caterwauls

allusions to illusions in steel

fast forward to a not so secret lust for motorcycles and cars  
 
 

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1989 Suzuki Katana 1100  

They say it'll go 174 mph!

I don't want to be on if it does.

GSX 1100FK

 

Aside from batteries, brake pads and tires, this bike has cost me little in maintenance since new. The 136 HP dohc 16 valve
1127 cc engine, even after 25 years has phenomenal power.  I am still on the original 532 chain. The wide seat is comfortable for day long cruising and the plastic is in great shape. Many think it is a new bike!  It has been totally reliable and pleasurable to own.
How could I not love my Suzuki? 
Suzuki Katana

 
Duffy Lake run near Lillooet BMW and Katana riders in the idyllic Pemberton Valley the Katana at Seton Lake
old codgers codging short standers standing need anything else? Seton Lake lunchtime


 

Vital Mission

the secret ride of a motorcycle enthusiast

Dawn. The eastern horizon is torn with dark gray cloud over an amber glow. I can see my breath in the chill air.
The Spitfire propeller spins with a whistle, the engine chugs its rhythmical warm up .... my mission, is vital ...

Motorcycles. Do their images evoke subliminal illusions? Spitfire dreams? Like those illustrious WWII aircraft? Perhaps. A secret life begins as a private emotion washing over me when I swing my leg over the seat of my Suzuki 1100 Katana. The rush as the engine catches takes the gray out of my hair, erases the creases from my tired countenance and dispels the lethargy from my limbs.

A foot twitch, a snick into first gear and Iím taking off on a two wheeled time machine. Age has thundered by and I am now a man with a worn face and worn leathers wearing a red bandana and a steel knuckle attitude. Worn but not worn out. Yet I can be a courageous young pilot climbing into a perilous sky, venturing into a hidden, fantasy realm.

Twist my wrist. Department of Acceleration - Ministry of Speed. Churning horsepower. Leave my heart in a little tray at the starting line, come back for a gulp of blood in five seconds - back in ten for a pint of nerve. I simply have to sit there to clear out my cholesterol. Triple bypass in steel.

Motorcycles crammed into showrooms are like impatient packs of hunting hounds to me. Ready to go, anxious to run. Cry Havoc! and let slip the dogs of war - and Shakespeare never laid eyes on a motorcycle. The sleek Katana attracted me the moment I saw it crouching amid those other glinty-eyed mechanical beasts, vents and scoops expressing the Science of Swift. Superb paint; a slippery black glinting of blue in angled light like a scintillation of midnight sky.

The electric windscreen can be thumbed up and down like a Star Wars deflector shield. ĎUse the force, Luke.í The Whirling Dervish wheels are doing ninety at standstill, the drill pattern in the discs like a power saw blade, slicing into the wind, cutting down the miles. This is the Samarai long sword with which to slay the gray dragon of dreariness. Steal his fire and stoke my furnace.

This bike has ABS, an Anti Boredom System. Who needs to stop? Just go. Down the road, over the hills, playing the Sea to Sky highway, singing across the Tyrol or whispering through the hush of the Dordogne Valley into Lifetime. I know where oblivion is and I can hide there.

The game is afoot. Youíll catch a glimpse of me slashing across the pavement, a stab of sunlight and Iím gone, chasing my vanished youth if you like. But now I am a young rider, alert, aggressive, pitched forward with deliberate intent - from a line of William Aytoun; Like a tempest down the ridges, swept the hurricane of steel. I am a Royal Knight plunging fearlessly into the dark den of danger, reigning my black champing steed, brandishing a flashing Excalibur.

A dauntless paladin in the lists who gives no quarter and asks none. Vanquishing the chimera of languor. No need for fear because Iím loyal to the Order. And I can liquidly morph right there before your eyes. Become a floating osprey, free on the thick morning air, drifting, knowing a capricious wind, plummeting out of a sapphire sky as a swift aerial predator raking the water surface with talons of carbon steel.

My Katana is a lunging black panther. It has STEALTH too. I can sneak up on some non-dreamer and suck his soul into the air scoops, ram it through the engine and waft it out in misty patches of white fog to hang over the highway as a hot, acrid scent. Such is the fate of the left-brained. Thereís no other sign that I have passed this way. But do I need a bike that goes fast enough to project me into space? A flaming firebrand that will sling me around the sun in elliptical orbit? Can I pour in a slick verve with the fresh oil? Fill the tank with high octane courage? I am quiet strength with potential potency. Fury lurks beneath my steady gaze. Do I need to answer questions?

I slide alongside the pearlescent white of a long frothing beach - throbbing engine, rumbling surf, motocross waves, frosty spray - then sweep skyward as a spiraling eagle until my clarion exhaust howl calls forth angels, six-winged seraphim standing sentry over a sacred place. Michael, my guardian angel, allows me safety amid his pillared heavens. I touch his cool stainless sword.  I am sunlight glinting through storm clouds. My machinery is black and purple and silver against a teal and ultramarine sky. Mauve streaks of cloud reflect on the faring and free-form silhouettes are shadowed against the polish. Artistic distortion. There are a hundred stunning abstracts in those murky reflections, flowing colour, melting fusing images. Inspiration.

Work of art? For sure. Art in motorcycles? Yes. They are in the Guggenheim. Good design breeds functional art. The Admiralty issue long-barreled Luger has it. A Mont Blanc ĎMeisterstŁckí fountain pen has it - the 1970s Maserati Ghibli. The Suzuki Nuda is Museum of Modern Art material, as is the Harley Davidson Softtail Springer, and my friendís Vincent Black Shadow if he still has it. What of Lawrence of Arabiaís Brough Superior? Nortons? Ducatis? Indians? Of course they are art. So are the graceful Supermarine Spitfires in powdered skies.

And the images of mystique summoned by motorcycle names! Black Prince, Ninja, Fat Boy, Manx, Vulcan, Royal Enfield.

Two Velocettes have been on my mind for years after seeing them one squall-threatened, darkening night at a deserted Canadian border crossing. One had burnished gold accents over its black and the other had writing on the front fender - ĎVenom Thruxton.í  The leathered riders attended to their business with an aura of mystery as I watched their small tail-lights fade into the mottled moonscape.

I have a sepia photograph of my father, taken on his 1928 Harley and my son has the Suzuki Intruder. They look heroic on their bikes. And my daughter rides a Harley like a blonde valkyrie, forcing the beast to obey her capricious whims. And yes, I too, am drawn to these image enhancers, accomplices who will aid me in my furtive fight against time, those whoíll lie to me with sweet-orange breath and sibilant whispers.

But I donít see myself as a knee-down, spark-spurting racer. I am too old for that. Pain and torture are not my thing. Yet I donít mind being stung a little. Challenged. Maybe Iím a goggled dispatch rider carrying a secret message, aware of my imperative purpose, codes hidden in my head - steganography - concealing the very existence of a cryptic cipher. Invisible inks swiftly melting into the fabric countryside. Sound absorbed by the tall grasses. Now Iím gone.

No, itís not all machismo. I donít think of any motorcycle as a subjected woman. A paramour. Thereís no conquest here. Iím a simple dreamer, thinking of a bike more as a fine chestnut horse who can be my trusted friend, waits patiently for my call and understands when I canít make it. Always likes me. Perhaps I am the mythological Rinaldo on Bayard.

Now thereís silence. No soundtrack. Iím remote viewing myself as though filming from a helicopter. Iím alone down there on the road. Itís early evening, orange sunlight slants over the landscape. The cliff-edge grass is liquid topaz, undulating waves in rhythm with a hammered gold sea. Pungent aromas linger as invisible vapors above the pavement. I glide through them, smelling, sampling, tasting. The wanton wind whispers lascivious suggestions in my ears. Iím pressed into the seat, dangerously close to sensory overload, dangerously close to disappearing forever into the galactic mists.

Punch it on this straight, feel the surge, donít slow too much for the curve. Do I look good? Twilight spreads a cobalt sky. Not to hurry. I like country roads at night on a bike. Navigating by starlight. I rely on Orion to protect me and Polaris to guide me home. The salubrious air is heavy with the smell of harvest hay and horses and thereís something comforting in the vision of lonely yellow lights swaying beside dark barn shapes and the bel canto sounds of barking farm dogs. I vanish into the dusk as a silent, hunting owl. Rara avis. Stardust settles on the landscape.

Do you understand? There is a secret, tantalizing seduction going on here and I donít want to diminish it. A typhoon of fantasy spills over me when I ride, transporting me noiselessly into the liquescence of another dimension, blissfully far from reality yet rapturously close to the very core of life, contemplating its tints and shades. The fragrance of clover, the pungency of summer grass, the bite of the wind. Iím experiencing every nuance of sensory perception. An irrepressible feeling bubbles out of old bones like a slow leak in a wet inner tube. Oozing. Hissing if I listen close enough.

Whatever revelations come sweeping out of the crevices of my mind, harsh and dried like a desert sirocco or as a blustery winter tempest, I will be ready for. Iím adhering to that mystic, esoteric religion of free spirit. The effect of my actions determining my destiny - Karma. Itís been said you can die from riding a motorcycle - You can die from being alive - and Iím a devoted disciple perfecting the Art of Dying. Going around THIS time. To paraphrase Arthur Stanley; I claim no throne, I only ask to share, the common liberty, of earth and air.

Iím filing a flight plan for an ethereal, secret journey.

A secret ride, in a secret sky.

.... Hit the kill switch .... Salute my squadron commander .... Vital mission completed again .....

Someday,    we may not return,    but for now  ..... 

 some of us young devil defying pilots have Michael the Guardian Angel at our side.

LAND

© 1998 by R.C. Westerholm

 

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 Velocette Venom Thruxton

 
 

Velocette Venom Thruxton

 
 

 

 
 

   About eleven hundred of the 500cc bikes were produced in Birmingham, England in 1966. But in spite of the superb quality and engineering, by the end of the decade, Velocette was no more. They could get up to 120 mph. In 1967, two Venom Thruxtons were entered in the 500 cc production TT on the Isle of Man and they finished 1st and 2nd! The winner, Neil Kelly was clocked at 129 mph on his road-going single! The Venom set the 24 hour record of over 100mph including fuel, rider, tire and chain change stops. This record still stands! Not bad for 47 hp and drum brakes. Today Velocettes are treasured by their owners everywhere, caringly restored and looked after, and appreciatively ridden. I still hope to own one someday! 

 

 

 

 

Bucket list item -  The Isle of Man Tourist Trophy Race


Before I die all tucked in bed

before my feeble heart gives in
before I die with addled head
before confessing all my sin.

Before I feel my soul set free

and go to meet that final plan,
take me out in the Irish Sea
to the TT race on the Isle of Man.

© Bob Westerholm


7 minutes of adrenalin - the camera is NOT speeded up! 


Courage or Insanity?      Focus or Freedom?      Addiction or Absolution?      Death or Life itself? 

 


               song - Faster   by  Within Temptation       ©  written by Sharon J. Den Adel, Robert Westerholt, Daniel Bjorn Gibson.

 

Li'l metal motorbikers - circa 1930s

 

 
 

These are stunt riders! Don't try this at home!

The teeny bikers are less than 2 inches long, all metal, seem like hard rubber tires, probably made in Britain. They sorta look like WWII dispatch riders on a secret mission.
The bike COULD be a 1931 AJS33 or more likely a 1931 Ariel Square-Four judging by the 'fishtail' exhaust and the gear lever alongside the tank on the right side. A stunning bike when introduced in 1931.
  

 

 

real one

.

 

The Duffy Lake loop - a motorcyclist's dream ride

dock at Brittannia - Sea to Sky Hwy  Porteau Cove on Howe Sound  The Chief at Squamish  Pemberton Valley ranch  Square-Cut Log House  Indian rodeo at Pemberton  Indian Paints  Pemberton Valley road    
Lillooet Lake  Snow and solitude  Spring torrent at Cayoosh Creek  Duffy Lake  lunch stealer Canada Jay  serene Duffy Lake
glacial gorge near Lillooet  Seton Lake near Lillooet  mystic Seton Lake  Into gold  in the Cayoosh mountains  Gold Rush remembrance near Lillooet  Lillooet, BC   
on the road to Lytton  Halfway Ranch ginseng farm  Fraser canyon Rabbit Brush  The Fraser and Thomson rivers meet  Lytton, BC, Canada's hotspot 
Ranch country on the Fraser plateau  Mountain goats south of Lillooet  Big Sky country north of Lillooet
 Jackass Mountain summit Fraser Canyon

 

click image to enlarge - back button to return


Fill your tank, check your tires and RIDE!  Wear your leathers. Look cool. Pack your lunch and snacks, you won't want to go inside anywhere along this route. And DON'T forget your camera. The whole trip is about 500 km or 350 miles and can be done in a meandering day, Vancouver to Vancouver all on paved roads.

You'll see astounding country all along the way and know why British Columbia  is called SuperNatural. The fun starts after Whistler when you're likely to have the road all to yourself on a sunny weekday.  Leave about 7:30 am and Pemberton is about 2 and a half hours, 157 km. You could be in Lillooet by lunchtime and Boston Bar, 365 km, by about 2 pm. But why hurry? Let the spectacular scenery imbue your soul with exhilaration!

From Vancouver you go north across the Lions Gate bridge through West Vancouver to Horseshoe Bay and along the cliff-edged Sea-to-Sky Highway overlooking beautiful Howe Sound to Squamish - twist your way on to the world's number one ski resort, Whistler, but this is not about cold winter fun, so pass up the tourists and get on into the warm back country.

Now it gets wonderfully quiet on the road - winding through craggy hills  to Pemberton - rest stop in the valley entrance - then east past small farms, ranches and Indian rodeos to Mount Currie and Lillooet Lake - begin the climb into the Big Sky country of the majestic Cayoosh Range mountains to the Joffrey Lakes area - onto the high plateau to narrow Duffy Lake, always with snowcapped views, even in midsummer - then into shaded caverns and rocky canyons beside cascading icy cold torrents, plunging one minute, then climbing into crisp cool air the next. You're never far from forest vistas, fresh water or breathtaking glacial peaks.  Your only danger here is euphoria.

Then drop again to Seton Lake, a great overlook lunch stop before moving into dry country Lillooet - you are half way around! - Cross the Fraser and head south on highway 12 toward Lytton on undulating road alongside the mighty Fraser River and pine clad mountains - Lytton, often the hottest place in Canada,  is where the Thompson River freshens the Fraser - join the #1 Highway and continue south on fast road to Boston Bar and a series of tunnels and deserted homesteads - weathered reminders of Caribou Gold Rush days, you might even sight a lonely camel.

The air is becomes cooler now and the terrain changes again into the coastal climate with the pines thinning out - choose between taking the Hope route west on Freeway #1 through the Fraser Valley or the Lougheed Hwy route north side of the Fraser for a slower more countryside ride. You could have seen mountain sheep, mountain goats, black bear, deer, osprey, bald eagles, magpies, hawks, ravens, weasels, and our friendly Canada jays, who will steal your lunch if they can.

The round trip is best taken in a whole day with time for plenty of photography stops and snacks beside blue lakes, cool streams and farms or lofty dramatic mountains. Vancouver to Lillooet is halfway (261 km) and there's a wonderful rest point beside Duffy Lake or above Seton Lake for your lunch.  In case you're having a bet about those tunnels between Boston Bar and Hope, here they are - North to South - China Bar, Ferrabee, Hell's Gate, Alexandra, Sailor Bar, Saddle Rock and Yale. The Duffy Lake loop is a famous perfect ride for any enthusiast, no matter what bike you ride.  And it lends itself to a meandering, leisurely tour.

A purist's dream road through British Columbia's abundant wilderness that'll leave you breathless, grounded, and wanting another go around.  The plunge into our awesome realm of nature will make you feel small  ....  and that's a big thing!  Go do it!

 

You can also follow this route on Google Earth via Hwy 99 - Hwy 12 - Hwy 1 (or Lougheed Hwy) - with many more uploaded pictures available.

...

            NOW!  - see the Lillooet - Pavilion - Marble Canyon - Cache Creek - Lytton leg of this loop here  > 

 

 

Why I say WOW on a motorcycle ride through BC High Country, all within short hours of Vancouver.

 


solitude is precious


 

 

   
 

Anyone know what these are?  Usually seen on fence posts between Princeton, Merritt, Logan Lake. They appear to be about a 14 inch high bird house and have a metal plaque attached which says;

Southern Interior    Bluebird Trail    phone 499- 2121   Oliver, B.C.

The phone number seems outdated, and the houses appear to be used. I wonder if they are part of some  bird conservation project? Or an encouragement to have beneficial birds nesting near crops? I wonder if Western Bluebirds are what they are for.  As they are very beneficial to crops I assume it is so. Drop me an email if you know about these little bird houses.  Do ornithology and motorcycling go together? You bet they do, one of the reasons we are attracted to motorcycles is because we are basically travelling outdoors!

 

 

 

some current lusts        
Suzuki Hayabusa     Suzuki M109
 Suzuki Hayabusa    Susuki Nuda Concept   Suzuki M109 R

The Hayabusa, the fastest production bike ever, said to get 200 mph right out of the box! It reached cult status overnight.

 

Beautiful design, not in production ... yet, but you can see one at the  Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain!

 

The M109R is Suzuki's  classy cruiser bike with smooth fabulous power and a style all it's own!

 

Nice site about the Vancouver, Coast and Mountains Region for riding

- http://ridevcmbc.cribi.com/ -


 

 

  genetically correct       from my C&W song - Softtail Springer
     

        My dad on his 1928 Harley

 

 

Motorcycle rider, trackin' the road, I got freedom in my saddlebags ain't no heavy  load. Got no destination, I ride with no plan. See me passin' by, a motorcycliní man. 
Softtail Springer, dreamin' along. A hard life singer with a tail pipe song, about a cheatin' woman who's hangin' on me. Now I'm movin' on through the land Of the free.

Feel that rumble, hear that roar? If it ain't makin' thunder tell me what is it for? Fight the revolution goin' on in my head. Pounding evolution painted sweet candy red.
Hard knuckle fever, a right handed squeeze, my creakin' black leather got the highway disease. Steel toed boots, and steely hard stare.  Steel hearted woman, oh she never did care.

CHORUS;

Softtail Springer, I own the big sky,  chrome plated winger,
I'll ride 'till I die.

Dragon-fire demons, and deadly dark flights, I own the days, but she owns the nights.

Ain't no cure, for lovin' her so, and I heard the street whisper why can't I let go? She's a lyin' down woman, with flirtin' green eyes,
I'm a pigtail'd traveller headin' over the skies.
Motorcycle rider, leave her behind, Grab myself some liberty get outa my mind, so I got my answer, tell you what I am;
a Softtail Springer Harley Davidson man.

    ... a Softtail Springer Harley Davidson man.

 

My son on his 2012 Harley ...

 

    Copyright 1994 R.C. Westerholm (SOCAN)

 


 

One of the first jobs I ever had was driving a Harley Servicar to pick up customer's cars for servicing at Johnson Motors in Vancouver. I was 16. You rode the bike to the customer's home or place of business, attached a trailer hitch similar to what you see here to the car's rear bumper and drove the vehicle towing the bike wherever you needed to go. Note the gear shift lever beside the gas tank. I had the Harley on two wheels once, on the curved ramp from Hemlock Street onto the Granville bridge. Unintended of course.  Scary even for a teenager full of guts and stupidity. You don't lean into a turn on a 3 wheeled Harley, you slow down! The job was fun until they fired me.

 

 

Billy Connelly - Route 66 - 4 episodes on PBS

Billy Connelly Route 66 on a Trike


 

Are you lusting for a bike? Middle age rebellion? Recalling teen years of freedom? Maybe you're thinking of buying one now that you can afford it.  Might be a good idea to take a refresher course from your local Motorcycle Safety Foundation.  At least read about what you're getting into if you have not been in the saddle for many years - Tuning-Up-for-Riders

Motorcycle Safety Foundation - www.ridertraining.org

Motorcycle maintenance tips - You can always remember something you've forgotten or learn something new that could make your ride safer -  http://www.motosport.com/motorcycle/category/Motorcycle-Parts/motorcycle-maintenance-tips

Motorcycle Safety Foundation - USA - pick your state - http://www.msf-usa.org/

                  Motorcycle Safety Foundation training is highly recommended - Experts take you through every conceivable
                  situation for riding a bike - Making your riding safer and more enjoyable.

Destination Highways - http://www.destinationhighways.com/dh/Current Feature/3.htm

                   A fantastic series of books with detailed road rides - You can even click to see streaming media taken from a
                   helmet cam travelling the actual road you want to try!

Suzuki Canada - http://www.suzuki.ca/  -  Here you can see Suzuki's fabulous Hayabusa and the M109R

Trev Deeley Vancouver - Harley Davidson motorcycles - (ask them about their free museum too) -  http://www.trevdeeley.com/

British Motorcycle Owners Club - for those who like fish & chips - http://www.bmoc.ca/index.html

Excellent information here on British Columbia roads http://www.drivebc.ca/

Langley RoadRiders Motorcycle Club -  welcomes guest riders -   http://www.langleyroadriders.com/index.htm

Greater Vancouver Motorcycle Club - celebrating 88 years! - http://www.gvmc.ca/

Border Riders MC Club - For Washington, Oregon & British Columbia gay men -  http://www.borderriders.com/

Coast Riders Motorcycle Club - http://www.coastriders.ca/     

A nice site about riding in Europe - http://www.lazymotorbike.eu/

Vancouver Motorcycle Show - January  20 - 22, 2017  - Now 3 days! -   http://www.vancouvermotorcycleshow.ca/

 

 

 

Scott, living to ride, riding to live

 

 

         

 

Some of the great automobiles I have been fortunate enough to own, drive and appreciate.

     

1969 BMW 1600 ti

The sweetest little Bimmer this side of MŁnchen

1969 BMW 1600 ti.  

A car that descended through all the males of the family.  Ordered by my Dad in 1969 ... sold to my brother in the 70s ... sold to me in the 80s, sold to my son in the 90s ... sadly no longer with us. But a great little car with oodles of poop! The 1600 ti was classic in German blue and grey and a thrill to wind through the gears while listening to the twin Solexes suck in the air and the Abarth exhaust spewing it out as power at the other end. Only 1200 made.  The first car with suspension designed specifically for the characteristics of radial tires.

 

My little 700 Coupe (below) from NŁrburgring racing never got going here, and the 3.0 Bavaria was big and fast but the 1600 ti I miss most.

 

I have had the unique experience of buying a BMW for European delivery and picking it up at the factory in Munich. A thrill to see your own Bavaria freshly minted. We drove about 50,000 miles in Europe going as far north as Kronoby in Finland near the Arctic Circle, and south to North Africa from Spain. we criss-crossed Europe for a year and visited almost every country in Western Europe. The Bavaria was comfortable, roomy and safe for a family of four intrepid adventurers. I BMW 700 Nurbergring coupe

1974 BMW Bavaria My 700 Coupe race car from Nűrburgring

 

 

      My 1974 Bavaria in Spain     Der German export Zee-plate

 

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Bimmer vs Beamer.  Even the Munich factory in Bavaria makes the distinction that a Bimmer, is the automobile, and a Beamer, is the BMW motorcycle.  Become Sie den Terminologie, korrigiert bitte.  It is important.  Ja?


 

Peregrine traveling

 Travel does broaden one's horizons, and you acquire a feeling of respect for the people of the countries visited if you view them with an open mind for their situation and not in the context of yours. Not everyone envies the North American lifestyle. Simple is better and there is something to learn from every society.
Some of the countries that we have been fortunate enough to visit, and even live in, follow here; Andorra, the tiny co-principality in the Pyrenees  between France and Spain - Austria - Belgium, the best pommes frites anywhere! - Denmark, with all those mellow Danes! - England - Finland, to family at Kronoby on the Arctic Circle - France, where even railroad stations have gourmet food - Germany, the friendliest people - Gibraltar, you couldn't get there from Spain in 1974, you had to go on a boat (the Mons Calpe) from Algeciras to the continent of Africa at Tangier, then back from there, even though 'the Rock' actually overlooks the isthmus from Algeciras! - Italy, wonderfully chaotic driving fun - Liechtenstein - Luxembourg - Monaco - Netherlands - Norway - Portugal - San Marino - Scotland - Slovenia, (Jugoslavia then) - Spain, easy living on the Costa del Sol, hurra por la siesta! Andalusia is a wonderful place to idle away time or write your novel - Sweden - Switzerland, I know where the best restaurant in the world is, but I can't tell you - (well maybe, ask me again later) - Vatican City - Wales - Morocco - Lebanon - Iran - India - Thailand - Singapore - Hong Kong - Japan - Hawaii.
And not a bad experience in any one of them. During a year of travel, the people we met were friendly, accommodating and happy. And we learned that other cultures' different values are not necessarily lesser values. 
                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Most of this travelling was from the driver's seat of a '74 BMW Bavaria, bought on European Delivery plan from Vancouver and picked up at the factory in Munich. It enabled complete freedom in visiting Europe and going wherever one wanted, often on the older back roads, where the older, cheaper yet grander hotels are now managed by families who care that you enjoy.  We lived in Spain between Fuengirola and Marbella.
  
                                           

As a writer, the memories and experiences of travel find their way into all your writing; images, snatches of conversations, the ambience, and the people you meet remain in your heart.  And when you're back in beautiful British Columbia,  you'll think of it as the best province in the best country in the world!
 

 

 


wee Robbie in his roadster     Some of us got hooked on cars right from the get go, like as soon as we felt that gear shift knob in our hand. My first car was sporty and the headlights worked from a battery and It steered too.  It was kind of light green and yellow, like sherbet.

You could put a red sock over that spot light and pretend you were a cop! Scare all those Lover's Lane people in their back seats. Well, I didn't, but could have. And it went as fast as your chubby legs could make it go.  They got the white-walls wrong though, they're supposed to be on the SIDE wall, not the tread. 

They were fuel efficient too, a peanut butter sangy and you were gone. I think the gas companies conspired to get these beauties off the road, or maybe Mercedes-Benz because they knew the Smart Car was coming. There was only room for one, but Manuel Fangio never had passengers at NŁrburgring either, driving was alone and a personal challenge in those days. It was zen before we even imported zen.  

I might have cried when this car went, and it wasn't the last time either. Wish I had that hat today, I could become a chick magnet all over again.

Cute lil Robbie in his Vvvrrooooooooom machine!

If anyone can identify the car, let me know, please.


 

 

1953 Buick SpeciallMy '53 Buick Special.
 Really

A very strong car, great for the time.

AAA

 

 

 

50 Ford convertible   46 Ford Business Coupe   Toyota Celica GTS

  My 1950 Ford convertible - about the coolest car a  teenager could have, you usually kept the top up because you didn't want your Brylcreem leaking.  Skirts on the car, a skirt in the front seat, sunshine - what more could a guy ask?

 

First car - the  '46 Ford business coupe - lots of monkey business went on in there - glass-pack mufflers and everything.

 

 1987 Toyota Celica GTS - fast, black and furious - what else?


 

 

1956 Mercedes-Benz  300 SL coupe.

The Gullwing is often considered the most desirable sports car ever. In the early fifties, Alfred Neubauer  wanted to return Mercedes to racing and as it was told to me, was limited in the cost of such a venture at the time. The factory had a war surplus of aluminum aircraft tubing and hence the first monocoque car frame was born, which weighed about 160 lbs. The tubing was designed to allow only push-pull stress and no bending stress at all, making it very strong.

However the SL (sport leicht) Gullwing is an engineer's delight,  creating a new problem while solving the last one. In order to make the frame strong the tubing rails ran high along the side of the car, necessitating the high sills and door cutouts resulting in the upward swinging doors.
It was a wonderfully easy design, using only two springs to help raise it and it's own weight came into play as it was lowered to about two-thirds down.  The shape of the door had to follow the curve of the bodywork  so the windows couldn't roll down. You had to undo latches inside and take them right out. There was a leather case to slide them into behind the seats. 

The complete underbody was sealed with three belly pans for airflow. The first 300 SLs won almost everything they entered but were not related to the SLRs or the 300 sedans. They were very aerodynamic with the straight 6 engine slanted 50 degrees for low frontal area and center of gravity.

 

The SL coupes weighed about 2800 lbs as the hood, doors, trunk and rocker panels were aluminum. (A modern Corvette weighs about 3200 lbs) Some all aluminum cars were built in 1955. About 1400 300SLs in total, 311 in 1956. And it was probably the first case where the street car that succeeded the racing car was faster and more powerful as it was to be the new race car for 1954 but the factory quit racing after a horrific crash at Le Mans.

The 3 liter straight six engine had Bosch mechanical fuel injection, (which sensed altitude so the car didn't lose power in mountathe Gullwing at Brockton Pointins) and produced about 240 horsepower at the rear wheels and ran about 160 -175 miles per hour as a street car.  A remote oil tank holding 16 quarts kept it lubricated and a 35 gallon gas tank kept you going and filled the entire trunk with only enough room for the second fuel pump and the spare tire. The 2nd fuel pump could be activated from inside the car for additional  pressure during  spirited driving and the ignition could be advanced or retarded from a switch on the dash also.  Many factory mechanics suggest that no two 300SLs are alike as they made so many enhancements throughout the production run.

It handled like a truck at low speeds, came on the cam at about 3700 RPM and then felt like you were in a catapult. Thrilling you all the way into the high fourth gear and filling your ears with a delightful threatening snarl. It was a strong pull but required some degree of skill and confidence to drive fast.

The interior in mine was all red leather, with a Becker-Mexico signal-seeking radio. Separate heat controls for passenger and driver. A rail behind the seats followed the curve at the rear window and two custom leather suitcases nestled into the space, strapped down and secure.  The coupes were from 1954 - 1957 - the roadsters were from 1958.

 

4 300SLs at Classic showroom

 

very rare sight - 4 Gullwings together - mine is far left

 

The primary aim was to cut aerodynamic drag to a minimum. The result was a streamlined low form with few adornments, a car which adhered faithfully to its design brief and which has retained its freshness and allure to the present day.  The 300 SL Gullwing coupe was totally reliable and a pleasure to own and drive but did attract a lot of unwanted attention.

 
 


300SL

 

 

 

 

 

The oldies and a goodie

 
   Mom in her first car, a 1930 Chev, waiting for Clyde who just went into the bank to make a cash withdrawal  

    The 1938 Ford picture may be worn and torn but even in sepia the memories aren't.

 

     
  1973 Alfa Romeo Berlina 1750
  Genetics again - My Father's Jaguar  XK 120  roadster - do you recall the Ralph Meeker version
of the movie - Kiss Me Deadly? - I think the British call this a 'drop head' coupe. but then a truck is a 'lorry' too.
  My Italian Supercar disguised as a 1973
Alfa Romeo Berlina 1750 sedan. The coolest little highway 'Q-ship' you could get.
     
   
          My 1976 Fiat 131s. Tony, leave it alone!               Veloce bellissimo!    

 


 

1967 MGB roadster

The 1967 MGB roadster in which I won the BC slalom championship in the Large Sports class. Competing in about 36 motorsport events that year, including slaloms, (gymkhanas) rallys, and hillclimbs, including Knox Mountain in Kelowna. I joined the Royal City Sports Car Club and have lifelong friends from participating in motorsports events

A club membership for motorcycle or sports car enthusiasts is a great and safe way to learn about and enjoy your interest. There is always someone who knows how to do it and will help you! Don't be shy to join, you'll be one of the group in no time.

I designed my own hoop roll bar which ended up saving my life in a roll over. And did small tuning adjustments when I could.  I changed the front grill and installed all Cibiť driving lights, cool, huh? Like daylight in the dark. The removable hardtop made it cozy in winter and aerodynamic for racing. The soft top with rails came in a package in the trunk. Assembled in minutes.   

Pirellis were the competition tire of choice for my kind of events and they couldn't be the English Pirellis, they had to be Italian! Shhh! Tire pressures for competing were secret!  I painted my wire wheels about once a week!  And waxed the car almost as often!   The B was a guilty pleasure.

     MGBs were safe, reliable, fun and forgiving.   

 

Racing at Know Mountain Hillclimb

at the Knox Mountain Hill Climb, Kelowna, BC

 

 


 

La Bomba

There is the Mini Cooper S of today and then there are the REAL Mini Coopers -  this one would get over 125 mph
and scare the daylights out of an uneducated passenger.  Minis were the original muscle cars, and at the hands of drivers like Timo Makinen and Paddy Hopkirk, won the Monte Carlo rally three years in a row until the French disqualified them the fourth year for wrong driving lights!

Mine was the 1275 cc full racing Cooper S specs and total fun to play in. People who didn't know them were amazed at the performance. You could just put your foot down and steer! On a tight windy road, well, there was that time when the cops .... er ... oh never mind.

A guy named Wray Nixon appeared at Westwood Mountain High race track one year and wowed the spectators AND his competitors by being clocked on the back straight at 147 miles per hour in his Mini Cooper S! The black 777 car was fast. 
 

I have been lucky enough to own seven Minis over the years. Mostly practical little bricks for whatever use, but some, like the Orange La Bomba, seemed to grin at you from the driveway, knowing you couldn't resist taking him out. 

And when you did, he said, "See what fun you were missing?" and you grinned back with inner pleasure, sharing your secret with the little Morris that Eclestone mounted racing slicks on a street car were illegal but oh what fun to just go.   Long live the real Mini!

 

  1960 Morris Mini Cooper 1275 S
 

the Cooper S at Westwood                 

 

Classic Mini Racing

 

Minis came in Austin or Morris versions, basically the same car. The best were the early cars, 60s, with the rounded grill, the simple slide-open windows, outside door hinges, and teeny tail-lights. Inside the gear shift was a great long wand on the floor, and the door pulls were a wire cord! Visibility and interior room were excellent and the handling terrific. You could run for weeks on the same tank of 'petrol' and the 4 banger engines were easy to work on yourself. 

The trunk lid opened down and was held open with another wire cord which enabled us as a family of four, to lash our huge yellow rubber raft to the roof, tie our oversize cooler to the open trunk lid, and head up to the lake for a picnic!  Even the first 850 cc cars were fun to drive and the 1275 cc Cooper S, like my orange la Bomba would literally scare the daylights out of the uninitiated. Minis WERE the very first Muscle cars!

The trick to driving at speed was never taking your foot off the gas pedal. Rain, shine, snow or off track!  Some of the works rally cars in the 60s got 140 horsepower! And Mini races were frantic affairs and so entertaining!

 

 

 

Special message to two auto dealerships - if you see me on TV as a winner of the lotto of millions, consider my appearance as an instruction to prepare my cars for delivery - The Aston in dark grey with natural leather as pictured. Make sure the gas is full. And no dealer stickers on it either!  No offense to Daniel Craig, but I expect to be shaken AND stirred.  - - - The Maserati in the four-door as one needs a family car too, would be good in silver if dark blue is out of stock, with the dark brown Italian glove leather interior of course. Benzina full too please. And make sure there's picnic luggage in the trunk with cold chicken in Tour d'Argent sauce and Auntie Jane's potato salad and two bottles of Montepulciano d'Abruzzo too.  - - - You'll recognize me by the Harpo Marx curly wig, the Groucho mustache and the Jack Nicholson shades.  Ignore it when I say I am going to keep my job and buy the wife a new hat, that's just to throw off the feeders. I have no job and she don't like hats. Just get the cars ready by 6 am, I want a good start getting out of the city before the police get their radar positioned. 
Aston Martin Vantage V8

  Thanks. Ciao amici.

            Maserati Quatroporte Dinamica

 

 

  

     The '63 Chevy Impala Super Sport  was cool        Mazda 626 V6 sedan ...Oh, how we change.         Hyundai Sonata 2.0 T - turbocharged bells and whistles!
   
   
          

 

 

 

There are 10 kinds of people in the world ... those who can read binary, and those who can't.

 

 


coming events for auto and bike enthusiasts - - -

 

Vancouver International Auto Show - March 26 - Apr 2, 2017 - Van Convention Center - Vancouver Auto Show

24 Hours of Le Mans race 2013  - June 17/18 - 2017,  Le Mans,  France - Le Mans 24 hour race

Confederation of Autosport Clubs  -  http://caccautosport.org/       

Mission Historic Motor races - http://www.bchmr.ca/ - Mission Raceway Park  - Aug. 15, 16, 17th.?  A great event to appreciate those vintage race cars.

Langley Good Times Cruise-in -  Saturday in Sept , 2017 ?- 100s of fab cars to see, a great event, bring your lunch - http://www.langleycruise-in.com/

Worthy cause - Vancouver annual Christmas toy run - TBA October, 2016 - Fraser Valley Toy Run - Sunday October , 2016- Look for one in your area, they are fun to watch or participate in when everyone brings their bike for the last ride of autumn.

  The Knox Mountain Hillclimb - Kelowna, BC - May , 2017 -  http://www.knoxmtnhillclimb.ca/

 

Sports Car Club of BC -  www.westwood50.org.

Sports Car Club of America -  http://www.scca.com/home.aspx

Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance -  the world's best - http://www.pebblebeachconcours.net/

  Jay Leno's collection sublime - http://www.jaylenosgarage.com/   

Top Gear  web show - and Jeremy Clarkson  too - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DaZExdTHHjY?Top+Gear+fun=   (unfortunately Jeremy has left the BBC but there are plenty of entertaining episodes still on YouTube.)

Classic and Sports Car Magazine - http://www.classicandsportscar.com - browse forever!

Formula One - worlds greatest racing - http://www.formula1.com/

 


 

                                           Pssst! Oh yeah, that best restaurant I promised? It's on Auntie Jane's yummies page. -

 

           
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All writing and photography © RC Westerholm    
     

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