PURSED LIPS OVER LEMONS

The Weekend Australian - Life - - MOTORING - JOHN CON­NOLLY jc@jcp.com.au

Good old Simsy, the mo­torist’s new friend. As you know Roddy Sims is boss of the Aus­tralian Com­pe­ti­tion & Con­sumer Com­mis­sion. He took to this great pa­per last week to sing the praises of his car im­port scheme that kicks off in 2018. Simsy is an econ­o­mist. You know the story: Why do peo­ple be­come econ­o­mists? Be­cause they don’t have the charisma to be un­der­tak­ers. So he’s not a great word­smith but the guts of what he said is: “The re­forms give Aus­tralian con­sumers the op­por­tu­nity to im­port ve­hi­cles as an al­ter­na­tive to pur­chas­ing a ve­hi­cle pre-im­ported by oth­ers.”

Nat­u­rally, just about ev­ery­one in the lo­cal in­dus­try says this is the equiv­a­lent of open­ing Aus­tralia up to the black death and be­fore we know it mil­lions of in­no­cent lo­cals will be killed driv­ing lemons from Third World coun­tries such as Ger­many, Bri­tain and the US.

Hmmm. You mean we could get cars worse than those im­ported for us by the big mak­ers. VW, which im­ports Audi, Bent­ley, Lam­borgh­ini and Porsche, has ad­mit­ted to cheat­ing on US emis­sions tests and will buy back nearly 500,000 cars, re­pair some oth­ers and pay com­pen­sa­tion in the US. The deal won’t help the own­ers of 80,000 Porsche and Audi SUVs that are over the pol­lu­tion lim­its, or the 8.5 mil­lion own­ers in Europe where it says the same de­feat de­vice is not il­le­gal.

Last week au­thor­i­ties said Mercedes had a prob­lem, raided the of­fices of Peu­geot Citroen, and Mit­subishi said it had been up to a sim­i­lar ca­per for oh, about, well, 25 years. Any­way over the next few weeks we’ll bring you some cars that the big car­mak­ers have for­got­ten to tell you have scary prob­lems.

So what is hap­pen­ing in Pine­hurst, I hear you say. Well Pine­hurst, North Carolina, is about as far away from bad diesel de­vices as you can get. I was there for the fourth an­nual Pine­hurst Con­cours d’El­e­gance fea­tur­ing pre­ci­sion Golden Knights and Black Dag­gers sky­divers, bar­be­cue and craft beer and the Com­modores, mi­nus Lionel Richie, singing Three Times a Lady.

And three of my favourite cars turned up to be judged: a 1919 Pierce-Ar­row Model 66 A-4 Tourer, a 1931 Cadil­lac 452A and a 1938 Steyr 220 Glaser Road­ster, pic­tured. I think Richie bought these three new. The stun­ner of the trio is Peter Boyles’s art deco, cus­tom-bod­ied, two-seat sports road­ster Steyr. Pete’s fam­ily owned the lo­cal pa­per in Oil City, Penn­syl­va­nia, which re­ally is the home of oil. Pete’s pa­per was called

The Der­rick but was sub­ti­tled The Or­gan of Oil. Not that you’re in­ter­ested in any of that.

There were only six of these two seaters built. Two re­main, one in a mu­seum and one in Oil City. Steyr started off as a gun maker, then made bi­cy­cles and cars. Just be­fore it made Pete’s car it merged and be­came Steyr-Daim­ler-Puch. Celebrity side note: Ferdy Porsche was at Aus­troDaim­ler be­fore the merger. The 220 twin carby six only pumped out 65kW but in a light­weight body it was a real goer. And it had in­de­pen­dent sus­pen­sion.

Fi­nally, on Thurs­day, I was head­ing to Kansas City (you re­mem­ber the Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller song best sung by Lit­tle Richard, not the Bea­tles) for the US Mar­shal’s pub­lic ve­hi­cle auc­tion. Now this is not like the lost prop­erty auc­tion VicRail has. No old um­brel­las and walk­ing sticks here. In­stead 12 Du­catis, a Fer­rari 430, Mus­tang Co­bra, McLaren, Mosler, Porsche GTS and, of course, a Ford GT.

If you are think­ing about tak­ing a plane, or you might take a train or you could walk just the same to the next auc­tion, then make sure you do the Har­ley-David­son Ve­hi­cle and Pow­er­train Fac­tory tour. It’s just down the road. Don’t take the free tour, pay for the steel toe one ($45). Nat­u­rally you’ll eat at the Har­ley Mo­tor Bar and Res­tau­rant where $15 will get you a serve of half a kilo of jumbo wings tossed in a gen­er­ous coat­ing of sweet­ened Sprecher Gaso­line beer.

If ro­mance is on your mind, what bet­ter place to have your wed­ding than in a venue that’s “re­fined and a lit­tle rough, iconic and a touch re­bel­lious”. What doesn’t say I do bet­ter than hog heaven?

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