I’d always been a bike dude, apart from me Moggie van, which I’ll have to describe cos there ain’t no photos of it. Actually, that wasn’t me first motor, there was a Vauxhall Viva van before that, which was plain white except from I’d done the bonnet matt black with a go faster stripe. But that fell to bits on Strand Road in Preston. Me and the girlie (the one with the blonde hair in the first chop photos) were goin to a rock ‘n roll night, an as we’re goin down the road I’m pointing out the sign above the Electricity Board, which was in a real cool electric blue neon. ‘That’s the colour I fancy for me bike.’ I says, cranin me neck to show her behind us. Unfortunately at about the same time all the traffic in front of me stops at the lights. There was this great big crunch, which was me van hittin the stationary Audi in front of me, which even more unfortunately got whacked so hard it ran into the Allegro in front. It was me first proper smash, apart from going under a gypsy lorry on me Triumph, but this time I’d damaged other stuff as well (well, I did damage the lorry, I bashed in his sideboard with me head and split me helmet open (some say that early bang has a lot to answer for) before wakin up underneath it), but this was proper smash with lots of bent vehicles. One of the van front wings had fell off completely an was rockin in the road, there was great piles of rust an filler every, where the bonnet was crumped right up, and the roof was so rusty where it joined the sides it had come apart, and was only held on by the front roof pillars. The Audi was a fair bit crumped up the arse an all. The Allegro had come off okay, it just had the little chrome numberplate thing knocked out of it’s holder on the back bumper. But it must have been driven by a proper jobsworth, cos although the Audi driver was okay about it all, Allegro Man gets out, and is all excited. He got some little traffic cones out of his boot to put round everythin – they were only half-sized and looked rubbish, he must have been drivin round for years hopin for an accident to use them on – an keeps goin, ‘Call the police, call the police’. It turns into a right palava, the cops come, an there’s me and her, her in a big flared skirt an stockins, me in a bright blue Teddy Boy suit and white Beetlecrushers, Allegro man in his fluorescent jacket directin traffic, and me van droppin more and more bits onto the road every time I open or close the doors.
So I had to buy a new van, which is how I got the Moggie (I’ll get to the point of all this eventually, just look at the photos if you’re bored…). It was ex-GPO, so it came in all-over grey. That lasted, ooh, all of about five minutes, then I hand-painted it in Bright Yellow Dulux, junked the hubcaps, painted the wheels silver, and white-walled the tyres. I wanted flames but I didn’t know how to do them, I was only a kid, but I figured it must need some sort of removeable maskin you could spray through. So I cut some flamey shapes out of newspaper, then thought how to stick them on? Glue wouldn’t do cos I needed to get them off, so I used washing up liquid (honest, I’m not makin it up) which I reckoned was quite sticky in a removeable sort of way. So I stick me masks on the side and then sprayed the flamey shapes with red candy apple (see how much I used those spray tins – they were my lifeline). When I pulled the newspaper off it all looked quite groovy (this is as relative use of the term…). But when I got the hose pipe to clean off the washin up liquid, there were big drips where it had run down and the paint hadn’t stuck. So I had to drive round with a whole new paint technique known as drippy flames. The Moggie sounded cool tho, cos I’d sawn off the silencer and stuck one on off a Suzuki 100. I stuck it on backwards, so the bendy bit came out right underneath the driver’s door. I used to drive round holdin the door open just so’s I could hear it.
Okay, what’s that got to do with the photos…? Mid 70’s an I’m seduced by a Yankee motor. It’s a Pontiac Firebird for sale in a dealer’s showroom a few villages along, an I get the hunger for it. I was runnin a GT500 Suzuki, what I’d swapped for a mint ’69 Bonnie (yeh, go figure, but I’d had a do on the Suzy an was dead impressed that you could turn out of Brownedge Road at one end of the village, squirt the shite outta it an be doin the ton by the time you passed the Victoria pub in the middle of the village. That was so cool I just had to own the bike). It had done about 38k, too high for a bike, so I carefully hacksawed the speedo open (already stuff was bein made of plastic rather than metal) and it ‘lost’ 20k, then I glued it all back together with some neat tapin along the join an a bit of black paint. Musta worked okay, cos mister sharp-eyed car dealer dude didn’t suss it and did me a straight swap. Yay! for Yank power. It was only an OHC straight six with a three-speed manual Hurst, but it sure beat Moggie vans – even with Suzuki exhausts. He fired it up, and I set off home. I got out the village, gave it a tad of throttle, came to first bend, gave the steerin wheel an big turn (cos it was a big car, right?), and shot straight up pavement, across grass, an nearly through the hedge. Power steerin, I’d never thought of that. Anyway, I didn’t crash, so next day I covered the shit brown Pontiac paint with pale blue, which looked heaps better, an ran round in it for a while. Yanks were cheap then – I think the Firebird was about 400 quid. An thinking back, it was a ’68 model, so it was only about 5 years old!
But I wanted a V8, so I scored a ’66 Buick Le Sabre. By now I’d learned how to (kinda) use a spray gun, so I wacked it in All-Over Yellow (must have had a thing about yellow…?), then shot every type of paint trick all over it. Flames, foggin, teardrops, starbursts, pinstripin, scallops, fishscales, lacework – subtlety wasn’t me strong point in those days – some would say it still isn’t. With a 350 lump it was a hoot to drive, we used to pile over to Manchester to a club that played Roxy Music all night, then boot around the city in the small hours being mischievous.
It was about this time that Smax called round one day. He was kinda smitten by the Yank, so that was him on the hunt for one for himself. We scored a ’64 Ford Galaxie for 250 quid. It came hiked up with 10×15 slot mags an wide All-Terrains all round, and two drainpipes for exhausts. It had a big 390 in it so it went too. It was all a bit battered tho, so Smax had to hide it from his wife till I’d fillered an painted it – classic red ‘n flames. The reg number was VWC1 an all, what would that be worth now…?
What else did I have – oh yeh, I bought a Pontiac Parisienne – just cos it was cheap and convertible – well, the power hood sold me on it, pressin buttons and havin stuff whir and clank about was a real turn-on. It had a 283 an Powerglide, it went okay, but then I lent it Smax…. He’d blown up his own motor, and his old man’s as well, so he was stuck. Against me better judgement, I lent him the Pontiac. He only had it an hour or so an it was broken. God knows how but the entire dizzy cap was in pieces. I went out and towed it home, and got a new cap that weekend, but it never ran proper again. I sold it some dude for 100 quid.
In the meantime I’d flopped the Buick and bought me ’68 XL. Yay! that was a car. Ford 390 block, 4-barrel, C4 trannie, an right smack bang in the middle of the muscle car era. I give 600 quid for it off a Yank dealer in Southport. ‘Mind how you go,’ he says. Too bloody right. I dropped me girlfriend off, an as I’m turning out of her avenue onto main road, I thought I’d give it a bit of a bootful. It lights up the tyres big time and spins round, an I’m grappling with the wheel, but we’re already up the verge sideways. I take out three of those wooden black and white striped post with the red reflectors on top before I get it back onto the tarmac. I was dead chuffed, what a proper car. I hiked the back end, stuck chromies on it all round, an covered the piss yellow in a sweet metallic green. It’d top out at 140 on the motorway, an you could drop it down a gear in the auto box at the ton and just boot it. Didn’t handle worth a fart, but we got to the Chelsea cruise in London in it from Preston in 2 hours 35 minutes, which for 250 miles and right into the city wasn’t hangin about.
I did break it once tho, we’d gone to the Pod, an there was a big queue to get in, for bloody miles, so I kept doin burnouts to entertain everybody cos I was bored. We’d been down to London first anyway and done lotsa burnouts all night, an the trannie was already startin to jerk a bit. Eventually lotsa red stuff leaked out of it and it wouldn’t drive any more. So the lads were pushin it every time the queue moved. But where the hill is on that last bit, it was right struggle. Some real nice guys in a Cortina stopped and asked if we wanted a tow, which was pretty cool of them. They hooked up their tow rope, but over two ton of Yank metal was a bit much, an by the top of the hill they’d burnt their clutch out. ‘S’okay guys, we can manage from here,’ and we pushed the XL the last bit Pod. If ever you read this, sorry guys, hope you made it home okay.
After a top weekend watchin drags, we left the XL at Pod an cadged a lift home off some more of the Preston crew, then me and Billy Bog come back for it durin week in a Transit I’d hired for the day. It was base rate plus mileage charge, so I crawled underneath and disconnected speedo before we set off, booted it to Pod, tied it to XL with a big strong chain, and with Billy drivin van we scooted back. The Trannie did okay actually, it’d manage 70 on motorway with the XL behind it, but every time chain went slack and jerked tight again, it didn’t half lurch about, so by the time we got back it was a bit parallelogrammed. We dumped XL off in me old man’s yard, an I went to take van back, but then I realised I’d never reconnected speedo. I screwed cable back onto gearbox, but I couldn’t take it back with no bloody miles on, so I had to scream up and down bypass until I’d put 20 miles or so on it.
Bloody hell, don’t know how much I’ve written so far, but I could still write a book… Like me an Smax street racin around Manchester after Rainy City cruise and getting chased by cops, I pulled over and took the rap cos he had no tax or insurance, but all they got me for in the end was straight-through headers an a 20 quid fine. Oh bloody hell, I nearly forgot… the Kansas City Bomber…
I’ve got to tell you this. What a Top Car that was. I bought a ’64 Impala. A real straight car, a bit sluggish with a 283 an two-speed ‘Glide, but loadsa presence – a big giant pillarless four door barge of a thing. I painted it grey primer and white-walled the tyres, an on the front wings painted a few little car shapes in black with red crosses over them, like you saw on the planes in the wartime for kills they’d shot down. Well anyway, we were nippin to chippy one teatime, about six of us piled in it, an this complete knob in a 1.8 TC Marina cuts us up. You could tell he was a knob cos he was drivin a new Marina, and wearing string-back drivin gloves. Knob. So I nails the shite outta the Chevy and passes him, but bugger me he comes after us an manages to get past at some road works. So I’m bootin after him again, but struggling to get past, then on Croston Road he must be home cos slows down and signals to turn off to left. So I pulls out to pass, but I’m still a bit cross and something snaps inside me, so I pull back in an boot it. What a cool smash, the Chevy just ploughs right through him, pushes his back bumper right into his back seats, shoves him to one side and dumps him on the pavement. Neat. The Chevy hardly slowed down with the impact and we just fugged off. We’d left his motor proper totalled in a heap, but the Chevy was cool. It had scratched a bit of the matt black paint I’d done the bumpers with, one of the headlight filaments had gone out, and there was a small dent about the size of your fingernail on one headlight trim, but that was it. Not a mark on the body panels, no broken glass, nothing. Don’t ever tangle with two ton of car with a bumper so strong you use it to jack it up.
Anyway, after we’ve scoffed out chips, we decide there’s not that many grey primer Chevy’s in the village, and we might not get away with it, so we go down the local cop shop to report him for dangerous drivin. It’s about 1977, so there’s these half a dozen scruffy oily punks, with all colours of hair, waitin at the desk, and this APB comes through on the radio to look out for a grey Chevy. ‘Scuse me mate, that’s us.’ I tell the duty dude. In the end the magistrates didn’t believe it was his fault, so it cost me 60 quid in fines, but for everyone who’s ever felt like just rammin some twat, let me tell you it was as good a 60 quid as I ever spent.
And the Ford LTD I chopped up, think it was about a ’76 or ’78 model or so. I hacked it up and turned it into a pick-up. I was exportin Brit bikes to Germany at the time, and with a 351 Cleveland in it it was a cool set of wheels for bootin around Europe in – just take the front wheels out of the bikes, stack ’em in the back, and pump up the air shocks I fitted.
Normally of course you go via Belgium, never go near France, nice country but it’s got the French in it, but this year we gave a lift to girl from the Honky Tonk Party to drop her off in Paris. Needless to say we get a pull by the Gendarmerie… They’re givin us a hard time – cos they’re bored, they’re cops, and they’re French, a bad combination – she’s translatin, an they think we’re drug pushers (actually, she is, she mules all over Europe, but only on a Sunday when there’s no female customs officers on duty…), an this dude swings the door open and closed a bit and says summat that translates as ‘It’s a heavy door,’ like as though it’s full of crack or sumthin. Like, I mean, the bloody door’s about 4 feet long, so I summon up me best disdain face (not hard to a French cop) and say ‘Tell him it’s a fuckin heavy car.’ I guess maybe he knew a little English, or just the way I said it was enough, only we got the strip-search routine. Never found wer drugs tho matey, did you, so fuck you.