By on April 14, 2012

Even when on vacation, I can’t help tripping over interesting stuff. In this case, quite literally. Ouch. My toe’s still bleeding.

We’re on the windward side of Oahu, a low-key family-style vacation where I normally eschew the madding crowds of people who are better looking than me, embracing instead a backyard chaise-longue and a local IPA. It is in no way, shape or form a hard-knock life.

This is one face of the real Hawai’i and the folks here are as relaxed and bronzed as well you might expect. They’re also used to a quiet life, and many are retirees from various places on the mainland. As a member of the informal network that arises out of the bridge, bunko and bbq circuit, my wife’s aunt asks me if I want to take a look at couple of old cars belonging to a friend’s recently deceased husband. What kind? “Oh an old Bentley and I think a Mercedes.”

Well, here’s the “Mercedes”. Turns out it’s a 1937 Rolls-Royce which predeceased its previous owner only very slightly. The car used to be daily driven: you could see its graceful carriage wafting among the palms, along the Pali or the Likelike highway into Honolulu.

Same story with this one. Another pre-war artistocrat, this pre-war Bentley was driven by the gentleman’s son for many years, until it too became a Garage Countessa. Being so close to the water, the salt air pits the chrome mercilessly.

Aside from the two gargantuan Britannic majesties, this place is stuffed to the rafters with all manner of cast-iron goodness. Some of which, as mentioned, wreaks its bloody havoc on my be-flip-flopped foot. I blame Jonny Lieberman.

Here, for instance, is the engine out of a pre-WWI plane. Don’t ask me to be more specific than that: no doubt the man who added it to his Aladdin’s Cave could have given you chapter and verse, but its current caretaker doesn’t have the specifics. It’s off to a museum, not a collector.

Transfer cases, gear boxes, a cider-press from the early part of the century. Some would call this hoarding behaviour, but to me it’s evidence of the gravity well that exists inside even the best-kept garage.

More than that though, it’s the legacy of a man who kept taking things on right up to the end. Doubtless he felt that all these spares would be organized, all these tools sharpened, all these machines made to run again.

But in the end, entropy rules. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, rubber to rot, chassis to rust.

These beasts will roar again. They’re special enough to be reborn, although this level of necromancy is surely going to require that they leave their tropical island home to be shipped to some team of mainland craftsman. To return? Not likely.

The folks across the street have a Nissan Leaf, and photovoltaic panels on their roof. Sensible, but forgive me if I’d rather have this garage full of whimsy.

So let this be spurs to your own desire. Even in paradise, there’s no time to waste!

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12 Comments on “Automotive Aloha: 1937 Rolls-Royce, Pre-War Bentley, And A Dakine Engine...”


  • avatar
    Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

    Bloody majestic.

  • avatar
    fredtal

    During my last move I decided to give or throw away my collection of misc parts and hardware. Cost too much to move. Maybe I should of kept it just so that when I die someone can open my garage and enjoy the find. Well maybe not, I had nothing so interesting.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    8:26 what decade? Time appears to have stopped for all but rust and dust…

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    That’s a perfect lead photograph; even before reading the headline, I knew “must be a Hawaii car in someone’s garage.” The registration and safety inspection stickers did not change in appearance for the 3 decades I resided there.

    We had fun laughing at recent transplants who lamented, “I sold my VW Bug/Bus/Datsun 510 to save on shipping costs; I thought I could pick one up here for the same price.”

    • 0 avatar
      nikita

      I shipped a rust-free California VW and Jeep over there about three decades ago. Easily worth way more than the shipping cost to do so.

      Yes, the inspection sticker also alerted me to the locale.

  • avatar

    I’d love to hear the story of those two cars and how they ended up in Hawaii.

  • avatar

    Whatever kind of old v8 aircraft engine it is, it must be collectible since they Henry Ford Museum has one too.

    http:[email protected]/4877895166/in/set-72157624692064122/lightbox/

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    Would be interesting to find out if that was a British or U.S.-built Rolls Royce (yes, some Rolls Royces were assembled in the USA, believe it or not)

    • 0 avatar
      Robert Gordon

      Woah, you understate that…

      Some of the most elegant RR of the 1920’s and 30’s were those made in Spingfield Massachusetts.

      This is however not a US assembled car, since the Springfield plant was shut in 1931.

  • avatar
    Andy D

    Yah , they were made in Springfield MA in the early 20s

  • avatar
    SuperACG

    Is this a peek into the future of what Murilee’s garage will look like?


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