs off to join the queue. While we’re waiting, a new naked Kwaka thing turns 180hp at 175,000,000rpm, an old XJ1100 makes a pannier-assisted 82hp, a ridiculous Harley chopper makes 90...

I'm not up on what power weird old stinkwheels should make, but I figure that something that runs on aviation fuel, takes 45 minutes to warm up and sounds like an outboard motor being cut in half by a chainsaw should make at least as much as some modern plastic appliance or an amphetamine tractor. I guess that his 80hp figure is the kind of modest understatement I'd make before putting a motor to the test.

The run was epic... A big crowd has gathered, maybe 50 or 60 people.

There's all this whispering:

"What the hell is that.??"

"Oh man, that's an RG500, they're nuts, Sheene rode one, they won every GP ever..."

So he wheels it up on to the rollers. There's a long pause where Bish is talking to the dyno guy and pointing at the bike... Lots of gesticulating. Suspense builds. Finally, the dyno guy is clearly saying "You can run it." Turns out he was worried it would grenade...

Bish kick-starts the damn thing, balanced up on the little rolling-road trailer. This looks hard-as-nails. He then spends at least 2 minutes blipping the throttle and adjusting things. The crowd is at fever pitch and growing by the second.

Finally, he runs it up in to 4th. The dyno guy had a really smooth way with this for the other bikes, but Bish is smashing it through the gears, the front wheel is bouncing against the stopper at the front of the dyno, looking like it's about to take off over the crowd. Several women faint. Babies in the next suburb are crying.

So eventually it's rolling along in the right gear. Dyno guy checks the laptop, gives the nod and Bish winds it on.

Bish's dad turns to me with a wink and says "This'll be interesting" in a way that you know he means "It's about to rain piston skirts.."

As I knew it would, it sounds like fiery death by a thousand line-trimmers, there are HUGE clouds of blue smoke, it smells like the Caltex refinery. There are at least 15,000 people watching now. Kids are filming it on phones. The ground is vibrating under my boots and my fillings hurt.
After a brain-shattering eternity passes, it winds down and the tent, the dyno, Bish and the bike appear through the fog.

The dyno operator checks the laptop, checks it again.
58.2hp. Which I guess is plenty, unless you had a crowd of adoring fans hoping it’d melt the rollers.

Tuesday 12 April 2011

Is a Nissan Micra Better Than a Big Block Oldsmobile?

This is our second Gasoline article - doing this one was fun from start to finish, including lots of high-jinx that didn't end up in the article. We even took the Micra down to the local hot-rod hangout on a Friday night to find out what people thought!

Can You Buy Cool?

This was our first published piece, on the back page of the second issue of Gasoline magazine. It features another mate's '65 Ford Galaxie hardtop, and looks at the difference between a cool car you built yourself and a cool car you went out and bought.

Nick Holliday

Nick is a reformed lawyer in his late 20's, now working as a union organiser and sometime writer.  He divides his time between suburban Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast hinterland and the Central Desert around Alice Springs.

He loves the sound of an old V8 at night, the smell of freshly mown grass and the noise Cuban heels make on a polished floor.

Nick found himself immersed in vintage life by accident, waking up one day to the realisation that he drove a 35 year old Fairlane, had bookshelves full of Maugham and Hemingway and a taste for pre-war blues and Whitlam-era politics.

He spends his spare time restoring his motorcycle, driving his pickup truck and playing an acoustic guitar, all built before 1980.

Favourite vintage flick

Bullitt, starring a fastback '67 Mustang and Steve McQueen - there's no other movie for real car fans.

Favourite vintage object

The Zippo lighter – made unchanged in Bradford, Pennsylvania since 1932.

Favourite vintage read

Our Man In Havana by Graham Greene - a novel-length character study of a man who can't tell who he is any more.

Favourite vintage icon

The tail fins on a candy-apple red '57 Chevy - bold lines, lots of chrome, design for design's sake. We'll never see them again.

Favourite vintage thing in the world

My 21st birthday present from my grandfather - his 150 year old black-powder Winchester shotgun. My forebears were using this before cars and before electric lights. You can hold it and feel history.

Favourite vintage vinyl

Hard Again, Muddy Waters' 1977 album, recorded in three days at Muscle Shoals in Alabama. When Muddy sings "I can never be satisfied...", you believe him.

Vintage is remembering the first place you heard a Rolling Stones song, the first time you rode in a car with vinyl seats and the first time you were moved by a piece of writing.

Daniel Peut

Daniel was born and raised in Goondiwindi, out amongst the cotton fields in south-western Queensland. He packed up and moved to the bright lights of Brisbane a few years ago, although he’s still a country boy at heart.

Photography is something Daniel has always enjoyed, right from a young age. He can still remember the day his Poppie gave him an old Pentax SLR and a roll of film. Try as he might, Daniel couldn’t quite understand aperture and shutter speed and ASA speed of film, but those humble beginnings planted a seed that he hasn’t forgotten.

Daniel is proud to never have enjoyed a song recorded after he was born (way back in ’86) and loves to rock out on an old-school Fender/Marshall guitar rig. He enjoys a range of other manly pursuits, and is known for his obsession with racing driver Dick Johnson and his danger-fraught motorcycle riding career.

When he’s not taking photos, he enjoys trying new boutique beers, driving his Falcon and exploring the nooks and crannies of Brisbane city.

Favourite vintage flick

The Great Escape. Steve McQueen, classic true storyline, enough said.  

Favourite vintage object
General Dynamics F-111, circa 1963. One of the fastest planes in the sky for over 40 years.

Favourite vintage read
Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale – The first in the James Bond series.

Favourite vintage icon
Joe Rosenthal’s Pulitzer Prize winning photograph of US Marines raising the American flag at Iwo Jima in 1945.

Favourite vintage thing in the world
My Fender Telecaster, designed back in 1950 and still awesome today.

Favourite vintage vinyl
Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of The Moon – The only album you can sit down and listen to from start to finish without skipping a track.

Vintage is remembering the past as you look towards the future.

A Bit About Us...

We're new to the media game in a serious fashion, but have both been keen amateurs for years. We decided last year to take our interest in writing, photography and cars to a new level by trying to get a few things published. Things are going OK so far, with a regular gig in Gasoline magazine and a number of pieces in other publications.

Short bios we wrote for a colleague website, will follow!


Welcome to Column Shift Media. Plenty of great photos and stories to come - stay tuned!

Nick & Daniel