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“Pop, can we get a Supermarine Spitfire?”

“No son, we can’t afford to buy an aircraft! .... besides, they stopped making those after the war.”

I clearly remember this early exchange with my father. I was around 3 or so when the cravings to possess an aircraft from the second world war started, and his supportive nature did all but dissuade me from getting entangled with the mechanical machines of the bygone eras.

As a young med student driven to mental exhaustion by the musings of medicine and surgery, I soon found solace customizing and racing a 2013 Royal Enfield 350cc machine on the streets of Bombay, India. I had built the motorcycle to emulate the lines of a 50s-ton up Norton and meditation through mechanical medicine soon became my favourite way to detox after a long and stressful day in med school. It was then that I realized, the machine and the human are very similar. The engine and carburettor function exactly like the heart and lungs, the machine's frame, or chassis if you will, emulate the skeleton to a T. All that it lacks is a brain. The motorcycle’s design soon started getting noticed and I ended up at the helm of a fairly successful custom motorcycle studio. All throughout my early years the love for old warbirds didn’t diminish, but rather, changed into an appreciation for mechanical design. The need to own a Spitfire morphed into a love for American cars of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s and I proceeded to feverishly document these machines whenever I got the chance. India having curbed automotive imports in the early ‘60s, these vehicles were few and far between on the streets of the subcontinent. So, whenever my hippie parents made us travel around the globe, a visit to the local automotive museum was always mandatory.

The COVID-19 pandemic made me realize that life is truly short and my days working in an Indian hospital were numbered. It was the winter of 2021 when I found myself in the Third, and within the first few days it was quite apparent, I had landed in an automotive paradise. Soon I was fervently searching for a ‘70s Mopar wagon to call my own. That search was the only time the Third has ever disappointed me.

After finishing my first semester at CBU, I decided to head down to the US to link up with my family and embark on a two month search across the length and breadth of America. I shall never forget the look of elation on my father’s face, when at long last, we found a ‘73 Dodge station wagon in Chicago. Once I had acquired the machine, my girlfriend (a Sydney Mines local) and I bid adieu to my family and started on a long and perilous journey back to the Third. Little did I know, that was the last time I would meet my father in the flesh. “The Mothership”, is a ’73 Dodge Coronet Custom Station Wagon which runs the streets of the Third as a daily driver. It is out of this mobile office/ studio that I bring you the inside scoop on what I term “The Hot Rod Island”.

During the next several months, I hope to enlighten the ever-friendly population of the Third about its own hot rod and custom heritage and chronicle the humans’ incessant love for the machine.

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