I may write like a drunk, but I’m actually pretty well adjusted. Ask any of my pals and they will tell you – I don’t do or say a whole lot unless it’s really necessary. On Monday night, it was necessary. I won’t go into details here as I’ve already paid a dreadful price for it all and Blakey Boy Esquire has advised against it. In any case, I’m just now getting back on my feet and I’m finally ready to write about Sunday while sitting in the Australian Jalopy Journal World Headquarters (aka: Mark’s shed) on Wednesday. Yeah, I know… I’m a little late.
Sunday was a good day. Mark, Blake, and I loaded up in the staff car early that morning and headed for Rancho Deluxe. You’ve seen the video, right? The great little film paints a pretty vivid picture of Ben Thomas – the owner and proprietor of Rancho Deluxe – as a sort of gentle genius. After hanging with him for a bit, I can vouch for that. His shop is one of those places you just don’t want to leave. It’s a working man’s hot rod shop put together with the same passion and attention to detail that goes into building a really great car. The joint is casual, but stylish and not at all over done. It’s just heavenly and so are the cars that come out of it.
Speaking of, Ben built and drives the shit out of one of my favorite cars in all of Melbourne. In fact, my attorney set up a fabulous photo shoot of Ben’s roadster on Monday night and that, in turn, lead to the night of disorderly conduct that I’m avoiding all together in this letter. Both the story and the car will be featured on a special occasion… soon…
Anyway, a group of us met at Rancho Deluxe to enjoy a taste of craft coffee made from the shop’s vintage espresso machine as well as some killer homemade muffins. We then hopped into the cars and headed for a “street rod” show held in downtown Melbourne. Before heading out, Mark Bailey threw me the keys to his ’52 Chevy and explained that he was in no shape to drive that particular morning. “I don’t want to hear it mate. My head hurts. Just shut up and drive.”
And so I did… On the wrong side of the road while sitting on the wrong side of a ’52 Chevrolet. It’s a bizarre circumstance to find yourself in and your brain has all kinds of trouble figuring out how to cope with this opposite world of motoring. Where am I? Are we going up or down? Left or right? Somewhere in the back of my brain, I knew I was driving a ’52 Chevrolet in Australia and that driving on the left side of the road was the right thing to do – but how could I really be sure, with another part of my brain apparently convinced that I was doing all the wrong things from all the wrong sides. You can’t imagine the terrible things that could have happened. Incredibly, I got us to the show in one piece.
And then it got weird again. Street rod shows in Australia are a lot like street rod shows in America. They are fun and playful, but not at all thought provoking or inspiring. Looking purely at the cars, this show was no different. However, the venue was quite possibly the most amazing I’ve ever seen and I spent more time with my camera pointed towards the walls and ceilings than I did at actual cars. The Royal Exhibition Building was built in 1880 and served to host the first Parliament of Australia. It’s now a restored piece of art that, in many ways, is the pride of Melbourne.
One more adventure down, more to come… We only have another day or so here in Australia, but I have tons more to write about. The great attorney and I have met a lot of characters here in Australia and I just haven’t wanted to give up the adventure for the keyboard just yet.
Until that time comes,