Y NOSE was well into my beer glass when one of the pickled drinkers raised his glass and yelled out, “Party Motor!”
I was at the small pub way out in Silverton, past Broken Hill in Mad Max 2 country and I just thought this was some kind of local saying along the lines of “rock on!”
Other well-lubricated locals joined in and the “Party Motor!” chant grew louder and louder until the publican finally threw his hands up and said: “All right then.”
A few minutes later, we were standing in the backyard of the house that adjoined the pub, watching a great big lump of metal being wheeled out on some kind of trolley.
It was an engine. To be more specific, it was a 454 cubic-inch Chevrolet V8. With a supercharger. The pipes came out of the block about 60cm and just stopped. There was no muffler.
The engine was not actually connected to anything. All those high-performance components spun for nothing other than the entertainment of a handful of people standing around under a black starry sky.
The publican carefully filled a sauce bottle with methanol, which was only marginally more alcoholic than what was being downed at the bar, and connected it to a fuel line.
It was a cold and still desert night and I had my hands in my pockets to keep them warm, something I would come to regret.
A button was pressed and the Party Motor spat into life with a fitful rage. Holy hell, it was loud. You could feel the exhaust gas pulsing out of the sawn-off pipes, thumping your face and pounding your eardrums.
The only other times an engine has so thoroughly assaulted my ears was when my dad, my brother and I were working on M a two-stroke motorbike late at night. We’d taken the exhaust a two-stroke motorbike late at night. We’d taken the exhaust pipe off for cleaning, but Dad wanted to check the engine was working after he made some kind of change. Unfortunately, the throttle stuck and this little Yamaha started to scream its brains out as it bounced about on its centre stand.
Finally, Dad pulled the spark plug out and we just sat there stunned, in a cloud of oil-rich two-stroke smoke, wondering, a) whether we would ever hear again and, b) whether mum was going to kill us for waking up her and the entire neighbourhood.
This time, any concern I had for my hearing was drowned out by the delirium of the Party Motor. The publican was revving it, and even though my fingers were now firmly plugged in my earholes I could still pick up the howls of delight and childish pleasure of the others. I could also see the flames flashing.
Within a few minutes the last of the methanol had been sucked out of the sauce bottle and the Party Motor fell silent.
It was time to head back to the pub and for the locals to tell stories of other times the Party Motor had made an appearance.
One night, when the chaps were bored and extremely inebriated, they experimented with both the Party Motor and their lives.
The men wondered, as only extremely bored and drunken men can, whether they could lick the top of the blower whilst the Party Motor was running.
With all those belts and pulleys and a healthy amount of hair on the part of the men participating, this was a disaster waiting to happen, but they carried on.
And yes, for what it is worth, one can lick the blower of the Party Motor.
Of course, some people won’t understand the joy that an essentially pointless large internal combustion engine can bring a small group of people. But I do, because I saw and heard the Party Motor. I sense it’s something I will recount to my son and perhaps any kids he has.
I’m pretty sure the story will sound even crazier by then in a world of electric everything. I can’t imagine anyone demanding to hear an electric Party Motor and proceeding to lose their minds as it whirrs away. But maybe I’m just a dinosaur. M