How much would you pay to be leader of the free world — well, when it meant something to be US president? Cue political jokes: what’s the difference between an oyster and a politician? One doesn’t have a brain or a nervous system and the other is saltwater bivalve mollusc.

Anyway, there you are in lockdown in Moonee Ponds, but instead of feeling impotent and rageful about spending more time with your partner and kids than God ever intended, you’ve ditched the bar in the sports room and installed a full-scale replica of the Oval Office ($80k) where you’re issuing decrees, ringing Russian presidents, banning broccoli and jeans, and requiring “appropriate business attire” at all times, neckties and knee-length skirts for the ladies, men or others. Don’t feel bad about what you wear; remember Confederate president Jefferson Davis was in women’s clothing when he was arrested by Union soldiers.

Of course if you would like a nice frock there’s the one worn by the youngest first lady, Frances Clara Cleveland Preston’s two-piece off-white gown with a V-neck, ¾-length sleeves, a small front swag, with floral applique trim throughout and a small train, bearing an interior label inscribed “Paris Creations” ($3k).

Then out to the carport, where you’ve trucked in John F. Kennedy’s Air Force One housed in a Boeing 707 fuselage ($400k), hopping into the white 1963 Lincoln Continental convertible ($500k) that drove JFK, Jackie and Texas governor John Connally (no relation) to Carswell Air Force Base in Fort Worth the morning of November 22, 1963 (the last car to transport JFK safely before he climbed into the presidential limousine, SS-100-X, that would carry him into Dealey Plaza, and you know what happened then).

As you drive to the 7-Eleven at 876 Mt Alexander Rd for a pack of Benson & Hedges Smooth ($37.90) you slip on Jackie’s left silk brocade shoe from her Paris trip ($5k), Dwight Eisenhower’s right shoe ($2k) and snuggle up under Franklin Roosevelt’s blanket.

As you walk out of the shop you wave to the kids driving by in the black 1960 Lincoln Continental Mark V Executive Limousine used by Kennedy around the White House. It has all the essentials for life in modern Melbourne: bulletproof doors, divider window, passenger air controls, power steering and brakes, and a two-way phone in the back seat ($400k). All this can be yours at Bonham’s American Presidential Experience auction in New York on October 14.

Talking of effective politicians, the Queensland government may not be getting many points for its border policies (keep the nasty southerners out unless you’re famous, rich or play the right code of footy or all three) but full marks for having serious lemon laws.

In 2015 a Queensland parliamentary committee into lemons (not fruit but metal) chaired by former truck driver (so he knows what he’s talking about) Mark Furner found that: “Seeking legal redress is costly to consumers financially, or they bear the evidentiary burden. Consumers can be impacted by difficulty in diagnosis, costs of expertise, interpretation of the ACL, technical knowledge of adjudicator and compulsory mediation processes. These matters can affect the timeliness of the redress process.

“As well as direct costs like the cost of repairs, there are indirect costs associated with a car being off the road, such as the ability to travel to work, which may have implications for ongoing employment. Seeking redress is also costly to consumers emotionally and mentally.” Mark got it right there.

Now the sunshine state has sunshine lemon laws. Our own Kay Dibben, writing in the Cairns Post, tells us that since Queensland’s “lemon laws” began on September 1 last year, 20 published decisions show full refunds were ordered in seven cases.

Westco Cairns has been ordered to fully refund a car buyer the $29,990 he paid for a “faulty” new Volkswagen Passat, more than three years after he bought it. Tim Foley returned his 2016 Passat to Westco Cairns 14 times after he bought the new car in March 2017, complaining of various problems. The VW had only 18km on the odometer when it was sold by Westco.

Other stars of the new legislation are: Brisbane City Landrover, which has to refund ACH Computing $65,190 for a 2019 Range Rover Evoque; Mercedes Benz Brisbane to refund Alexksander Kabler’s company $55,500 for a 2018 Mercedes Benz X250d Ute; Drive (Aust) Pty Ltd to refund $45,145 to John Haisman for a 2014 Ford Ranger; Titan Caravans to refund $39,990 to Michael Cunnington for an Apache camper; and Sunshine State RV to refund $22,000 deposit to Warner Groves for a Navian 601 Sunliner motor home. 

Reader Richard Samwell sent me a link to a New York Times video of Margaret Dunning who was 101 at the time and was a serious petrol head with a serious car collection including her daily driver, a 1930 Packard Straight Eight 740 convertible ($300k). Demonstrating how good petrol is for you, up until the time she died at 104, Marg did her own maintenance on her cars, boasting about doing her own oil changes. She grew up on a farm next to Henry Ford, her father taught her mechanics and she drove for 92 years right up to the time she died.

Last weekend two Queenslanders did very well in a subdued 24 Hours of Le Mans. Nick Foster driving for Eurasia Motorsport took 16th while Matt Campbell’s team came in a solid 18th in a Porker. Of course, the Lewis Hamilton Mercedes team of 24 hour racing, the unfortunately named Toyota Gazoo team, won. There were 16 cars that didn’t rank including Team Jackie Chan, which was disqualified. But for the first time in 30 years, I think, there were two all-women teams.

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