Sunday, 15 June 2014


Every Saturday night, just north of Houston, Texas, there's a car gathering called 'Niftee 50ees', at the junction of Kuykendahl and Louetta.
It's open to any vehicle from before 1979, I think. Everything from an Oldsmobile Curved Dash of 1902 to the great muscle cars of the seventies, plus custom cruisers,  hot-rods, chopped and channeled sleds,  trucks, vans...

Having an old, square, Land Rover, of course, I like to take part, -though really the emphasis is on home-grown metal, there are a few foreign imports.
I open the bonnet....(hood, for my American readers), to show my non-chromed, non V8, non-hemi-headed, non 427 cubic inch, trivial 4 cylinder engine. I see it as a refreshing palate-cleanser, akin to a glass of cold home-made lemonade, for all those poor folk overdosed on detroit chromium.

 People think my Land Rover is a Jeep... No, these are Jeeps....

They raise money for charity, the local fire crew brings a truck for kids little and large to goggle at, the height of excitement for many a child is to be allowed to sound that big chromed bell.

Entry for the public to browse: Free!
To show a vehicle? $10:00.

I'm not there every week, because because even a knucklehead like me would get bored.  But the number and nature of cars there is ever varying.
Then there's 'Cars and Coffee', at Market Street in The Woodlands, every first Sunday of the month, from early o'clock to Eleven a.m.
I'm amazed at the number of people who own old cars here.


  1. Fabulous. Good pics of the cars but I am not surprised they canny tell a Jeep from a Landrover.
    I suspect your Landrover would outperform their jeeps. Good stuff.

    1. America is very americentric, Land Rovers sold in every country of the world, but back in I think, 1974, faced with yet another edict from the U.S. which would require alteration and retooling, Land Rover said "The rest of the world will take as many as we can build, so to hell with the U.S.", and abandoned the U.S. market.
      Consequently, people in Papua/New Guinea, or Ulan Bator, Patagonia and Pago-Pago, recognise a Land rover instantly, whereas Americans frown and say "What is it". To Americans, Land-Rover means Range-Rover, and cosseted excess, not a square brick built to go anywhere.

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  3. Generally I do like old American motors, particularly when they've not been faffed with (modified) too much. During my Stateside travels I've seen a fair few Landies but mostly in backcountry/mountainous places. We once rented a Subaru Outback in the Cascades, purely by chance, and it performed so well on dirt tracks, accessing mountain trails, that it started a love affair with Scooby Doos. We're on our second Forester. Seen LOADS in mountain areas in the States. Not as rugged as a Landy but a good compromise between 4WD and everyday comfort.

    1. Funnily enough, on arriving here it was clear we needed another car to go with the behemoth Suburban, and be a more practical travel machine than the Land Rover, so I bought a Scooby Outback, the H6 LL Bean model, 3.0 litre, flat-6, sports option gearbox.... It's a rocket in sheep's clothing.
      While we were looking for one, we had a test drive in a Forester, the saleswoman directed me to a big flat, empty parking lot, told me to drive at about 30mph and, on her signal, hit full lock. I was doubtful, and of course, slowed down and took a gentler arc. "No, No, she said, Trust me!", so second time I hit 30, threw the wheel hard over.... And we just went in a tight undramatic circle. "Okay", she says, now do it again, but accelerate in the turn". So I did. Same thing, no drama, just like being on rails. Impressive.
      But I wanted a bit more boot, and the following day we saw the H6, with all the toys, the moon roof etc...Pretty immaculate too, but I rarely get to drive it as the Missus turns out to be a speed queen delinquent.
      The 13 Yr old thought it was an uncool mommy car. Until I pointed out Subaru's WRC record, and demonstrated its ability to out-accelerate much flashier cars. Oh. And delinquent behaviour high speed do-nuts in an empty car park. Now its cool but nowhere near as cool as the Land Rover, when it comes to school pick-up time.

  4. Nice one. 'Thought I'd spotted a lurking Scooby in one of your earlier pics. Our Forester's one of the newer turbo diesel ones so it does a million miles to the gallon (not such as issue over your way) but still outperforms the previous petrol one we had. We love it. Before getting our beloved camper we had a very brief flirtation with a caravan and the Forester dragged it to Scotland, up hill and down dale and back, with nil fuss, returning around 32mpg whilst so doing.
    By the way, always liked Suburbans, but a bit silly for the roads over here.

    1. For reasons I cannot fathom, America is unable to accept the concept of diesel engines in cars. A tiny proportion exist, but tiny, so even people wise in the ways of things mechanical have no idea just how far the diesel has come since the 1970s, when diesel meant a throbbing, stinking, slow, industrial thing.
      They have never met the modern clean-burning, economic, high-revving turbodiesel.
      They still think that petrol engines are always faster/cleaner/quieter/smoother, and remain blissfully unaware that they're wrong.
      When I brought the Land Rover owner, I had an available donor 200tdi landrover discovery diesel. But that engine has never been type-approved here, and I was advised it would be refused at the port of entry.
      Crazy. I'd have been travelling around cleaner, faster, and much further per gallon.
      However, the biggest dual wheeled pick-up trucks boast diesels, Cummins is popular there.

    2. Correct me if I'm wrong but I suspect it's down to the cost of fuel i.e. petrol (gas). We've traveled in the US since well before gas prices went up and I've had many conversations with folks who can't comprehend the price we (UK) pay for auto fuel, even AFTER what they consider to be a massive price increase.

    3. Not sure what you mean...... That fuel is a relatively cheap commodity so nobody cares?
      If so, you're probably right. And the relatively oversized, understressed engines in so many american cars go on forever, provided you keep throwing oil in and don't run with an empty radiator.
      Whereas european engines are smaller, lower torque, higher revs, and have to work harder to achieve the same average speeds.
      Certainly the cost of filling a tank is eye-watering in both countries, but laughably less so here.


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