Monday 27 February 2012

Blue Lights

This photo was posted on a forum I’m a member of today. If you’ve been driving a modified car for any length of time, the situation may look familiar. Even at this point, all is not lost. Remain calm, put down your beer and remember these few tips:

-          If you have a New Old Stock time machine installed in the glove box, you may want to travel back a few minutes and see if you can spot the reason you’ve been pulled over. Doing skids in a school zone will get you noticed even in a white Camry, but bear in mind that muscle cars stand out even before you pull full-noise in second gear leaving the traffic lights. Many people drive 6/71 blown street cars and never receive police attention by driving sensibly and avoiding hot-spots like the local Macca’s hangout. This advice is more important than all the points below. Do all you can to avoid the interaction in the first place.

-          On this topic, a great way to avoid being pinged is by keeping the simple things in order. Sure, your Torana is  too low and too loud and has a V8 conversion that really should have a mod plate, but that’s the way you like it and you might be prepared to take the risk. Don’t compound this by dumb stuff like running around on bald tyres.

-          Don’t look any more dodgy than you already do. Nothing will get you pulled over faster than turning left to avoid an RBT line or locking up the brakes when you see a police car in a side street. Reduce the revs, but carry on as normal. Cops are busy people – If you don’t give them a reason to be interested, they might pass you by.  

-          If they want you to stop, shut the car down immediately. Even if it’s a hard starter, as soon as you’ve stopped, kill the engine. It might not sound important, but every modified car looks more standard when you’re not shouting over the exhaust to the beat of a solid roller camshaft.

-          Be cool. Sure, the cops might be fascists in jackboots sent by a hostile government to keep modified car owners in check. They’ve ruined your night as well. But for the next 5 minutes they need to be your long lost friends. Smile, ask them how they’re going. Remember – they may well be people too.

-          Don’t argue. You might have been the Grade 9 debating champion, or even a Federal Court barrister, but you almost certainly don’t have a magic, witty response that will make the cop apologise and walk back to their car. If in doubt, smile and nod.

-          Don’t ever plead guilty. You’ll be asked “Is there any reason why you were speeding?” or “When did you lower this thing?” These will often feel like the time to explain yourself, to try to make things better. It probably won’t. Try to say nothing at all, while remaining polite and responsive. If the question directly asks if you broke the law, this is particularly important.

-          Realise that you may not win this one right now. Even if you believe that they’re unfair or unnecessary, laws about speeding and tyre width and suspension height and exhaust noise are just that – laws. The copper may have some discretion about letting you go with a warning, but they also might not. If they have the law wrong (and sometimes they do), the place to challenge their view is in court or in correspondence, not on the side of Parramatta Road.

Monday 20 February 2012

Dick Johnson's Tru Blu

It's been 31 years since Dick Johnson won both the Australian Touring Car Championship and the James Hardie 1000 at Bathurst in his venerable Tru Blu XD Falcon and what better way to celebrate this oddly numbered milestone than giving the old Falcon a makeover.

The car's current care taker, the Bowden Family of Queensland, have just completed a sympathetic rebuild, consisting of a full engine tear down and most recently, a return to the livery that the car raced in at the 1981 race at Mt Panorama.

It is interesting to note that the livery in the below photo, which I took at Lakeside last year, is actually a reproduction in itself, with Dick having sold the car after the 1981 to fund the purchase of his new racecar, the Red Roo XE, which later became the infamous GreensTuf Falcon.

Local Brisbane privateer, Alf Grant, raced the car for a while in a slightly modified, but no less recognisable, Tru Blu livery. Luckily, Dick had the foresight to buy the car back from Alf before it was turned into a sports sedan, which was the trend for race cars of that era.

Below, you can see Alf about to be rounded up by Dick in his GreensTuf Falcon. I guess these two cars can be called sister cars.

Once the car was back in Dick's possession, he gave it a quick coat of paint to make it look like how the car ran it's last race in 1981, which was at Lakeside, where he clinched the ATCC by literally a nose hair over the heavily funded and relentless Holden Dealer Team Commodore of Peter Brock.

Whilst the ATCC win was a huge achievement, most regard the Bathurst win an even bigger one, as the year before Dick had encountered the famous rock and the even more famous outpouring of money and support from the Australian punters, so obviously, this was the best way to repay all those loyal fans for their support.

So, enjoy your freshly darned suit Mr Tru Blu and here's to the next 31 years!

Pic courtesy of Bowden's Own

Thursday 16 February 2012

Dashboard Diary

Very exciting news - CSM's new column in Gasoline Magazine is out this week. It borrows from a Thursday pitch some time ago, with a great pic of my poor old Plymouth taken on top of Mt Coot-Tha.

Have just dispatched the next instalment, which is a trip down memory lane in to my automotive past. A dark, scary memory lane.

Friday 3 February 2012


I know I'm a cafe racer tragic, but this is much more than a motorcycle. It's a Dresda Triton, built by Dave Degens. He wasn't the first to exploit the razor-sharp handling of the 'featherbed' Norton frame combined with the power of the 650cc Triumph twin, but his Triton hybrids set the standard on the track and at the Ace Cafe in the late 60's and continue to do so today.

With the passage of time, you'd have thought pulling apart valuable standard bikes to make monstrous creations with big alloy tanks and savage rearsets and open pipes would be out of fashion. Not so - Tritons are just as relevant today.

The man himself is even still building them, tuning them and making custom parts for them. Check it out.

The point of this brief history lesson?

They've been making modern Triumphs for many years now. They're everywhere you look - fat Rocket IIIs, bug eyed Street Triples, old school Thruxton Bonnevilles. Wreckers would surely be bulging with Triumphs that have climbed gum trees or bounced off taxis.

UK Bike magazine rated the Triumph powertrain in their top 5 engines of all time. It's pretty too.

Last year, the re-established Norton Motorcycles started manufacturing new Commandos from an industrial unit in the middle of the Donington Park race complex in Derbyshire, UK.

They're beautiful, but terrifyingly expensive. They boast capable chassis technology including  big Ohlins forks and big Brembo brakes. The motors are a clean-sheet design that's been hastily tested and put in to production. Without an established dealer network, bikes outside the UK are going to have trouble with warranty claims.

See where I'm going with this?

Thursday 2 February 2012


We figured it was about time you all got taste of what is coming up with our latest article, but I thought I'd mix it up a bit and do a bit of artistic editing on this particular picture.

I envisage this being on a Tshirt or something like that.