I started this side project, MrBlanc, with the sole intention of documenting and understanding how different artisans relate to their space. Some artists argue the space is inconsequential. I disagree. The style, quality and depth of creation coming out of Ben Thomas’s Collingwood workshop named Rancho Deluxe is testament to my opinion. Everything in this workshop informs Ben’s final build. His cars sound like a song, they look like art and they even smell like a quality product.
In particular, Ben’s own labour of love , his 1930’s Ford makes me salivate. The depth of the ebony paintwork dripping off those panels is liquid like. And the scent of the leather inside is a beautiful contrast to the oily smell of a flathead V8. Pop down to Rancho Deluxe on a Saturday for a coffee and peruse Ben’s world. It’s truly intoxicating.
Given Nicknames: Many given, none taken. I’ll put up with Benny if you’re a girl . In Layman’s terms explain what Rancho Deluxe is: A workshop specialising in 1930s Ford Hotrods,building cars with love and vintage parts, and a passable café, on Saturdays. On a daily basis what inspires you? My roadster just sitting there,waiting. The stuff I surround myself with becomes my muse. Do you ever wake up and feel like you are living out a childhood fantasy in your very own workshop? I don’t think this was a childhood fantasy..but about ten years back I spent some time working out what my future would look like,and it pretty much came true. Coffee of choice? Genovese. Good wog coffee, no fair trade marketing guff here. Some very quick word association: First word that comes to mind when I say , Mod: Grind Fuel injection: fidget Holden: apologetic Croissant: je ne sais pas Motorcycle: commit V8: torque Pinot Noir: sour grapes Cigarette: boat 1990’s car design: regret . Do you have any pets? MAX , the only ginger I ever liked. He hates the workshop though, so he leaves this world each day and comes back when the grinding stops. What was your very first car? Mini moke. Of course I lowered it and put twin carbs and straight out exhaust on it. Bright yellow.The eighties. Ughh Is there a bygone era you wish you had been part of? Sure. I really wish I was born in 1900. And was dying about now. Who taught you the craft? My Dad, all my childhood BMX’s, my apprentice master Jim Young, the rest I read on the internets. Record that gets most action on the Rancho Deluxe Turntable? Motown-the first 25 year Worst habit you can’t kick? Solitary tendencies. Leaded or unleaded? I build engines to use unleaded these days, I don’t trust those additives. On a Saturday at 10am where might we find you? At the shop, tidied up ,ready to serve coffee and muffins to the locals,and the hotrod curious alike. Who are the Kardinals ? My car club.a bunch of friends who love the same stuff I do, My Hot rod brothers. Dream build for dream client would be? Im actually kinda doing it right now! It’s an old California hotrod that was built in the fifties, Im refurbishing it and making it safe, but keeping everything as it was..a time machine in a way. Dream client? One who trusts my judgement and understands the time and thought that goes into this job. How do you feel about Top Gear Australia? I don’t have a television, so I cant really comment, the English one is awesome, but my guess is the local version would suck. What’s more important, how it looks or how it goes? How it looks. Fast is fun, but fast can be ugly. Dream date? Warm night, great food, roadster, whimsical destination, appreciative company. Did you play with matchbox cars? Yeah that and lego. I remember all these big drawers of lego, with matchbox cars in amongst it. That was all I needed to be happy. If you could give one word of advice to aspiring builders of fine automobiles what would it be? Research history. Learn from it. It’s all there. Every mistake, every beautiful car, every reason for the proportions. Let all that stuff become intrinsic to your work. Summer or winter? Usually I’d say winter, but damn that last one was tough in an unheated workshop. Current book of choice? “the ford V-8 cars and trucks” Victor W. Page 1937 edition. Because Knowledge is lost in time. As I am.