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Good Design ...
6 JAN 10 - ...can often be elusive.

The mid-20th century saw a building boom in the U.S., and it marked a very interesting period in this country, not just because of a strong economy and a very real longing to chase the “American Dream”… It also marked an era wrought with creativity and unique design sensibility. Consider the architectural and design styles popular at the time, and you’ll have a clear understanding of the term “design freedom”.

If you study architecture from the 1950’s and ’60’s, you get the sense that there was a distinct European influence on on all things architectural, relying on simple lines and sharp contrasts to make a statement. Granted, there was an underlying theme in a lot of it, but there was also a freedom about it, and it created some great, if not lasting impressions. Consider that today there’s a great interest in the design of that era, with collectors seeking furnishings and decorative items, and homeowners restoring the houses and other buildings of the era. (magazines like the incredible Atomic Ranch document this movement… check it out and be amazed!) It’s proof that a creative style is worth saving and learning from.

Here in the Arizona Valley, we’re experiencing a building boom, as well, but one very far removed form the one mentioned above. Rather than cool styles and design ideas, we’re being over-run with stucco mini malls and McMansions, none of which I can see any value in restoring, say fifty years down the road… Bland, off-the-shelf type boredom, cluttering the view of anyone stuck in traffic.

What’s this got to do with cars? As usual, just about everything...

Consider a certain recent America’s Most Beautiful Roadster (AMBR) winner... A well-finished car, certainly. The fit, paint, and detailing were superb, no doubt. But, in the end, it’s a car with trendy big wheels, an uninspired interior treatment, and it looks, sadly, like some off-the-shelf, pre-fabbed roadster body, something like you might see 1,000 of at the next NSRA meet. I am not picking on this car, nor am I following the crowd that has seemingly banded together en-masse to spread their hate for it. Enough has already been posted by people doing this, and, besides, that’s not my thing, nor my overall opinion. It just fell into the “trendy” mode, and missed the mark, in my opinion, of what a true AMBR car should be. It has TREMENDOUS skill involved in the construction, finish, and detailing. It just fell a bit flat in a few key areas (from my vantage point), and that hurt the car. It’s like that new mini mall you pass on the way to work: Yeah, it’s shiny and new, and is packed with new, shiny stuff…. but it’s still a mini mall, and it looks remarkably similar to every other one you just drove past. A little more creativity in the wheel/tire combo and that interior, and this car would have crept silently into my recent favorites, no exceptions.

As I said earlier, what I’m getting at here isn’t to knock the car… it was well done for what it is… but in 50 years will anyone want to restore it to it’s AMBR-winning “glory”? Probably not. Why? I think that maybe it’s the trendy factor. It’s a dated car, and when the giant wheel phase is over, it’ll be a back-dated car. Consider the height of Pro-Street back in the late-’80’s/early ’90’s. There were some killer cars, no doubt. Hell, even the most over-done, Dobberton’s J-2000 is still a stand-out, namely because it was SO overdone. Worth saving? Yes. It illustrates an extreme in the genre, and is a great piece to serve in that respect. But would you save every neon and pastel-colored, huge hoodscoop-wearing monstrosity from the era? No, probably not. There were so many variations of the same thing, that saving them all would be redundant. It takes a certain “something” to make a car a stand-out. Would this be a car to modify slightly and run again? Hell yes.

At the Grand National Roaster Show, there was, on display, the A La Kart. A purpose-built (“to win shows”) car, that had won the AMBR 50 years ago. It was there, restored, for all to enjoy. Rightly so, the car still impresses. It was built in a manner consistent with its original era, certainly, but pushed the envelope in all the right directions. Would I consider it the pinnacle of great hot rod design? Not especially… it works well, in my opinion, anyway, as a novelty, an illustration of a bygone era, and marks a point in hot rodding history worth studying. Does this year’s winner rank that? Again, in my opinion, no. We have a few years of billet-wheeled, mega-buck budget cars to choose from already that more than illustrate the era, and that do it using better, more cohesive design. Were there other cars from the A La Kart’s era that have been forgotten (and probably for good reason)? Yes there have. We, as humans, always enjoy the first unique thing, and grow to hate the followers after some time, it’s natural… And also the part that saddens me most about this year’s AMBR winner: It cut off its own potential by trying too hard to fit in.

In conclusion, then, I suppose that what I’m seeking in my daily work, anyway, is good, lasting, flowing design. To create cars and trucks that have that “something”… A great line that flows seamlessly from chassis to drivetrain, through the body and interior, and then swooping back through to the hidden details that you might miss on first glance. The kind of cars that lack a date stamp, lack trendy add-ons, and don’t look like a kit car or some pre-fabbed mini mall. The name of this game is “dig me”, certainly... but what would you rather be looking at, the quiet, gorgeous girl off to the side, who’s just very well put together (in every sense), or the plastic surgery-endowed, loud-moth party girl who’s yelling to everyone to see how drunk and fun she is? I think we can all agree that quiet reservation and attention to detail that softly taps your shoulder and says “look at this” beats the crap out of a sledgehammer to the face, next morning embarrassment any day.

Timeless beauty and grace are hard to find, certainly… and the real key isn’t just having those items, it’s using them the right way. On your next project, look at the things that have staying power… the icons of design, art, film (and even personality– Jackie O. had that “something”, and Marilyn Monroe, too…. “quiet reservation”, perhaps? Ponder that…). What makes them intriguing? What gives them a timeless nature? How can you apply those features to your ride? What will set it all up to carry itself like that? I ask myself these questions with each new project, and continually strive to nail it down… but I’m also learning that perhaps it can’t always be consciously caught… And that makes it all the more cool...

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200 MPH...
1 JAN 10 - ...…speedometer, that is.

300 speedometer
And did I mention that it’s a factory piece?

Anyway, some time ago, I took some time away from the Studio and had an absolute blast, with good friend Josh dropping into the Valley for some time at the Barrett-Jackson auction (and subsequent menagerie of auto- and non-auto-related goodies and sights and sounds), as well as a Saturday morning trek for some breakfast and to take in a Chrysler 300 Show (the Chrysler 300 Club’s 15th Winter Meet). Josh is a big 300 fan, and owns a ‘57, too, (sadly, he's sold his killer, slammed ‘58 Buick, and happens to be a great photographer, and true auto afficianado... Back on track here, as we strolled the small –but high-quality– show, I was thrown for a loop by just how friendly these folks are, and how into the 300’s (letter and non-letter cars), and was just kinda soaking up the great rides on display, when I came across one of the coolest things I’ve seeen in my car-gazing life:

A 1960 300F (Special Gran Turismo).

Consider: a Chrysler 300 is a big, luxury automobile that brings performance to the table. Light years ahead off the competition, this was a muscle car in its purest form. In 1960, the 413 Wedge was the new engine, and cranked out 375 horsepower in stock trim. You’ve probably seen a few with the unique cross-ram intake, which places the carbs over the fenderwells (more on this later). Chrysler also created a special short-ram version of the engine (the tuned runners for the intake were about 15″ long), pushing 400 horsepower. They created only 15 of these cars, backing the mighty Wedge with the French Pont-a-Mousson four-speed transmission, originally created for the Facel Vega.

So, in effect, we have a luxury car with muscle car tendencies, wrapped in a killer styling package. All cool, but what blew me away was this:

chrysler 300 speedo

...yes, that reads 200 MPH. Factory piece, from 1960. Consider that for a minute. (hell, the cars rode out of the factory on 15″eels wrapped in Goodyear Stock Car Special Blue Streak tires… the same as used in NASCAR!) This was no ordinary car. This was a race car with STYLE. I just wanted to share this, as it’s a neat piece of history, and a very cool conversation piece, to say the least. We’ll touch back on these killer cars in the future, to be certain....

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Twin Cranks, Four Cylinders...
28 DEC 09- ...and eight pistons.

While it sounds remarkably like a first-time engine build gone awry, it was actually a development engine from Ford, designed and built by Eugene Farkas.

In the 1940’s, Mr. Henry Ford was experimenting with lightweight, tube-framed cars, attempting to create a structurally rigid, but overall simple-to-construct car. And what better to power such a car than a very unique powerplant. Understanding Ford’s mindset of simplicity is key in the development process (even if this seems a bit extreme for only seeking to eliminate some engine vibration!). You see, the world was changing, and getting more and more complex. Ford wanted to retain the simplicity of the Model T, but create something powerful, efficient and reliable to work in then-present day America. The four cylinder engine illustrated this simplicity, but it lacked the balance of a V-8 (far less torsional vibration, even in a solid-mount configuration). In his quest for a vibration-free engine, this twin-crank eight was born...

opposed 8

Granted, it’s technically a four cylinder, but with two cranks and eight pistons, each moving in the opposite direction on combustion, thus balancing either side of the assembly. The engine had an overhead-cam, with a chamberless design (leaving the the actual combustion chamber in the block), running 1.5-inch valves. At 83 cubic inches (2.25-inch bore, 2.625-inch stroke), and running such a short stroke, this design would’ve been great for some high-RPM action, but, sadly, suffered from poor crank design (the billet cranks had no counterweights on the cheeks, thus exposing the center mains to some heavy abuse, consequently deforming at higher speeds). The cranks, incidentally, were geared together via herringbone gears (a pair each of left-and-right-hand helical gears per side), which were as quiet as a standard, single helical gear, but suffered no thrust issues. A large idler at the rear of the assembly acted as the flywheel, with the pressure plate (from a V-8 60) bolted to it. Furthering the quest for low vibration, the driveshaft speed was low, as the idler tgransferring power spun at roughly on-half of engine speed. A simple design engineered to arrive at the solution!

Another interesting fact is that this engine was constructed mainly of cast iron (aside from the aluminum oil pan). At the time, almost all of Ford’s experimental powerplants utilized aluminum. This considered, the assembly only tipped the scales at around 260 lbs, and looked pretty slick, too:

twin crank 8

Looking back, a simpler solution, such as rubber motor mounts, isolators, etc, may have been the more logical, stop-gap answer, but Mr. Ford had sought perfection in design, and running a solid-mount would have reinforced that notion. Besides, it was a pioneering effort like this that makes for such a great story... And giving a bit more thought to this, imagine, in today's CNC-milling, techno-gizmo culture, sitting down and whittling one of these bad boys for your next Ridler-competing masterpiece! You'd certainly nail the originality points, and keep 'em guessing where you got your engine from...


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Right Coast Cars...
27 DEC 09- ...have always suffered from the stigma of being "un-cool", or at best, unattractive. There's always this opinion that seems to surface when talking cars (especially hot rods and customs from the "glory days" of the fifties and sixties) that East Coast customs and hot rods were "ugly" or lacked style. Granted, there are quite a few examples that support this claim, but, having grown up on the "right coast", I have always felt a need to defend that side of the hobby.

The magazines of the time chronicled what was immediately available to them, and that meant, for the most part, West Coast cars. The few East Coast cars that were seen seemed to have cemented a certain image in most car guys' heads... I'm not a fan of severely channeled coupes, but can appreciate the style and work that went into them, certainly. I'm also not a big fan of an overly-accessorized custom with giant skirts and a continental kit, but I do "get it". I think it's just got a lot to do with the times, the region, and the cultural differences. The East Coast has always been a bit grittier, relying on manufacturing, and with cooler weather, shorter summers and all, people just took a different approach to building, and making due with a smaller number of shops. Consider that there were much fewer shops, and that many skilled custom craftsmen went West (where the magazines and show coverage were), and you're left with but a few builders, and thus, less ability to really push the envelope.

I've been working on a project for some time, and recently kicked it into a higher gear... My goal is to document the East Coast style, and, at the same time, chronicle the builders and their cars, and hopefully, shed some light on the little-known history from the region. I am fortunate to have grown up with some of the people who were "there", and even call some friends. We have family friends that built customs and hot rods, raced in the region, and were, generally, part of the scene. As I compiled photos and stories, I was continually blown away by the variety of cars, the quality of the work, and the great stories that have been shared...

As it all comes together, I'll share more, but wanted to throw at least one quick look at what's going on in front of you.

Take a look at this home-built '50 Ford. This is the kind of stuff that gets me going... a family project, and definitely something we can all relate to:

kustom shoebox

Wayne's '50 Ford is a piece of Western New York custom history, and, in his words:

"Here are some shots of the car my Dad (William Carrig), my Mother (zelda), my four sisters and I built in his one-car garage in Kenmore, NY over a two year period beginning in 1964. This was my first car, bought it when I was 16 years old and my Dad who had a body shop at one point in his life fixed the body (it was a mess, rusted out floors, rocker panels, quarter panels, etc.). We also customized it frenched headlights, shaved hood, truck, removed side chrome, sunken antenna, custom grille, hand built taillights.

custom ford

Everything on this car was done on a strict budget as I had little money. Grille opening was formed from electrical conduit, sunken antenna and handbuilt taillights made from brass kitchen drain pipe, taillights were red truck clearance light lenses, upholstery including truck except for the back seal and convertible top were all done by my Mother, Dad and me. Front seats were from a 65 Mustang and my Dad fabricated floor mounts so they would fit. I used 57 Oldsmobile turn signals as they looked like Lucas lights and I sure as heck couldn't afford Lucas lights at the time! Grill was chromed metal mesh. It was flawless after many other hours of block sanding and my Dad put on many coats of Corvette Honduras Maroon Lacquer paint which looked a mile deep!! A true family project, my sisters helped and everyone in the family loved the car. Unfortunately I had to get rid of the car when I got drafted and joined the Air Force during the Vietnam era. I hated to do it but had no way to get the car from Buffalo, NY to San Antonio, TX. I did use the money from the sale of this car to purchase the Black 57 Chevy I purchased in TX and still have today. Even so....I still miss this car and would do about anything to have it back..."

It's just one of those stories that make our hobby's history so rich. There are a LOT of stories to be told yet, and I'm stoked to be compiling it all, and learning as I go.

If you're an East Coast hot rodder/custom car owner or fan, and would like to share some history with the project, hit me up! I'd be delighted to make your car or story a part of this project, and will work to ensure that all proper credit is given where due. hit me up (see site link below), and I'll get you the info you need to participate, and even throw a gift your way...

Thanks again to Wayne, and those who have shared already. I'll keep you updated as we progress...!


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Whipped Cream...
26 DEC 09- ...and salsa.


I know what you're thinking. "Where is he going THIS time?!"

I like looking at things from a decidedly different angle, and am often inspired to seek out the inspiration behind a trend, or a particular style... I'm a fan of mixing and matching themes, styles, whatever...and an even bigger fan of just having fun with whatever I'm doing, and often seek out things that reflect this attitude. Whether in friends, books, movies, or music. Occasionally, this leads me to seek out stuff that's a bit off the beaten path. Such was the case here in the studio once again.

(Yeah, it's gonna be another musical jaunt... and it'll all wrap up nicely, as usual, with cars. Stay with me, I think you'll dig this little side trip.)

Anyway, I got to thinking, of all things, about Herb Alpert (not Marv Albert. That'd be weird.), and gave a listen to "Whipped Cream and Other Delights"... A far cry from what I was listening to a week ago, to say the least.... and by far much stranger cover art (if not quite risque', considering its 1965 release date):

album cover

Granted, this album was released before my time (as far as I'm aware, anyway... there may be another me in some other dimension, hanging out in a lounge...), but man... how cool were these cats? If you're not familiar with the Tijuana Brass, here's a quick history lesson:

Herb Alpert was a trumpet player who developed a unique sound that was a mix of south-of-the-border, mariachi and distinctly lounge-y sounds, probably best described as "Ameriachi" (as I learned from a few sources). If you're really lost here, think of the theme from the TV show The Dating Game, called "Spanish Flea", which was a Herb Alpert/Tijuana Brass tune, and you'll have an idea... or their version of "The Lonely Bull".

Anyway, the 'Brass cranked out a few albums in the '60's (even a cool Christmas album! Find a copy, and mambo your way through a Christmas Wonderland...)until Alpert called it quits, and took his (and business partner Jerry Moss') record label A&M, and signed some heavy talent, releasing a few albums of his own along the way (out-selling Michael Jackson in the late-'70's! Says a lot for that era, I guess), before selling the company to PolyGram in the late 1980's. So what's this got to do with cars? Think traditional lowriders. Bellflower custom style(named after the city in LA county where the look spawned). A mix of the lowrider and custom car, and you'll see where I'm headed.

Consider Watson's Caddy:

bellflower kustom

It is the embodiment of the Bellflower look... the low stance, simple (if often ANY) body mod's, the bold, yet somehow understated paint technique (much like his T-Bird that came before), and those killer pipes. The East LA style, mixing elements from two cultures (like the Tijuana Brass did!), and coming out the other end with a clean, cool style. It's all about class, luxury, and style. Just like a lowrider, but with custom roots.

Lowriders embodied Mexican tradition. Cruising in a decked-out ride to impress the ladies, and show off your skills was more than just about the cars. Cruising may be traced back to the "paseo", where singles would walk around in the central plaza of the village, basically checking one another out. The idea here was to impress. Put these kids in cars, and it sure looks a lot like cruising... Which brings us forward a few years to the end of the second world war. Hot rodding was booming as young men returned from military service, eager to make creative use of their new mechanical skills. On the other end of the spectrum, the Mexican immigrants were making their cars look luxurious. It was style over speed... lowered stance, different hubcaps, an accessories like spotlights, skirts, pipes... many items shared in traditional customizing.

Fast-forward a few more years, and combine this look with the growing custom scene, and well, you got some clean, mild cars that made the most of the new styling coming from the factory... Apply it to a luxury car, and you're well on your way to a crossover look beyond compare. Imagine in late 1957 (coincidentally, the same year Bellflower was incorporated as a city), a young Larry Watson crusing into the Clock Drive-In in his panel-painted T-Bird...

I have a soft spot for this look... A couple years back, I sketched up a modern take on the look, combining it with the pro-touring look -- note pinstripe whitewalls on a 5-spoke as a nod to the classsic "Supremes and pinners" look (OK, and a mild chop, extended quarters, relocated and shortened trim...):

contemporary custom car

The idea behind the Bellflower look is clean lines, cool, vibrant and rich colors mixed with just enough chrome to keep your eyes happy...Make use of some 'flake or pearl, some striping... In other words, think mild custom, but dressed a notch higher. It's a fun style, to be sure, much like Herb's band of session musicians belting out "Ameriachi" cover versions. Take one thing, and spice it up with another influence, and man, you can't help but feel the vibe, and nod your head approvingly as you smile.

And that's how my mind works: From whipped cream to salsa, stopping in between for some quick history, and leaving you to consider mixing up some styles on your project...


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...speaking of the show...
20 NOV 08- ...Craig is putting together his photo albums from the 11th Annual Goodguys Southwest Nationals over on MyRideIsMe.com, which promises to be a visual feast as always.
Between Craig's keen eye, and the photo prowess of Paul (aka "Swanee"), We're licking our eyebrows in anticipation. ("licking our eyebrows"??! It made slightly more sense than "licking our chops" or "rubbing our hands together" ...besides, being able to do that would make you, uh, popular with the ladies. Looking back on it, it just seems kind of awkward now...). In any event...
It’s just like being there, but without all of that pesky good weather, fine folks and healthy walking around and interacting stuff. Come to think of it, all of that sounds pretty good, huh? That’s the whole point of Craig's site anyway: Interacting with other members, making new friends, and just enjoying cars! If you missed this one, you're invited to check out the shots, as well as some member’s photos, too. If you snapped some that the MRIM crew missed, feel free to join in and post them as well! Have some thoughts or a story from the weekend that you’d like to share? Send it their way, and they’ll make you famous...

Goodguys Scottsdale...
17 NOV 08- ...is a great show each year... the weather, the cars, and the chance to set the pencils down for a couple of days and catch up with friends, colleagues and clients out at WestWorld in the fall is one of the perks of being an AZ resident.
This year was no different in that respect... Thanks to Scott and the guys from Billet Specialties for their hospitality, Mike from Schott Wheels for taking time from his busy day to shoot the breeze, Kyle from Detroit Speed for doing likewise, Melissa and Tina from Hot Brod for their friendship, shade and business, and to the many new friends we made wandering row after row of great cars for making it another great weekend full of memories!
I wanted to throw a special congratulations to two of our good friends (and design clients, no less), Tom with his Buick Special wagon, and Keith, another Valley local and all-around good friend with his Kaiser (a Hot Rod Magazine 2008 Top Ten pick... unfinished no less! Keep your eyes on this kid in the years to come-- he's a talented, visionary builder) :

Each scored a pick this weekend at the Southwest Nationals! It's great to see such good folks recognized for their hard work and dedication. Seeing two home-built cars with working-man's budgets parking amongst the "big boys" makes my day... and being fortunate enough to play a part in these cars is icing on the cake! To both of you, thanks for your friendship and your dedication to a hobby you obviously love... It's great to see others appreciating your hard work, and my hat's off to both of you once again for a job well done!
Good on ya both...

Hanging with friends...
29 OCT 08- ...is always a trip, and when it's a chance to hang with three guys whose work you admire, it's fantastic!
About a year ago, the uber-talented Eric Black gave me a call, and conversation turned to an idea he had for a magazine article. He was hoping to round a couple of us up to work with one or two of our clients to create a dream car or two... The twist being that the cars would be those of our clients, and the main requirement in choosing our clients: They had to be pro builders. Thus, the "Cobbler's Shoes" (as we called it) article was born.
The group was awesome: Eric Black, Jeff Norwell, Jimmy Smith, and... me. How that worked out, I'll never know, but man... I was STOKED!!
cobblers shoes
I called two guys whose work I respect, and whom I'm fortunate to call friends, Zane Cullen and Tim Strange. My logic? They each have a unique style, and the cars chosen would cross a HUGE spectrum... and at first, we were on that very path. Tim and I discussed a wild, Roth-esque show rod, and Zane and I tossed around some track-style cars and others. Yet, when the dust settled, we went with surprisingly similar cars to start with, a '55 Chrysler New Yorker Deluxe Convertible (a rare beast), and a '56 DeSoto that Zane had, which just happened to have been in American Graffiti!
What's great is that each car took a decidedly different route, and it was a blast to draw up ideas specifically for these guys. Their visions are always creative, and when it came to their personal cars, that creativity really spilled forth, with a killer pro-touring/luxry-inspired missile, and a low-key custom that is era-perfect. Fun to draw, to say the least.
Seeing what everyone came up with made the project a thing of pure inspiration, and makes me proud to not only call these guys friends, but also to have been included on the same pages as each of them. I hope you can scoop up a copy, as it's loaded with inspiration and eye candy, and is packed beneath quite possibly the coolest cover ever, with a fellow HAMB'ers car on the cover!
Thanks again to Eric for the brilliant idea, Tim and Zane for taking time to share their visions (and trust them to my wrist), and to Kevin and Tim at Rod and Custom for making the whole thing a beautiful reality!

A "Big Deal" by anyone's measure.
15 OCT 08- I am deeply saddened by this past week, and without a doubt, have lost another of my heroes, as Dave "Big" Deal has passed on last night.I'm not really sure what to say here, except that his work was a major influence on my style and sense of humor as an out-of-place kid back in the '80's. His work in CARtoons Magazine was a bright light in a fairly bleak time, always acting as some kind of hope for a kid who just really wanted to draw cars, and have fun with it.
His influence and abilities were far-reaching to put it mildly, and even if you've never heard of him, you've certainly seen his work, and been touched by it in some way. From his radically warped designs, creatures and humor, to his technical perfection and killer scale models of his designs, there's something special about a "Big" Deal piece. Hell, even the giants at Pixar knew this, and brought him in not only for design help with "Cars", but to hold workshops for their artists on drawing cars. His style will forever live on in many ways, and will always be honored in some way when my pen touches paper. Thanks, "Big" for everything. You'll be missed.

Another great has passed on...
10 OCT 08- ...R.I.P. Elden Titus..
Not only was he a great amongst greats in customizing an automobile, but truly one of the most influential people behind the resurgence of interest in the art form. Suffice to say, without his vision and passion, kustoms as we know and love them may have ceassed to be in the '60's. It was his dedication and perseverence that kept the torches lit through the darkest hours of the '70's and '80's.
I have always been drawn to a Titus-styled kustom, as they blended so many influences and deessigns into one car, that it was fun just to look at. When you took the time to STUDY the cars, they became something more... Dynamic, rolling sculpture that completely influenced my design sense clear through my youth until the present, and probably beyond.
He'll be missed, and leave a gaping hole in the hobby.

Twice as bitchin'...
7 OCT 08- ...when it's in stereo.
Having always been a fan of classsic movies, and even more, an Alfred Hitchcock fanatic, I took a rare couple of hours last week to sit and watch a film. The day's selection? "Dial M For Murder", Frederick Knott's great play-turned film. If you've never seen the movie, do yourself a favor, and scare up a copy. It's typical Hitchcock visionary cinema, and is so far ahead of its time, presentation-wise, that it boggles the mind. Add to that Grace Kelly and Ray Milland (you may recall that name from our prior jaunts into Filmville), John Williams (he was in a few epsodes of Battlestar Gallactica! My nerd-ness rears its head once more!), and Robert Cummings (I recognized him from an episode of "Bewitched", among other places), and you have a cast of immense talent. What's really slick about the film (beyond the incredibly intimate camera angles) is the use of very limited sets. The majority of the film takes place in an apartment, by the the story makes you forget that.
Anyway, why bring up this film after mentioning stereo? The movie was filmed and subsequently released in 3D back in 1954 (don't worry, this'll tie together nicely again). What's great about this film in particular is that it wasn't the typically hokey 3D spectacle... It used the effect brilliantly and subtly. Granted, in '54, there were a ton of 3D movies, and most of them bad, thus, "Dial M for Murder", shown in 3D, didn't fare so well, which is a shame, because, as we've touched on before, it was done superbly and subtly.
If you've got a pair of the old red and blue 3D glasses laying around, this is for you:

I'm a fan of subtlety, always opting to take the "less is more" route, and playing with a design to harness some serious visual impact from a well-placed modification. Perhaps that's why Hitchcock's films appeal to me: they are well-crafted, and sort of sneak up on you, making you re-examine a scene, study the details a bit more carefully, and pay closer attention. In the last issue of Rod and Custom, I was fortunate to have had another piece featured as their "Dream Car of the Month", that being the '53 Ford moonshine runner, which illustrates this subtle approach perfectly. There's a lot going on with this car, but it's presented in a very subtle way (on the car itself, anyway... Racing through the woods in a custom car isn't precisely "subtle" by any means...). It's got many layers to dig through, and the narrative behind the image is pure fun... But it's what was on my mind when creating it that makes this so damn cool.
When I began drawing the car, the scene was already set in my mind: there would be a dark, moonlit night in 1954 (ahhh.... it all begins to tie together!), a bed of red clay, a police car in pursuit, and some moody lighting. But what made this piece unique in my portfolio was that I kept seeing this thing in 3D... stereoscopically. I set out to create multiple versions of the piece, and there had to be one that used 3D glasses. No two ways about it, that's what my mind kept going back to, and I was determined to reach into my bag of tricks, pull out a clever technique, and apply it to this piece.
It was fun to make the trees "pop" out and recede, to make the lights gain some depth and "flicker", and to work to make the features of the car visually sit in their rightful places in space. It's a lot of work to get things "right", and when they fall into place, the results are stunning. I've been experimenting with a number of my older pieces using this technique, and we'll have prints available soon...
In any event, what this all boils down to is that I'm happy to be having fun with it all again, and after applying some inspiration from a great cinematic experience, I've embarked on a new path with my work... It's getting to the point where I can invite you to reach into my work, and see it in a whole new way... and how cool is THAT?!
Look for more soon...
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Running 'shine...
27 SEPT 08- ...in a hot custom?! Why not?
We hope that you'll pick up the December issue of Rod and Custom Magazine, as we've once again had the honor of playing a small part in that title's history by supplying a Dream Car of the Month! Tim over at R-n-C and I had discussed some cars that were clouding my brain some months back, and the subject kept waffling between moonshine-runners and customs, and I threw the idea out there for an early-fifties Ford (the '52-'54 models have a special place in my heart), and the ink started flowing, paint flew, and the resulting image has that ominous feel, but conveys the action I was after, putting a custom in a situation you may have never imagined:
There's a lot going on in this one, and the feedback has been tremendous. Thanks for the kind words and support, and as always, it's more than an honor to see my work in the magazine! Besides, I get to share some space with the McCormick-owned, Westergard-built, Tim Strange-restored Caddy, a true survivor if ever the name applied! (AND the Sam Barris Merc, and even the A La Kart too??!! Awesomeness.) Scoop up a copy of this great issue now...

"Walk softly...
22 SEPT 08- ...and blow a killer wrist shot past 'em on the short-side with a bitchin' stick"... or words to that effect.
Rarely do I get excited over new products. I mean, sure, I appreciate quality, and enjoy using a well-crafted item, and take time to admire the thought and work that go into creating quality, but it's a rarity that I buy myself a toy, having three growing boys to feed, a home to maintain, cars to keep running.... But recently, I lost my mind when I put my mitts on this:
The Easton Stealth S17.
Holy Hockey, Batman... this thing is magic. Beyond the Kevlar-wrapped shaft (with a killer elliptical profile, the first in the industry, no less), their patented Micro-Bladder and Multi-Rib structure (which create a more consistent blade for better control) make every shot damn near beautiful. Just enough flex to transfer even more power to the puck, and man-oh-man... the accuracy is astounding. Add to that a 2-rib blade structure, and a regular Joe like me (who lives in constant fear of having to replace the damn thing) can almost kiss broken blades good-bye, which is great news, as I'm digging the Iginla-model profile blade (the Sakic model may find its way into the fold someday, as well).
Sure, it's a lot more stick than some hack like me needs. I mean, this is pro-level, technologically-advanced, light years beyond my level of play, but I have to say, it makes me look good when picking corners, and will probably raise the level of play in a few beer leagues!
I had heard some stories about the first-run sticks, but the improved design seems to wear pretty well, and this is good, considering the price tag!
I was a die-hard Easton Ultra ABS user and still am for quick driveway and street battles with the kids -- great stick with a nice feel -- the Shanahan profile blade is just great, and has a forgiving curve for a sloppy, bouncing pass. But the first time I placed my hands on the Stealth, well, words fail to describe it. The Synergy model is another that I hope to add to the arsenal, as it has a great, light feel to it, and inspires that "man, what I could do with THIS thing!" feel to it... and the lightweight Stealth 999 (and the uber-cool SC6, too) is yet another great offering... And if you're keeping score here, a Warrior Dolomite (with a Kovalev blade pattern!) would be nifty, too... This is an obsession that's getting uglier here... I'll need a sponsorship if they keep releasing great sticks like this...
So why the talk of Hockey sticks? What's the connection to cars? For a diversion, there's a few ways we can go here... The use of new and composite materials is right in line with new car and aftermarket production, as well as hand tools, certainly. In a number of ways, a great stick is like a high-quality wrench or ratchet: You can feel the quality, and tell the difference between the discount hardware, off-the-boat special and a Snap-On instantly... it just has "the feel". Will the better tools make you a better technician? Granted, it won't give you the know-how, but it will improve your finesse and the game you already posess. The difference is not unlike cars, too, I suppose. Thinking deeper, a great Hockey stick compared to an average one is like comparing a Hemi Dart to your Aunt Edna's grocery-grabbing, secretary special Dart sedan... They're both cars, but light years apart in terms of performance. And in the right hands, well, that Hemi Dart can make some magic (although, if you inherited Aunt Edna's sedan, you could make magic in that car, too... albeit much different magic... and that opens a whole other can o'worms.)
I guess then, that my grabbing a superior product like the Stealth is akin to choosing the lightweight Dart for runs to the grocery store, but damnit, it's making that all-important escape from the daily grind just that much more fun... and if all work and no play make Brian a dull boy, then playtime is certainly bringing a shine back to this one... and that Kevlar-wrapped slice of goodness is the "icing" on the cake...

One hundred years...
16 SEPT 08- ...is a long time, and today, GM celebrates one hundred years (and you just know we'll touch on that soon)... but more importantly (at least here in the Studio), we're closing in on the start of a new Hockey season, and with it, the Montreal Canadiens will celebrate their 100th year.
Quite possibly the greatest team in the history of the sport (and one of the originals, mind you), the Habs have a great shot at landing Stanley Cup number 25 this year, with a great lineup, some great talent, and with this whole Mats Sundin thing finally behind us, training camp is in full-swing! Granted, I'm a Sabres fan as well, having been raised in the fair "Nickel City", and will forever take crap from my father for my love of the Canadiens, but you have to admit, they're an exciting club, to say the least. Besides, the Sabres and the Habs have shared some history, most notably Scotty Bowman, who coached the Canadiens to four straight Cup victories in the '70's, and landed in Buffalo as coach and GM (see all of this coming together again?). Yet, for all of my hometown love of the Sabres, I have an almost unholy fascination with the Habs (ever wonder why they're called the "Habs"? Prepare to impress your friends: "Habs" is the abbreviation for "les habitants", slang for the settlers of New France. And, as the Canadiens, known at their start as 'Club de Hockey Canadiens' were marketed as a French-Canadien team, well, it made some sense. The other side of the story involves Tex Rickard, owner of Madison Square Garden telling a reporter in the '20's that the 'H' in their logo stood for 'Habitants', which was, obviously incorrect).
So many years, so much history...Not all of it glorious, mind you... hell, the first player banned for life from the NHL was a Canadien, Bill Coutu (he hit a referee). So many great players over the century... Jean Beliveau, Gump Worsley, Petr Svoboda, Howie Morentz ("the Babe Ruth of Hockey"), Guy LaFleur, Ken Dryden, Bob Gainey... man, the list just goes on and on. Suffice to say, I won't bore you much more now, but just know that we're STOKED for the night of October 4th when regular season begins, and especially October 10th, when the Sabres and Canadiens face off... You'll be able to taste the tension around here.
Of course, I don't want to leave my Sabres-loving brethren out after all of that Canadiens loving above, so let's all delight in a great hit by Brian Campbell (whom the Sabres have since lost to San Jose, along with some other key players... as we're fed "Patience" by the Sabres front office year after year) :

...a great lesson in Hockey, as well as life: "Keep your head up" (not to mention the converse: "Hit 'em hardest when they least expect it").
I love this game...

Making pickles.
5 SEPT 08- Say what?
As many of you know, we effectively shut down the Studio for about two and a half months this year, to embark on a tremendous opportunity. The door opened on the chance this summer to work with the most dynamic, utterly cool people I've ever met, and the time spent with these folks is forever etched in the story of my creative and personal life.
If you're a dad like me, then you understand the impact that seeing another parent's child in pain, or seeing that little person ill can have. I worked with group dedicated to bringing some spark of joy or relief to kids in just those situations... I'm honored to have worked alongside some of the most positive, friendly, creative and just outstanding folks one could hope to meet, and I can't say enough about the impact this time had upon me.
Each day I was there, I'd look at a poster hung in their headquarters. This poster had the image of a young boy who was granted a wish to do pretty much anything he wanted. In the image, he's packing pickles into a jar alongside an employee of the pickle factory.
This hit me like a ton of bricks.
Here I was, a dad of three young boys, not much far off in age from this child, and I thought I was doing a great job, and that I understood a kid's thought process, that I "got it".
I understood perfectly after seeing this image... Here's a kid going through a frightening situation, his body fighting something he certainly didn't ask for, probably enduring some damn harsh treatments and procedures to fight it, and he has the opportunity to go almost anywhere, meet almost anyone, experience virtually anything he desired.
He chose to make pickles.
I got it... crystal clear. He most likely thought "I can go/see/do anything? Awesome. I like pickles. Let's go make some."
Simple, clear, linear thought. In that moment of understanding this, my life changed. Everything I was doing was broken down into its simplest form. (a friend described my decision to leave my day job and go at the Studio full-time as my own "pickle-making experience", and he's right. I just never stopped to think about it.) At present, I have a new outlook on things... when my kids do something that would have aggravated me, I get it now. Kid-logic. Make some pickles. When things aren't going right... why get upset anymore? No need. Make pickles. Focus on the simpler things... Settle down, take a moment to re-think your direction and place, realize that the only thing that matters is where you're headed, and that if the place you're starting from is at least facing the right path, it'll all come together.
And that's what's going to happen over the next few months with the Studio.
I've seen the climate change in our part of the industry, and I've broken free of that drama and thanks to some truly great and supportive clients, and a photo of a kid making pickles. To say that my work over this last week (since getting back in the Studio) has been a million times tighter, more creative and just down-right exciting would be a gross understatement. I've never been more focused, creative or energized at any point in my life.
Needless to say, we're back at it, there's big things brewing here, and damn it all if we aren't excited as all get-out. Thanks again to all of you whom I had the pleasure of working with, and who I am proud to call friends after the project and the great opportunity. Something great happened to bring all of you to one place like that, and what you do humbles me not only creatively, but as a human being. All the best to each of you, and I look forward to hopefully one day having the honor again of working beside you.
I'm gonna go and make some pickles.

Functional art...
29 AUG 08- ...is the name of the game this week.
Now you can deck your walls...or the street, sidewalk, ramp, whatever your pleasure. I've been playing with the idea of laying out some skate decks lately, and we’re finally rolling out some slick little sticks, currently in four flavors.
sk8 studio pck
I’ve given shop banners away in the past to some clients... and recently thought “what would be cooler than a wall-hanging banner?” The answer: “a wall-hanging deck with our logo on it.” Brilliant. Even better, bolt some trucks on them, and they make every day in the shop a little more fun, or, assuming you're a bit less coordinated, an educational trip to the Emergency Room! Either way you really can't lose.
We're launching these collectable 7-ply Canadian maple beauties in a few series of designs, and the first four are tasty:
sk8 series one
...and we'll even throw some alternate cruiser and old-school long boards in just to sweeten the offer. The quality and detail are sure to leave a few of you in a dilemma... To ride or to hang it on the wall? That's really up to you. Hit me up for more info, and look for them in our store soon...

Flexing some muscle...
24 AUG 08- ...at the Great American Truckin' Show.
Earlier this year, the good folks at Chrome Shop Mafia gave me another shout, this time to pen up some designs for a '77 Kenworth with some muscle car flair. To say that I was stoked is an understatement, as working with "The Boyz" is always fun and creative... and having the opportunity to combine a great project, great folks and my love for muscle cars in one shot just had "good times" written all over it.
big honkin makeover
After throwing a few ideas around and getting just the right tweaks in the right places (how cool is it to work with guys who just know how to make a truck look cool? AMAZING.), we hit upon the design above, incorporating an aggressive paint scheme that drew inspiration from several musclecars, but still kept that low-slung CSM attitude.
the winner
The lucky owner, Donald Wolford, won the $50,000 makeover as part of the Castrol Tection Extra Big Honkin' Truck Makeover contest, and his pride and joy received such goodies as chrome and lighting accessories (including stainless battery and tool boxes, 6-inch chrome exhaust pipes, a drop visor, 22-inch chrome bumper and stainless air filters from sponsors Grote Industries and Your Truck Shop) and some parts fabricated in the 4 State Trucks fabrication shop. Continental Tire North America supplied new tires and wheels were made available by Alcoa Wheels. Go Green Fuel Systems provided a hydrogen enrichment system that will help the environment by decreasing emissions and improve Don’s bottom-line by increasing MPG. The plush leather seats came from National Seating, while the dash, floor, headliner and sound system were given a complete upgrade. Providing the ultimate in comfort, his sleeper was converted to a walk-through from the original crawl-through access. Add to that an 8-inch extended hood and that trick paint, and well, who can argue with the final results?
The made-over KW was debuted this weekend at the Great American Truckin' Show on Friday. Thanks again to "The Boyz", and hats off to yet another killer creation...

Going to the movies...
21 AUG 08- ...as a kid was a big deal. We didn’t do it often… it just wasn’t in the cards. But when we did go, man… it was a total experience. I enjoyed any film we’d see, but I always held a special fascination with the theater lobby, namely the movie posters. Looking back on it, aside from cars, a few notable children’s books and assorted product packaging, movie posters were my first real exposure to design. (as a side note, after seeing Jason and the Argonauts as a kid, my obsession with stop-motion animation and film was ignited… Ray Harryhousen permanently warped my fragile young mind!) To say that there was an impact in that would be an understatement... I was floored by the graphics, the layout... the ability of an artist to convey the general scope of the story, to excite moviegoers into plopping down their cash for a ticket (in many cases, anyway--- some just stunk up the joint) was, consciously, anyway, my first real understanding of print design as an emotional trigger.
poster 1
I grew up on kung fu/horror/fantasy movies...and you wonder why I mash different topics together like I do...

Fast-forward a few years, and my interest in movie posters and film itself was still growing. I loved movies almost as much as I did cars, and my friend Joe was a total movie nut, namely horror films. The guy knew literally every horror film, director, production house… he was a walking encyclopedia of the genre (as well as sci-fi films… not so odd that he’s gone on to write some great books!). This was in the heyday of VCR’s and video rental houses, and what made it great was that we had access to so many movies, as the classics (meaning both “great” as well as just “old”) were being released by the dozens. Companies like Vestron (they essentially revolutionized video distribution, and pumped out roughly 3,000 movies on videotape between ’83 and ’95... there's some more useless trivia that clouds my brain daily), MGM/UA, Embassy, AIP and more were releasing tons of independent, low-budget, B-grade and major releases… From The Stuff and Blade Runner to Revenge of the Living Zombies, Basket Case to Xtro, man, we watched a TON of VHS-format celluloid. We’d try to seek out some great films, and it was in doing this that I was introduced to the work of Hammer Films, a stand-out among the many great (and not so great) productions we’d watch.
poster 2
What made the Hammer films so great was the way they told the stories, and the era they came from! Their horror and sci-fi boom was ’55-’59… Coincidentally, the golden age of custom cars... hmmm... Anyway, Hammer’s horror films were more “gothic” in nature (monsters, based more in terror, with a back-story that makes you feel a bit for the players), and they often re-told classics like Dracula, The Mummy and Frankenstein (six Frankenstein films from’59-’74, no less). Great actors like Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee were regulars, and man... they were just tremendous entertainment, even for two kids discovering them almost 30 years after their release. The films had a great look, but, again, what infatuated me was the cover/poster art! Tom Chantrell was the wrist behind many of the great designs, and just had a knack with not only killer art, but amazing layout and design. I think that a lot of my color work is influenced, be it unconsciously or otherwise by the man’s work. Keeping a loose yet detailed feel in my work is directly attributed to Mr. Chantrell’s influence, as well as that of Saul Bass (whose mantra was “Symbolize and Summarize”—how insightful is that? Spare yourself four years of design school, and just repeat that... then send me the money you saved. OK, half. More on Mr. Bass later... and I mean Saul, not Lance. Although, I may have a great way to compare him with cars. I'll think of it.). Bold, direct, powerful. You'd know Bass' work anywhere:
poster 3
My infatuation with movie posters continues to this day (although with three young kids, my serious collecting days are some time off, yet). As a kid, the work of Drew Struzan was everywhere… remember the posters for Indiana Jones? The Goonies? Technical brilliance! My tastes fall somewhere between the amazing portraiture of Struzan, the expressionistic and detailed style of Chantrell, and the bold graphic statement of Bass… All have been a profound inspiration in my design and illustration work. It’s still a point of fascination for me when we go to see a movie… I wander around, and check out the new posters. However, it seems as though the true art of the movie poster is falling to the side of the road, as far as mainstream movies go, anyway. Independent films have always had kind of cool (and occasionally bizarre) poster art, but lately, it’s as though the fine art has gone away. The new Indiana Jones film brought back a spark of life, though… Struzan nailed it again! …and the new Batman flick?! Man…. Great stuff, and the two versions, each with the burning bat symbol (one of Batman, one of the Joker) are great, and really play up the menacing undertones (and overtones, let’s be honest here) of the movie. Would a hand-painted or rendered piece have been better? I submit that in this particular example, it could not. There's a time and place for almost every style and technique, it would seem.
poster 4
Does it get any better than this? Pure inspiration! ... I mean beyond the whole "big-ass robot steals woman" thing. Slightly.

In any event, I bring up the movie poster art topic for a few reasons… One, you may not have been aware of the things covered here (Hammer horror films, the posters, the designers), and I enjoy opening up a new subject for you to head out and experience; Two, I had wanted to answer a few questions that I’m often asked (“where do you get inspiration from?”, “how did your style develop?” and “what the hell are you talking about?”); and three, hopefully, to inspire new designers who are trapped into relying on software and computers to draw for them to seek out what makes design and art so damn fun to begin with: creating it by hand! We’re already inundated by computer-generated, “cold”-feeling works that lack that human personality that shines through in all artwork. Now get out there, watch an old b-movie, seek out some wild inspiration from beyond the automotive sphere, break out the pencils and raise the bar...

A rocket ride...
6 AUG 08- ...…and a trade that rocked the world.
Twenty years ago this week, the Edmonton Oilers traded Wayne “The Great One” Gretzky to the LA Kings, marking the day that Hockey stood still. August 9, 1988 is a date that still elicits a response in any Hockey fan, and for good reason. I’ll throw in another date: December 12, 2000, the day that GM announced that they were pulling the plug on Oldsmobile. Two very different events with very different outcomes… yet, they share a few key things in common, and a valuable lesson that a carmaker could have learned from a Hockey player.
Consider the impact that Gretzky had on the game (if not a community): 1851 points… 200+ points in each of four seasons… 92 goals in ONE season! (hell, being a Sabres fan, I have to point out that Alexander Mogilny came close once… at 76 some ten years after the Great One's scoring run) Take a moment to fathom that, then, consider that his record has stood since being set in the ’81-’82 season. The man’s photo should appear in the dictionary under the word “Hockey”. I could spout off stats here, but you can find those easily enough… Suffice to say, he dominated the game on the ice. Yet, what he did OFF of the ice would forever change the game as well.
In 1988, the Great One was traded to the LA Kings.
The deal was monstrous to begin with, but the terms were astounding in their own right: The Oilers gave up the league’s reigning superstar for $15 million, three number one draft picks, Krushelnyski, McSorley, and negotiating rights to minor league defensemen, along with LA’s Jimmy Carson (a recent pick who just put up 55 goals).
Take a second to drink in that trade.
Not only was that big money in ’88, but it broke up a team that had “dynasty” written all over it… If you’re a Hockey fan, then you know all about the Oilers of that era, with Grant Fuhr, Jari Kurri, Mark Messier… Man, I remember collecting cards and stickers of those guys like they were gold (in some cases, they were... Remember the gold foil stickers?). To take Gretzky to LA?! What were they thinking?
Granted, number 99 in Los Angeles wasn’t the ticket to a cup victory (or a dynasty) on ice… But what the deal did for the sport itself?! Far-reaching and dynamic are two words that scratch the surface... Barely. Here was an uber-talent, wrapped in a marketing dream. Great personality, incredible with words, and a look that could move product. His assimilation into US pop culture was the stuff of legend. Consider: If, like me, you grew up in the ‘80’s, you knew Gretzky (even if not from Hockey) from ads for Campbell’s, Coke, Ford, American Express, an action figure, hell… the guy even had a Saturday morning cartoon with Bo Jackson and Michael Jordan! (remember “Pro Stars”?) Add to his clout an ambassador status, bringing the game to numerous new fans… A fact to ponder: When Gretzky hit US soil as a player, there were 15 franchises of the NHL in the US. Today, there are 24. Talk about opening a market!
Back to Oldsmobile for a spell here… Consider that in 1897, the carmaker was forging ahead, pushing design and technical innovation to create a dynamic new car. It was to become GM’s shining star, the brand that pushed innovation for the corporation. Being GM’s “innovation brand” meant that other carmakers would often study their products, and attempt to mimic them. Not only was Oldsmobile the first mass-produced car (the 1901-1904 Curved Dash), but was the first with an automatic transmission (1940 – the Hydromatic), the first overhead valve V8 (’49 – also leading the way with a hardtop and wrap-around windshield that year!), the first turbocharged engine in an American car (’62!), the first front wheel drive car in America (the ’66 Toronado), and so on… Ponder this: in the 50’s and ‘60’s, makers like Mercedes would buy and dissect Oldsmobiles (and other GM cars) to see what made them tick. At the time, there was truly no substitute for an American car.
Oldsmobiles were the choice of the techie crowd... they had the advanced features, and appealed to the more technologically hip consumer. Olds and GM capitalized on this for a bit, but then lost the vision somewhere along the way. Rather than build on a success (see Gretzky above), GM stuttered, and down-graded the brand to compete with foreign cars on their own level. Rather than push the envelope, and allow Oldsmobile to bloom into the leader in technology and design for GM, they pulled funding from the coffers for projects like Saturn, among other things. (don’t get me wrong here--- Saturn is a fine make, and having worked for Saturn, I am grateful for the food and shelter my career there provided… just still suffering the “WHY??!!” over pushing Saturn into Oldsmobile territory, and giving the little plastic-clad cars all of the cool advancements) GM dropped the ball, and took what should have been a bright Oldsmobile future, with great new cars that would have rivaled Lexus, BMW and their ilk, and let it slip into the old folks home of the corporation. One notable exception was the Aurora (I have a very soft spot for the first-generation units... Remember the first time you saw the ‘95’s… Man were those cool when new!), which led the way in innovation, and sat at the crossroads for a trek back to greatness… yet, sadly, it seems that the higher-ups were too busy looking into overpriced, oversized SUV’s to haul fat-ass suburbanites around the mini malls. By the time that last Alero rolled off the line on April 4, 2004, the fire was definitely gone. The rocket was more of a lawn dart, sadly...
Adding insult to injury, GM decided to kill off more jobs and cars with potential to concentrate on... Trucks.
At the start of a new environmental awareness, the good General concentrated on big old SUV’s, targeted at vacuous housewives who have no clue how to drive them. Another well thought out plan. Rather than attack the future and hold an upper hand, doing some good for the entire brand, they concentrated on one small niche, which ironically, has become the proverbial Achille’s heel of a car-making giant. Presently, they have no true marquee in brand that does what Olds once could. Who’s to say that Oldsmobile may have been the leverage point for GM in the escalating hybrid wars? I'd like to entertain that notion. Had they stayed on path, who knows? We may have seen George Clooney cruising a Cutlass versus a Prius.
Consider the effects of the Gretzky trade, when applied to the Oldsmobile (and subsequent GM) debacle: While Edmonton sacrificed a pillar of their team, they still managed winning seasons and a Cup victory, and gained a fairly stable ground (player-wise, not so much owner-wise) to build on. Bigger than that, Hockey itself won, big time. By allowing a great talent to continue down a road that he himself forged, great things happened all around. Had number 99 stayed in Edmonton, I have no doubts that we’d have seen a number of Oilers Stanley Cup years… it’s a given. Yet, what that trade accomplished for the future of the sport was incredible. Am I suggesting that had GM invested resources into allowing Oldsmobile to progress on the brand’s original course that it may have had a similar effect on the corporation at large? You bet your ass I am.
All told, I’ll bet that there will be a moment of silence this week as Edmonton fans and residents recall the day the Great One left the Great White North… and that, at the same time, a few tears will be shed by GM shareholders as they look back on the rocket ride that could have been...

An Italian delicacy...
3 AUG 08- ...from the land of back bacon, Hockey and beer!
I get around a bit, and have had the honor of meeting some truly great people over the course of my life and career... Often times, I get an introduction to someone through a current client, or referred by another, and occasionally, I just stumble to the right place at the right time, and make a new friend. The latter is true with Ryan, who happens to be a very creative and talented fabricator in the Great White North. We crossed paths, and hit it off almost instantly. I had been admiring his work, and was stoked to find that he was admiring mine as well! Always fascinated with anyone who works with steel, I was just mesmerized with his vision and abilities.
Schooled at BCIT in Vancouver, Ryan landed a great job at Fabrite Services in Cranbrook, and spent the next ten years at that great company,working up from cutting material and cleaning up, to an eventual role as shop foreman... While there, beyond being treated "like family", he learned that "some people have some strange things to be built!", as he puts it.
He also has some great mechanical skills, which he owes to both his father, and a natural curiosity as a kid. Fast-forward, and he's completing the first of his planned series of supercar-inspired rides, a Reventon/Murcielago-looking beast, based on a Fiero platform he purchased for the princely sum of $60 just about a year ago...
Knowing he got a great deal on the car, he didn't want to leave it stock, and certainly didn't want another fiberglass-wearing "kit" car. As the Fiero sat outside until December that year, he saw a Lamborghini Reventon, and knew just where to go with the wedge-shaped Pontiac. Researching the original car's measurements, Ryan was off to the races, buying the steel, ordering glass from James at AGP, and finally, an intercooled, twin-turbo 350 Chevy and 6-speed trans with modified G6 axles, offering more than ample pulling power for the 3200 lb. ride. Add to that 11 1/4-inch cross-drilled and slotted rotors with Cadillac (rear) and Camaro (front) calipers, slowing it down should be well-controlled.

The only regret at this point? "I'll have to paint it", says Ryan, "and cover up all of that work!" But fear not, as Ryan and I are getting the wheels moving on the next project, a Bugatti-inspired, home-built supercar that'll bring in some elements from other great Italian exotics, and mix in some original styling points that we're kicking around... and that means some more months of looking at bare steel!
Look for more updates as this beast nears completion and hits the road soon, as well as some previews of the design studies for his next home-built supercar...

Remake, rework...
25 JUL 08- ...re-imagine!
Have you ever heard a song (hell, even seen a movie) that you just completely dug, and then later found out that it was a remake? It happens quite often (especially in modern-day, no-creativity Hollywood. Are you a producer? Hit me up for a pitch that’ll slay at the box office. Seriously. I have an idea that smacks of pure gold), and occasionally, the remake may even exceed the original by some margin. Of course, when the opposite happens, it happens on a BIG scale. “All Along the Watchtower” by Hendrix… amazing, and quite possibly far superior to Dylan’s. “Statesboro Blues”, originally laid-down by Blind Willie McTell, but made eternal by the Allman Brothers. Both are incredible works, pure and simple. It is art taken to another level. Of course, you can hit the “down” button, and slide a few concentric circles below deck with fecal matter like Madonna’s “American Pie”, Bolton’s “Dock of the Bay”, and countless other self-indulgent works of ear drum misery. Some are so bad, you kinda like them for their inherent bad-ness… For instance, William Shatner’s “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds”. I kinda like it better than Elton John’s… and almost as much as the original, but from a much different vantage point. Quirky can be cool... in the right amount. But ask yourself: "Would I want to only hear this version? Much less over and over again?"
Occasionally, a remake is just that much more in tune with the times of the observer. Imagine if you never heard “Don’t Stand So Close to Me" by the Police, prior to 1986. What if your first exposure to said song was the re-make (on their Greatest Hits album from that year)? Which might you prefer? The jazzier, more mellow later version, or the original, more up-tempo release? Same twisted tale of misplaced affection, certainly… just told in a different pattern of speech, really. Perhaps that’s the key here… Any remake is really just another voice -- or in this case, the same voice, just at a different place in life, telling the story (or singing the song, whatever the case) from their particular point of view. James Earl Jones reading a bed-time story would be kinda cool... Bobcat Goldthwait doiung likewise? Perhaps not so good... or maybe entertaining in a much different way.
I suppose that in car terms, you could look at a number of rides from throughout our hobby/industry, and make note of a number of remakes/re-works, tributes, etc, and come to the same conclusion. It has a lot to do with whose hand is interpreting the story. What if Chip Foose set out to re-work, or build a tribute car to the Jade Idol? The Hirohata Merc, even?  You’d almost instinctively trust the guy to do a bang-up job (…of course, Billy Joel might do a bang-up job on the car, too… all a matter of perspective and interpretation, really). Would you trust a manufacturer of 36" wheels and a stockholder in glue-on chrome vents and trim to do justice to the car? Probably not. It falls back on interpretation, perspective, and the all-important point here-- preconceived notions and expectations. If I told you that Andy Dick would play Alfred Hitchcock in a movie based on his life and career, you’d probably say “No way! Why?!”, without giving it a second thought, right? You have a certain ideal in your head about what should be, and what might be… and when we consider the “might-be’s”, well, it can get awfully frightening awfully damn fast.
In any event, we’re living in the age of the remake, the re-do, the tribute. The new Challenger… the New Camaro, the retro-styled cars are all over the place. In the hot rod world, we’re inundated with SS clones, continuation-series, tribute cars… We’re constantly treated to wave after wave of “special edition” this and “signature series” that… many poorly engineered and even more poorly executed. Imagine growing up as a car-obsessed kid today… especially in a house where no family member shares your passion. Let’s take that a step further, and imagine that this poor soul has not one friend that’s really into cars, or that can offer a guiding hand. Now imagine that this unwitting car nut only has the local news stand, a few crappy TV shows, and Wikipedia to attempt and glean some knowledge from. What is this kid going to think is cool? Pedestrian designs consisting of poorly-chosen design elements, wheels that are just too damn big, and pathetic attempts to re-hash a past that was, in reality, a far cry from the one so often misinterpreted today. Let’s be honest, here. For every Ring Brothers masterpiece, there are five that give an honest shot, but maybe fall short in execution, and probably fifteen wanna-bee’s that bring your lunch back up for another look at your molars. Granted, we need those also-ran’s to delineate just where good and bad taste begin. Yet, you’d think that one or two examples of each would serve as enough warning… alas, we see more and more popping up all the time, and there are some in our hobby who aid it along... they support more and more of the same old-same old, and that irks me a bit. Call an uninspired, cookie-cutter ride out for what it is... Don't say "Wow, you're amazing!" and then walk past 30 more just like it. I can do that in any mall parking lot, and so can you.
As I often tell my new clients when we have our initial consultation, “let’s not just re-make something that’s already out there… Let’s re-interpret what a hot rod, street rod, custom car, pro-touring ride whatever, as what YOU interpret it to be.” Designing based on a client’s personality, desires and goals brings out a whole other level of work from me. I hate the term “pushing the envelope”, and utterly despise “outside of the box”. Why live in restraint? Who says that there are limits to begin with?
Once you have a handle on that, you can choose to go the remake route if need be. Perhaps you’ll be inspired to create something new and unique… Or just maybe, you’ll take inspiration, and create something new, perhaps based off of the original, but with your tribute paying homage to creativity with even MORE creativity. Top your tribute with incredible execution, and who knows… perhaps your next ride will be like Sinatra's version of “Luck Be a Lady”. It may have had its roots elsewhere, but it's been elevated to something unique to the voice that carried it.
All told, reach a bit deeper into your imagination and make it your own...

The Supper Car Club...
19 JUL 08- ...and yes, you read that right. "Supper Car" Club.
Why "supper"? Simply put, supper is the term usually used by my kids when refering to dinner-time here, and weekday dinners (or "supper") are usually nothing over-the-top or spectacular, just a fill-you-up on good food moment in the day. A necessary part of the day, without a lot of fluff. Kind of fitting as you'll see when we get to the cars that would be in this club.
I had stumbled across the supercar club idea back in 2000, and thought "novel idea"... but then dismissed it, and went back at my day job. This past week, the thought popped back in my head while parking at the Post Office to ship out some designs, and I parked next to a perfectly preserved Gremlin. (I know!! Bitchin'!!) How long has it been since you've seen one of those? Apparently, the three other folks checking it out had the same thought. (note to the owner of said ride: What I wrote on my card is serious. I want your car.)
If you're into exotics, you no doubt know of organizations like Group 20's incredible Super Car Club, or P1 Prestige and Performance Car Club, or a few others. The basic idea is a shared-access plan, wherein members have access to a number of exotics and luxury cars for about the same cost as owning ONE. Pretty slick, and not unlike shared-access plans for yachts, jets, beach mansions, islands and so-on. So, for like $30k per year, plus a $5-10k membership fee, you're driving a number of cool cars throughout the year, insurance included.
Nifty if you're of the persuasion that can afford it. Me? Nope. I fall more in line with my nifty idea:
The Supper Car Club.
Regular folks cruising regular (and occasionally rare!) cars. We'll round up a group of investors, and purchase a fleet of hand-picked, basic transportation cars from the past and present (if you can get 'em from the future, well, we'd like a word with you, too!). We'll set up a membership fee based on the value of the cars, say $75.00 to join, plus like $300.00/year, and base it all on a points system, allowing everyone access to the cars. You may buy extra points, or trade points for allowing off-use days for cars, etc. Naturally, cruising the Cavalier rag top in June would be double the points of the Cimmaron with the broken A/C, but hey, this is about exclusivity.
I can hear it now-- "Why would anyone want to drive a car like a Citation, or a Fairmont sedan, or an '80 El Camino with a broken tailgate?"
Unless you were some spoiled brat as a teenager, chances are that through college (or beyond if you draw cars for a living and have kids), you've driven some questionable-looking, as well as performing cars. And what always comes up in converations about those times past (or present... it happens)? "Man, I hated that car, but I miss it!" Admit it. That '79 Delta 88 with the door skins flapping in the breeze was pretty cool. You had FUN with it. I sure as hell did. And my friends still remember that car... even the ones I bump into so many years later... And think about it: If you're into cars like I am, you check everyhing out. Like the afforementioned Gremlin. I was drawn to that like flies on... oh wait, bad comparison... but you get the idea. A car that hits home will draw as much, if not more attention than some exotic ride. (consider Playboy's Farmer's Daughters specials--- I read it for the article on cobbler -- was that a fluke? The girl next-door is always more approachable, and often more realistic. I bet they sold millions. Cars are the same way, I've found.)
not a viper
Admit it: You had this poster right next to that one with the white Lamborghini.

We'll offer typical high school and college-year cars, and even a few hot rod-style versions... Maybe '78 Malibu with a severe rake, N-50's and Jensen 6x9's on the package tray, or even a hand-me-down LTD in powder blue... The kind of stuff you had back then. Imagine pulling up to your reunion in a Camaro with a dented fender, a Moroso decal and sheepskin seat covers, just like you had back in school? Talk about keeping it real. No rental Caddy for you. Just bringing back memories, much like your mullet and parachute pants.
And for those who were in all of the musicals, or had weird parents, we'll round up some used Volvos, VW's, and the cream of the crop:
le poo
...it's tres chic

(I'm showing the smaller cars so that we get the "green" folks on board. Fret not, my fellow size 34 EEE carbon-footprint friend, I'll be battling you for points on the Granada with the bad valve seals and cracked rings. We'll have a little something for everyone. AMC Eagle? We'll have THREE.)
All told, I think that once the trendies see Justin Timberlake pull up at the ESPY's in the Monaco with the Keystone mags, bad paint and bubbling tint on the windows, this club will be hotter than some crystal and gold-leaf decoupaged Von Dutch hat in an LA boutique after seeing it on a video awards show.
If you're in, hit me up... This will be huge, and a total blast. I have a line already on a Volare' wagon and a cherry Grand Prix...

It never hurts to ask...
14 JUL 08- ...especially when seeking the truth.
A phone call this past week alerted us to an issue wherein PCK Studios' work was being misrepresented as having affiliation with a shop whom we have absolutely NO affiliation with, professional or otherwise. Add to this some untruthful statements from this shop, and we thought it best to set the record straight.
Should you encounter our name or work on a website that isn't included in our links here on the site, we encourage you to contact us. We work with a very selective group of shop owners and builders, and choose them based upon their quality of work and character. If you're in doubt, or would like to discuss our preferred builders and partners, give us a shout. We work with some great folks, and are always excited to introduce a new friend to these talented and dynamic people.
As always, thanks again for looking in, and a special thanks to our friends out there who "have our back"... Good to be cared about...

If they made you feel safe...
8 JUL 08- ...well then, by golly, they wouldn't have been as fun, now would they?
And they certainly wouldn't have been hot rods.
I got to thinking the other day while cruising across the Valley to work on a project, about what makes a hot rod so damn much fun. Granted, this isn't the kind of thing that should involve any thought to begin with (for cryin' out loud, they're freakin' HOT RODS. What more needs to be said?!), but it brought to mind my teenage years, and the siren-like lure of hot rods and street machines in general.
In my circle of friends, we didn't have the biggest budgets for cars, and we made due with what we had and could barter for or get our hands on with our relatively tiny paychecks. And looking back on it, it made for some interesting, if not terrifying rides. Sure, none of us had what the sticklers today would call a "traditional" rod or custom, but, if you stop and consider it, how much more traditional can a car get than when you stuff waaaaaayyyy too much power into a car that really shouldn't have that much? Sounds pretty grass-roots to me.
I could sit here and tell the tales of a Pontiac-powered '83 Thunderbird (well, it needed an engine, and wouldn't you know it, that Pontiac slid in on a combination of Ford frame mounts and Poncho block-side mounts. Sounded good to us!), a big block Chevy-powered '68 Firebird (where'd ya think that Pontiac mill came from?), a series of super-quick Mustangs and G-Body Cutlass and Monte Carlo's... or even Bullitt-style jaunts to work, leaving late, but managing to arrive just on time. But the point here is that feeling you get when you slide into a car that's got a bit too much under the hood, and maybe wasn't ever meant to have it.
I recall my buddy's '78 Firebird, with a healthy small block and 4-speed, tearing up the streets after school... Always just on that ragged edge, where you want to dig your fingers into the dash pad, but you can't seem to stop laughing enough to reach forward, especially on that clutch-less shift to third... Or maybe you were too occupied with holding parts on the car. White-knuckle rides in a certain cranberry-colored '73 Cutlass etched some scenes into my brain, and probably a few stains in the underwear of the hapless folks occupying the next lane. Or holding on for dear life in another friend's Sebring with a super-stout 440. Yeah, my Chevelle was fun, but had slightly more civility, having been more carefully watched over during construction by the fine folks who not only gave me life, but a garage to park and work in. My '72 Monte, however, was put together quickly in the driveway and always had that "recipe for disaster" feel to it, and just begged to be driven as such (nothing beats brake lines held together with a half-dozen unions, one seatbelt, and an uncanny ability to vapoirize tires with a mash of the go-pedal). It remains one of my all-time favorites, and I only owned it for a short period.
My parents had a '55 Chevy for a bit that fell into this category... with a primered body, sitting tall on black steelies and dog-dish caps, with that high-winding 283 (with killer M/T valve covers, too!), a Muncie, and 4.11's, it was dangerously quick, and made you feel guilty just standing near it... and you know what? I loved that.
I'm not talking about some half-assed "rat rod" turd bucket that's deliberately thrown together with reckless abandon, or some poorly engineered (on purpose) "hey, dig me!" fairgrounds dumpster... Nor am I glorfying the utterly retarded things we did as kids... but more to the point, I'm finally at terms with what got me so deep into cars in every respect:
The whole feeling of riding that edge, whether you were screwing around on some back road, or just idling through the local cruise night parking lot. You felt like all hell might break loose at any second, and by golly, you were racing toward that moment. Fortunately, we seemed to, for the most part anyway, escape certain doom and live on into our 30's and '40's... pretty well adjusted at that. Except that burning urge to throw that old small block into the wife's mini van, of course... but that seems natural...

Michael Turner
28 JUN 08- Sadly, the comic book artist extraordinaire passed away last night after an eight-year battle with chondrosarcoma (a cartilage-attacking bone cancer). He was a prolific artist, having gotten his start at Top Cow (working as the artist on Witchblade), and eventually re-introducing Supergirl to the modern universe of DC titles. Making stops along the way to create covers for Flash, Identity Crisis, and interior writing and art for Superman/Batman, he even founded Aspen MLT in 2002.
His work and charming demeanor will be sorely missed. Aspen MLT encourages anyone wishing to make a charitable donation in Turner's memory, please do so to the American Cancer Society or the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Surrealism and drawing cars...
24 JUN 08- ...probably couldn't be any further from one another on the average person's scale. But that doesn't matter here, does it? After all, how often do we sit here and talk "average"? Exactly: never. What's the point?
It's been a couple of weeks in my life that have me feeling a bit introspective... I'm working at a project that's removed from cars, and it's been just what I needed in some respects. To be sure, my mind is on cars, but working at this project has brought back the "spark" that was fading... I've hit the board a few times this past week, and it's as though it's all new... all fresh again. The stuff my brain conjures after a break is downright fun and wildly creative.
Putting it bluntly: all I ever needed to know about painting and drawing I learned from Salvador Dali'. A quote of his (that I wrote down many years ago on a scrap of paper) hangs above my board in the Studio. It reads "The true painter must be able, from a shepherd, a ram, a bird and an ear of wheat, to create a unique monster...with the most usual things to have the most unusual ideas."
I've lived by this quote in many, many ways... both in and outside of the Studio. Taking elements and mashing them up, blending them, creating new things from parts of one and another... And where there might be gaps in the original combination, I'm blessed with a mind that fills them, and makes it all work. How THAT works, I'm oblivious... i just hang on for the ride, and draw what comes to mind.
Ol' Sal also once said that "the true painter must be able, before an empty desert to fill his canvas with extraordinary things"... Great advice, that.
I always carry a sketch book to a client's shop (off the record, how do the Photochop and 3D and tracing/filter guys do this? Do they make house calls, and bring a computer and all that? Must look impressive... "Can I trace the car? Maybe hang that fender back on?"), and lately, I've been back to my old ways of sketching everything. EVERYTHING. Birds, buildings, people, dogs, vegetables, furniture. Getting back to drawing organic things is like therapy... While for years I've used the computer to finish-off my drawings, every one starts the same, on paper with pencil... But lately... finishing them with traditional tools has brought back the energy, the spark... I'm looking toward finishing a series of paintings I left idle some time back, and just enjoying a renewed wave of energy about the whole damn thing.
To paraphrase that great Spanish painter (him again??! Yes.), it is thus that mounted upon the horse of craftsmanship that I want to return to my Studio...

Scott Kalitta
21 JUN 08- Our sincerest condolences to the family, friends and crew of Scott Kalitta, who left us yesterday in a tragic accident during qualifying at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park.
The son of racing legend Connie Kalitta, he had a tremendous career that brought 17 Top Fuel victories and one in Funny Car, with his first win coming in '89 in Houston.
RIP, Scott.

Taking CAB's Coupe around the world...
19 JUN 08- ...and finding a new home in Europe!
Some time ago, I was fortunate to have befriended skateboarding legend, artist, and all-around good guy Steve Caballero. Like all of my artist and hot rod friends, his work and cars are inspirational, and it all kind of becomes like family. You grow attached to the paintings, cars and whatnot, and when a ride or canvas gets sold, you feel a slight twinge of sadness, and hope that the new owner will take good care of it (kinda like my old Chevelle... it's comforting to know it's being enjoyed and cared for!).
You have to imagine my joy, then, when CAB's coupe was sold once more, and wound up, in all places, in the garage of a friend across the ocean!
Geert (aka Von Skip), is a talented artist, and we hit off our friendship through our work, sharing a mutual admiration for one another's style and technique. What this guy does on canvas is amazing (dig it here!). He's owned a number of outstanding cars, and when he saw the opportunity to grab CAB's coupe, well... I became stoked on a number of levels. After all, what are the odds? Two talented artsists (and great people) as owners of the same great car? Two separate continents... and each sharing the same incredible car culture. (and you thought the Dutch were only into wooden shoes and windmills. Shame on you. They like hot rods and customs, too... so there.) The world really is a small place, and lately, I've come to the conclusion that all things happen for reason. Thankfully, for whatever reason, I made the connection with two incredible people, and one fantastic car, and I get to see how it all plays out in the grand scheme of things.
...and, as if creating great art, collecting killer cars and just being an all-around cool cat weren't enough, on June 2nd, Geert and Nanouk welcomed their beautiful baby girl,Moenza into the world!
baby skip
Congrats again, Geert!! Enjoy the ride, man...

While the cars are great...
14 JUN 08- ...it's the people that make this such a great racket.
Case in point: last weekend Craig (from MyRideIsMe.com) was rounding up hands to help in stripping his '63 Falcon wagon in preparation for a full-on makeover. And by golly, when the local boys call for help, I'm there. Occasionally, it's good to put down the pens and stylus and turn a wrench or two... it keeps me grounded in the real stuff... the stuff that got me into this business to begin with.
pike wagon
...and there we were, a small group that would grow to over a dozen before night's end, attacking the car with near-Overhaulin' precision, save for the most stubborn windshield on planet Earth (more on my glass nemesis at a later date). What was to be a simple transmission swap was quickly escalted to a "while we're at it..." sort of project.. which means "look for some concept art soon". That Craig sure knows how to pick friends, huh? From "Falcon Master" Mike (a walking encyclopædia of all things Falcon and Comet-based) to Racin' Dave (runner-up in Super Street this year at Fontana (and 0.054 seconds from a Wally!!), to the always handy and knowledgeable Rob (who brought his killer bobber truck over and aired it out, as if that thing needed any more attitude!), you'd think we had all bases covered.
The name of the game, when dealing with an engineer is "overkill".
Dave and his charming wife popped in before heading to a graduation party to offer moral support, and before we knew it, there was Joe and Joel and Devin grabbing tools and jumping in. I mention all of these folks because it's what makes this hobby so great: The people. All of us are from different backgrounds, lives, careers... We had mechanics, engineers, artists, body men, hobbyists and pro's... Yet we share the common car bond. It's that great equalizer, a project car, that certain "something" that brings people togteher and gets everyone reaching for a common goal.
When Doug (of Squeeg's Rod and Kustom) popped in (with Sammy and Moose from the shop in tow, following a trek to Southern California to pick up a Woody), all of that "car guy" stuff became clear. Here's a pro builder of the highest degree, wrenching on a local car (following an all-day road trip, no less!). No glory in this, just stripping away what needed to go, and getting the ball rolling. It's just that whole "you're building a car? I'm THERE!" mentality that happens to come across between car people. It's the late nights spent in a garage, covered in grease and bondo dust that creates memories, and makes it all so damn cool to be a part of...
falcon stripped
Anyway, this is where it sits for now... Look or more on this project as we build steam, and get the old girl rolling once more...

Forging ahead...
11 JUN 08- ...with some killer wheels...
Some years back, I was contemplating the move to designing hot rods and custom cars as a full-time gig, and was just gaining a foot-hold, grabbing a slice of ink (thanks again, Damon!) in the magazines, and getting my work out there. During this formative time, I had run into a guy whose work I admired and had seen just about everywhere, Jason Rushforth. I had the opportunity to not only meet him, byt we hit it off, quickly becoming fiends. We share a similar outlook on many styling issues, and differ enough on others, keeping it interesting and making for some great, and often informative talks.
A while back, Jason had told me about his pending wheel deal, and I was stoked. Here's a fellow automotive stylist making his way into yet another region of the industry... Awesome! I've always been proud of my ability to diversify, and offer a wide range of services all keeping with our passion for excellence, and when I see a friend and colleague doing likewise, it makes me proud, and just wildly happy to see it take off.
Jason and I were communicating back and forth at the start of this busy show season, and he took some time to discuss his favorite wheels from the new lineup... Granted, it's like choosing your four favorite kids, should you have twelve really good-looking ones... And that's what he's got brewing: Twelve wheel styles, in a variety of finishes, too! His top four:
four wheels
     LiveWire             Rated X                  Fuel                Whiplash
The design of the wheels is great, offering numerous options for size (17-24-inches, and widths from 7 -15-inches), offset, backspacing, and the gunmetal powdercoat finish is killer:
...as are the other finishes -- brushed, polished, (polished rim w/brushed centers? Certainly!), black, smoked titanium... Don't want perimeter hardware (the fasteners around the wheel center)? No sweat... get 'em without it! ...and just when your head was spinning, you can choose from two- or three-piece construction, too! I'm particularly fond of placing well-known manufacturer's products on my spec sheets when designing, and these wheels are already finding their way into a few new cars on our board. The styles are diverse enough to be used on hot rods, customs, musclecars and classics, without looking like some other "private brand/designer" wheels so prevalent on the market that look more at home on an SUV than a killer pro-touring ride.
Again, I couldn't be happier to watch a friend embark on yet another adventure in his career, and can't wait to see where it all goes from here for Jason. Congrats again, man... and if you're interested in his wheel line, hit me up, and I'll get you in touch so you too can experience what Jason refers to as the "Power of Great Design"...

Three issues...
02 JUN 08- ...on the shelves at once with my work is always a cool feeling! (now there's an understatement) I've been fortunate to have my work in print in Rod and Custom, American Rodder, and now Truckin' this month, making it a great start to the Summer months! I hope you find time to pick up all three of these issues, if not for the artwork, but the great content in all of them.
truckin issue 8
The amazing Mercury wagon in American Rodder is worth the price of admission alone, we've already been over the amazing '54 Merc (hey, I see trend here) in R-n-C, and the special horsepower section in Truckin' makes for some good reading as well!
Thanks to Dan over at Truckin' for slipping my artwork once again into the Radical Renderings pages (and look out soon for a project that he and I collaborated on, which spawned some great concept art!). I hope you enjoy them all as much as I did creating them...

Maze follow up...
29 MAY 08- ...and how killer is this??! A while back, I had written a bit about one of the more influential custom cars in my past, Mr. Jerry DeVito's '57 Ford, aptly named "The Maze". I had reported what I found through research on the car, and was left with a few lingering questions about the car... so I did what was natural, and asked for help finding those answers.
maze tail
I was fortunate to not only find those answers, but got them FROM THE MAN HIMSELF! Mr. Jerry DeVito took time from his day to chat for a while, and I walked away from that great conversation with not only some fantastic insight, but a great new friend. I'll report more on this soon, but wanted to share my excitement over meeting the man who created a car that left an impression on me as a car-struck kid, and one that always creeps into my imagination as I draw and design.
Suffice to say, there are a few facts that need ironing out from the first posts on this car (as I said, the research materials were limited), and we'll do just that in subsequent posts... But to answer that nagging question about the split bumper treatment, they were '55 Pontiac units, and the change was made in the first year (after the peaks and scoops). Jerry's inspiration was to always keep the car fresh, making changes after each show, always remaining at the of of his game...
We'll trace the car's history in the near future, from delivery at San Jose Ford in '57, through to its sale, and subsequent loss. Thanks for the interest, and especially to Mr. DeVito... wow...

21 MAY 08- ...just begins to describe the video below... I'm floored by this display of talent, skill, and mental agility.
I've always been able to take a mental snapshot of a car, and draw it out with some accuracy.... But what this artist can accomplish, well.... WOW.

Sorry if you've seen this before, but I was just sent a link to it, and am still pulling my jaw off the floor...

18 MAY 08- ...have a funny way of mixing things together. Consider just about any weird dream you've ever had... you know, "it was my house, but it wasn't my house, you know?"... Ever said that? Or maybe you wind up working at a job that you've never had... eating something odd, bizarre or exotic... Odd things happen in our subconscious.
Such was the case a few months back when Tim at Rod & Custom Magazine hit me up to create a "Dream Car of the Month" again.
I absolutely love creating artwork for the "Dream Car of the Month" in Rod and Custom Magazine. I dig it because it's not only the magazine I grew up dreaming of being published in, but the project affords a completely open-ended spectrum of creativity. For this go-round, I took the "dream" part literally, and scoured my subconscious for wild ideas.... What came from it all is a mish-mash of A/FX, gasser, funny car, street machine... You kinda have to see it to believe it...
And even if you're not a big fan of spicy taco-induced dream cars, grab this iissue if you don't already have it. The features this month are just outstanding, from Mark Morton's bsolutely understated '54 Mercury that we drooled over at the GNRS in January, to Rob Ida's unbelieveable Caddy, and the super low, super cool '32 three window of Larry Roller... The details will have your head spinning for days!
Thanks again to Tim and Kevin at R-n-C for another great opportunity...

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