Archive for the ‘ Inspiration ’ Category

GNRS-BOUND: THE MYSTERIOUS FRONT-END

Friday, May 31st, 2013

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The one feature of our Model T that attracts more attention than just about any other – good, bad and otherwise – is the front-end. And believe us, we DIG that shit. Plenty of car guys and hot rod builders have stopped dead in their tracks when they see it and just about drop their tri-tip sandwiches or spill their Diet Coors.

Conder designed the front-end suspension into a trick torsion bar setup based on our aesthetic direction. We like frame horns. We don’t like the look of a suicide front-end. We wanted to incorporate Ford 9N tractor radius rods because 1) we grew up on them and 2) we like the way their I-beam design reflects the look of the front axle. We also share Conder’s love for mid-Sixties fuelers, which ran super-simple torsion bar suspension way up front.

All those things contributed to what you see here: a torsion bar suspension that incorporates everything we just mentioned. No ugly leaf springs, no compromises, no shit.

Now, once Conder willed the original torsion bar into existence and we lived with it for awhile, he decided that the car needed a new one: a splined-end deal that provides near-infinite adjustment as the car settles and the front-end figures out where its most comfortable with that heavy Hemi on its shoulders. So, it was off to the venerable Norm Rapp (“Zoom-Zoom!”) Racing in San Francisco’s Excelsior District for a splined torsion bar, usually sold to vintage sprint car builders.

Much as we love watching the faces as we stand on the front-end and bounce up and down on it, showing how the custom front-end works on the car, we love it even more when Conder noodles over it and makes improvements as we move along with the build. We’ve got plans to move the water pump off the front of the motor and locate the alternator to a remote location, too – all in an effort to focus as much attention to this jewel of the car as possible.

Sometimes, it takes a combination of willful departure from the baggage of more than half a century of unwritten rules and an innate sense of what looks good to come up with something unique in hotrodding…

HOTRODDERS AS MAKERS

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

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As we dig into the new millennium, we’ve noticed that there’s a sort of steampunk-cum-dickensfaire-slash-freerangebackyardchickeneggs-meets-homebrewer sort of DIY movement that’s been totally embraced by the Gen-X (and younger) crowd. “Maker” is what they’ll refer to themselves as and on more than a few occasions, we’ve crossed paths with them and have compared notes: us on our banged-up iPhones, them on their super-stylie “Field Notes” and bespoke-sharpened rare-wood pencils.

They call us “makers” and we call them “artists.” Are we one and the same? Well, the art world is starting to think so. Enter the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and its latest exhibit, “The Making Of…” As part of this Maker exhibit, they tapped good friend and Nomad, Notcho Gonzales to showcase his studio and as part of the deal, invited him to park his ’35 Ford pickup, rockstar-style, right in front of the museum’s main entrance on 3rd street in downtown Sucker-Free. And if you know anything about parking in SF, you’ll know what kind of clout that really pulls.

So, one of the most well-known art museums in the land has recognized one of our best hotrodders as a Maker. Ain’t that just some shit? We guess it was coming: after all, hotrodders are arguably the original “Makers” – breaking down, redesigning and fabricating purpose-built machines to fit a particular aesthetic and lifestyle. Yep, we’re Makers. If that’s what it takes to get these generations into what we do, we’ll fly the flag.

There was a 3 block-long line to see Notch’s work as part of the “The Making Of…” exhibit when it opened this morning and you can see below how he treated the custom coffee-drinking crowd to a little razzamatazz, hotrodder-style. We hear there’s also a PBS broadcast feature in the works, so stay tuned for that, too. In the meantime, enjoy…


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ART IMITATING ART IMITATING LIFE IMITATING ART. AND JEAN SHORTS.

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

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Good friend, hotrodder and Chief Curator of the Oakland Museum of California, Phil Linhares, will be hosting an exhibit of ‘art cars’ next month during the museum’s Free First Sundays series. And one of the cars looks strangely familiar: a lowered van in the midst of a full custom treatment. From what we gather, it’s all based on the re-imagination of a ’63 Ford Club Wagon by local artist, Shawn Hibmacronan.

Bitchin. That’s what we say every time we see one of these early-Sixties vans customized and, especially, lowered: Bitchin.

And Shawn totally scored when he launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund, apparently, the last thrust of his van project. And it got us to thinking: when you present your custom car project as an important vision of artistic self-expression, you’ll stand a far better chance of funding that crucial last push to the turn-key finale with the help of complete strangers. NEAT.

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We figured Shawn saw the Econoline that came out of Conder Custom for Coby Gewertz called “Van Go” a few years ago and was inspired to do the same thing with the windowed version he’d been driving. After all, their studios are about 30 miles from each other here in NorCal and, y’know: same body style, same lowered stance, same attitude, same artful point-of-view…same overall approach. But, as we watched his Kickstarter video, we realized that maybe we were wrong:

“That was the initial goal: to get this thing as low as possible with the right stance, the right attitude, the right feel that’s so huge in car culture…it needs to look just right. I found that this was very challenging with this make and model and this is why it’s never been done before with one of these things…or at least in the way it should be done properly.”

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A DAY IN THE LIFE: WITH COLE FOSTER

Monday, May 20th, 2013

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We get into lots of conversations around the beer cooler about what the hell it is that we do every day. Well, our days are just like everyone else’s: riding vintage minibikes with Cole Foster of Salinas Boys on the mean streets of Salinas, CA to go get tacos and then back to the shop to look at the restoration work on Tom McEwen’s Mongoose ‘Vette Funny Car body. You know how that shit goes: just another day…

TO LIVE AND DRIVE IN FRISCO: FRED LYON

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

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It’s no secret we do what we do out of one of the greatest and most unique cities ever built. And one of our favorite San Francisco photographers is Fred Lyon: he’s on the high side of the nineties now, but he still shooting and we’re working up the nerve to ask him to work with us on a project.

Another seemingly disparate topic we love is the experience of driving in San Francisco. Hard to explain it, but as we were looking at Lyon’s work, it suddenly all came together for us: his images do a great visual job of exactly that! So, we thought we’d take you for a drive through our beloved hometown through the beautiful, mid-century work of Fred Lyon…

THE FOG
Let’s start with the image above. The fog in San Francisco has much to do with what we locals like to call ‘microclimates.’ For whatever topographic and oceanic reasons, the fog here can be localized to the point that it’s foggy in one neighborhood and sunny in the next – sometimes mere blocks from each other. The fog can be as fast as it is thick, too. It moves with the wind and one usually begat the other, making it a real challenge to drive in, but have no fear: when you reach the edge of the Sunset District (one of the foggiest neighborhoods…go figure) and drive into, say the Inner Richmond, you can actually watch as the front half of your car is shining in the sun and the back half is still shrouded in the dark fog. It’s like driving through a waterfall – it’s that dramatic. So cool…

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“WHY THE FUCK DIDN’T YOU EVER SHOW ME ALL THE STUFF YOU DID?” THE SECRET PHOTOGRAPHY OF VIVIAN MAIER

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

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Ever go to a flea market and find those boxes of old, brittle photo prints of anonymous family vacations, backyard barbecues, cars, farms, amateur street shots and allah-knows-what-all? Yeah, we love that shit, too. We’re always looking for the rare-ass hot rod snapshot or biker photo, but we’re always left wondering what the situation was that prompted the camera to be taken out and used to record that frozen moment. And did those people ever expect their photos to be rummaged years later by hipsters in skinny jeans and lumberjack beards at yard sales and swap meets, taking phone-pictures of their pictures to Instagram it later with a digital filter meant to replicate the original picture? The world is a weird place when you stop long enough to think about it.

Enter Chicagoan, John Maloof: in ’07, he picked up a trunk full of negs and filmstrips at an auction and discovered some fairly goddam amazing photography by a complete unknown. Turns out, some of the most important American photography of the Twentieth Century was made by a nanny nobody seemed to really ever know as well as the children she attended to. Sort of.

We’re not gonna ruin it for you – just watch the yet-to-be-released documentary trailer below and if you’re not as stunned as we were the first time we watched it, you don’t have a soul, kid.


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FULLER’S LAST STAND

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

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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.

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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.

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LIFE IS REALER.

Friday, April 19th, 2013

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One of our favorite Japanese car culture brands, The Local Hero, is releasing its second collection of photography with the coffee table book, “Life Is Real, Special Issue #02.”

Now, we’ve professed our love and dedication to the Japanese here many a bloggity post o’er these last many years and this is just one more reason for it: when they finally go in, they go all in. And the lowrider culture coming out of California – the eastern edge of the Pacific – has been totally recognized, embraced, absorbed, tweaked, broadcast, soaked, repurposed and put forth again for all to love and admire.

Sometimes, when you’re busy blazing new trails and creating really cool shit, you don’t get the benefit of the thousand-foot view of what you’re doing and how you’re impacting the world around you. When the spaceship lands on your farm and your husk gets commandeered for crop circle duty, you’re too busy mowing down patterns in the back forty with your eyes lolling around in your head and you never get to peer down from the mother ship to see the beauty of your work. Welp, that’s sorta like American car culture: most times, we’re too busy making something amazing outta nothing to realize that what we did was really good and we shouldn’t fuck with it.

God bless the Japanese for taking copious notes from the observation deck of the mother ship hovering over California.

STOP EVERYTHING: ROAD TRIPPIN’ BURMA

Monday, April 15th, 2013

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Our friends over at Hemmings just posted this ultimate roadtrip of roadtrips: BURMA! Or Myanmar, depending on how old you are.

We’ve always had a special place in our black little hearts for car culture as it manifests itself in other parts of the world – and the more remote and weird, the better. And what could be more remote than a country that’s been shut off from the outside world for a generation? Right: BURMA, son! Belgian guy named Bruno Leunen has been working with his Burmese wife to navigate what we can only imagine as incredibly difficult waters with the Myanmar government to make this 17-day Burma Road Classic a reality. A $21,500 reality, but when are you gonna get a chance to roadtrip Burma, while staying at several of the rare hotels in-country and do even cooler shit like hot-air ballooning among hundreds of temple spires? Hell, at $13.65/mile, everything is taken care of for you once you get yourself to Rangoon. But bring your own spare parts and favorite traveling tool bag.

Now, while you’re digging into Bruno’s website and the backyard pool fund that you’ll no doubt decimate with this trip slated for November, we’re already trying to figure out which car we’ll campaign (if we can find the cake to do it). With the pre-1970 cutoff for cars, it puts the right kind of restraint on us that always produces more creativity. Here’s what we’d do:

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THE ROADMAP TO RECOVERY

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

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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.