Perceived Style and Image via Motor Vehicle Ownership


Cindy and Joy, Posing with the Boss at Jollys Lookout.

In the late 1970s I was driving a Fiat 130.  This was a chunky stolid sedan purchased second hand and suffering badly with broken torn leather upholstry – not well designed for tropical Brisbane heat.  It was an imperative that a new vehicle was required – one that would reflect my position in society.  A young advertising photography working out of a trendy inner city church converted into a Studio.  A cavalier Man About Town type of guy.

A Fiat X 1/9 was brought into my life.  Designed by the great Italian Bertone, it possessed a mid-mounted engine (as did the Ferrari Berlinetta Boxer), it had a removable roof (as did the Porshe Targa), and held my photographic equipment.   W e l l  sort of; I did insist that the salesman bring the test vehicle to the Studio where we went through the farce of loading the smallest kit I could gather into (tightly) the two boots available to me.  Of course, the staff then followed in my footsteps with Cindy (my assistant) suddenly needing an MG Midget and Joy (the receptionist) appeared with a Triumph Spitfire.  Neither of these classic British roadsters (albeit in British Racing Green) could compare with the élan of an Italian thoroughbred!

Now that the establishment of IAN POOLE does PHOTOGRAPHY had the most stylish crew in the entire city of Brisbane, this moment had to be documented.  The entire crew (including assistants from the co-tenant Studio) assembled at a near city mountain top, at sunrise, to create a powerful piece of communication.


In Glorious Living Colour (+ expensive French leather driving cap, string backed driving gloves carefully hidden……)

I had started something from which there was no return.


Final Fiat Pose.

The lease ran its term, and I realised that the Fiat, whilst a glorious road holding beast, was seriously underpowered.  Two of my friends were driving other versions of Italian sports machines, and it was a short step to changing marques.  The sad farewell of the Fiat took place at Albion Motors, where the delivery of an Alfa Romeo GTV was sealed late one afternoon.


The Unrestrained Joy of a Successful Salesman; © Ian Poole.

As always, the test vehicle was duly put through its paces, and photographic equipment was carefully placed in the now larger boot of the GTV, to ensure that the purchase would function as a sturdy work horse.  There was no removable roof to allow wind in one’s hair, but it did have a back seat (of a sort…..); and the boot was way bigger (well, a little bit).

The joy of a happy salesman lasts until the new purchaser drives off into the distance.


5×4″ Sinar outfit on location at Bunya Mountains; © Ian Poole, c1983.

Naturally this new purchase needed to be used as a work beast – not as fashion accessory for the upwardly mobile young photographer.  It was very useful to maintain a connection with like minded art directors and naturally they drove with me to assignments on location.

The 1980s were a time of rampant consumerism, and eventually led to “the recession we had to have” – but I was neither astute enough nor interested enough, to see that coming.

No only were these automotive purchases being used as signifiers of amazing creativity, style and panache, they were also being used as backdrops for images that expressed my innate ability to connect Italian style with the glory that is the human form.


3 thoughts on “Perceived Style and Image via Motor Vehicle Ownership

  1. It’s a case of effort and reward isn’t it?

    Being a pro photographer can be an insecure trade with lots of small business administration, wrangling customers who pay late or not at all, keeping the tax office happy, chasing new work, schmoosing old customers, and occasionally having to do perfect camera work in a hurry and on budget, All the while the successful pro needs to be conspicuous, stylish, with the pizzaz and profile to command top line work..

    Ian you did all this for years and I can’t think of a more fitting reward than a series of flash cars to sustain your enthusiasm. Bravo!


  2. Ian – A great post. But we’ll need to add the Tarago CarCamera to the collection of great photographer’s cars and as a ‘signifier of amazing creativity, style and panache’!!


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