27 Jan 2015

On the street Monaco -1976

The recent blog post mention of the Renault 16 prompted motoring sage John Crawford to dig into his files and find this wonderful atmospheric photo taken in Monaco after the 1976 Monaco Grand Prix.John was then editor of Modern Motor, an Australian car magazine, and was travelling with Steve Cropley another esteemed Australian motoring journalist the one time editor of UK Car magazine and now editor-in-chief of UK Autocar.They were walking to Monaco station to catch the train back to Menton where they had left their car.
The Renault 16TS is in the centre and it is in that very typical of the period eau de nil colour.It looks right at home in this setting.
Of particular interest to me is the yellow Porsche 911S.A supercar of the era.What a fabulous car to be driving on those wonderful roads in the south of France in 1976-before there were speed cameras.
The red car on the left is a mystery.John reckons that it is a Morgan but I am not convinced-the wings,streamlined tank and the wheels do not look right but it is impossible to tell.
The whole scene is just wonderful and so is the light and it is so obviously shot on film.John tells me that it was shot on Ektachrome film on a Yashica FX-1 SLR camera-a great camera with a beautiful Zeiss lens.Where is it now John?.
In those days Monaco was still charming and classy.Today the charm has long gone along with the class.Much of the Victorian and grand Belle Epoque architecture has been demolished.Streets such as that pictured are lined with tower blocks of bland modern apartments and the place is now populated by dodgy types,sleazy Russian oligarchs,rich arabs and people from countries with names ending in stan.And the streets are full of blingy supercars.Crass sur le Med.Seedy by sea.
The 1976 Monaco Grand Prix was won by Niki Lauda in a Ferrari by the way.More photos of the race from John's archives to follow.
Thanks very much for the photos John .

26 Jan 2015

Happy Australia Day

It's January 26th.Australia Day.Australia's national day.Happy Australia Day to all Aussies wherever you are.It would have been nice to tell you that it is a beautiful sunny hot day here but after a long vey hot spell today is cool ,overcast and wet.It's a relief from the heat and humidity but it could have waited one more day.
It would also have been nice to include a good photo taken today - I took one of the flag on our house but it is pretty gloomy-see below.I was out early this morning trying to find a suitable photo opportunity and there was no one around.Perhaps they were all sleeping in relieved to get a cool night's sleep at last.
Anyway an Aussie photo from way back.Taken at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney on my Leica M6 and Ektachrome film.
And to those of you reading this from other countries yes it is the British Union Jack on our flag and yes it is odd and it's time we had a purely Austraian flag.Maybe it will happen in my lifetime but most definitely not whilst we have the current right wing government.

24 Jan 2015

On the street -Chicago

I just found this photo which I had previously overlooked.It was taken with the Leica X1 on a Chicago street on a very hot day in 2012.It was very much a grabbed shot and there was no time to think about the composition.The X1 is slow to start up and was slow to autofocus-it is faster now as there has been a firmware update- so getting this shot in focus was just pure luck.
The old guy panhandling on the fire hydrant is watching the world go by as he shakes his cup and he should not be complaining about the view of the world at this instant.It's a pity his interesting expression is not more visible.
I often/usually make this style of street photograph black and white but as it is high summer on this shot colour adds to the atmosphere.I tried it in black and white and it does not work.

22 Jan 2015

Porsche 911 3.8 Turbo R Monster

Porsche enthusiast David lives part of the year in Australia and part of the year in Paris-lucky man.He is currently in Paris and he sent me the email with the photos below

"I joined the Vincennes en Anciennes multi-marque car club www.vincennesenanciennes.com  here in Paris but have not attended any of their gatherings until this year.

Amongst other things they run a twice-a-year 'Traversée de Paris' from a starting point at the Chateau de Vincennes (7am!!) via stopovers at various well-know Paris sites. On Sunday morning 11th January we visited the Esplanade d'Invalides and Place de la Concorde as well as the Esplanade du Chateau de Vincennes to see some of the 100s of vehicles taking part."

At the Esplanade d'Invalides we saw this fluorescent green Porsche 3.8 Turbo R monster amongst all the vintage vehicles.

I don't know what this Monster is but I suspect that it is is one of Gemballa's more extreme creations.I have Googled it without success.Does anyone know?Also what's the story on the rearwards visibility ?
I would not be game to be driving it around the Arc De Triomph-Place Charles De Gaulle.What would the insurance premium be for it in Paris? Mon Dieu-it does not bear thinking about.Anyway not to my taste but each to his own.
I do like the look of the Renault 16 beside the Porsche in the second shot.The 16 was an advanced car when it was launched and Lotus used the engine in the first model of the Europa.A fact to be memorised for the next motoring trivia night.The link to the club's website above is worth clicking on just to see a wide selection of unusual cars.The site has that chaotic look and functionality which French website designers seem to love.
Thanks for the photos and the story David.

A taste of France

 I reckon that French tourism will need all the help it can get in 2015 so I'm chiming in with my contributions in the hope that someone in the French Tourism Office will notice and thank me in the usual fashion-a return air ticket to Sydney to Paris will be just fine.Nothing fancy-I'll be happy to take the back of the bus if the budget is tight.Dream on.
Anyway some photos of French food -all taken on my meanderings in Paris.French food is just special.Enjoy and plan your trip to France for 2015.

19 Jan 2015

And still they turn up

The February edition of UK Octane magazine carries a story about what they are calling the barn find of the century-90 incredible cars found at a French chateau:Ferrari,Maserati,Bugatti,Facel Vega and more.
The Ferrari is a very valuable 250 California Spyder.Most of the cars are very dilapidated as they were stored in open sheds and barns but the Ferrari was protected in a garage under enormous piles of car magazines.The photographs of the collection in Octane are superb-well worth grabbing a copy of the magazine for.
Most of the collection is being auctioned in Paris on 6th February.You can find details of the auction with some of the Octane photos of the cars on

You would think that by now every barn,chateau,shed and outhouse had been searched but still long forgotten cars keep turning up.

The Porsche 356 in the photos below had been missing for about 40 years until found in Maitland NSW recently.
It's the last 356 T1 made and was built in September 1957.It was the second ever Porsche sent to New Zealand and now it is on its way back  there to undergo a complete restoration in the hands of its new NZ owner-a 356 expert.
It had been disassembled by the most recent owner who had abandoned the restoration.Prior to that it had lain stored somewhere in Newcastle NSW for 30 years.
Many restorations are abandoned.I personally know of a couple of cars which have been restorations of abandoned restorations.Owners start on a restoration full of enthusiasm but circumstances change,they lose heart or they run out of money and the car remains just a sad pile of parts.
I am told that this 356 is complete and all the hard to find parts-ashtrays and pieces of trim etc are still with the car.That's so important.
The first part of the car's return to NZ started last weekend when 356 guru David Nicholls,who took the photos,was part of the rescue team who manhandled the car onto the trailer on a very hot day.

16 Jan 2015

Local colour

                                                              "Love Junk Emporium" - Kincumber,Central Coast,NSW.Leica X Vario photo.

Under an old gum tree...

Porsche 356-Pie In the Sky Roadhouse,Cowan,NSW.7th January 2015.
Leica X1 photo

14 Jan 2015

Always Paris

The events in Paris in the last 7 days have been truly evil .But so for that matter have been events in Nigeria and Syria and Pakistan.There are a lot of evil people on the planet currently.And the west cannot take the moral highground.Invading a country without a UN mandate and any justifiable reason and using drones and fighter jets to assasinate people in foreign lands and then passing off massive civilian casualties as "collateral damage" strikes me as being evil too.

So I won't resort to social media superficiality and add the words or hashtag "Je Suis Charlie"to the blog.My voice or silly hashtag sadly will not change a thing so all I can do is to flip to distraction mode and think of the good things in life and in France in particular and what better place to start than lunch.

Lunch in France and in Paris in particular is still a big deal.If you have not found a seat in your favourite restaurant by 12.45 you may well be unlucky.It's a tradition I heartily support-long may it continue. Here's my personal take on the Parisien lunch- with sunshine and laughter -commodities in very short supply in the last 7 days. Let's hope that I get many more opportunities to add to this personal portfolio.Leica X1 and Canon G7 photos.

The jacket

 A vintage,and still regularly used,motorcycle jacket I spotted hanging in my neighbour's garage a few days ago.I had my camera with me and grabbed this quick shot.
I have posted this for a frustrated photographer I know, Stefan,-a Leica X1 owner who laments that he cannot find anything to photograph.
Leica X Vario photo.

12 Jan 2015

Bathurst 12 hour race

I'm planning to go to the Bathurst 12 hour GT race at Mt Panorama Bathurst on Sunday 8th February.It will be the first modern motor race I have been to since the Le Mans 24 hours in 2011.I don't do the Aussie F1 GP nowadays and I definitely don't do V8 Supercars.
My only concern is that it will be scorching hot.I am getting too old to stand on the side of a mountain for 12 hours in heatstroke conditions which it was last year.
The entry list for this year's race is looking good.See ENTRY LIST
It will be worth going just to see the Bentleys hurtling around Mt Panorama.
In my opinion there are only 6 classic motor race circuits left-the Nurburgring Nordschleife,Monza,Indianapolis,Spa,Le Mans and Bathurst Mount Panorama.I don't include Monaco because really it is a silly circuit really totally unsuitable for racing.If it wasn't in Monaco it would not be considered suitable for racing.

Some photos from my archives of glorious Bathurst.Firstly John Goss on his way to winning the 1985 Bathurst 1000km touring car race in a TWR Jaguar XJS.Photo taken at the top of the mountain.
The rest of the photos are from the Festival of Motor Sport held at Easter on Mount Panorama a few years ago.These photos give a good idea of the nature of the circuit.
I am planning to try and do some serious motor racing action photography at the 12 hours with some serious gear.This will be a bit of a turnaround for me.More details later.

10 Jan 2015

5 photos in 20 minutes

I'm out on my daily exercise walk at or even before 6.00am almost every day of the year.It's a routine I have had for many years and which I try and maintain even when I am travelling.I don't do lying in.I often, but not always, take my camera-invairably the Leica X1 because it is compact and light and has a fixed lens and a very easy to use viewfinder.It's a great "street" camera. I carry it in my hand with the strap wrapped around my hand so that I don't look or feel like a dorky tourist.
I am very fortunate to live in a beautiful place and the weather is usually kind to me on my walk. Over the years I have taken many worthwhile photos on my walks -at home and away.This morning was exceptional.I grabbed 5 worthwhile shots in just 20 minutes.The camera metadata confirms the timing.I actually took 8 photos in total but 3 were different angles on the 5 subjects.
The first,inevitable,cat shot was taken just up my street.The pick of the crop for me has to be the lady with her dog.People ask me how do you get a shot like that.It's easy. I saw this happy lady and her seriously big dog strolling along the esplanade and I just asked her outright-"please can I take your photo." She was delighted to pose.If you don't ask you won't get the chance.
Here they are -5 photos taken between 5.58am and  6.17 am today 10th January in Terrigal.

9 Jan 2015

Smile time

After the appalling barbarity of this week I thought that a couple of amusing photos would not go amiss.
Firstly a couple of lorikeets at a table at the Surf Cafe at Terrigal early this morning.They have learnt that sugar comes on the black packets left on the tables and they certainly like some sugar.Diabetics in the making.As you can see they take the packet out of the holder with their beaks then put it on the table and then hold the packet with one claw and tear it open with their beaks.This is a big crop from a Leica X1 photo as I could not risk frightening them off if I got any closer.Whilst it is an amusing scene they are actually a real nuisance at local cafes as they are really brazen and not easily deterred.

Secondly garden gnomes for the risque garden.His and her flasher gnomes.Certainly not your common or garden garden gnomes.Seen on a roadside stall in the Czech Republic.Canon G7 photo.

A Vincent and a Velocette

Pie in the Sky (PITS) Roadhouse-Cowan-Old Pacific Highway,NSW.Wednesday 7th January.You can always count on seeing some interesting machinery at PITS almost anyday of the week and this day did not disappoint.Leica X1 photos.

6 Jan 2015

"Winter in America is cold..."

Sitting at the computer on a very hot and humid day it's difficult to envisage bitter cold but having travelled to Chicago,Montreal and Milwaukee in the depths of winter over the years I have great sympathy for people who have to live there and put up with the winters.One such person is Aussie Scott Ferrier who is a Rolling Road reader and a designer in Ford's Product Design Centre in Dearborn.Michigan and he likes his Porsches.I just recently received an email from him as follows-

"Porsche driving is a bit different over here now ,as most of the cars are now hibernating due to the lower temperatures and salt on the roads.

Because my car is not a garage queen and has led a hard life – I am still using it until the real snow comes !  I had to rotate my company car last week and now have the new Mustang to keep the 944 company in the garage.

It’s amazing how much smaller the 944 is than the Mustang as you can see in the image.Sorry about the nose on my 944, it had a bad case of track rash which I hated so I filled all the stone chips but ran out of time before the temperature fell below the level for painting in the garage.

I resisted the temptation to get the full on 5.0 Mustang and instead went with my head and ordered the 4 cylinder turbo which is very similar to the 944 turbo I am told by someone who has driven both vehicles, I swapped my turbo for the 5.0 yesterday and was surprised at the difference – the 5.0 is an all American muscle car whereas the 4 cylinder is much more European in feel.

Next year I will be more active in the Porsche community and will post some more images of some of the members collections……. Some of which have 15 Porsches in their various garages.

I will take my trusty Olympus SLR to Cars’ Coffee and get some detailed shots of the mega money cars that turn up when the sun is shining rather than the smartphone snaps that are so convenient."

The first photo shows the 944 with the 2.3 V4 Turbo Mustang.
The second photo was taken at Scott's local cars and coffee meet.There are no details of this longnose but it really does look very well done.
In the final photo the car is wearing an unusual paint job.It's not a colour many would choose for a Porsche and the front end of the car in that colour does remind me of a Triumph TR7-not a compliment.The TR7 and the Triumph Spitfire were both offered in that brown.
I once had a company Triumph Stag in a darker shade of brown.It was actually a very fun and reliable car and I just overlooked the colour.You do that with company cars.