2017 Subaru Levorg Review

The good: – the amazing CVT that will change the way you think about autos – power and torque. Who said you can’t have both?! – quality fit and finish The bad: – useless voice recognition – equally useless satellite navigation – bouncy Bilstein shocks at speed. Welcome to a review of a car I can guarantee you’ve never heard of. Subaru forged their reputation in the 90s with practical, fun gutsy AWD turbo wagons (think RS Turbo Wagon or the Liberty/Legacy turbo). Now they’re all about SUVs. To the point where everyone I’ve told about this car had absolutely no idea what I was talking about. Anyway I’d been stalking the Subaru web site since they talked about bringing these to Australia. To me (if only me, there’s a handful on the road) it’s the perfect car. She has the running gear of a WRX without all the protein shake histrionics and oversized baseball cap tomfoolery. The only shouty thing about it is the bonnet scoop which is mildy aggressive but it’s no Donald Trump. Seems everyone else has forgotten about sporty wagons too. The only real competition with a bit of grunt is the Skoda Octavia RS and possibly the Volkswagen Golf Wagon.  I don’t even know if that comes in a hot model. The Skoda though? It’s a fantastic drive, but there’s too many Volkswagen bits for my liking and a bit firm in the suspension. It doesn’t help that it just looks like a librarian in Nike Air Jordans either. How does it compare to the Subaru? Well the GTS is a very nice sophisticated...
New Guns N Roses Litho site

New Guns N Roses Litho site

The mighty Gunners aren’t just on tour, they’re smashing out some amazing poster art. One or two posters for every city they play on the Not in this Lifetime tour. After seeing the Melbourne show and luckily grabbling the last Ned Kelly poster, I started Googling them and became absolutely obsessed by some of the posters by the likes of Arian Buhler. So I’ve put together a new gallery GNRposters.rocks. There’s about 50 posters there, the artists names and all the details I can muster. What’s more you can rate your favourite posters and it I hope will continue to grow. So if you know the artists, then hook me...

2016 Holden Calais review

Let’s cut to the chase: this Calais is a land barge. A luxurious, highly annoying land barge.  Because Holden have dived so deep into the US parts bin, it doesn’t feel like an Aussie car anymore. There are so many beeps and bongs I keep expecting the car to ask me if I want fries with that. There are many, many ‘features’ that just plain irritate me. But let’s keep it nice and start with the good stuff. Compared to previous models, the interior is top notch. The Alcantara and leather appointed interior is comfortable and stylish.   Gone are the ‘like it or lump it’ footy team colours. The interior is actually cohesive and er, top notch. On a drive from Brisbane to Noosa, the air conditioning didn’t miss a beat and it was smooth sailing. The driving position is not bad either. The seats unlike their German contemporaries are comfortable. That old Buick V6 donk wheezes along in relaxo mode with a good old fashioned 4 speed auto, no CVT nonsense and picks up like buggery when you bury the right foot into the firewall. Boot space? Easily big enough to accomodate our baby gear and holiday bags for a week. No problems there. But then the annoyances kick in. This car is so soft I swear it has a jelly centre. I think it should be the Holden Kalais Krispy Kreme Stay Puft (yes I watched Ghostbusters the other day) edition. Sure it steers OK at highway speed. But around town it sounds and steers like a barge. The blind spot warning is very useful. Because the...

Greco MR 600 review

Make no mistake, I have a very soft spot for Grecos. So when I started lusting after a double cut Les Paul, I found the MR (Mick Ralphs – of Bad Company fame) Greco. Mine was a 1977 and in bloody good condition for a 39 year old guitar (incidentally the same age as yours truly). She was a shade of orange that undermined its generation. The case was lined in Fanta day glo orange velvet. Firstly these guitars are fabulously well built. The carved maple cap is very thick. The neck join is also something special. Some great mahogany went into these guitars. The 600 meaning it cost 60,000 yen was the el cheapo version with single coil P90 pickups (or soap bars). It also meant no binding on the fretboard but otherwise a very high quality standard. What sucked about it? The neck is a little bit too wide for most people. If you’re blessed with big hands, this is the guitar for you. Oh yeah and the P90s don’t really have much of a sound on this guitar. Mine had a humbucker in the bridge but it still didn’t work. I think the higher up models would sound better. Some riffs would come off of this guitar that wouldn’t come off anywhere else but for all intents, she just didn’t have a sound that gelled with me. So she was swapped for a Telecaster with a bloke Steven who plays in a local band Stockpile. She’s had the P90s swapped for some hand wired humbuckers and is finally getting the love she deserves. They’re unbelievably well...

Maton Phil Manning Stereo Custom

So I was digging through the laptop the other day and found some photos of old guitars. Not something I’d say often but I actually felt honoured to own the Phil Manning Custom for a short time. Firstly this is an amazingly rare guitar. Not by any stretch the rarest of Matons. But Maton are a boutique Aussie brand. Maton are predominantly known for their acoustics. Which is sad because they’ve made very quirky electrics. The Manning is no exception. In 1974 this guitar cost approx. $1800 Aussie dollars. You could’ve easily bought a family car for that. So I get the feeling that this was never meant to be cheaper or rival Gibsons and Fenders (which were impossibly expensive in Australia). This was a guitar designed to do everything. From psychedelic, to chicken pickin’ to heavy pub rock without hesitation. The spec sheet is like no other. How many guitars do you know of that give you full stereo, with bass and treble switch, coil tapping plus Aussie and Canadian woods? It’s a very short list. At first I thought it looked like a bloated Les Paul and wasn’t very taken with it. The electronics looked like the Flux Capacitor in Marty’s De Lorean in Back to the Future. Absurd, quirky, weird. All these come to mind. Ultimately though all that is just horse shit. This guitar felt bespoke. I think the only plastic on it was on the truss rod cover. Even the electronics covers on the back were solid maple about 6mm thick. It felt like a pair or RM Williams boots. Like there’s the feeling you get when you go...