PURSED LIPS OVER LEMONS
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?