Archive for the ‘
Bring It Back ’ Category
Thursday, May 16th, 2013
Forty years ago, a young kid of a filmmaker decided he was gonna stick a finger in the eye of the Hollywood Establishment and make a movie based on stuff he knew about, on his terms, in his old stomping grounds and anyone who said he couldn’t do it could suck it.
In 1972, George Lucas set about making a movie about his own high school years in Modesto, CA. But much of the film about hot rods and girls and cruising and music and uncertainty and bravado and fun and drinking and girls and cars and girls and cars, including the final dawn race on Paradise Road, was shot much further west in Petaluma (as well as the Mel’s Diner in San Francisco, locations in Mill Valley and Sonoma). By the time American Graffiti was released the following year, the backers never imagined the low-budge flick would break even, much less become one of the most beloved and profitable films of all-time.
Forty years later, the yellow Deuce 5-window known simply as “the Milner Coupe,” is still owned by a San Francisco fireman and was brought out once again for the annual celebration of the movie in Petaluma. But this time, it was staged against a certain black ’55 Chevy for one more race down Paradise Road. Sorta.
Nomads Robbie Morris and Dave Tanimura trucked out to Petaluma the other night when we heard a vicious rumor that the most famous street race in the history of hotrodding was gonna be staged one more time at Midnight on Frates Road – the real-world stretch used to represent the original Paradise Road in Modesto.
Did the race happen? You’ll have to wait on that one, but for now, nerd out on some footage Morris nabbed at some point before Midnight on Tuesday in downtown Petaluma…
Monday, May 13th, 2013
Welp, we’re back after a week out of the office working on some projects. And one of the highlights of the first day back in the shop was a note from an old friend of ours with a pic of a grungy old T-bucket attached…
We were introduced to Brian Bossone some 15 years ago on the East Coast when he was running some bitchin’ 9-second Mustangs out of his Every Last Detail shop in Maryland. He was helping a mutual friend who was building his “Flying Four Doors Of Fury” ’84 LTD sleeper and we were in over our heads on our ’63 Riviera project that we thought a blown Nailhead was a good idea for. Once we saw the custom work that Brian was doing on late-model Fox Body Mustangs, we just knew he had a flair for the weird and wouldn’t bat an eye at our plans for the Riv.
Things change and we left the East Coast for San Francisco, while Brian ended up as one of the forces behind the “Pinks” franchise on the Speed Channel, among other things. We’ve still got our well-earned “ELD” decal on the toolbox, but that shop is long gone and Brian is now in Texas, working on some new projects.
Which brings us to the inbox that we found his note in over the weekend: a shot of this old T-bucket and a note from Brian, hisself. Turns out, it’s a vintage Dan Woods fiberglass car masquerading as some weird ’70s/’90s/’00s mashup that was finally put up for sale not too long ago – just begging to be restored to its original trim and back to its former glory.
Woods was one of a very few guys (along with Andy Brizio and his “Instant T”) who started making fiberglass Model T body-hot rod kits in the late Sixties and early Seventies. It was the age of the showcar and there was no better period of time to embrace the idea of an easily-purchased kit to get one’s swerve on a la “Beer Truck” in just a few weeks. Dan sold more than a few of ‘em.
But then, as these things do, the trend lost its head of steam. The custom van era had taken the last bit of air out of the room and the pinkbubblegumheartbeatstripe Eighties forced these buckets into back sheds or the back forty (“Hey, it’s fiberglass…it’ll never rust…”) or just cannibalized for the signature Woods frontends and original motors. Some, of course, were kept and run for years – but added onto and taken from to the point that there was little left of their original great style. But that’s not exactly what happened to the one Brian picked up: giant disk brakes, worked-over shitty 305, goofy modern M/T drag radials and the wrong pedals and shifter are still glaring problems to fix to get this thing back to feeling like its old self, but those things are easily fixed. The major features that make it a Custom Carriage Works T-bucket are still there: the Dan Woods frontend, the Woods-widened Skylark wires, the T grille and hardware…Brian found a good one.
Back in ’02, we spied one of these bodies stashed under the eaves at Cole Foster’s Salinas Boys shop. When we pointed to it, he was all, “Hey, don’t laugh – that old fiberglass is gonna be collectible soon…you watch…” Welp, here we are and Cole was right: this stuff is back and we’re stoked that Brian is making plans for a proper Nailhead to replaced that wheezy 305 and we’re hoping he just hangs those early Sanderson headers on the wall of this shop, runs spindle-mounts up front and finds the right candy metalflake paint scheme to properly honor one of the weirdest and most glorious periods of hot rod history.
Wednesday, May 1st, 2013
Welp, it’s happened again: another Winter gone and the official start of Summer is on top of us. Days are getting longer, hot rods are getting warmer and there’s a growing number of us buying up tubes of marine-grade bearing grease and slathering up the ball hitch on flatbottom boat trailers.
Here’s to Summer. A long, hot one…
Monday, April 29th, 2013
original photography: Drew Wiedemann
If you’ve been following us on FaceySpacey, you’ll know two things: 1) we keep getting banned for days for posting pics of beautiful women and 2) we just found a little stack of Premiere Issue copies.
And if you know that, you’ll know that we’ve put together a very limited edition package of goods to make those 25 copies of our long-sold out AUTOCULT Premiere Issue just a little more special. But let’s back up a little…
Wednesday, April 24th, 2013
To some, money’s the thing. MONEYMONEYMONEY. It rules them and they’ll make a life’s worth of bad decisions in its pursuit and, at the end of their day, still have nothing to show for it. To others, relationships are that thing: making their own lives better and richer for knowing someone special and passing some of that wealth on when the opportunity makes itself known.
Kent Fuller, for us, is one of those who’s made us richer for knowing him. Now, we’re not fishin’ buddies, but then again, we’re not entirely sure Fuller fishes. But when Vern Tardel introduced us to Fuller years and years ago when his streamliner was coming together in the back shop at the Tardel hot rod ranch in Santa Rosa, CA, we just stood there with those two mighty men in the heat of the day under that tin roof and just…well…got richer.
Thursday, April 11th, 2013
phone pics: Cisco Lastra
Ever since Nomad Cisco Lastra found this old ’55 Chevy street-n-strip racer in an undisclosed San Francisco garage, he’d been biding his time till the stars lined up, the owner felt like selling and his cell phone battery was fully charged. He finally ended up with the car and we’ve been following the progress of getting it race-ready, some forty years after it last stomped all over the San Francisco Bay Area.
Cisco called the shop the other day with some righteous news: he’d gotten a call from a guy who remembered the car blasting all over Oakland in the early Seventies. And that snickery good name? Well, turns out that the ’55 was built and owned by a well-known pimp who obviously had the cake to get spendy on all the right speed parts. “Guy said that back in The Day, a regular hooker would set you back ten bucks,” Cisco explained, “so the guy tells me that a fifty-dollar trick was the best you could get. Y’know, that was a lot of money in ’71 or ’72…”
Makes total sense. The art of the hustle is owned by two kinds of people: pimps and drag racers. And when one is also doing the other, sometimes the glorious product of that mashup is a bright orange ’55 Chevy with a funny name on the doors, a pastoral wooded lake scene airbrushed into a Chevy bowtie on the decklid and a short, wicked history of owning the street.
While Cisco is getting the Lexan fitted to the window frames and the headers fabbed-up, we’re working on dragging out more characters who knew the car. There’s so much more to this story that we’re digging into as we speak, so stay tuned. Truth is so much stranger – and better – than fiction…
Tuesday, April 9th, 2013
photo: Allen Ginsberg
We’re just tired of hearing that tired word, “roadmap,” being used over and over again by politicians and the Genius behind the Bar at the Apple store. “What we need, see, is a roadmap to recovery…” Yeah. Right.
Well, maybe we actually do need a roadmap to recovery. Maybe we need to take those jackbags literally when they foam at the mouth on their Facebook pages and sad, sad made-for-Fox-News demonstrations over “taking our country back.” While we seriously question whether or not those who use either of those phrases actually know what they’re talking about (much less willing to back it up), we actually found a real roadmap that, if followed, are pretty sure we’d get our country back with.
In 1947, Jack Kerouac hitchhiked across the country – from New York to San Francisco and back again – and finished writing his epic, “On The Road,” four years later. Now, if you haven’t picked up a copy of this book yet, DO IT. Must have, really. The story is about the roadtrip to end all roadtrips with a friend. In this case, it was Jack and a guy named Neal Cassady. Both considered “Beats” by the cultural mainstream in post-WWII America: people who decided not to conform when the rest of the country was bent on assimilation-or-character assassination. Dangerous times for folks who swerved. And when you read what started out as a 120-foot, single-spaced, non-paragraphed paper scroll of continuous copy, you’ll understand why Kerouac’s journey is the most popular roadtrip story ever told.
But back to that roadmap. The story that was finally published ten years after Kerouac and Cassady made the trip drawn out on the map above was based on finding answers to questions that politicians and clergy and schoolteachers of their day couldn’t answer. And what was between the two centers of counterculture (which was mostly made up of souls who decided to live beyond the constraints of those who couldn’t answer their questions) in the late Forties – New York City and San Francisco – just had to be traversed at a time when Route 66 and The Lincoln Highway were still two of the major American roads.
While Kerouac never offers up any cosmic answers to the questions that were at the center of the Beat Movement when he wrote his roadtrip story, maybe a real understanding of the political and social turmoil we find ourselves in these days could be had by simply using his roadmap to really discover the America we live in now. Y’know, stay off the interstates and take the old roads. Do it in a ’49 Hudson like the one in the book that’ll force you to slow down and pay attention to the road, the surroundings, the sounds and the mechanical world that’s long been forgotten. And you have to understand a problem before you can fix it.
The Hudson in “On The Road” has never been found and is questioned to have ever existed, at all. Some of the roads taken in Kerouac’s original trip probably don’t exist today. The characters’ names had all been changed. But none of that really matters, right? No, what really matters is that enough of us get out on the roads of this fine country with our own hand-drawn maps and see it. Really see it and get back in touch with the great and glorious things we created when we all worked together. Great works of engineering and art and production and design and culture. Things we did that now need to be rediscovered, repaired or saved or, at the very least, remembered. That’s a real roadmap to recovery, son.
Friday, April 5th, 2013
Hard to believe these days, but in the early Seventies, New York City was little less than a war zone. If you didn’t live there, you didn’t go there. Urban blight, racketeering, corruption…the city was in a downward spiral, but it was a great time to make movies and music. And if you don’t believe that, find Curtis Mayfield on your Pandora and The French Connection on your Netflix.
And New York in the Seventies was a great subject for photographers like Danny Lyon. Well known for his The Bikeriders photo essay, most folks don’t know he’s a New Yorker. And New Yorkers love New York unconditionally.
It’s with that love of his hometown that Lyon made a series of photographs of Brooklyn in 1974. Beautiful stuff. Thanks to Nomad (and photographer) Jeremy Harris for the heads-up. We’re gonna shut up and just let you enjoy these on your own…
Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013
Another great motorcycling brand has dipped its oil-imbibed toe in the rushing waters of fashion. This time, it’s Matchless – that great, old British marque that disappeared in the mid-Sixties after a series of conglomerations that gobbled up more than a few British bike brands.
Once the brothers from the Belstaff brand of riding clothing decided to buy the name and relaunch the company last year, Matchless plans to release two of its great bikes – the Silver Hawk and Silver Arrow – in Europe.
And if you just snapped up the bike that helped launch motorcycling in the U.K., you’re not gonna mess around when it comes to launching the motorclothes line bearing its name. So the Malenotti Brothers got Terry Richardson and Kate Moss in the same alley, gingerly placed a few bikes and some jackets within arm’s reach and stepped away, quickly.
What you see here is what Vogue decided to show us, but we get the feeling there’s much more. Oh, yes…there must be so much more…
Monday, April 1st, 2013
Nomad Clint Bingamon sent in a few old stills from a largely forgotten Annette-n-Frankie movie, titled “Bikini Beach” released in 1964. Now, that wouldn’t be a huge deal to us (other than we mostly dig just about everything from that era), but these are stills that we hadn’t seen before that back up one particular image we absolutely LERVE.
We’ve published the above shot before and if you’re a hotrodder who digs old shit, there’s a decent chance you’ve printed this out at home and stuck it to the inside lid of your toolbox (and laminated it, like we did). It embodies everything we hold dear: girls in bikinis, perfect Front Engine Dragsters, dragstrips, a showcar (Dean Jeffries‘ Mantaray) and is that a clay-wheeled skateboard back there? Awesome.
But the front story to this backstory shot is that “Bikini Beach” was a teenager flick that took advantage of everything Hollywood saw kids of the era digging on to get them into the theaters: dragsters, girls, rock-n-roll, hot rods, surfing and, apparently, cornball acting. Some things are timeless, no? And, more importantly to us, is how front-n-center drag racing was in the teenager brain pan. See, by 1965, drag racing was at its peak: a killer blend of beauty, design, speed, accessibility, paint and personalities. It wasn’t only a sport, but a way of life that bled into popular culture – and there’s no better a practicing keeper of pop culture than a teenager. One feeds the other and vice-versa. Been that way for millions of years.
And this glorious shot from a pillar of cheese like “Bikini Beach” that we just dig the hell outta was the product of that mid-Sixties youthquake. But it always left us asking, “Was there a camera on the other end of this mystery girl?” Turns out there was…
The greats of drag racing were called in for this third in the “Beach Party” movies of Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello: Tommy Ivo, Pete Millar, Jeep Hampshire, Kenny Safford – to name a few – and all those bitchin’ cars. And, of course, Don Rickles and a guy in a monkey suit. Mid-Sixties…what else could you want?
Take a look below for the rest of the shots from the other end of one of our favorite photos of all time. DIG!