Brand Awareness - Blackbourn 413

By: Rob Blackbourn

Presented by

blackbourn blackbourn

Rob's sage advice is wear your branded t-shirt with pride except when it's not a good idea

The co-pilot and I were enjoying a relaxed Sunday breakfast recently at a trendy café in a fashionable inner-Melbourne suburb. Why should the hipsters have all the stylish soy lattes and ‘Smashed Avo with Kale on toasted Sourdough’ to themselves? The cool young man in his late-20s at a nearby table was also enjoying breakfast – no surprise given the stunning looks of his companion and her obvious contentedness with his company. Then I noticed his Porsche T-shirt. Now it all made sense. Here’s a young bloke who’s off to a good start, his life clearly, as they say, on a rising trajectory, on a number of fronts. They left in an immaculate silver Boxster convertible, he still looking cool, she still looking amazing. A 911 next year, perhaps.

Now another angle on wearing the brand: Over the years we’ve spent quite a few summer weeks on the NSW South Coast, one of Australia’s loveliest regions in my view.

Vehicle of choice for one trip was our classic Super Bug, a curved-screen 1973 VW Beetle, powered by the mighty ‘Twin Port’ 1600 – well almost mighty.

With no stay in the area complete without lunch at the quaint Central Tilba pub, we duly ‘dak-dakked’ our way there on the final Sunday. It was good to get a park just around the corner in the side street.

Lunch was everything we’d hoped for – a sharp contrast with what awaited us back at the car. Its starter-motor chose that moment to suffer terminal failure. In our favour it was good that I’d parked the Beetle pointing downhill. Against us though, immediately in front of the VW, was a heavy timber gutter-crossing ramp that blocked a simple roll-start.

Back at the pub looking for help I spotted a bunch of blokes enjoying beers on the verandah. They were Harley men, all wearing sleeveless leather vests that showcased muscular tattooed arms.

"Got a minute to give us a hand, fellas? Starter’s died. Need to push the car back up the hill a bit."

As well as a chorus of schadenfreude laughter from my would-be rescuers, one of them responded with: "Why would we want to help you, Ferrari man? Spend some of your loot on a tow truck."

My Sunday T-shirt, a recent Christmas present, tastefully featuring a classic Testarossa, was suddenly doing me no favours at all.

After I coaxed them to look around the corner to see it wasn’t a Maranello marvel in trouble, only a humble Vee Dub, they willingly obliged. Insisting we both climb in, they shoved us back a car’s length while barely raising a grunt, before refusing my offer to shout a round of drinks The rest of Sunday and then Monday’s trip home to Melbourne – and to my spare reco-ed starter motor – was drama-free. You know the drill: Always park downhill (away from obstacles…). Always refuel at servos with a downhill exit. Too easy.

Sometime later on a whim we saw Little Miss Sunshine, the movie about an attractively weird bunch on a road trip from Albuquerque to Los Angeles in a VW, this time a Kombi. When the clutch cable broke at a roadhouse in Arizona they were in real strife. ‘Come on guys,’ I thought. ‘Work it out. Back in the day I managed Coff’s Harbour to Sydney with no clutch. You can do it.’ And they did! With the motor idling in neutral, the passengers pushed the bus up to walking pace, enabling the driver to grab first gear before circling the servo until the team all scrambled on board through the open side door. Then with clutchless gearchanges they hit the highway. I wanted to punch the air and shout, ‘Yes!’. Too easy.


Sign up to our free weekly newsletter for more unique car reviews and features plus see the latest unique and classic cars for sale.

Subscribe to Unique Cars magazine
- Print edition
- Digital edition