I have been doing some old fashioned research over the last couple of days, reading the NSW State Library’s collection of Australian Van Wheels and Street Machine. It is for my thesis and my Panel Van paper for the conference down in Canberra. There is some classic stuff in the old mags. How things have changed… I shall write more after I have written up my paper which shouldn’t take too long as it is all falling into place.
Buy the latest Autosalon magazine.
“They’ve been on the run from Swedish police for five years. Their identities are hidden by monikers like Mr A or Mr X. We are of course, talking of the world’s most infamous street racers, the ones responsible for the controversial Getaway in Stockholm series. Glen Fuller flew halfway around the world to infiltrate their underground society and bring you this world exclusive.” (43)
Yeah baby! Yeah!
It is, of course, my interview with ‘Mr A’ the executive producer of the Getaway in Sockholm film series.
This event is being organised in part by one of the members of the panel I organised for the CSAA conference, Ursula Frederick. I certainly want to go, but I think I will have to negotiate it with my supervisors. The paper I want to give will be part of my introductory chapter that introduces Australian modified-car culture. What I won’t be talking about is the second shift that has occurred because of the rise in popularity of the ‘import’ and the IT industry boom/bubble/bust and the reconfigurations of masculinity, labour, class, etc that have resulted. I am not sure about the Australian identity stuff either, that is a bit out of my comfort zone. I am sooo open to ideas, so if anyone can think of any Australian studies or whatever readings, let me know.
From the Beach to the Burbs: Panel Vans, Street Machines and Australian Identity
The panel van is masculine icon of Australian culture. The first panel van, an EH Holden, was produced in 1953 for tradesmen as a utility vehicle, but in the 1970s the panel van became something else when customised by young men. To capitalise on the popularity of the panel van enthusiasm the â€˜big threeâ€™ Detroit-based car manufacturers, Ford, Chrysler and GM Holden released the Sundowner, the Drifter and the Sandman respectively.
Over the last two decades there has been a shift in modified-car culture that mirrors a shift in Australian identity. Previously, the panel van has been described as an interstitial site between indoors and outdoors, youth and adult, and freedom and responsibility (Fiske 1983). At beaches and drive-ins where panel vans parked they became an event-space of sex and sociality. The back of a panel van folded domestic space into the space and freedoms of automobility. The event-space of modified-car enthusiasts has shifted from the back of a panel van to the streets of cruisers. The ritualised practice of cruising potentialises the automobilised space of the street and carpark so it becomes an event-space where the incorporeal event of â€˜nothingâ€™ happens (cf. Corrigan 1976).
The turning point can be located in the early 1980s. One of Australiaâ€™s most popular panel van enthusiast publications Australian Van Wheels became Street Machine & Van Wheels in 1981. In 1982, â€˜Van Wheelsâ€™ was dropped from the title and the magazine became Street Machine. It shall be argued the rise in popularity of the street machine culture in the early 1980s signals a shift in Australian identity from the dominance of the nature/culture divide represented by the beach to the socially mobile/static divide represented by suburban streets.
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Below is the call for papers:
Cruising Country : A symposium and film event exploring the powers of
wheels, roads and screens in non-urban Australia
26-28 May 2005
Centre for Cross-Cultural Research, The Australian National University,
Since the early 20th century, motor vehicles of all descriptions have been
central characters in the settlement, governance and representation of non-urban
Australia. They are objects of desire and exchange, actors in subsistence,
ceremonial and market economies and sites of deep projective identification.
Represented in paintings, films, novels, music, ethnography, ceremony and other
cultural media, vehicles communicate closely with the aesthetic spirits of
modernity and its discontents. Vehicles add velocity to landscape’s powers,
compressing distance and reframing senses of place. Containing, carrying and
connecting people, knowledge, visions and voices, motor cars are deeply
Cruising Country invites speakers to explore these and other conjunctures
of Australian automobility, intercultural exchange, power and social
transformation through a series of presentations, panel discussions and film
screenings. We are inviting abstracts of no more than 300 words, outlining your
proposed topic, approach, and the forms/media in which you intend to present
Proposals for discussion panels are also welcome.
Deadline for abstracts: 1 February 2005Email your abstract to:
email@example.com and/or firstname.lastname@example.org
Approximately 16, 770 words and 48 pages later the Getaway in Stockholm interview with Mr A is finally transcribed.
Link toÂ their website.
Mr A was an awesome interview participant. Very useful for my thesis, maybe not in terms of actual content, but certainly for ideas on questions for others. The interview may be useful for a paper on the comparative street racing scenes in Australia and Sweden. Perhaps a simple paper that explores the various legal, political and social forces that shape the space of the street race as much as the actual cars and street racers do.
I met Tom O’Dell in Sweden and mentioned something about a paper to him. So I will send off the transcript and see what he says. Here is his uni home page. He wrote part of his PhD thesis on the Swedish raggare (greasers) – car dudes who participated in a subculture based around American cars. As O’Dell writes in one of his essays, the aesthetic of American cars during the ‘streamlining’ era offended Swedish conceptions of modernity. In other words, the raggare were a Swedish-style, spectacular subculture.
Some or most of the raw interview with Mr A will appear in the next issue of the Australasian Autosalon Magazine.
Yeah, so the dyno day…
Started off well. I woke up 5 minutes before my alarm went off, which is a very eery habit I have when excited. Perhaps as a carry over from early morning sport training, I must have the most awesome body clock on the freakin planet as I seem to wake up just before my alarm goes off whenever I am excited. SO I was excited and very guilty because I had so much other work to do, but I had to go to the dyno for fieldwork and for some much needed fun.
Had dramas on the way there, throwing a bloody fan belt, which suX0rs… So I walked what seemed like 500 miles up the bloody road to some joint after a quick call to the dyno day event organiser (pierre) to get the correct belt number. Changed it in the servo I hastily pulled into when the engine warning lights came on. The job took about 20 minutes after 40 minutes of walking!! I had to clean my hands in some dirty servo dunny that was painted vomit yellow and smelt like a 1000 flushes… I didn’t feel like I was cleaning my hands… It felt like I was actually being used to scratch a fat cabbies sweaty arse crack three quarters into a 12 hour shift. Repress. Repress! REPRESS!
After driving around the maze that is the Liverpool shopping district for about half an hour I finally found a nearby car park and said hello to everybody. I was wearing my secret weapon for the CSAA conference as a test deployment. Everyone loved it, which is cool.
Anyway, I got 116 rwkw ED XR6 mostly stock with zaust and extractors. I am happy, I think? It is more than my Silvia got (144hp) with slightly larger FMIC and 3″ zaust (about same cost money wise in terms of modifications).
So now I am free of the shackles of a relationship, I can do my fieldwork properly and do up my car. Bring on the BBM!! But first is the “correctly coloured door” mod.