I’M IN THE SHED

CAR BOOKS ARE THERAPUTIC

Unique Cars - - CONTENTS -

I AM NOT a lover of re­pair man­u­als, al­though I can em­pathise – and sym­pa­thise – with peo­ple who col­lect them. But a re­pair man­ual for me al­ways seems a util­i­tar­ian tool, rather than an ob­ject of in­ter­est in its own right. I love that peo­ple col­lect them – along with ser­vice books, own­ers hand­books and sales brochures. But they arouse lit­tle pas­sion in me.

In­stead I am an en­thu­si­ast for a de­cent ref­er­ence li­brar y, and I adore those cof­fee ta­ble art­house glo­ri­fi­ca­tions of mar­ques, not to for­get the per­sonal ac­counts of a life in his­toric mo­tor­ing from var­i­ous lu­mi­nar­ies.

Any half de­cent sec­ond­hand book­shop is worth check­ing out for some ig­nored relic, with yel­low­ing stained pages re­veal­ing se­crets long for­got­ten. What could be more fun than di­gest­ing ad­vice about us­ing long ob­so­lete tech­niques on what are now an­cient ma­chine tools to achieve re­mark­able results?

Want ad­vice on fab­ric cov­ered wooden frames? Or how to cre­ate that beaded edge com­pound curved mud­guard for your clas­sic? You need a sol­der­ing iron, f lux, a wooden buck and some

panel dol­lies – and a sturdy leather apron, young man. For­get MIG or TIG – not even in­vented.

My favourite? Around when I was born, Richard Wheat­ley and Brian Mor­gan wrote The Restora­tion of Vin­tage &

Thor­ough­bred Cars, a bi­ble of nearly 200 pages cov­er­ing ev­ery skill and tech­nique re­quired back in the 1950s to keep pre-WW2 cars on the road. Apart from the ad­vice that an elec­tric brace is the ideal way to drill holes, it is an in­valu­able re­source.

And then there is the fam­ily of books pour­ing out of pub­lish­ers’ ware­houses that promise to be the bees knees in guid­ing the re­storer and en­thu­si­ast owner to ab­so­lute cor­rect­ness. When did the MG TC spot light change from a f luted to a rounded bracket? And did the wire go to the left or the right of the bumper bar irons? What type of clip was used? How were the ra­di­a­tor hoses re­tained? When did the Fal­con dip stick go from grey to sil­ver? Which year saw the Jaguar air fil­ter sticker swap from the left side to the right side? What were the fac­tory op­tional mir­rors for a RHD Mus­tang? And were they fixed with screws with Phillips heads or slot­ted? Domed

heads or pan­head? Enough to keep you awake all night.

Para­dox­i­cally, as local man­u­fac­tur­ing shuts down, Aus­tralian au­thors are crank­ing up the sto­ries about our local in­dustr y. Sev­eral great books have been re­leased lately, and no doubt there are more to come.

Toby Hagon and Bruce New­ton have col­lab­o­rated on Kings of the Road – 50 Cars That Drove Aus­tralia.

Brab­hams, Hart­netts, the Sandman, the P76… they are all there. They also fea­ture star cars from films like

Mad Max and Mal­colm, and con­cept cars too. Great fun.

Pick of the crop though is an ex­am­ple of what is of­ten dis­parag­ingly and pa­tro­n­is­ingly de­scribed as ‘van­ity pub­lish­ing’ – a dis­mis­sive term used when some­one wants to tell a story so much that they write and pro­duce their own book, way beyond what would be com­mer­cially vi­able.

I have re­cently met vet­eran Aus­tralian car de­signer Paul Beranger. Af­ter 45 years in car de­sign, he has done us all a favour and writ­ten a stun­ning cof­fee ta­ble style book about his cho­sen pro­fes­sion. Af­ter start­ing with GM-H he also worked ex­ten­sively with

Nis­san – in­clud­ing run­ning their race pro­gramme – and then Toy­ota. His new book

Crayon to CAD – A His­tory of Post War Au­to­mo­tive De­sign

in Aus­tralia is mag­nif­i­cent, in­spir­ing, eye-open­ing and in­valu­able.

Over more than 300 pages, lavishly il­lus­trated, mostly in full colour, it tells how we cre­ated cars in our coun­try for our con­di­tions. It ex­plains the de­sign tech­niques as well as the cre­ative in­spi­ra­tion, and all in the con­text of the com­mer­cial re­al­i­ties.

Many of the il­lus­tra­tions have come from the fac­tory and stu­dio archives, and I sus­pect have never been seen be­fore. There are per­sonal sto­ries of in­di­vid­ual de­sign­ers most re­spon­si­ble for decades of car mak­ing in a unique niche mar­ket of a rapidly glob­al­is­ing in­dustr y.

At $95, avail­able from www. c2cpub­lish­ing.com.au it is the per­fect Fa­thers Day, birthday or Christ­mas present for the car nut. Who does not want a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of our mo­tor­ing his­tory, our mar­ket and our on­go­ing ef­forts to stay in­volved in the fu­ture of global man­u­fac­tur­ing? As the fac­to­ries shut the busi­ness of record­ing our his­tory cranks up. How sad.

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