The Antique Automobile Club of America’s museum is, by its own description, “dedicated to the celebration, preservation and education of American motor vehicle history.” Given that stated mission, one expects to find carefully preserved Packards, Buicks, Cadillacs and (soon) even Tuckers within its walls, but encountering chopped and channeled hot rods, dressed in flamed and kandy-colored livery, would hardly seem likely. Beginning in January, however, the AACA Museum will (temporarily) broaden its scope to present The Art of the Build: Rods & Kustoms, an exhibit that celebrates the joys of automotive non-conformity.
Recognizing that automotive art comes in many forms, the exhibit will pay tribute to the visionaries who see beyond ordinary sheetmetal, to whom driving a production car is a sentence, not a privilege. Some of the vehicles to be displayed, such as the Neil Lea-built 1956 Chevrolet station wagon nicknamed The Handyman, began life as production cars, only to be sculpted by artisans in metal, leather and spray gun into something considerably more elaborate. Others, such as the Delahaye USA Pacific, are complete fabrications, constructed to evoke the feel of an era, but only loosely based on an actual production vehicle. A third class of vehicle, such as Rob Ida’s carefully crafted Tucker 48, pays homage to a car that once was, but in quantities so limited that remaining examples are too valuable to drive and enjoy.
The Art of the Build will feature a total of 16 custom vehicles, including cars, trucks and motorcycles. Included on that list (and in addition to cars already mentioned) are such notables as Kracklin Rose, a 1933 Willys 77 owned (and built) by Al Nosse; The 69er, a 1934 Ford Roadster owned by Chip Hoynitski; SwishAir, a 1957 Chevrolet owned by Daniel Swisher (guest curator for The Art of the Build); and D-Ranged, a 1983 Ford Ranger Pickup owned by Chick Deitz. The common thread behind these vehicles? All were Ridler Award contenders, nominated for the prestigious trophy presented annually at the Detroit Autorama.
To provide contrast, a stock 1968 Chevrolet Camaro RS/SS will be on display, along with Low Profile, a 1967 Camaro that was once described as “The World’s Most Beautiful Camaro” by Super Chevy magazine. Owned by Ken Faust, Low Profile is a multiple Grand Champion winner at the Street Machine Nationals (seven times) and the Hot Rod Super Nationals (three times), and has also picked up awards from Super Chevy, the International Show Car Association, Boyd Coddington, Soft Seals and Meguiars.
Proving that there’s more to the hobby than just cars, trucks and motorcycles, the exhibit will also include a few vehicles that may not fit the mainstream definition of a hot rod. The most recognizable may be the Wagen Meister, a Big Daddy Ed Roth creation that blends a Radio Flyer children’s wagon with a racing go-kart. There’s a motorized barstool, named Bloody Mary, along with a pair of motorized inline roller skates called Scoots, customized by George Barris.
The Art of the Build: Rods & Kustoms opens on January 24, 2014, and runs through April 27, 2014. For additional details, visit AACAMuseum.org.
Article courtesy of Hemings Daily, written by Kurt Ernst.
As disparate as the 1955 Chrysler Falcon and 1966 Duesenberg Model D appear at first glance, the two concept-slash-prototype cars have quite a bit in common. Both result from designs by famed stylist Virgil Exner and feature a number of Exner hallmarks; both were slated to enter production, but missed that goal; and both have been scheduled to appear at next year’s Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance.
Throughout his career, Exner expressed a fondness for certain classic elements of automobile design, particularly for those that highlighted the mechanical functionality of a car. He liked round, open wheel arches; he liked upright grilles; and he especially liked fast, powerful cars. So by the early to mid-1950s, after Exner became Chrysler’s first director of styling and when he felt it was finally time to design a car for himself, he didn’t design just another sedan or luxury car; instead, he designed a two-seat convertible sports car. As Peter Grist wrote in his biography of the designer, Virgil Exner: Visioneer, Exner wanted “a car that embodied everything that he wanted to see in a classic automobile; sports, thoroughbred styling and power to match.”
With help from designer Maurice Baldwin, Exner came up with a logical, though slightly larger, competitor to Chevrolet’s Corvette and Ford’s Thunderbird. Sitting on a 105-inch wheelbase (in 1955, both Corvette and Thunderbird rode 102-inch wheelbases) and coming in at 182 inches total length (compared to 167 inches for Corvette and 175 inches for Thunderbird), the Falcon used integrated body and frame construction as well as a 276-cu.in. Hemi V-8 backed by a PowerFlite automatic transmission. As with other Exner idea cars, Ghia built the Falcon for Chrysler.
According to Grist, however, Exner envisioned the Falcon as more than an idea car. It borrowed heavily from the Chrysler parts bin and didn’t require any advanced production techniques, so why not develop it as a production car, he reasoned. But Chrysler’s engineering staff, with which Exner fought incessantly, blocked the Falcon from becoming a reality, noting that the company already had a couple of performance vehicles in the Chrysler 300-series cars and Dodge D-500; why would it need another?
Nevertheless, more than one Falcon was built; just how many is up for debate. The original one, finished in black, went to Exner, who competed with it at SCCA races, but a number of sources have pointed to a May 27, 1954, letter from Ghia’s Luigi Segre to Chrysler’s C.B. Thomas mentioning two different Falcons (designated A-488 and called “Chrysler Sports Roadster”) as well as a near-identical De Soto Sports Roadster (designated A-489). Exner’s black Falcon has gone missing and wasn’t recorded as destroyed, and the third one – reportedly painted red – was apparently never photographed, but the second one, a light blue example, wound up in Joe Bortz’s collection in 1987, and will make its way to Amelia in March.
Also appearing from Bortz’s collection, the 1966 Duesenberg Model D showcases typical Exner design language – upright grille, open wheel arches – but to a different purpose. One of a number of attempts to revive the Duesenberg name, this one originated with Fritz Duesenberg, son of August Duesenberg, who reportedly took inspiration from the four neoclassic designs that Exner and his son, Virgil Exner Jr., drew up for the December 1963 issue of Esquire. Sitting on a 137.5-inch-wheelbase Imperial chassis, powered by a 440-cu.in. Chrysler V-8, and exuding luxury from its cashmere-and-leather interior to its custom double-whitewall tires, the Ghia-built Model D prototype debuted in March 1966 in Indianapolis. Fritz Duesenberg and his business partners spoke of limited production of the near-$20,000 car and even began construction of a factory in Indianapolis with orders in hand, but only the prototype ever materialized.
That prototype then went to auction a couple of years later to help pay down the company’s debts and ended up in the hands of collector Sam Schwartz of Long Island, who displayed it for a number of years in the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Museum. Bortz said that he first met Schwartz in the early 1970s and even got Schwartz to agree to sell it to him then, but it wasn’t for another 30-plus years that Bortz and Schwartz actually completed the transaction. According to Bortz, it retains its original paint and interior, and has benefited from a recent tune-up and sprucing to ready it for show.
With these two cars, the Amelia Island Concours will be one of two major U.S. concours events to highlight Exner cars next year; the Concours of America has also announced that it will spotlight Exner’s automotive designs with a special class.
Next year’s Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance will take place March 7-9. For more information, visit AmeliaConcours.org.
Article courtesy of Hemings Daily, written by Daniel Strohl.
They were pure fantasy on wheels, machines designed to make the heart race and the mind ask…
These 1950s concept cars were automotive art built to attract public attention, test wild engineering ideas, and give motorists a fleeting glimpse down the highway of tomorrow.
Introducing one of the most important cars in Chevrolet’s history. This is the 1963 Chevrolet Testudo. The one off Testudo sold for $460,000 dollars back in 2011 when it was auctioned off.
This prototype car was built by Giorgetto Giugiaro while working for Bertone, a high end Italian car maker. The story behind this car, reported from The Truth About Cars is that Bill Mitchell at GM Styling sent over two Corvair chassis over to Italy to have a competition to develop a car for the European markets. Well that never came to fruition, but this single car was made in the Bertone office by Giugiaro.
Looking at this car you can see it has a very European feel to it, and theres good reason for that. The name itself, Testudo, is Italian for turtle. While no turtle looks like this car, the inspiration comes from the distinct body line that goes around the car itself. Even after years of building cars, the Testudo held a special place in Giugiaro’s heart. “There’s something special and affectionate about what I feel for the Testudo. It was the first prototype with which I had been given a free hand, without restraints, and the end result captured the attention of the entire automobile world.”
The reason this car is so important is the influences you can see in it. Since the Bertone office owned the car, some of the revolutionary styling influenced the design of other cars. You can see influences of the Testudo in the C3 Corvettes, Ferrari Daytona’s, Lamborghini Miura and the AMC Pacer. Porsche designer Tony Lapine said that this Testudo had a direct impact on the design of the Porsche 928 as well. So while this car didn't necessarily influence a ton of Chevrolet’s, it did influence a variety of other cars and manufactures from around the world.
Now that’s one cool turtle.
Article courtesy of Street Legal TV, written by Tim King.
The 2013 SEMA Show was chalk full of new products, fresh builds, and enthusiasts from all corners of the globe. While we were busy covering the latest after market releases for the coming year,Goodguys Rod and Custom Association was hard at work as well. Over the course of the event the folks at Goodguys scouted the convention center – inside, outside, lower, and upper levels, for what would be the first ever set of five recipients for their new Gold Award.
Marc Meadors, President of Goodguys described the spirit of the award in a nutshell, “The new awards are the first of their kind for Goodguys at SEMA…We wanted to do something exclusive and special at the SEMA Show in recognition of today’s top builders. SEMA has become one of the top car shows in the world and it only makes sense for Goodguys to honor what we feel are the top five cars on display.” Well folks, without further ado, here are the winners:
Recipients Of The 2013 Gold Award
Owners: Steve And Dawn Smith of York, Pennsylvania
Automobile: 1958 Corvette
This pristine classic Vette was created by up and coming builder Troy Spackman of Legacy Innovations. Troy is also a resident of York, PA. This sporty roadster features a custom brown metallic paint job accented by color-matching Forgeline wheels and a lush cream upholstery. The ’58 sits atop a tube chassis. Detroit Speed C6 front suspension, a swivel link rear end, JRi shocks and big Wilwood brakes round out handling and stopping power. It is powered by a small block featuring an all-Billet aluminum EFI unit for some major fuel efficiency. The transmission is a Keisler SS 700 5-Speed.
Owner: Jerry Logan of Portland, Oregon
Automobile: 1932 Ford Coupe
This was one of the first builds that caught Rod Authority’s eye when we first touched down at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Let’s just say that in terms of cool, at the end of every day during the convention, we had to stop, stare, and snap a few camera phone shots to save for later.
This mean street rod was built by Pyramid Street Rods. First thing we noticed – the 4 1/2-inch chop and hood/cowl louvre work. Apparently the fellas at Goodguys did too, the ’32 was a shoe-in for this year’s Gold Award. The 5-Window coupe touting a PPG “Classic Clay” paint job is channelled 2-inches to add to its menacing presence. It is powered by a 351 Windsor motor with a loping cam that provides an idle that will send chills down your spine. The interior of the ’32 features tobacco leather upholstery courtesy of Sid Chavers.
Owner: Mr. Gasket Co. of Cleveland, Ohio
Automobile: 1966 Chevrolet Suburban
Mr. Gasket’s “Lime Crush” built by The Roadster Shop was definitely a show stopper at this year’s SEMA. Before Goodguys had even announced winners Rod Authority would pass by and see droves of onlookers admiring this beautiful ride. This ’66 is painful to look at it in the dead of Winter because it really reminds us of how much we miss Summertime. It is the very best blending of both nostalgia and performance – it sits atop a Roadster Shop Fast Track chassis, features teak wood floors, a hand fabricated front end grill, bucket seats dropped in from a ’61 Impala, and is powered by a GM ZZ454 big block – just to name a few of the awesome mods.
Owner: Phil Mitchell of Puyallup, Washington
Automobile: 1967 Chevrolet Nova
This is one mean beast of a musclecar fit and hungry for the autocross track. Chris Holstrom, also a resident of Puyallup, WA was the builder of this SEMA debut. The fitment of the body panels is simply pristine, a real exhibition of Holstrom’s talent as a builder. The ’67 is powered by a supercharged LS9 with handling bolstered by a full Detroit Speed suspension system. Stopping power is made possible with Baer 6-piston brakes. The interior is red leather stitched by McFarland Upholstery and gives this black widow a menacing aura against the competition.
Owners: Randy and Tobie Johnson of Kewaskum, Wisconsin
Automobile: 1972 Chevrolet Camaro
This second generation street performer is kitted out for performance and show stopping. It was built at Randy’s D&Z Customs. The Citrus Green body is the factory original and is draped over a Heidt’s Pro-G subframe and Heidt’s IRS. The transmission is Tremec’s T56 Magnum. Those are Forgeline wheels controlled by a Wilwood big brake kit. This mean green street machine is powered by a stroked LS7 built by Wegner Automotive. Sparco seats and steering wheel keep this car performance minded while letting others know that it means nothing but business.
From these five picks we can say that the debut of the Goodguys SEMA Gold award was a success. The recipients were a nice mix of automobiles from all across the board exhibiting a couple of things in common – dedication to fine craftsmanship, aesthetic prowess, and timelessness. Congratulations to this year’s set of winners. Even more so for being the very first, a truly historic event in the classic car industry.
Article courtesy of The Rod Authority. By Andrew Almazan, posted yesterday in Event News.
Take a look at what a retired sheet metal guy from Boeing Aircraft can do in his spare time.
Check this out... a hand-formed all-aluminum Willys Coupe! It 's amazing what some people can do with an English rolling wheel, sheet metal brake and a lot of skill and knowledge. No, he is not going to paint it. Love the polished flames! (Look closely) This is Walt Austin’s aluminum Willys coupe at Jim Hume 's shop, south of Bellingham, Washington.
It's got the right stuff under the hood, too!