Monday, May 13, 2013

Wheels in Portugal

 This is a post that some of you may want to skip. Being a fan of anything with wheels, I am always on the lookout for interesting cars, motorcycles, trucks and even tractors. I have written other posts about some of the vehicles I have run across on my trips, and some readers, my daughter included have been requesting a post about the vehicles I have run across in Portugal. I have to admit however, that it is not really very exciting.

First of all, there do not seem to be many old cars here in Portugal at all. Certainly nothing really interesting. There are a couple of old Citroens here and a few old Renaults, but nothing really old. There are a few old Austin Mini's around town, all painted up, but nothing special. One has been made into a convertible, and it appears to be a pretty good conversion. One is painted in bright colours, with lights saying “Cooper”, but it is just a Mini. The other one is a bit odd. It is painted the same green one of my Mini's was, but when the owner parks it he locks it up with four large square steel blocks. It's only a Austin Mini, not a Rolls Royce for heaven sakes. It seems to be parked more than it is driven, and I have only seen it on the road once, so perhaps the owner is not here all the time.

Olhao is not a tourist town, so you do not see many interesting cars driven by rich tourists, and although there are more BMW's and Audi's than you might expect in a 'fishing' village, most of the locals drive beaters several years old.

There are some interesting motorcycles here. Of course if you live in a place where it never rains, a motorcycle is a perfectly viable form of transportation. There is everything around town, from really old european two stroke 125 cc machines that scream up and down the road at 10,000 RPM just to maintain the speed of traffic, to huge Harley dressers, and the BMW and Honda Paris to Dakar desert tourers. Again however, I have not seen anything really interesting. No nice custom Harleys, or nice cafe racers. Although there are quite a few of the old European two strokes around, they are almost all complete wrecks, held together with wire and string. There are also a lot of tiny three wheeled trucks based on motorcycles. They are sort of neat, with an enclosed cab, and a small but serviceable pick-up bed on the back. On our 'road trip' we were overtaken very quickly by a really fast ATV sort of vehicle. It liked like an average 4 wheel ATV, but it was equipped for the street, and it was fast enough to operate on secondary roads comfortable at speed. I thought it was just some ATV Yahoo driving on the road illegally, but I then noticed other similar machines that had a licence plate also driving on the roads.

What I have noticed is the number of interesting models of current vehicles that we do not see in North America. The little Ford Focus station wagon we rented is an example; a very practical and well designed car with a nice little diesel engine. Toyota have a whole other range of vehicles they sell over here, including some really good trucks and vans with diesel engines that we do not see. It isn't even that they are smaller models. Toyota have a truck here that seats six people in three rows, with a large pickup bed. It however operates with a smaller diesel engine that would not compete in the North American Truck wars, but it is a practical workhorse used by many companies here to transport their workers and their materials all at once. There are lots of the 'Smart' cars we see at home, but here it seems that most companies manufacture something similar, and there is something called a 'Micro-car' that seems to operate with a motorcycle engine that is the size of a “Smart'. but seats four people.

See I was looking . . . . I just didn't find much.

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