Archive for the ‘ History ’ Category

HENN-DOG AND THE FASTEST BIRD

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

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Look, we’ve got a background in advertising, so it’s hard to watch commercials (we call ‘em “spots”) on TV without imagining what the initial presentation must’ve looked like for the creative team that presented it to the client. So this new minute-long spot (we call ‘em “:60s”) is a real mind-fuck for us.

A :60? That’s twice the commitment for any advertiser. Most of the time, a spot is half that (we call ‘em “:30s”) and then the standard fare is that the advertiser can’t afford running all those :30s, so they have us edit (we call it “cutting”) those :30s down to half that (we call ‘em “:15s”) and that’s why you’ll see really short versions of other normal spots that you’ve seen, like, two weeks ago. But a :60. And not just a :60, but a :60 that looks like a goddam major movie trailer.

And not only a major movie trailer, but a “World’s Fastest Indian” type of movie for gearheads that their girlfriends won’t mind going to see, as well. And all that to simply make an analogy between the idea of ‘commitment’ to a new flavor of Henn-Dog? Hey, Hennessy – just make the movie about Malcolm Campbell and his Blue Bird, already. You’ve gone ahead and started it and we’ll drink your shit all night long with the wanna-be ballers in the Champagne Room at Cheetah 3 next time we’re in Vegas if you just Malcolm-Campbell this thing. Swearzies. See that? It’s already working and we’re using Campbell’s name as a verb. But you gotta make the movie, first…

THE 2014 AUTOCULT CALENDAR: APRIL

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

“You better get a girl and all your bullshit down here before this thing leaves the shop on Friday. You’ll never see it again…”

That was the call we got from Cole Foster on, like, a Tuesday. See, when this new film about the match race glory days of Don “The Snake” Prudhomme and Tom “Mongoose” McEwen was being shot, some of the guys’ real Funny Cars were used – The Mongoose’s Silver Anniversary ‘Vette, being one of ‘em. Turns out, the fiberglass body got knocked around a little and the thing needed some repairs before it went back to whoever was responsible for returning it just like they found it.

Now, not only is Cole a master craftsman, but he’s drag racing royalty: son of driver and builder Pat “Bananas” Foster and literally growing up at the drag strip, the man comes with the kind of baked-in trust and admiration from the grey-haired drag racing kings that can only be gained by putting in countless hours of sitting patiently in the cab of the car hauler while the ol’ man is partying in the motel room through most of the Seventies. And that’s why Don Trasin trusted Cole with fixing up one of the most famous dragsters of the Funny Car era.

The repair work and paint was finished, but we had a very small window of opportunity to find a girl, a bikini, a makeup artist, a hairstylist, the car keys and a photographer and get them all to the Salinas Boys shop and get out before the trailer showed up. Lucky for us, photographer Adam Wright was home from working overseas for a few days and he agreed to get help us get the band back together at Cole’s.

Not every day you get to crash so much great history together at one time and one place: Cole, McEwen’s complete dragster, Adam Wright, the Deadend Boys, Noah Greenberg, Susie and a few other random Salinas Boys showed up over the course of the afternoon at the shop. And our own Hip Hop video girl, Quania, crawling across the delicate flopper top made it all dangerous. This is the kind of shit that makes this calendar project so special.

And these are the days you don’t forget…

Special thanks to Quania Jones, Santana Espinoza, Bella Cristina for Archer Salon, Adam Wright, Don Trasin and always Salinas Boys

SANDY CUADRA: TINY LOCA AND LOST ANGEL

Sunday, November 10th, 2013


photo: Tiny Locas

Just days after our post on the Tiny Locas show (see below), we got one of those calls you never want to get: Nomad and good friend, Cisco Lastra, was on the other end of the phone with the news that Sandy Cuadra had passed away.

Not only was Sandy the voice of San Francisco’s Mission District for its residents who were here long before the hipster lumberjacks and Austin transplants jacked the rents some 4000% and started curating $40 artisanal whisky cocktails out of repurposed garages that once housed some of the West Coast’s best lowriders, but she was also heavily involved with the civic duties of the most colorful neighborhood of a damn colorful city.

We hope that someone else puts Sandy’s flag in the air and waves it like she actually does care. The Mission – and the city – needs to remember its roots while it continues forward.

THE TINY LOCAS

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

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We’ve talked about this before, but one of the foundation underground movements that has shaped what car culture (and a certain element of witless hipsters) looks like right now was happening in Latin neighborhoods on the West Coast forty years ago. The Tiny Locas right here in San Francisco’s Mission District? Yep – they were part of it. And while one has to be very careful driving an old drum-brake car (like us) in The Mission these days because those skinny hipsters in the lumberjack beards and their girlfriends’ jeans tend to not watch traffic as they jaywalk with nose-to-iPad, the ‘hood is still hiding some tucked-away gems…one has to just look up from one’s iPad long enough to notice.

The world is so beautiful. It just has to be seen in the right light.

SUZANNE SOMERS AND HOT ROD CULTURE: WHEN THERE WAS NO NSFW IN YOUR LOLZ

Friday, October 25th, 2013

In 1972, a 26 year-old blonde – the archetypal California Girl – posed for a photo that would bring hot rod culture, the world of flatbottom hot boats, pop culture television and the underground ‘adult’ scene together in one glorious moment.

Suzanne Somers made a career of being the ultimate ‘California Girl’ of the Seventies: bubbly, blonde, legs for days, can’t find a bra to save her life…the girl-next-door every baby boomer kid wished really moved in next door. Lucky for us right here in Nor-Cal, she actually was: born and raised just down the San Francisco peninsula in the airport town of San Bruno, Suzanne came of age among some of the great names of hotrodding and drag racing in the Sixties.

And by the time she reached her mid-twenties, Suzanne had some of the most memorable bit movie parts under he belt: the “blonde in the T-bird” in George Lucas’ “American Graffiti” and the topless girl in “Magnum Force,” to name a couple. But in 1972 – five years before “Three’s Company” would really make her a household name – Suzanne also posed for a photo that would become an underground icon for dudes all over the Seventies.

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YOUR CHANCE AT THE DICK FLINT ROADSTER

Monday, October 21st, 2013


Images courtesy HOT ROD magazine, Michael Furman and RM Auctions

Neat post by Dan Strohl over at Hemmings this morning: the Dick Flint roadster – one of the most iconic hot rods in all of hotrodding hotroddom – is hitting the auction block soon. It’s dizzying to hear the names associated with one car: Alex Xydias’ So-Cal Speed Shop, Neil Emory and Valley Custom, The Rusetta Timing Association, the SCTA, Hot Rod magazine, Dean Batchelor and, more recently, the one and only Don Orosco.

In the light of history, the little track-nose Model A roadster is a near-priceless artifact. And what we love about it, probably more than anything else, is the cover of Hot Rod from 1952 (above): in an age of rigidly conforming popular culture, the magazine dared to let loose with a photo that we can only really describe as the visual equivalent of the Hollywood Wolf Whistle. Hard to find a good example of the main reasons guys built hot rods in post-war America, but the Dick Flint roadster is one of ‘em.

Now, on the other hand, RM Auctions and the folks who can afford the paddle on the auction floor are going to do their best to find exactly what the price actually might be for the car. It’s estimated that the Pebble Beach winner will bring more than the last post-war roadster with just as much of a pedigree: the famed McMullen ’32. Read more about the whole deal right here and let Strohl fill you in on it. What a world, huh?

BOARDWALK EMPIRE

Friday, October 11th, 2013


images courtesy Oilers Car Club/Race of Gentlemen

Last weekend and for the second year in a row, the Oilers Car Club put on its “Race Of Gentlemen” on the off-white sand of the Jersey Shore. And we haven’t seen a car show get this much attention since the heady days of Paso – Lord knows, we needed something like this in underground car culture.

Old cohort and schemer, Meldon Stultz, along with paint guru, Travis Hess and the rest of the Oilers have done a great job of pulling the attention away from the West Coast for a few days when they set up the old-tymey starter pylons – this year, on the beach of Wildwood, NJ – and go racin’ like it’s 1929. Taking advantage of the relaxed attitudes of Jersey Shore beach towns, the club has really turned the attention toward the Race because of the natural obsession that most of our own generation harbors: that custom car and hot rod culture is as much a visual experience as anything else and certain things should just be paid attention to, for chrissakes.

The cars look right, the race venue is set up to be visually spot-on and the folks who’ve fleshed-out the race for the second year in a row come era-correct, too. No cupholder lawn chairs, no bullet hole decals, no EZ-Ups crammed full of bright pink zip-ties, no true-flame demonstration tents…no shit. Just a great collection of old hot rods, spanning the earliest years of hopped-up four-bangers to pre-war hot rods and some vintage bikes thrown in for good measure.

One of our favorite aspects of the Race of Gentlemen is that it is truly a unique East Coast trip. Racing on the beach has long been owned by the Right Coast gearheads, but it’s changed over the decades into something, well, devoid of any good taste and style. But them Oiler boys have studied the old photos and books and magazines and just inherently know what hop-ups from the Twenties up through the early Forties should look like, sound like…feel like.

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WINNER: BEST USE OF MILK IN PINUP GIRL SHOOT

Thursday, October 10th, 2013


photo: Jaroslav Wieczorkiewicz

In our on-going pursuit of putting good pinup imagery back into the world, we submit this freakin’ GENIUS work by photographer Jaroslav Wieczorkiewicz: milk splashing against body parts to create the wardrobe in his recreations of classic mid-century pinup illustrations by the greats like George Petty, Al Moore, Alberto Vargas and others.

Since we’re fairly sure Jaroslav doesn’t have control of the God Particle, we totally understand why he had to create each of the milk splash duds with hundreds of photos of smaller, more controlled splashes, but that’s just part of what makes this project so amazing: the combination of planning and experimenting with a nearly-uncontrollable element makes for a beautiful image.

But, we can tell you from more than a decade of working in this space, it’s not just the technical aspects of this project that makes it successful. No, at the end of the day, the photographer still has to make a visceral connection with the model to make a compelling image. Pinup is part fantasy, part reality. And if the shooter doesn’t know how to leave the real world to connect with her in the fantasy realm, it just ain’t gonna work. No matter how good the lighting is.

But Jaroslav is not that shooter. He knows how to make a technically and emotionally beautiful image. Go see more of how he does what he does and we’re gonna try even harder to meet the bar he’s raised. Damn him.

THE AGE OF THE LOW CUSTOM

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

There are few things that remind us we’re more than a decade into the new millennium quite like the strange and ponderous collectibility values of Malaise Era cars.

“Malaise Era?” you ask, “WTF?” And for the most part, we don’t blame you. The most active generation of underground car culture was barely conscious when Vanilla Ice notched his eyebrows in the side-view mirror of his 1st Gen 5.0-litre Mustang GT and slept through American History 101 when the half-chapter on the Arab Oil Embargo of ’73 was pop-quized.

But the era of largely-forgettable, nay laughable American cars are now bathing in the light of nostalgia and we have to just deal with that shit. When the oil embargo of the early Seventies put the kibosh on the great Muscle Car era, the early ham-fisted attempts at fuel economy and safety were the rule of the land and it wasn’t pretty. The Mustang II – need we say more? OK, we will: the Laguna S3, the Chevette, Pinto, Gremlin, 2nd, 3rd and 4th-Gen Monte Carlo and don’t even get us started on the ’78 Dodge Challenger that looked suspiciously similar to a Mitsubishi Galant.

But, here we are – some 40 years after the earliest Dayz Of Malaise – and those awkward rubber-bumpered, steel-bodied, hopelessly underpowered shadows-of-their-former-models are now sorta cool. And easy to pick up fairly cheap right now.

We give you this backstory so that we can bring you the actual story: the rise of the Low Custom. And Skoty Chops‘ 1980 Monte Carlo is the perfect example. Take a 1980 Monte Carlo, airbag it over a set of 14″ or 15″ Keystone Klassics, squirt a late-Sixties to mid-Seventies panel job of some sort over metalflake and you’re pretty much right on. It ain’t a lowrider – the hesher wheel choice should give that away. It’s not a traditionally-accepted custom, either – the body model takes care of that misconception. It’s not a hot rod, a street freak, a classic or an antique. It’s a Low Custom…

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THE 2014 AUTOCULT HOT ROD PINUP CALENDAR

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

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Welp, it’s no secret we’ve been tied up for the last few weeks, but we have a feeling you’ll understand: we just wrapped all the shoots for the 2014 wall calendar project and that sucker is off to the press.

For 2014, we decided to stay home and trounce around our own backyard – right here in Northern California, there’s just a ton of underground motoring and some neat shit going on. And we’ll be bringing you some great stories over the next few weeks from all the locations, garages, backseats, liquor stores and rest stops that we had cause to haunt while putting it all together.

You’re gonna meet some talented photographers, a dozen beautiful girls, some downright bitchin’ cars and maybe even a vintage hotboat and a chopper that squeezed out an entire movement. Hell, you might even discover a new strain of underground car culture you weren’t even aware of. We think you’re gonna dig every lowered, jacked, ‘flaked and smokey bit of it.

So, to kick it all off, order a stack of ‘em and get your shipment in time for Christmas. Or Chanuka. Or Kwanzaa. Or National Whisky Day. It’s all waiting for you in the 2014 AUTOCULT Hot Rod Pinup Calendar.