Oh, you’re branching out?
Actually…we’ve spent 24 years doing that!
Despite it sometimes looking like all I ever do is stay chained to my desk with my hands just loose enough in the manacles to move the pen/cil, my Inkymole partner and I have spent our entire time together ‘doing stuff’ — what used to be called ‘side projects’ in popular terminology are now just ‘projects’; brethren to the main body of what occupies our time, rather than extensions of or competitors to it. An important but gradual shift in our perspective, this way of thinking has changed our approach to ‘side projects’ in that they now sit within the brightly-coloured, myriad wobbly circles of the Venn diagram that is Inkymole. And it means ANYTHING can be ‘a project’.
There are, and have been, many of these in the near-two-and-a-half decades of working together. This is one of them, brought blinking and pale into the sunlight at last!
Ever since I was given a custard yellow 2CV in lieu of a debt owed to my boyfriend, which I threatened not to keep, I’ve been into cars.
I wasn’t going to be — cars were something you got into and went to the shops in, or on holiday; they made you have dirty hands, meant you had to go outside in the cold to ‘do things’ with them, and cost money, all things I hated. But Dad’s series of interesting vehicles, changed every 3 years, piqued me and my sisters’ interest, until she became the biker and Ford Escort petrolhead, and I, eventually, reluctantly, became a car owner too. And the 2CV wasn’t just any old car; French, with legendary, bouncing suspension, air-cooled with a vertical gear knob in a pattern not seen on any other vehicle, and with a peel-back roof, skinny tyres and an engine you could fix yourself, I was soon outside, in the cold, doing things with my car, spending money on it, and getting mucky hands.
This morning Leigh and I drew up a list of all the cars we’ve owned together, after a chat with an art director mate who’s a proper car nutter (I mean, he has a racing car, in FAST ORANGE). We talked for 28 minutes and agreed to swap car lists. We’ve had quite a few…with a bit of a theme running through them.
This weekend we took our Nissan Pao and Suzuki Carry to JDMCombe at Castle Combe, Bristol. JDM stands for ‘Japanese Domestic Market’ — so any vehicle that was made for the Japanese market (though just because it’s Japanese car doesn’t mean it’s JDM!) We were on the ‘Rare Breeds’ stand, since the Pao (pronounced POW like Batman) had a very limited production run, and although the little Carry did not, what we’ve done with it is quite unusual.
It was a sunny but windy day (Car Show Hair is a real problem, one I’ve only solved in the last 48 hours with pigtails and a baseball cap), and the air was heady with the smell of cleaning products, chips and hydrocarbons. I love it; they should make THAT into an air freshener. Having spent weeks preparing your wheels for the show, you turn up, park, and start polishing. Props may be added to dashboards and engine bays, or they may not; additional graphics may have been added for the occasion, and you might also select clothing / nail polish / lippy to tone with your ride (oh wait no, that might be just me). Prizes are given for Show’n’Shine (er, the shiniest) and for Best In Show. You can usually take your car on the track, for which helmets are required, and there’s nothing quite so mentally and emotionally liberating as staring at cars going berserk round a track, on two wheels, burning through tyres, sliding sideways into corners, or missing corners altogether.
After ensuring your car is as buff as it can be, it’s off for a coffee (standard), a walk around the other cars on your stand, then you might be surprised by the man coming at you with a microphone in hand, at 8.30 in the morning, asking questions about your car!
It can take hours to go round a car show like this, as they’re magnets for the thousands of humans attracted to the distinctive shapes and sounds of Japcars, the good, the bad and the ugly. (We like a lot of the ugly ones.)
We’d spent the weeks before working on the vehicles, making little refinements and improvements ready for this first big show of the season. I say ‘week’; really, every show is a culmination of everything you’ve done during the entire time you’ve owned the car, from its very first wash. In particular though, for this one, we added graphics — Dynodaze, who do the mechanical and fabricating work — Uncle Keith’s Paintshop, and our new logo for what has for twenty years been a project, but never had a name or a shape — Inkymole’s Motors!
As well as new exhausts made and fitted recently by Dynodaze, with custom manifold gaskets by SubCon Laser, the Pao went out with its from-scratch beautifully curved rear parcel shelf and speaker panel for the Pao — designed by Leigh to look like an original feature (which it isn’t) and made by Rob at Artfabs:
Gold tints for the Carry, to stop nosy people looking in the back (and to ADD BLIIIING):
Obligatory toys — this is Gudetama, the whining, lazy egg, who lives in the van full-time — he had a bath (the Rillakkuma pocket looks on, unimpressed):
Sillies from Japan:
Black One-Shot used to make my first tentatively sign-painted Japanese characters:
There is more to be done to the vehicles, and these latest additions represent only the very latest bits of work; much of it is done under the bonnet, under the car, and behind panels — the stuff that really does give you mucky hands!
You can follow the progress of these two, our workhorse Peugeot 406 and Nissan Cedric on Instagram.
And there’s a little moody video of the show here, where you can spot me buffing the paintwork at 16 seconds.