Episode 5 - Retro Revival

What makes you a motoring enthusiast?

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Show notes

In this podcast we chat to male and female motoring lovers about the highlights and pitfalls of restoring old vehicles. We also reveal the best motoring events in Queensland, including RACQ’s MotorFest.

Guests

  • Tracey Walker, Founder of Old Girls On The Road
  • Benny Selboskar, Shop Manager of Smoked Garage in Brisbane
  • David Contarini, Head of Community and Education at RACQ
  • Nathan Torpey, RACQ Journalist and Top Model Judge

Transcript

Anthony Frangi: You're listening to RACQ Living. Hello and welcome to the RACQ Living podcast. I'm Anthony Frangi. How many car enthusiasts would you say there are in the world today? People who collect vehicles, work on them and share their passion. While some people think an enthusiast should have some mechanical skills, I think, an enthusiasts can be someone who simply loves cars and motorbikes.

Anthony Frangi: But what makes an auto enthusiast? And does the fate of an enthusiast depend on the family they're born into? Interesting question, and one of the topics that we'll be canvasing in today's podcast. Joining our panel today is Tracey Walker, Founder of Old Girls on the Road, Benny Selboskar, Shop Manager of Smoked Garage in Brisbane. David Contarini, Head of Community and Education at RACQ, and Nathan Torpey, RACQ Journalist. Welcome everyone.

David Contarini: Thank you.

Benny Selboskar: Good afternoon.

Tracey Walker: Thank you for having me.

Anthony Frangi: Tracey, you have a wonderful name for your organization, Old Girls on the Road.

Tracey Walker: Well, the old and the old girls refers to the cars, not so much that women that are involved, but basically, it's a group of very enthusiastic women who all own and drive classic cars. So we're calling classic cars over 35 years old.

Anthony Frangi: It's a Facebook page, is it?

Tracey Walker: It's a Facebook page at the moment, but we have had some events, and maybe one day being a club.

Anthony Frangi: And the type of cars that they drive?

Tracey Walker: So varied. Look, I've got a lot of women who drive Holden's, EJ Holdens, EH Holdens. That's probably the most predominant model. I've done a fair bit of research on female ownership, and the most popular classic car in Queensland is a Holden Torana for women.

Anthony Frangi: Does that surprise anyone?

David Contarini: But it did surprise me, Anthony, if they'll have drop tanks like the ...

Tracey Walker: Don't ask me technical questions.

David Contarini: You know those real hotted cars in the-

Tracey Walker: Look, some do.

David Contarini: - mid '80s that had the silver drop tank.

Tracey Walker: You'd be surprised how many women I've got who are racing cars and drag racing cars. I've got a lady, lovely lady at Ipswich Way who's 77, and she still races minis.

Anthony Frangi: Good on her.

David Contarini: That's quite impressive.

Anthony Frangi: Is there a link between Tracy that the car itself, the characteristics of the car and the owner? Like, is there's some psychological link between?

Tracey Walker: Look, there's lots of links actually. Family linkage is a really strong thing. They've grown up with classic cars, their fathers had them, or their grandparents have had them. I've got many women who have either bought or inherited their grandparent’s cars. Some who've gone and sought them out and bought them back.

Anthony Frangi: And do they have names for the cars?

Tracey Walker: Yes.

Anthony Frangi: What's the popular name?

Tracey Walker: Well, mine's ‘Blanche’. She's a white Cortina. Most of them are she. And that was another thing with Old Girls. The other connection with the Old Girls title, ‘Grumpy Al’s one, that's one of the male ones.

Nathan Torpey: We actually did a survey not too long ago on some of the most popular car names, and surprisingly ‘Kermit’ was the most popular one around.

Anthony Frangi: Is that right?

Nathan Torpey: Yes. So, I think it's a popular with the green Mazda 2s going around these days. Kermit and then Taylor for Suzuki Swift's obviously, but ...

Nathan Torpey: I know. Enough said about that.

Anthony Frangi: And for you Benny, Smoke Garage, we're talking about motorcycles here.

Benny Selboskar: We're a custom motorcycle shop. We design and build custom bikes of all description, from small little 50 cc things right through to big Harleys and everything in between. We actually originated in Bali in Indonesia. We co-owner a shop over there and have done for about eight years or so.

David Contarini: Is there a certain style you guys have seen coming up more and more with these builds? Like I know there was a big American shopper trend a while back, and now I'm kind of seeing well like cafe races out there.

Benny Selboskar: Definitely. Those big choppers I think are definitely sort of, I wouldn't say died in the '90s, but their heyday is certainly over. The focus certainly is on smaller bikes these days. We find that we're doing a lot of the bobber style bikes. So UV twin bikes, Yamahas and Harleys, but we're also marketing around a lot with cafe racers and trackers and scramblers and all those fun little things.

David Contarini: So, what are your typical clients like? Are they just people that like bikes?

Benny Selboskar: Yes. And obviously motorcyclists come from all walks of life. You've got your young guys that just got their car licence, or they're just getting their bike licence, right through to your older guys that have been riding their whole lives. And they come from all different demographics as well, Uni students, right through to your high-flying CEOs. And we like to cater for everybody down at Smoked and that's what we do.

David Contarini: And do they want you to buy ... they want you to make a bike for them because they can't get something, standard off the shelf. Is that the main reason why?

Benny Selboskar: Yes, exactly right. I think, everybody wants to be individual. Everybody wants to still have their own flair, I suppose. For a lot of people that extends to their motorcycles, they want something that is unique and that no one else has.

Anthony Frangi: It's an extension of their personality.

Benny Selboskar: Exactly right. And then they might come to us and they'll have a clear plan for exactly what they want. They'll have dozens of photos, and it all mapped out. And that sort of makes our job relatively easy. But a lot of guys just come in and say, I just want something cool. So we're having to cater for everybody's needs.

Nathan Torpey: So what's the wildest one you've done now? Is there someone coming in and wants like a Hello Kitty bike, like down to the nines or there's nothing like that yet?

Benny Selboskar: No. Nothing of that scale.

Anthony Frangi: Or they might one day, maybe after listening to this.

Benny Selboskar: We've had some unusual requests. I've had one recently where a young fellow, and I don't know how serious he was. But he wanted us to fit a motorcycle engine into a bicycle frame.

Anthony Frangi: How do you do that?

Benny Selboskar: Look, anything's possible.

Anthony Frangi: Cars or motorbikes or an extension of their personality. What do you think are the signs, other signs of a car enthusiast?

Tracey Walker: I think it goes back to your history a lot. I find anyway with most of the women I talk to you, they've grown up with them or they've married someone who's into the cars as well.

Anthony Frangi: So they've been influenced in some way?

Tracey Walker: Yes. And then I think you've got people that just appreciate the style of older things. They like the chrome and the leather seats, and the wood dashes and that sort of thing.

Benny Selboskar: I think it's a tribal thing, really. We all like to be a part of something I think, and once someone sort of steps their foot into the motorcycling world, and sees how inclusive it can be, and it really can be very inclusive, and you just become a part of something.

Benny Selboskar: I think it's just a nice feeling to know that, a key indicator is that is, you're riding along on your bike and another motorcyclist coming the other way. You'd never met him before, you don't know what he looks like under that helmet, you'd give him a nod anyway, you're part of a thing.

Tracey Walker: And I think that's why Old Girls is doing so well because, from my research, 85% of classic car owners are men. So there's only 15% of us out there with classic cars. So it's them just loving being able to group together, and chat online and for some of them meet up.

Nathan Torpey: You have a big love for the classic cars. What are your thoughts on modern cars here? Any you like or you kind of steer clear of them?

Tracey Walker: No, I don't steer clear completely. I like something that stands out though. My partner had just recently bought a Toyota 86, so that's pretty modern for me. I've never ...

David Contarini: Yes, definitely.

Tracey Walker: I've only ever owned one car from new and that was a swift.

Benny Selboskar: Was it named Taylor?

Tracey Walker: No. I don't think I knew about Taylor when I bought her actually, and I think I ended up selling it to supplement buying a house to get a bit of money back.

Nathan Torpey: What about on the custom stocked about it and a lot of those classic guys, like everything has to be stock standard as to what it was originally, and some want to customize it to the nines. Where do you fall on that?

Tracey Walker: With the women that I'm associating with now, they're all quite different. Some of them out there, I've got women who've got six and seven cars, a garage full of cars, and they spend money and they're immaculate looking cars. And then there's people like me that's drives my little old Cortina with dings and nicks and rips in the roof, upholstery and stuff like that, that doesn't worry me.

Nathan Torpey: It gives it character.

Tracey Walker: Yes, character.

David Contarini: I must admit, Anthony, one year at MotorFest, that we put on a couple of years ago, we must have had maybe 20 E-Type Jags and I could not stop looking at them. There is something about that car that I look at. I go, well I'd hate to put petrol in it, but because some of them I think are 12 cylinders. But to look at them, and I even saw Prince Harry getting in one.

Tracey Walker: The wedding.

David Contarini: The wedding yeah.

David Contarini: Maybe he got a loan of that. I'm not sure whether that was actually his, but what an amazing car. And when you look at them and you just think, wow, what a great time in history when they were made, and you kind of want to go to Jaguar and go, have you got that mould still where we can bash out a couple of.

Tracey Walker: Well, some of the comments on the feed because I actually posted that picture of the Jag for the wedding day, and but that made it electric. It's been converted into electric. So you get the naysayers, and you know.

Anthony Frangi: And the purest sacrilege.

Tracey Walker: You can never win with doing stuff to cars.

David Contarini: I remember attending one at Lakeside, and the great part about that venue is that, a lot of the enthusiasts can take the car around the track, and to see some of those incredible vehicles going around and to see them, mobile and then weren't going fast or anything, but just to see them in action. And I look at some of them and I say, wow, I had a dinky toy, a metal one of that very car, that is going around the track, and you see them in action and you're just saying, wow, that's just incredible.

David Contarini: I think potentially there's just such a ... the modern car now. I mean, a lot of them do look the same, potentially they're made out of the same factory or whatever. And I think Tracey, in terms of what you were saying, is it the fact that they don't make cars like that anymore.

Tracey Walker: I think so, yes. And I think I'm with you. A lot of them look the same. I can't tell one car apart from the other these days. I know what a Toyota 86 looks like. Now I can recognize them as we're driving along.

Anthony Frangi: I love meeting people behind their car, because they have such great stories to tell about the journey, about the people they've entertained, how they purchased the car, how they fixed it up. Favourite vehicles. Now Tracey, I'm going to go to you first, and you've talked about some of the vehicles that you've had, but is there one that you've owned, or you've shared, or you've participated in that is a real favourite of yours and why?

Tracey Walker: I would have to say the Mark II Cortina that I have now. She is actually my fifth Mark II Cortina that I've owned since I was about 16. But I would say this one just because of the doors that's opened for me creatively with this whole group. It's given me a project that I just love every minute of doing. My partner and I will bicker about which car we're going to take for a Sunday drive, but we both love jumping in that car and going for a drive, and going to a pub somewhere and having a counter lunch on a Sunday.

Benny Selboskar: I'm a massive Honda fan. Love my CBs. So my dream bike would absolutely be a CB 750 from the '70s era. Just a classic. Absolutely classic.

Anthony Frangi: What is it that you like about that?

Benny Selboskar: It's just got ... they did everything right. I think they were the first of the bigger bikes. Honda invested a lot in R and D and engineering the bikes, and they've just got those lines, an ageless, timeless, sort of line to the bike. Just visually.

David Contarini: Well, I've mentioned the E-Type Jag, but I got to say, the Valiant Charger. I don't know why. Like I still remember the ad, with Hey Charger. You'd strike the V, the V sort of peace sign, and I still remember that on television, when that car came out and for some reason, maybe the first muscle car I'd ever seen. I think one of my brother's friends had one as well. Just to see that car was good.
 Anthony Frangi: And did that influence your career path and your love for old cars?

David Contarini: No, I just think I always had an appreciation, a bit like Benny. I own a bike now, not to the extent and love that Benny is probably got it. I see it more as a means of transport. But there's really is nothing like getting on a bike and heading out to the hills on a Saturday or a Sunday. I pick my kids up from school on the bike, and that makes them instant cred value.

Anthony Frangi: So, the motorbike arrives at school.

David Contarini: Unbelievable.

Anthony Frangi: Now that would be a scene to see.

David Contarini: So my 13-year-old gets off it, and all of a sudden he's a chick magnet.

Nathan Torpey: So, you're the cool Dad for a little bit of time.

Anthony Frangi: Cool dad. And Nathan being of course a Journalist for the RACQ, you surround yourself with vehicles all the time. Is there one car that's special to you?

Nathan Torpey: Mine will probably cop a little bit of hate and I know I'm never going to drive it, but for me it's got to be the Batmobile. Like growing up, like there's never been a cooler car.

Tracey Walker: That's a good call.

Anthony Frangi: Well, we've all got our favourite vehicles and their reasons why. Tracey, what are some of the best events that you've participated in around the state?

Tracey Walker: I haven't actually participated in too many. But I did do a call out to all my ladies and asked them what their favourite events were. And Cooley on the Rocks festival was probably the top, and MotorFest came up as well.

Anthony Frangi: And MotorFest of course David is the big one for each year.

David Contarini: That's a big one for RACQ. That's right. So it's been going on for about 15 years now. And that's part of our motoring DNA. We started as a motoring company. And so our motoring organisation is an a advocate for motorists, and it had ... RACQ had 12 members, back in 1905. Now we've got 1.7 million. So it's kind of popular. I still see different vehicles turning up, and I just go, wow, where was that last year.

David Contarini: Whether it's like a family car, or a commercial car, or the Batmobile, someone has remodelled that. And now there's this sort of undercurrent of electric cars. So people are modifying their own cars, and bringing those and the mix of them and to see. I mean we ... I never even knew that one of these existed in Queensland, Brisbane. But we had the 100th anniversary or close to it of Aston Martin, and we got a D8 which is exactly what 007 used to drive, and this thing look exactly the same.

David Contarini: And we put this ... wrap this thing in cotton wool and brought it to MotorFest, and people and kids, and they were just mesmerised by this car, and I could not stop looking at it just going, wow, imagine if I could just drive that down to the shops for a day. But it was the most beautiful thing. And there's so many idiosyncrasies about the cars, and they're branded in a certain way. If you look at the engine stock, and it's got a brand on that or this or that. It's just incredible to see them.

Anthony Frangi: Benny for motorcyclists. Where do they congregate when it comes to clubs and events?

Benny Selboskar: Well there's always something going on no matter where you are in Southeast Queensland I think. It doesn't matter really what time of year as well. I think it's one of the greatest things of living up here in Queensland is that it's riding weather all year round. So we've certainly got that up on the southern states. But there's, look, there's a few key events on the calendar that I like to get along to myself. We always go to GreazeFest, which is a sort of a combination of hot rods and-

Anthony Frangi: GreazeFest?

Benny Selboskar: - bikes as well. Yes.

Anthony Frangi: And where's that?

Anthony Frangi: Is that in Southeast Queensland?

Benny Selboskar: Yes. Originally down in Rocklea, but they moved over to Cleveland Show Grounds for the last few years. Always gets a good showing. So it's a fun day out. A lot of the events that sort of happened, a lot of the rides that happen in Queensland are all over the country really. There's usually a charity behind it as well. I think that's one thing about motorcyclists is, we're a charitable bunch. We always like doing things for a good cause.

Anthony Frangi: And Nathan, anything to add?

Nathan Torpey: No. I'm going to be MotorFest as well, and we're excited this year because we're going to have our Top Model Competition which has just wrapped up. We're going to have the winners present there. So, this year, the best car in Queensland as judged by RACQ judges was a 65 Chevrolet Bel Air, and in a nice bright orange and white. Definitely a nice looking car.

Anthony Frangi: Tracey is nodding. You like that car, do you?

Tracey Walker: Yes I do. We've got quite a Chevs actually. I'm not sure if they're 65s or not.

Anthony Frangi: How do you afford to drive these vehicles they're so damn big? You'd have to be really enthusiast.

Tracey Walker: Especially those big ones that chew up the petrol.

Anthony Frangi: Which brings me to the point about some of the pitfalls of being a car enthusiast. A cost would have to be one. Would you agree Tracey?

Tracey Walker: The cost as far as registration and insurance and that sort of thing, it adds up, especially if you've got two or three vehicles. They had the club, special interest registration which is cheaper, but you then have restrictions on when you're allowed to drive your car.

Tracey Walker: You must be a member of a club and you can only ... Well, Queensland, you can actually really only do club events, but in other states you can take them out up to 60 times a year, if you fill in a log book and all that sort of things. So, there are restrictions on club registration.

Anthony Frangi: And for you Benny, in terms of pitfalls for cyclist?

Benny Selboskar: They're none. Look, I suppose it's a money thing I suppose. There's always something that you can buy for your bike. There's always another bike you want to buy. That's probably.

Nathan Torpey: Is it a bit cheaper being a motorcyclist than a car?

Benny Selboskar: It can be but, look we get guys coming to us and they're surprised at how much a custom bike cost. But the reality is, there's generally the same amount of work going into a custom bike to make it look as good as there is in a custom car. In fact you could argue that there's more work that needs to go into it, because more of the bike is on display.

Benny Selboskar: But the car obviously, if your engine is hidden under the hood. But on a bike, it's a key part of the visual element of the bikes. So it's something that you need to work on there as well. But, look here, overall you can certainly do a bike a lot cheaper than a car.

Anthony Frangi: But isn't part of the joy of owning an old car, is that you've got to tinker around with it all the time?

Benny Selboskar: Absolutely. Although these days though I think we're all so time poor that finding time to do that is certainly a problem.

Anthony Frangi: Dream vehicles. Vehicles that you haven't owned, but you would love to take home if you had that opportunity. Tracey?

Tracey Walker: Well, I've got a list here.

Anthony Frangi: A list?

Tracey Walker: I could not possibly narrow that down to one. I'd be quite happy with the Mini that's down in your foyer. The 65 Mini. That is gorgeous. Just immaculate.

Anthony Frangi: What do you love about that car?

Tracey Walker: It's just cute.

Anthony Frangi: It's cute.

Tracey Walker: And it's so neat. But I really like the coupes, or a Studebaker Starlight, a 53 Studebaker Starlight is one of my favourites. The Jaguar E-Type. So I was looking at a 1961 Roadster, and 1982 Corvette T Top Coupe. But even the good old XP Falcon, I love those as well.

Anthony Frangi: You can't get past Falcon. Nathan what about you, dream?

Nathan Torpey: We spoke about the Batmobile already, so I might as well continue the movie theme, and I think the other most popular car out there in a movie sense, would be the DeLorean. Like, you're going to have the Back to the Future car, even not to abuse going back to the future, but just the doors themselves are so iconic, and driving around in something so classic it just ... that'd be a dream come true.

Anthony Frangi: Why haven’t other cars adopted the door mechanism that goes up?

Nathan Torpey: Tesla's brought it out now. They've done it very well with their automatic sensors, that will sense in a parking lot and able to do it. I think they probably moved away from it without the technology because, getting in and out of your car will be quite difficult in a car park with the kind of gull-wing type doors, but now with technology being able to do the exact sense, and take it straight up. I think they probably alleviated that. We might see some more of it, especially with electric cars, but probably in the standard cars you're not going to see much more of that.

David Contarini: Does the Tesla come with the flux capacitor?

Nathan Torpey: Well you have to pay extra for that I think.

Benny Selboskar: Dries the battery a bit quick.

Anthony Frangi: Benny for you, I think you already mentioned a dream car.

Benny Selboskar: I did mention a dream bike.

Anthony Frangi: Your dream bike.

Benny Selboskar: I talked about earlier, the 750 CB. As far as cars are concerned. I was never really much of a car enthusiast growing up. My parents split at a pretty young age. My Dad lived on the other side of the country, but he constantly went through cars. I think he's probably 70 or 80 or something in he's time. So whenever I went over there for a visit there was always a different car. I think one of my favourites was absolutely the convertible AC Cobra that he had. Bright yellow, most ridiculous thing you'd ever see.

Nathan Torpey: It sounds amazing.

Benny Selboskar: It was fantastic. One of my favourite photos is me and my brother sitting in the front seat of that.

Nathan Torpey: Did you ever get to take it out?

Benny Selboskar: I was about six at the time, seven at the time, so he didn't let me.

Benny Selboskar: I was hoping he would hold onto it ... Yes, exactly. I was hoping he might hold onto it for a decade or so.

Anthony Frangi: 70 or 80 cars.

Benny Selboskar: He's been through a few end bikes as well.

Anthony Frangi: That's like one a month. Dear me.

David Contarini: If I could own the Ferrari from Magnum PI, I'd be okay with that.

Nathan Torpey: Are you going to get the moustache to?

David Contarini: No.

Nathan Torpey: No?

David Contarini: No, I don't need the moustache.

Nathan Torpey: That will eliminate the cool dad persona.

Benny Selboskar: Come on now.

David Contarini: There's something about those 80 Ferrari's. I mean, they were a little awkward, but when you look back at them now it's just so incredible. Even the Countach from Lamborghini was a really iconic car, with the wings. And we've had a couple of those at MotorFest as well.

Anthony Frangi: All right, before we go, David, just wrap up with MotorFest and where it is, and how people can get there.

David Contarini: Sure. So, MotorFest is our largest community event that we put on a motoring event within Brisbane. It's on Sunday, the 15th of July at Eagle Farm Racecourse, and doors open at 10:00 AM. We go through till 3:00 PM. There's food, there's coffee, there's great entertainment, and it's $2 a person. It's the cheapest gig in town, to see some of the most amazing cars throughout Southeast Queensland.

David Contarini: So bring yourselves, bring your family, and the kids have a great time as well, and you can tell them all the stories about uncle whoever, and the car they used to own, and you'll hear a lot of, we used to drive one of those. The memories are really fantastic in there.

David Contarini: We've got the Top Model winners there as well, and it's the 80th anniversary of the VW Beetle as well. So we'll have a great contagion of Beetles on display, and for the first time ever we have an exotic car section as well. So you'll see a lot of those old muscle cars, and you have equals coming along as well. So it's Sunday, the 15th of July at Eagle Farm Racecourse.

Nathan Torpey: If there are some other film car lovers there like me, there is also a replica of the Herbie Beetle there as well. So keep an eye out.

David Contarini: And some of those cars had been owned from day one. Bought new, and they're 60, 70 years of age. So it's a really wonderful day. So come on out, as I said, it's cheap, it's a good day., and it's run on school holidays too.

Anthony Frangi: So it's Sunday, July?

David Contarini: July 15.

Anthony Frangi: 15, at Eagle Farm-

David Contarini: Eagle Farm Racecourse.

Anthony Frangi: Tracey, Benny, David, and Nathan, thank you for joining us today, RACQ Living podcast.

David Contarini: Thank you.

Tracey Walker: Thank you.

Benny Selboskar: My pleasure. Thank you.

Anthony Frangi: If you would like more information on any of the stories raised today, email us at, roadahead@racq.com.au. I'm Anthony Frangi. Join me next time for more RACQ Living.