Eagle Nest, New Mexico, 2012. “People like to drive because driving is actually and symbolically an almost perfect mechanism for escape…there is probably no human being who does not have troubles, real or imagined, from which he at times feels the need to flee.” George R. Stewart.

PHB

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Brooklin, Maine, United States
We own a 1975 GMC Sierra Grande 15 in Maine and an '86 Chevrolet Custom Deluxe 10 in West Texas. Also a pair of '97 Volvo 850 wagons. Average age in the fleet is 25 years--we're recyclers. I've published 2 novels: THE LAW OF DREAMS (2006), and THE O'BRIENS (2012), and 2 collections of stories NIGHT DRIVING (1987), and TRAVELLING LIGHT (2013). More of my book stuff at www.peterbehrens.org I was a Fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study for 2012-13. I'll be teaching at Colorado College and Wichita State in 2013-14.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Best Trucks of the Year

Every Man's Second Car Should Be a Beater Truck...
...that was a piece I wrote for GQ (November 2012) on buying, recycling, and using an inexpensive old truck. Don't much like the term 'beater', as it implies a machine that is thrashed and can be treated with zero respect. I like mending, tuning, and driving basic old trucks. Below, some of my Autoliterate favorites of 2012. The good thing about old trucks is that they are usually for sale. And pound for pound, pretty cheap. RUST is the 4-letter word to avoid. Surface rust is fine, it's patina. Anything deeper gets very expensive. While it is relatively easy, and not wildly expensive, to drop a new engine into an old truck, dealing with a serious rust issue can be extremely costly, and often hopeless. If you're looking for a great old truck, think--high & dry climate. Think--south & west. That's where to buy. And if you live in the Northeast, plan on an adventurous road trip, or pay a good outfit--like Safe-Way Auto Transport, out of Kentucky--to bring your baby home from the desert.
Texas Dodge

Texas Chevrolet C-10
Texas F-1 Ford

Donald Judd's Dodge. Should called it The Judge
Vancouver International

Saskatchewan Econoline


Maine/Texas GMC (with Chevrolet tailgate)

Colorado Springs International

Banff Dodge

Colorado Dodge

Saskatchewan International grainer

California F-2

Saskatchewan Chevrolet grainer

Saskatchewan Advanced-Design Chevrolet

Colorado Sprinsg A-D GMC

Willys Jeep, Colorado Springs

Dodge, Times Square NYC

Citroen, Wassenaar, NL

Citroen, Wassenaar, NL

Morris, Berlin

Chevrolet, Texas

F-250 Texas

Chevrolet c-20, Los Angeles

Chevrolet Portland ME

F-100, Saskatchewan

Willys Jeep, Blue Hill ME

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Raw Material: 5-window coupe, etc.


from our iron man in Northern California, Michael S Moore:
".while waiting for my [fourth] fuel pump for the '45 I went up to Brian's Auto Salvage in the far reaches of American Canyon and scored these...
"Yeah, well... door handles and window cranks from more than a half century ago. The trip went something like this...




'63 Pontiac, sunbaked
 

63 Chrysler. Maybe? 62 Imperial
"...and then at the end this character showed up; 1930 five window [deuce grille] running a classic dual-carbed flat-head...the kind of stuff some guys [not me] make out of what they find at Brian's....

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Classic Benz, Amsterdam

Amsterdam, Christmas morning. Good time for a bike ride. Always liked the 1960s grey which seemed the default color for MB of that era.





Friday, December 28, 2012

The Green Volvo of Groningen-- 1980 Volvo 440

Spent Christmas morning biking around Amsterdam then off to visit friends in the province of Drenthe, in the north. from a North American point of view bikes are the basic personal transportation device all over Holland but Drenthe is especially the bike province and we did some intense rural biking on a blowy, sunny day. NL is very very green in winter, even way up north. Boxing Day dinner en famille with our friends, outside Groningen. http://www.rug.nl/?lang=en Next morning we explored the city, a college town and regional capital, quiet after the bustle  of Amsterdam. Someone loves this Volvo 440 and takes very good care of it. Too bad Volvo, once a great solid plain-jane car,  has become synonymous with oversize leather-infested shagwagons aimed at insecure moms. Volvo is basically dead in the US. Another good car wrecked by brand-mania, thanks to the brains at Ford.













Amsterdam Bikes, part ii

We spent Christmas Eve on our bikes in Amsterdam... 




The Dutch urban bike--omafiets or opafiets-- is a wonderful machine. Sturdy and reliable, and definitely the best way I know of to get around in the city, any city, except San Francisco, where you'll need some gearing.