Woody's Wanderings

Published: 20 February, 2010 - Featured in Skin Deep 138, October, 2006

So Fil says to me,” Do you want to buy my car or what?” which sort of forced my hand. Whilst at the tattoo studio I had been talking with Fil, one of the other tattooists who works here with me, about doing an airbrushed tattoo paint job on his Yank tank. Sort of New-Skool style with lots of colour but unlikely to get done for sometime yet due to life getting in the way.


The car in question is basically a Buick Regal as used by Kojak and it was built way back in 1975 when car bumpers were designed to crush people with the added touch that the bumpers were fitted with hydraulic dampers to protect the car. Against my wife’s better judgement I agreed to buy the car.

We bundled off down to Bath and after Fil unconvincingly assured me that this car was reliable I took possession of the beast, which I saw before me dressed in matt black and as rusty as a gate hinge. A six litre, auto transmission, V8 engined monster of a car which drinks fuel, weighs as much as a lorry and is very slow. It was enhanced by the lollies in the glove box (“Told you it used to belong to Kojak,” says Fil but I think he put them there to bullshit me).

He did give me a test-drive first which clearly showed that the speedo was dubious, the petrol gauge was not working and the v-belt needed tightening on the steering.

Half a mile after I paid the money it conked out. It turned out to be a lack of fuel and tight fisted Fil had managed to leave about ten pence worth of fuel in it.

Ever optimistic I drove it the hundred or so miles back to High Wycombe, in my new gangster wheels, without any real hitch, though one of the main beam lights and the horn ceased to function on the way and over the next few weeks it broke down twice in ways which, after a bit of head scratching turned out to be fixable with simple spanners.

The fact that the exhaust has more holes than a lump of cheese making it so loud it sets car alarms off is just great. The heater won’t turn off and the driver door won’t undo. The bonnet and boot lid creak like Frankenstein’s front door.

My wife won’t go in it because she thinks it is dangerous. The owner of a garage near here told me never to bring it back. He didn’t want it on his books apparently.

Despite all this the one thing I can say about this car is that it has a huge grin factor. It’s exhaust growls and the ground shakes. The engine and transmission are as sound as a pound and the car arrives with style.

The auto transmission in the Buick reminded me of an ambulance that I bought a few years ago from a chap in a farmyard. Originally to get a mobile tattoo studio going, I gave the idea up for hygiene reasons (lack of running hot water etc.) and opened a shop instead. The Booly Bus as it became known became useful for ferrying around my broken down bikes, of which I had many. The ambulance was very big and since I could never see what was behind I used to hope for the best when reversing and the damage that I did to other cars was the reason that I sold it.

Whilst I owned it I used it to pick up the first of the three bikes that I still have today which was my old Harley Davidson ‘45. I had seen it tied to a lamppost in Reading, found the owner and promptly paid more than it was worth because I wanted it.

Although a runner, it was a bit of a nail. The brakes, exhaust and gearbox were all broken from their mountings. The ignition was 180 degrees out and it still ran though the engine was obviously tired.

The logbook was totally bizarre and, full of disinformation, was as irrelevant as it could be. I took the bike to Chris Ireland at Desperate Dan’s in Leighton Buzzard who eventually turned it into a good road worthy chop and sorted out the paper work before I got it back. It has had many changes in appearance and I have had many fun hours chugging around on this bike in the sun rain and snow. Although it would be untrue to say it has been reliable I can fix just about any situation since there is not a part of the bike I haven’t had apart and learned about.

This bike was featured a few years ago on the Men And Motors channel where you could see me flying up the motorway. I had a camera taped to my helmet and some chaps would drive past me in a camera-mounted van.

I now have an Ultraglide for all practicalities, as it doesn’t require the maintenance of the ‘45. The huge stowage, sound system and cruise control are ideal for long journeys. All this and the push button electronic smoothness are a million miles from the clockwork, kick-start, pop-bang, manual advance and retard of the rickshaw-like side valve ‘45. One thing you don’t get with modern Harleys with their faultless electronic ignition systems is the ability to throw the timing into full retard when going down the Wycombe hills to blow flames out the exhaust whilst making a lot of noise. Priceless!

Lots of noise has always been a feature, which has attracted me to buying a bike (or in this case Buick). The two noisiest bikes I ever had were my Battistini chop, which rates as the most unreliable bike I ever had (but what a looker) and the even louder Shovelhead which was probably the most anti-social animal ever. Again I rolled out the chequebook when the owner started it up and it set a car alarm going down the bottom of the road.

You would be forgiven for believing that I have finally grown up since as a casual observer you will see me riding around on the ultra quiet, ultra sedate Ultraglide but appearances can be deceptive. It won’t be long till the ‘45 is back on the road sporting new beach bars, and the Shovelhead engine has just been rebuilt with a bigger capacity to make it even louder!

Here are some pictures of me on my bikes and I even look young in a few of them. The delays concerning getting the bikes back on the road this summer have tended to be because of running the shop and to give you an idea of what I mean you should bear in mind that not only does the shop have to run but we are presently installing a tattoo removal laser, which thanks to people like Harold Shipman means that we have about a million hoops to jump through in order that the Healthcare Commission will assign registration. So if you have some shit tattoos, which you wish to turn into, nice new tattoos get along to Woody’s Tattoo Studio so we can afford to have noisy bikes and cars on the road again.

www.woodystattoostudio.com  22 Octagon Parade, High Wycombe, Tel: 01494 464023