LOSING OUR HISTORY

What’s awesome about car culture: nearly every week, it seems like there’s another barn find car with some great (and sometimes, mysterious) history that hits the social interwebs and we just can’t get enough of that. EVER.

What’s un-awesome about car culture: for every great car that’s rediscovered, there’s a shop or track or home or photo collection or other ephemera, essential to the history of this subculture, that’s lost forever.

While it’s certainly well-known to any gearhead with a sense of history living in L.A., we were turned on to Nomad Michael-From-LA’s snap of Ed Iskenderian’s old shop in Culver City a few days ago. He drives by the old shop on the regular and we soon found out that there are more than a few hotrodders who do the same thing. And it’s been standing empty for a long time.

Now, if you know anything about Culver City – an area of the greater Los Angeles basin – you know that it’s been turned into a pretty incredible hub of the art scene over the last decade or so, once the venerable Copro/Nason gallery hung a shingle in the sleepy burg back in ’99. Right now, there’s a higher concentration of good galleries in Culver than just about anywhere else in So-Cal. And what do we know about the cultural microscope as it turns toward a previously-unknown locale? Well, real estate becomes more valuable, of course!

When Ed Iskenderian – member of a fairly exclusive club of Armenians who moved to Southern California and helped create hotrodding as we now know it – started grinding cams for the high-performance crowd during the boom after WWII, he moved his shop a few times as demand for his bumpsticks (sorry, we don’t mean to sound like an issue of Street Rodder) grew. And during the “cam wars” of the early Sixties, when the magazines of the day hosted ‘droppin-bombs’ ads by all the camshaft suppliers fighting for top-grinder position, Isky was dubbed the “Camfather” and his place in history was cemented. And this, among other reasons, is why Ed’s Slauson Ave. shop is so important to car culture.

The fact that the shop Michael passes every week is still Isky-intact amazes us. The fact that it’s been standing empty for so long worries us. The specter of jacked-up real estate values around 6338 Slauson in Culver City makes us fret. The little shop behind the Public Storage and across the street from just another Del Taco and Dollar Tree needs to be saved by a hotrodder. It needs to be loved and revered and treated as a national treasure by the custom car universe. We need to be able to stop by the old Isky shop on our hot rod fantasy vacations when we visit the West Coast.

We’ve preserved much of our history, but we’ve lost much, as well. We need to save this place.

3 Responses to “LOSING OUR HISTORY”

  1. Robert M. says:

    A quick look around the neighborhood on google street view, and you realize that this building was lucky to have survived the retail strip build out, which took out just about everything else around from the early era. The Isky building appears to have been built in 1950.

    The city-data web site shows an enticingly low assessed value. Hmmm I don’t know why. More importantly, it gives the owner’s name(s). These folks should not be difficult to track down.

    OK, So. Cal. Hot rod preservationists, opportunity is knockin’! Time is of the essence.

  2. Robert M. says:

    Couldn’t leave this alone.
    The present owner is long time associate and friend of Ed Iskenderian.
    The building is in good hands.

  3. PDQ says:

    Did anyone catch the old Helms Bakery coach in pic #2 ?

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