photo: BJ Formento/Formento & Formento

AUTOCULT nomad, Jerry “JT” Turner, turned us on to this image in the Italian version of Vogue magazine, Vogue Italia. And we were just floored.

Now, beyond the fact that this is a beautifully crafted photograph by BJ Formento, what strikes us is that it’s also a portrait of Sabina Kelley.

Sabina could be considered one of the queens of the modern hot rod pinup movement and has, with a few other girls, pretty much defined the genre. Nearly twenty years ago, when the Rat Rod movement was actually built around good taste and a healthy respect of mid-century hot rod culture, Sabina was one of the early devotees of the hot rod pinup girl craze. See, there was a time when a glamorous girl with tattoos in vintage wardrobe resting against a home-built and primered hot rod was a relatively rare treat to see. Caused a real ruckus at shows and there were only one or two magazines on the stands that dared feature them.

Sabina and the photographers who worked with her had clearly studied the works of the great pinup artists like Alberto Vargas, George Petty and Gil Elvgren…and were doing the same thing those early Rat Rod builders were doing: recreating the work they were discovering in old magazines from the Forties and Fifties, but adapting it to their personal styles to make it their own. So, in that regard, Sabina is absolutely and irrevocably one of the major influences and forces in what’s considered American car culture as we know it today.

We give you that background on Sabina Kelley so that you’ll understand the sheer power she wields in bringing our car culture to the hallowed halls of Vogue magazine. Say what you will about Vogue, but as a magazine and brand, there is no other title as powerful and influential in its category as Anna Wintour’s megalith. And while we ain’t saying that Italians are going to immediately understand American hot rod culture just by seeing this image, we absolutely are saying that Sabina has single-handedly connected us, as a movement, to the world of haute couture. And not many people can say that.

2 Responses to “JUMPING THE WALL”

  1. Juan says:

    We don’t really feature ‘pin-ups’ on our site but Sabina was the first model we ever shot. It was over 8 years ago and we were just getting started and I think she just had a half sleeve so far.. She’s good people.

  2. JB says:

    Fantastic photos ! Both moody & sexy. “Thanks,I needed that.”

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