ZZ Top frontman Billy Gibbons is no stranger to the automotive world with a car collection like no other, including cars like “CadZZilla”, which we featured in last month’s Hot Rods You Should Know feature. But there is one car owned by Gibbons that is by far his most famous ride to-date and that car is none other than the chopped 1933 Ford coupe known as “Eliminator”.
If you don’t know what Eliminator is, well, you haven’t done much listening of rock music since the 1980s or digested mainstream media like the rest of us have over the last few decades. Eliminator is one of the most famous hot rods out there, so much so that even decades after its creation, hot rod enthusiasts instantly recognize the car. More so, many, MANY clones of the car have been produced in the market, making it nearly impossible to have never seen a coupe like the famous ZZ Top car.
Yes, Eliminator is in fact nearly as famous as its owner, having been featured on two of ZZ Top’s album covers, appeared in a handful of the band’s music videos, toured the country alongside Gibbons, along with at least one clone said to have been commissioned by Gibbons just for appearance reasons, and appeared in pretty much every hot rod, street rod and custom magazine on the planet, not to mention dozens of TV shows, movies, and automotive productions over the year. Eliminator is also credited with inspiring two of ZZ Top’s albums, one of the same name as the car, Eliminator, which came out in 1983, and the follow-up album Afterburner, which was released in 1985.
This car IS a big deal. But the reason you should know about the Eliminator coupe goes far beyond its international fame.With its debut came a whole new era of custom cars, radical enough to set them apart from the mainstream but traditional enough to unite hot rod and street rod enthusiasts alike. Eliminator also helped bring what some consider a dying hot rod culture at the time to the famed “MTV Generation”, helping propel the custom hot rod world to where it is today. Few other hot rods have had such a lasting impact on the industry!
So what makes the Eliminator so special? Well, aside from it’s legendary owner and resulting fame, the car offers several key “ingredients” of a note-worthy hot rod. The build of Eliminator was originally inspired by the Pete and Jake’s coupe from the movie The California Kid and is a true steel 1933 Ford, not a fiberglass replica of the classic Ford model. Having been inspired by The California Kid car, Gibbons brought on Pete Chapouris (the Pete of Pete & Jake’s) to do some consulting on the car, which was ultimately built by Don Thelen of Paramount, California’s Buffalo Motor Cars with a Pete & Jake’s custom chassis, complete with a dropped tube axle, 4-bar front suspension and a Ford 9-inch rearend underneath it.
Other defining features of the car include a 3-inch chop, custom 3-piece hood built by Steve Davis, ’34 Ford headlights, classic ’39 Ford teardrop taillights, and of course, the iconic red paint scheme with custom “ZZ” graphics, designed by Kenny Youngblood. Under the hood, you’ll find a So-Cal Speed Shop-built SBC 350ci V8 with a single four-barrel carburetor, tied to a Turbo 350 transmission for reliability sake. And yes, that means the car is more than just a show piece.
It’s said that while some groups struggled with the introduction of music videos in the late 1970s and early 1980s, ZZ Top turned to what they knew best — rock and roll, cars and attractive females– for their music videos and their efforts paid off big time!
While Eliminator certainly played its part in the early music videos of ZZ Top, including for songs “Gimme All Your Lovin”, “Legs” and “Sharp Dressed Man”, the hot rod did get driven and enjoyed as a car should in the 80s after it made its industry debut. In fact, in the early 80s after the car appeared in its first ZZ Top music video, Gibbons teamed up with Chapouris in The California Kid car and Jake Jacobs (the Jake of Pete & Jake’s) in a custom 1934 Ford Coupe and the band and friends cruised Sunset Boulevard for Eliminator’s “maiden voyage.”
Later on in the 80s, Gibbons drove the ’33 Ford cross-country from L.A. To New York with one of the music video girls the band used, Kymberly Herrin, and Allison Ohnstede along for the ride. In a 2007 feature about Eliminator on the Gibson Guitars website, Gibbons stated that the trip took the group 10 days and all they had to do was fill the car up with gas and it was good to cruise in the fast lane!
Gibbons still owns Eliminator and the clone of the original car he had commissioned to help meet the demand for all the appearance requests the car and Gibbons got following the car’s initial music video fame. The original Eliminator now resides at the Cleveland Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, where rock fans and hot rod enthusiasts can get a glimpse of the famous ’33 coupe year-round.
Article courtesy of Rod Authority, written By Lindsey Fisher.
Automotive manufacturing is a global business. Chevrolet alone has plants in seventeen different countries, and in order to sell their cars in certain countries, automotive manufacturers have to adhere to certain laws and guidelines. One of those is the Auto Pact (APTA). This trade agreement between Canada and the United States was signed in January 1965, by Canada’s Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson and President Lyndon B. Johnson. This agreement removed tariffs on vehicles and auto parts travelling between the two countries. In exchange, American car makers agreed that automobile production in Canada would not fall below the levels that were delivered in 1964, and that they would ensure the same production-to-sales ratio in Canada, as delivered in the U.S.
To uphold their end of the deal, General Motors responded by manufacturing cars in Canada, for the sole purpose of selling to the Canadian market. Hence the Nova- and Chevelle-esque Acadian and Beaumont.
The Beaumont began life as a trim level of the Chevrolet Acadian from 1962 to 1965. During this time frame, the Acadian was based on Chevrolet’s Chevy II (Nova), and was sold primarily through Pontiac and Buick dealers throughout Canada. This is why many incorrectly think that the Beaumont and Acadian are Pontiac derived. The 1962 Acadian was available as either the base-model Invader, or the deluxe Beaumont model. The Beaumont gave buyers a higher level of trim options, and upgraded luxury items like foam-cushioned rear seats, a horn ring on the steering wheel, rear passenger armrests, and dome light switches for the front doors. A six-cylinder engine was the only option.
For 1963, the Acadian was limited to four sub-models; the base Invader, mid-level Canso, Deluxe Beaumont, and finally, Beaumont Sport Deluxe. The Beaumont Sport Deluxe was equivalent to what Americans know as the Chevy II Nova Super Sport. This year was the first time a V8 was available, and the option was the small-block 283ci V8 with 220 horsepower. Behind that would be either a Powerglide transmission, or a four speed. If the Beaumont Sport Deluxe was ordered, the buyer got a console and floor-mounted shifter.
When 1964 and 1965 rolled around, an Acadian Beaumont that was based on the American-made Chevelle platform was released to compliment the Chevy II-based Acadian. These cars are true Chevrolet cars, with only minor trim differences. The Chevelle-based Beaumont did utilize a Pontiac Tempest/LeMans-based instrument panel. By this time, the Beaumont was continuing to gain popularity, and was available in four sub-models of the Acadian; the Beaumont Standard, Beaumont Deluxe Standard, Beaumont Custom, and Beaumont Sport Deluxe.
After 1965, the Acadian name was only used on the Nova-based car, and Beaumont became a standalone marque. The Beaumont’s exterior sheetmetal was shared with the American-built Chevelle. They also utilized the same engines as the Chevelle, including the inline six-cylinder, and V8 engine choices that included the 283ci, 307ci, 327ci, and later 350ci small-block V8s. The 396ci big-block was an optional engine, available from 1965 through 1969. Three and four-speed manual transmissions were available for those wanting to select their own gears, as was the Powerglide and Turbo automatics.
The SD (Sport Deluxe) models were counterparts to the Chevelle Super Sport. And as such, featured bucket seats and a center console, as well as special SD body striping and trim. The SD was available as either a two-door hardtop, or a convertible, but other non-SD body styles were comparable to the American-built Chevelle for each given year, including a four-door hardtop that was offered between 1966 and 1969.
The Beaumont and Acadian was available through the 1969 model year, but in 1970, GM Canada offered both the Chevelle and LeMans that were identical to U.S. models, thus ending the need for a Canadian-specific automobile.
Article courtesy of Street Muscle Magazine, written by Randy Bolig.
The style and caliber of a build are just as important in the automotive world as what records a car breaks on the track, or how many show trophies it has won. The essence of the build, to some, is even considered superior to anything else in the custom world.
For our latest “Hot Rods You Should Know” feature vehicle, this is especially true, as its unique design, quality finish, and big names behind the build made it an instant icon of the industry — one that has sparked interest in the hot rod and custom worlds spanning a number of generations since its debut in 1989.
The car is CadZZilla — the fully-custom 1948 Cadillac Sedanette owned by Billy Gibbons, lead vocalist and guitar player for the band ZZ Top, and built by the late, great Boyd Coddington. While the cars’ famous rock legend owner and premier hot rod builder, to boot, certainly thrust the car into the spotlight like few other vehicles, it is the pure allure of the uniquely modified lead sled body and superior build quality that caused it to remain in the minds of hot rodders and rock fans alike for so many years.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the car has appeared alongside Gibbons at a number of affairs, as well as starred in a couple of television show appearances dedicated to his great enthusiasm for the hot rod industry.
Rendered by one of the head designers for Cadillac back in the 1980s, Larry Erickson, CadZZilla is a car like no other. Based on the 1948 Series 62 Cadillac — a car of relative rarity and one that boasts the claim to the first appearance of Cadillac’s iconic tailfins — CadZZilla is a mix of early post-WWII Cadillac design and artistic customization at the hands of both Erickson and Coddington’s metal artisan at the time of the build, Craig Naff.
As the story goes, the car was initially set to be a fairly “simple” custom based on the rare 1940s Cadillac, with a classic body shape atop a modified frame with a big engine under the hood and modern suspension components underneath. However, that wasn’t quite radical enough for ZZ Top’s front man and the design was altered to include even more profound customizations to parallel his unique style, resulting in a car that could fittingly follow Gibbons’ other famous hot rod — the 1933 Ford known as Eliminator. This car included a custom roofline so unique that the windshield for the finished car had to be specially made to fit, and massive suicide doors that open at the push of a button.
A one-of-a-kind car, there is nothing on this Larry Erickson-designed and Boyd Coddington-built Cadillac that isn’t custom. From the one-piece hood and front fenders to the massive sloping taillights, CadZZilla is an exclusive piece of artwork that still continues to inspire builders more than 30 years after its debut.
Ironically, the first renderings of the car were done on a bar napkin at a place along the Mexican border by Erickson and Gibbons. The ZZ Top front man has been known to make comments about the best cars starting out as drawings on bar napkins ever since!
Working for the one and only Coddington in the ’80s, Naff took Erickson’s revised car design and got to work, shaping new and old sheetmetal alike into the aesthetically pleasing custom lead sled you see here.
Featuring a chopped roofline, fully welded front clip with a sectioned hood and front fender combination that tilts open in one fell swoop, Frenched headlights, and custom tapering along the sides of the car that flows effortlessly into the lowered and fully blended rear quarters. CadZZilla is simply like no other custom build out there. Just one look, and you know you’re looking at an icon.
Add the initial shock value of the build to that sweet custom House of Color’s deep purple paint scheme and a one-of-a-kind interior, and you’ve got yourself a hell of a legend, with or without a rock star owner. And to think, this was a car that debuted not in the 2010s, but in the 1980s!
CadZZilla’s good looks aren’t the only thing the custom ’48 Caddy has going for it, either. Under the hood sits a massive 500ci Cadillac V8 with a custom Holley fuel injection system and headers — perfect for the horsepower-loving, V8-rumbling seeker that Gibbons is.
Underneath, the car boasts a custom steel frame and suspension system featuring Koni coilovers, 1985 Corvette steering components, a Currie 9-inch rearend, and front disc brakes. All of this is capped off with 22-inch, two-piece billet aluminum wheels made to look like classic Caddy wheel covers up front, and fully skirted 22s in the rear. This baby is meant to drive!
A real looker, CadZZilla has certainly been a trendsetter in the custom world, but it’s not just a mobile piece of art moved around in a protective bubble only to be seen sedentary at shows. In fact, what puts this car over the top is that it is driven, and not just around the block. CadZZilla has seen its fair share of road trips, including a 2,200-mile trip from Boyd Coddington’s Garage to the Ohio Hot Rod Super Nationals at one point in its life.
A truly remarkable custom, CadZZilla continues to set the precedent for custom builds. And with a look that good and a name so recognizable, you know it will be that way for generations to come!
Article courtesy of Street Muscle Magazine, written by Lindsey Fisher.
For many Corvette enthusiasts, the 1963 split-window model is the pinnacle of vintage ‘Vettes. It’s one of the most easily recognizable and widely appreciated members of the Corvette family; whether you’re a devoted aficionado or simply a casual admirer, chances are you understand the notability of the split-window.
From a hardcore collector’s standpoint, it may not be as desirable as, say, one of the five original Grand Sports or an original L88 ’69, but nonetheless, it tends to top the Corvette-lover’s list of dream cars. And as with any historically relevant classic car, there’s some amount of backstory that’s always worth noting. The ’63 split-window is, of course, no exception.
In our opinion, some of the coolest things about the American metal of days past are the unique circumstances and behind-the-scenes drama that lead to their inceptions. Unlike many of the high-powered, high-number performance cars of today, the beauty of classic automobiles isn’t in the facts and figures but instead in the historical and romantic value.
Below, we take a brief glimpse into the rich background of (arguably) one of the most beautiful cars ever made.
1. The Story Behind The Split-Window
If you know anything about the ’63 Corvette coupe, you’re likely aware that its incredible value stems from the fact that it was the only year with the split rear window. That being the case, you’ve probably wondered at some point why the split-window design was used on the ’63 coupe at all (other than the fact that it looks magnificent). The answer? William L. “Bill” Mitchell.
Mitchell was as important a figure to the Corvette as Zora Arkus-Duntov himself. He was an absolute die-hard who truly lived and breathed America’s sportscar. Much of the inspiration and creative vision he had for the Corvette was derived from a combination of European influence and (more notably) his fascination with biomimicry. Mitchell specifically had an interest with marine life: the stingray, mako shark, and manta ray – each was culminated from the aquatic predator theme that Mitchell originated.
Of course, the C2’s debut was the first opportunity for Mitchell to deliver his vision for the Corvette to the public. His design language for the ’63 was directly consistent with its Stingray name.
The fenders swoop to a gentle peak at all four corners, reminiscent of how a stingray’s fins wave through the water; subtle cues on the body hint to the car’s aquatic inspiration, such as the vents on the front fenders and B-pillars which create lines similar to a stingray’s tail; and (most obviously) the signature “spine” that dissects the body from bumper to bumper, resembling that of the fish and really solidifying the biomimicry theme.
The split in the rear window is present to help carry this spine-like stripe down the Corvette’s body. When looking at post-’63 C2s, it’s immediately evident that the window-split really ties the Stingray look together. On ’64 and later models, the “spine” is lost and, consequently, a bit of the character that Mitchell worked into the car disappeared.
This begs the question – why, exactly, was such a timeless, iconic design ditched after only one model-year? Well, despite the unearthly beauty that we see in it today, the split-window design in the ’63 Corvette was not too well received.
If you’ve ever had the opportunity to own, drive, or even sit in a split-window Corvette, you’ll know firsthand that visibility becomes an immediate problem. This was one of the primary concerns of executives, engineers, and enthusiasts alike when the split-window was introduced.
The split itself sits dead in the middle of the driver’s line of sight when looking in the rear-view mirror. As a result, the car’s debut was accompanied by a barrage of complaints due to drivers not having a clue what’s behind them when backing up – let alone driving down the road.
Of course, Mitchell and his design team were well aware of this issue during the car’s concept stages. In the end, however, he won the boardroom standoff against the GM bean-counters and got his way with the first year of the C2.
During its production, however, another concern presented itself – manufacturing thousands upon thousands of cars with split rear windows proved to be a much larger headache than piecing together cars with a simpler, single-window design. Labor and complexity was essentially doubled in that area of the car, as two separate windows meant two sets of screws and weather-stripping, two panes of glass, and twice the install-labor time.
After a year of production with the design of the ’63, Mitchell’s determination to see his vision in effect was superseded by executive authority and the split-window was no more.
2. Bill Mitchell Versus Zora Duntov
The conflict of style versus efficiency was not the only instance of head-butting between Mitchell and GM cheese; there was another contender for Corvette-greatness by the name of Zora Arkus-Duntov.
Mitchell had taken the position of styling chief in December 1958. To reiterate, he was a hot-headed, stubborn character with a very acute sense for his own tastes – he knew exactly what he wanted out of the Corvette, and was bound and determined to get his way.
On the other side of the developmental coin sat the legendary Duntov, director of high-performance vehicles as of 1957. At the time of Mitchell’s rise to head designer, Duntov had already built a stellar reputation for himself in the five years he had been with GM.
Both Mitchell and Duntov were at the helm of the development efforts for the second-generation Corvette. While both aspired for the C2 to take the Corvette to a whole new level, there was a great deal of conflict between the two as to how that would be accomplished.
Most of the head-butting resulted from the typical engineer-designer struggle: form-versus-function. Mitchell so badly wanted the Corvette to fit the stylistic profile he had dreamt up, whereas Duntov was concerned with making the Corvette’s performance unbeatable.
Many heated disputes were had between the two titans, with no shortage of red-faced screaming matches and name-calling from both parties. But, despite Duntov’s opposition to Mitchell borrowing themes from his earlier concepts – as well as functionality complaints due to Mitchell’s flavorful design – Mitchell’s seniority enabled him to have its way (for the first year, at least).
3. E Pluribus Unum
Such is the motto of the United States of America – “Out of many, one”.
There’s an old saying, “Icons reflect their time.” Between its liberating and uncompromising attitude, relative attainability, and the feelings of ego and power that it evokes, the Corvette has always mimicked the American spirit.
With the C2 of the early ’60s – especially the 1963 model – it mimicked the melting pot theme of the U.S. during the Golden Era. During its inception, the C2 resulted from an unlikely trifecta of disparate cultural backgrounds – a Belgian engineer, a Japanese designer, and an American head-stylist.
Obviously, the Belgian and American duo are the already well-known Duntov and Mitchell. Though not as often mentioned, the third party – highly-skilled Japanese-American designer Larry Shinoda – played an equal role by penning the split-window’s design. Of course, the vision for the ’63 Corvette originated entirely from Mitchell; his creative aspirations are what guided his team to ultimately produce the incredible design. But, it was Shinoda’s artistic talents that made Mitchell’s concept a reality.
All three – Mitchell, Duntov, and Shinoda – contributed in equal parts to the 1963 Corvette, much as the many cultures and characters of the United States contribute to its greatness. In this respect, the Corvette has always been a four-wheeled representation of the American spirit.
To put things in the perspective of today’s times, General Motors was the “Apple Inc.” of its day; the undisputed king of innovation during the late-’40s through late-‘60s. That being so, the split-window Corvette was the “iPhone” of General Motors – everything GM could muster was thrown into the C2 Corvette, making it the metaphorical cherry on top of its innovation sundae.
On the surface, the split-window may seem to be just another handsome, high-dollar classic, but a quick look at its background reveals the incredible amount of passion and patriotism that went into it. The title of “America’s sportscar” is unquestionably something that the Corvette well deserves.
Article courtesy of Chevy Hardcore, written by Joshua Phillips.