Best known as a co-founder, songwriter, singer, and guitarist for the heavy metal band Metallica, James Hetfield has also gained recognition in the automotive world for his unique collection of entirely bespoke vehicles. While the vast majority of collectors acquire vehicles by purchasing pre-existing examples, Hetfield elected instead to build his from scratch, channeling creativity often reserved for his music into the production of rolling sculptures.
For fans of Hot Wheels, Speed Racer, and ’60s Chevy’s, David Novelo’s, Bob Huffman-built, 1965 Impala is the equivalent of throwing all your favorite automotive elements in a blender and flipping the switch.
It was holding court indoors at the Grand National Roadster Show and caused quite the commotion. When I first saw it, I thought it was a 1966 Riviera, but after closer inspection, it was indeed a trusty full-size Chevy. Heavily chopped and re-styled front and rear, it is the realization of a Harry Bradley (of Hot Wheels fame) sketch that Huffman brought to life back in the day. It also has a heavy dose of Mach 5 influence in the front fender peaks as well.
According to Novelo, “Originally owned by Bob Huffman, the car was re-styled by Tom Chafin, who worked for George Barris at Barris Kustoms in 1967. It was featured in kustom mags beginning in 1969. The car has been lengthened two feet, chopped four inches, and doors “suicided.” Check out the fender flared at the wheelwell to accentuate the body lines. The front grille features a handmade-bar treatment, the rockers have been shaved, T-tops were added along with rear fender scoops and a frenched-in antenna. The car is still sporting its white Mother of Pearl paintjob from 1979.”
Like many kustoms, the metamorphosis was ongoing with the car taking many forms and hues. Photo – Kustomrama
The original sketch by Bradley shows how faithful the Huffman and Chafin build was. Photo – Kustomrama
What a treat to see this survivor ’60s kustom and know it’s found a trusted, faithful shepherd in David Novela. Thanks for showing and sharing this artifact of a long-gone SoCal kustom kulture with the world.
Article courtesy of Rod Authority, written by Dave Cruikshank.
Let’s face it – you the readers see a lot of our favorite vehicle picks from various shows. And while we’d like to think we have quite an extensive repertoire of favorite rides among us that hit even the furthest stretches of the hot rod community (here’s to you Concours lovers and rat rod enthusiasts), sometimes it’s good to change things up a bit. So, in addition to our already immense coverage of the 2017 SEMA Show, we decided to employ the help of a couple celebrities to pick some of their favorite vehicles on the show floor.
There’s just something so iconic about a Tucker you can’t deny. Styles certainly picked up on this, and we think you’ll agree with his choice of SEMA Show car.
Our first pick comes from the incredibly talented painter and pinstriper Jeff Styles of California-based Styles Custom Paint & Pinstriping. An automotive enthusiast through and through, you could say Styles has an eye for old-school cool, as well as impeccably done customs. His choice – a custom 1948 Tucker (yes, you read that correctly) – speaks to his eye for the impressive.
Built by Rob Ida of IDA Automotive in Morganville, New Jersey, this incredible car was found in the Axalta booth on the SEMA Show floor this year, bringing back memories of a manufacturer long since passed, but not forgotten. Though the car may look very much like a modified yet original Tucker 48, it is actually a recreation of the famed model. Don’t worry – Ida did not cut up one of the original 50 Tucker 48s to build this amazing piece of automotive art. But the story behind this particular Tucker makes it, in some ways, even more special than an original.
As the story goes, Ida’s grandfather was a Tucker dealer back in the day. While he took orders for the then newly released automobile, he never delivered any of the cars due to unforeseen governmental meddling in creator Preston Tucker’s affairs. After Tucker was shut down, all of the cars were auctioned off and destined to either be forgotten or holed up in distinguished collections all over the world.
Having had a love for Tuckers for decades, Ida’s grandfather wished for the chance to own one of the obsolete 48s, even long into his retirement. But getting the funds to buy an original Tucker just wasn’t feasible, as prices on the cars quickly skyrocketed, that was, if you could even find an owner to talk numbers with. So, Ida decided that he would build his grandfather his own Tucker, fabricating everything by hand and coming close to the original Tucker 48 platform.
Everything you see on this car is hand built, from the body panels to the brightwork. It may look like an original Tucker, but this is truly a model all its own.
That was 1999, and Ida’s grandfather was in his 80s. Unfortunately, just as Ida was finishing the car, his grandfather passed away. But that was only the beginning of a new-found relationship with the famed Tucker brand.
Since 2000, Ida has built four Tuckers. Strictly a labor of love, Ida doesn’t build the cars for fame or money. He builds them because of his passion for the Tucker brand and what could have been, had Preston Tucker succeeded in his automotive endeavors some 65-plus years ago. And he does it with the blessing of Tucker’s great, great grandsons.
Jack Aiely’s Tucker
Originally started as Ida’s personal car, the Tucker shown at SEMA took about six years to complete. Along the line, long-time customer of Ida’s, Jack Aiely, took interest in the car and Ida offered to finish out the build for him in time to show the car at the 2017 SEMA Show. The car was finished in August of this year and made it’s debut at the show.
No, you’re not seeing things. The wheels and tires on the Tucker differed from driver’s side to passenger’s side on the SEMA Show floor, but Ida tells us the Tucker will more than likely spend most of its time outfitted with the Firestone whitewalls and 1947 Cadillac Sombrero hubcap combination from the driver’s side on all four corners.
Just as we mentioned before, this car is completely hand crafted. Every custom-made body panel, every one-off trim piece, all the interior, everything was done in-house by Ida and his crew of five employees. Just the sheer number of hours that went into perfecting each piece of custom-formed sheetmetal and chrome piece on the car is astonishing to think about.
While she looks mostly period-correct, everything mechanical on the Tucker is modern, from the drivetrain down to the Tucker radio converted to work with your smartphone for satellite radio, Bluetooth, and GPS capabilities.
While Ida’s former Tucker builds were a little more “hot rod” if you will, this particular Tucker was built to look very close to the original 48s, from the way the door handles lay, to the brightwork along the sides of the car, all the way to its stance. Compare Ida’s Tucker to an original 48, and even the utmost experts in the Tucker brand would have to look twice to see that this is truly a recreation rather than a modified original.
One thing that certainly isn’t Tucker 48 original looking, however, is the fat Cadillac V8 stuffed between the front and rear axles. Seemingly a rear-engine car like Preston Tucker designed his cars as, this Tucker is what Ida considers a mid-engine vehicle as the powerplant sits in front of the rear axle. Along with the Cadillac V8, which sits in the car sideways mind you, the Tucker makes use of the matching Cadillac transaxle and twin turbochargers for a little extra oomph. All said and done, the car is pushing about 500hp.
Sitting on an air ride suspension from RideTech so you can get that original-like Tucker stance on the high side and a more rodded-out stance on the low end, the Tucker runs all modern mechanical components, but in a package that appears more period-correct. For example, the lollipops on the dash, which in original Tucker 48s controlled things like air circulation, etc, have been configured to be the air suspension adjustment levers.
Not the most popular choice by engine standards these days, Ida's Tuckers are powered by Cadillac V8s because they make good power and as a whole package, they are the perfect fit for the car, he told us. However, if he were to have designed his Tuckers more recently, he admits he may have gone more with something like the LS to power them.
Another example: the shifter, which in the original Tucker 48s was a pre-selector for the gear you wanted to go into, which was then actuated by stepping on the clutch pedal, works similarly in Ida’s Tucker, just using a modern transmission and electronics. Another: the center headlight, which does in fact turn with the steering wheel, runs not by Tucker’s original design but by technology found in some modern vehicles today.
Finished in a custom Axalta mix with modern metallic, mixed by Ida to be very close to the original Tucker paint color Waltz Blue (an ode to Preston Tucker’s wife who loved to waltz and would wear a similarly colored blue dress doing so), this amazing piece of rolling art is beyond anything even Tucker fans could hope to see in a commemorative Tucker 48 build.
Fittingly, one of Tucker’s great, great grandsons was on the SEMA Show floor and stopped by to show his support of Ida’s Tucker during the week. According to Ida, both Sean and Mike Tucker are very supportive of his Tucker builds and they even come and lend a hand on the cars when they can.
Back to Styles – we told you he had good taste, so what drew him to pick this particular car?
“I love the story and how rare the Tucker was, and then hearing the story of the guy there –Preston being his great, great grandfather – and how this car was completely hand built,” he told us.
We couldn’t agree more.
Article courtesy of Street Muscle Magazine, written by Lindsey Fisher.
Anyone who is old enough to remember 1960s television has to be familiar with George Barris and his Hollywood custom-built TV cars. Among these memorable relics are the “Batmobile,” the “Munster Koach,” the “General Lee,” the Beverly Hillbillies truck and that hideous green, “Wagon Queen Family Truckster” from the original National Lampoon’s Vacation movie.
Still active in the classic car hobby, the now 89-year old Barris recently witnessed his original Batmobile roll off the auction block at $4.6 million.
One car that has survived through some of the most incredible twists and turns is the Barris Kustom Industry’s 1955 Chevy Aztec, originally built at Barris’ shop by his incredibly talented tin-knocker, Bill DeCarr. It was owned by Barris’ friend and roommate, Bill Carr. (Confusing? You bet!)
RacingJunk.com recently caught-up with Barry Mazza, the current owner of the Aztec, who keeps this amazing car garaged in Ft. Pierce, Florida.
“Bill Carr was an insurance company adjuster who’d become friends with Barris and they shared an apartment together. Carr had been moonlighting as a hot rod customizer in the 1950's,” Mazza explained. “Carr purchased the 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air and started customizing it, but the car wasn’t getting the attention he thought it deserved, so Barris began sketching ideas on paper napkins for Carr each day as they shared breakfast. The work started at Barris’ shop in 1956 and was completed in late 1957.”
Carr and Barris dubbed the finished car the Aztec. It was immediately shipped to Portland, Oregon in December of 1957 to make its debut at a national car show. From the Portland show, the car went on tour, appearing at shows across the US for the next two years.
While the car quickly became a “cover car” for many automotive magazines, it suddenly garnered national attention when a notorious bank robber purchased it.
“In 1961, Carr sold the Aztec to a guy named, “Bob Wilcox", who actually turned out to be a murderer and bank robber,” said Mazza. "One-Eye Bobby Wilcoxson was his real name. He’d lost an eye while serving in the military. He was on the FBI’s 10 Most-Wanted Listfor killing a bank guard during a violent robbery. One-Eye was a John Dillinger-type guy. He was heavily armed and shot a bank guard to death. This guy was so badass, he used a military BAR (Browning automatic rifle) during his robberies.”
A short time after selling the Aztec, FBI agents swarmed into Carr's house. They interrogated Carr with many questions about the money he received from Wilcoxson, since the Aztec had been purchased with money stolen during a bank heist – one that included a murder.
“The FBI wanted that stolen money back,” said Mazza, “but Carr was basically broke. He agreed to help lure Wilcoxson into contacting him by running ads in automotive publications, asking Bobby to contact him in order to help him solve a “title issue” with the Aztec. To his surprise, Wilcoxson responded and was quickly located and arrested by the FBI.
One-Eye Bobby received the death sentence at the ensuing trial.
“Carr was living in fear that Wilcoxson might escape prison or make parole and would eventually return. He had indicated that he’d kill him at one point,” Mazza recalled. “In the meantime, the FBI auctioned the car off in Tucson.” Wilcoxson had stashed the car in a Phoenix garage.
The car was purchased by local Tucson auto dealership and put on display right in front of the sales lot. A Marine soldier on a passing bus spotted the car and immediately recognized it. He hired his cousin to pay the $3,500 asking price and then drive the Aztec to Virginia. The car went missing for two months while his cousin took the car on a nationwide joyride. Eventually, the car arrived in VA.
The Marine repainted and drove the Aztec for a few years before selling it to a man named Bill Holz who owned York US 30 Dragway in PA. Again, the car was repainted and reupholstered and put on the show circuit for another 5 years.
“At a car show in Cleveland, Holz decided to sell-off his car collection. The car was purchased again for $3,500 and this time, it ended up in New Jersey,” said Mazza. “It was put in a body shop in Newton, NJ and completely stripped down. The interior upholstery was stripped, all the chrome and the entire drivetrain was removed, but suddenly the FBI came in on a drug bust and confiscated the entire shop!”
The Aztec –now basically a shell– was dragged off to a federal impound yard. The body shop owner had fled to avoid prosecution – leaving the car’s owner with no idea where it was.
“The owner got a call from an informant who wanted 500 bucks to reveal the whereabouts of the Aztec,” Mazza chuckled. “So he was forced to pay the $500 and drove up to northern New Jersey see his car. The Aztec had no wheels on it and had been dragged around by a forklift. He told the scrapyard to crush the car.”
A Change of Mind
As the car owner drove home, his two children were visibly upset that the car was going to be crushed. They continued to plead with him to save the Aztec until he finally relented and called the scrapyard when he returned home. He told them not to crush the Aztec. He brought the title with him and reclaimed his car.
“The Aztec sat for years in the New Jersey weather until I purchased it from him,” Mazza recalled. “I had the car transported on a flatbed, but the entire top blew off it on the Garden State Parkway!”
Mazza blocked the lane and had his wife help him drag the heavy top and lift it into the bed of his El Camino.
Mazza trailered the Aztec to FL in 1994 and restored it over the next five years to like-new condition. Custom Paint & Body of Ft. Pierce completed the final paint work in 1999.
With its gruesome past behind it, the Aztec was now safely garaged on Hutchinson Island in Ft. Pierce, relegated to local car shows around Florida’s east coast – weather permitting.
It seems the Curse of the Aztec finally been broken.
“I was recently offered $1 million for the Aztec.” Mazza offered, “but there’s no way I’m selling it after all it’s been through. Besides, what would I take to the car shows?”
With a million bucks, Mazza could certainly purchase several nice classic cars, but his decision not to sell the car is provides proof that the Aztec – a car that survived so much – has finally found a safe home.
Bill Carr traveled to see the Aztec in Ft. Pierce in 1999. "Bill and his wife began to cry when they saw the Aztek for the first time in many years," said owner Barry Mazza. Carr died from ALS shortly after this photo was taken.
Much of the car's sheet metal and the roof was custom formed by George Barris' metal-shaping guru, Bill DeCarr in 1956-57. The car is extremely heavy due to lead sheeting that was used to form many body parts.
Is this the tail end of a 1955 Bel Air? The fins were swiped from a Studebaker Hawk, while the taillights were created by Bob Hirohata. The bumpers were created using 1957 DeSoto and ’57 Oldsmobile bumpers.
"One-eye" Bobby Wilcoxson is brought into a court hearing on November 15, 1962. He shot and killed a bank guard in Dec. 1961 and was later sentenced to death. He died while in prison before the sentence was carried out.
Article courtesy of HotRod Hotline, written by Keith MacDonald. Photo credit Steve Coonan.
There’s no denying that a ’49 Mercury was, and still is, the epitome of “cool.” Didn’t that Hollywood icon, James Dean, make that fact known to all in the movie “Rebel Without A Cause”? Didn’t those two Barris brothers from Lynwood, California, start a craze that continues today – chopping the top of a ’49 Mercury coupe? Didn’t Dick Dean,the Sultan of Chop, build several and make them famous? Isn’t the Hirohata Merc one of the most famous Mercury’s in the world?
Ok, don’t send us hate mail, we know the Hirohata Mercury is a ’51 model, but there’s no denying that the ’49 through ‘51 Mercury is one of the most recognizable cars in the world. It ranks right up there, along with a 1932 Ford and a 1957 Chevy.
For our history lesson on this icon, in 1949 there were four basic body styles produced: a four-door sedan, a two-door sedan (and often referred to as a sport coupe), the convertible and a wood and metal bodied station wagon. To make all of us yearn for the good old days, prices began at $1,979 for the two-door sedan, and rose to $2,716 for the wagon. Don’t you wish you could find one for that price today? If you did, what you’d likely get would be what was left after it had been at the bottom of a lake for 50 or so years. Which would probably be not much.
A total of 301,302 Mercury’s were produced for the 1949 model year. Of that, only 8,044 (according to the Classic Car Database) were station wagons. That fact alone makes them quite rare. However, the wagon featured here was not one of those 8,044 produced by Mercury, believe it or not, this one actually rolled of the assembly line as a sport coupe, and we’ll have more on that in a minute.
Dave Dolman of Verdon, Nebraska, owns, drives and built the wagon featured here. In 1996, Dave started on the Mercury after accumulating enough parts. Suffice to say, what was left of the Mercury was in very sad shape. The car had been hit in the side and a tree had caved in the roof. Dave had taken it in on trade for some other work he’d performed. It was in such bad shape that friends told Dave that he’d never finish the wagon. Several times over the years it seemed that they were correct. Dave eventually made them eat their words.
Fortunately, Dave had owned several other Mercury’s before he tackled this one, so he knew the inner workings of the model. This Mercury is not a kit car, it was built the old fashioned way –scouring the junk yards for parts and putting them together by hand in a pleasing way.
Dave makes his livelihood rebuilding cars for other people so the years pass quickly in his shop. After starting on the ‘49, Dave was interrupted several times by building and finishing a customer’s ’49 Merc coupe and a ’50 Merc coupe, redoing a ’59 Mercury station wagon and modifying a ’55 Pontiac two door wagon. Ten years later, in 2006, Dave finally found time to work on his own wagon again. In the meantime, he’d scrounged a ’57 Ford station wagon roof and some ’56 Ford station wagon parts including side windows as well as the windowed liftgate and tailgate from the same car.
Adding The Sheetmetal
First he needed a newer chassis for all the metal he was going to add. The built chassis consists of a ’79 Monte Carlo clip with 2.5-inch dropped spindles, air bags, a 1.25-inch sway bar, and Wilwood disc brakes. Around back, a nine-inch Ford with wagon drum brakes was used. A GM crate engine of 355 cubic-inches and a 700 R-4 automatic transmission was set on the mounts after an Olds faux valve covers and a ’53 Cadillac air cleaner were added.
When it came to the sheet metal, the floors were the first to be added, stiffening the body – they came out of a ’56 Ford wagon and were fitted masterfully so the wagon look wouldn’t be lost in the process. The ’57 Ford roof was deskinned and five-inches were removed from the crown, flattening the roof. It was also narrowed six inches to fit on the 3.5-inch chopped windshield frame.
Braces were added to support the length of the top and the ’56 Ford wagon side windows were chopped 4.5-inches to match the new angled front pillars. The Merc then needed new quarters in order to match up to the Ford side windows so Dave hand-built the quarters and added ’52 Mercury taillights to them.
The liftgate may look stock, but it is certainly not. It was modified by adding metal to the top of it and narrowing the bottom of it. That accomplished, the liftgate fit the tailgate and worked perfectly. Just below that, a new pan was rolled and a pair of ’55 Pontiac split bumpers were fitted, a license plate box was added and the exhaust pipes were relocated to the quarter’s sides behind the rear of the wheelwells.
Inside, a tilt column was pirated from a ’74 Chevy van and topped with an Impala steering wheel. The front seat is from a ’65 Buick Electra, the rear seat is out of a ’56 Ford station wagon and both are covered in Kalfskin Beige leather.
Dave hand built the rear interior quarter panels out of aluminum and had them covered in a tuck n’ roll pattern using the same Kalfskin leather. Larry Cummings of Countryside Upholstery in Humboldt, Nebraska did the headliner, carpeting and the interior. The stainless “rub strips” on the interior floor are courtesy of the ’56 Ford wagon and add a finished look to the rear of the Mercury.
Even though it took Dave better than 12 years (actual build time was 2.5 years) to put his vision on the streets, the car looks as fresh today as it did eight years ago. The good news is that Dave and his wife Shirley are no strangers to road trips. Every time Dave drives his wagon to a show (the latest being to the James Dean Festival in Fairmount, Indiana, in late September, 2016), he’s always asked the same question: “How many steel bodied two-door station wagons did they make?” Dave’s answer: “They didn’t make any, I built the only one!”
One thing is certain. The 1949, 1950 and 1951 Mercurys were hot when they were new, and remain a must have for any serious collection, no matter which model is desired.
Article courtesy of Rod Authority, written by Roger Jetter.
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.
The catalogs and reference books all say it shouldn’t exist, but according to both its owner and the shop that built it, the 1939 Oldsmobile Series 60 that won the Ridler Award at this past weekend’s Detroit Autorama not only came from the factory as a convertible but is also the last of its kind.
The short-lived Series 60 represented the most basic Oldsmobile one could buy in the late 1930s: a small six-cylinder-powered car fitted with the GM A-body shared with Chevrolet and Pontiac. While Oldsmobile introduced a convertible in the Series 60 lineup in 1940, for 1939 Lansing only offered a business coupe, a club coupe, a two-door sedan, and a four-door sedan. A literature check at the R.E. Olds Transportation Museum in Lansing, Michigan, turned up no evidence of a convertible Model 60 from that year.
But Billy Thomas of Corpus Christi, Texas, claims that the car he started with when he set out to build a show-winning car was a one-owner 1939 Model 60 convertible, a claim reiterated by the shop that built the car for him, Customs and Hot Rods of Andice near Georgetown, Texas.
“It was an original convertible when we started with it,” said Michael Kaiser, the shop manager at Customs and Hot Rods of Andice. “Both the title and frame say that it’s a 1939 Model 60 convertible.”
However it started out, not much of the original car remains today in the custom that Thomas nicknamed “Olds Cool.” Kaiser estimated about 90 percent of the body has been reshaped or modified in some way. “The body evolved as we went, with input from myself, the owner, Levi Green, and Christian Dotson, who worked in GM Design for 12 years.” After using foam carvings to refine their ideas, they then created bucks from which the 18-gauge-steel body panels were formed.
The Art Morrison chassis that the shop started out with when building the car proved “a good basis to mock the car up with,” Kaiser said, but the shop eventually scrapped much of the frame for custom-fabricated sections. Despite the low stance, it uses static coilovers for its independent front suspension and banjo-style rear axle.
Power comes from an Oldsmobile 455-cu.in. V-8 that both Thomas and Kaiser said was massaged by Joe Mondello before he died. It now displaces 470 cubic inches and puts out about 650 horsepower, thanks in part to a one-off Wilson electronic fuel injection intake manifold with twin throttle bodies. A 4L60E automatic transmission backs the big V-8.
According to Kaiser, the staff at Customs and Hot Rods of Andice handled every aspect of the build except for the paint, which Charley Hutton sprayed in a custom-mixed color he called Kona Brown. The four-year build is the shop’s first Ridler Award.
In addition to the Oldsmobile, a 1938 Graham 97, a 1952 Mercedes 170S, a 1941 Ford roadster pickup, a 1961 Chevrolet Impala two-door hardtop station wagon, a 1937 Ford coupe, a 1940 Willys coupe, and a 1976 Australian Ford Falcon coupe qualified for the Great 8, from which the winner of the Autorama’s annual Don Ridler Memorial Award is selected. The winner takes home $10,000 in prize money.
For the full list of winners from this past weekend’s Detroit Autorama, visit theISCA.com.
Article courtesy of Hemmings Daily, written by Daniel Strohl.
It would be hard to build a custom vehicle for someone who has specific requests about what the car should look like, especially when they don't know the car is actually being built.
That's the case of Carrie Flanders' husband, Steve, who not only took extraordinary measures to purchase and oversee the construction of his wife's dream car, but to also successfully hide the fact it was being built for her over the last three years!
Steve, who owns and operates Brothers Truck Parts (an aftermarket supplier of '47-87 Chevy truck parts) in Corona, California, has spent many of his 48 years collecting and building all sorts of vehicles, and it's been a hobby ever since he graduated high school. As Steve's high school sweetheart, Carrie, has endured his love of cars for just as many years, and she used to joke about Steve's collection of up to 20 cars at a time with the fact she drove the family Suburban.
Over the years Steve has offered to buy some sort of fun car for Carrie to drive, but she never took him up on the offer, that is until one day when she says she found her "dream car." Carrie had captured a cell phone picture of a ratty old primered station wagon that had been driving around town and showed it to Steve, reminding him of his offer. Steve researched the car in the photo and found it was a 1957 Oldsmobile Fiesta wagon.
Out of the wagon business through most of the early '50s, Oldsmobile reintroduced the body style in 1957 with pillar and pillerless versions and, in limited production, a top-of-the-line Super 88 Fiesta hardtop wagon. Not exactly a run-of-the-mill vehicle or particularly easy to find.
Without telling his wife, Steve began the search for her car by checking out the Internet and, after losing out on a few because they sold before he could get to them, Steve eventually tracked down a likely candidate completely across the country in Connecticut.
It was a 74,000-mile, rust-free, original-paint car with all its trim intact and in good shape, so the deal was made and the wagon stealthily shipped to the truck parts store's warehouse. The original idea was to add a decent drivetrain and update the chassis so the wagon could compete with a contemporary vehicle, but the first shop Steve took the car to couldn't provide the quality of workmanship he was looking for, so he pulled the project.
Dave Welch, of A.R.T. Customs in Jurupa Valley, was already doing work for Steve on another vehicle in his shop and, after some conversation about how it should be done, Steve turned the wagon project over to Welch to get it finished. Welch, helped at his shop by Jason Dunaj, went through the car from top to bottom.
The chassis features airbags front and rear (with ShockWaves and an AccuAir system added up front) as well as a four-way disc brake setup. A custom four-link was also fab'd, and Welch designed the custom aluminum 28-gallon gas tank, which was made by No Limit Engineering. Circle Racing Wheels' billet smoothie 18x9.5 rears and 18x8 fronts are wrapped in Falken 285/45R18 and 245/50R18 tires (ground for a 1.75-inch whitewall) and topped with original '57 Olds poverty/dog dish hubcaps.
Rather than go with a vintage powertrain, Steve wanted a higher level of reliability for his wife's ride, so an '07 5.3 Chevy LS motor, backed to a 4L60E transmission, went into the engine compartment. Welch fab'd the mandrel-bent 2-1/4-inch exhaust for the wagon and used Flowmaster 70 Series mufflers. An aluminum radiator from Northern Radiator helps keep the engine running cool, and the motor was topped with a modified engine cover that features a gold paintjob (like the engine blocks of the original Olds Rocket engines) and a custom Rocket 88 emblem from South Bay Customs.
Welch and Dunaj also finished the car's bodywork before covering the car with House of Kolor products—from primer to clear. To get the right shade of magenta, 16 different blends were concocted before the final hue was decided upon. Once the car had its color, it was shipped to Frank's Hot Rod Upholstery in Temecula for its threads. Frank, with son Frankie, created the vintage look of the interior while updating certain areas to contemporary standards. A combination of magenta, gray, and white vinyl and cloth was used throughout, including the factory bench seat that is now equipped with six-way power actuators from an '07 Suburban.
Now when she drops the kids off at their school, people point and take pictures.Back at Steve's shop for the final six months of assembly, the team had to be careful when Carrie would come by. Luckily she never saw the project, partially because the guys took extra care to cover it or block it from view with stacked boxes when she would visit the facility!
Welch and Dunaj continued on finishing up the car with a Power Plus Series 20 wiring kit from American Autowire and installing a substantial stereo system. A Custom Autosound CAS-630 unit with Bluetooth interface was coupled to Alpine MRX-V70 five-channel amplifier and Alpine speakers, and the vintage Coleman ice chest resting in the back of the car actually houses a Kicker-based subwoofer system that helps crank out the sound. Also wired up is the Dakota Digital universal gauge kit that was modified to fit the original Olds gauge housing, and Vintage Air Gen IV A/C is delivered through four dash vents fitted to the dash by Welch. Charles Sihilling Metal Polishing in Santa Ana, California, took care of all the car's chrome and polished trim pieces.
When he first got the car, Steve thought a quick go-through would do the job but, as time and reality eventually checked in, the process took a bit longer. During that time Steve was trying to figure out on what occasion would it be right to surprise his wife with the gift.
As it turned out, the car was being finished in the summer of 2014, just in time for the couple's 22nd wedding anniversary. The pair had decided to renew their wedding vows and, after the evening's ceremony and festivities were over, Steve handed over the claim ticket to the valet to retrieve the family car.
Unbeknownst to Carrie, arrangements had already been made to swap the family car for the wagon, and she was genuinely floored when it rolled up to the curb. Surprised to say the least, she first exclaimed "That's a Fiesta!" when she saw the car rolling down the street. But then she noticed their valet driving it, and it started to sink in, but it didn't really hit her until they had started driving back home on how her husband had managed to pull off such an elaborate undertaking.
Now when she drops the kids off at their school, people point and take pictures, something Carrie is slowly getting used to. Plus she has also found a lot of women who see her driving it give her a "thumbs up," something that didn't happen when she drove her Suburban. Now when she gets behind the wheel, she says "Every day is a fun day when I get to drive it."
Article courtesy of Hot Rod Network Street Rodder, written by Eric Geisert.
To have been living in 1950s America must have felt like living in a modern day utopia. The United States emerged from World War II with the most powerful fighting force and an unparalleled (and unscathed) manufacturing base that could be mostly dedicated to peacetime endeavors. It took a few years to go from building tanks and warplanes to brand new cars, but by the mid-50s the golden age of the American automobile was in full-bloom. The future was here, and it included a lot of big fins and bubbletops.
Of all the cars to represent the once-limitless optimism of 1950s America, the Beatnik Bubbletop is one of the best dignitaries of that era we’ve ever seen…even if it is 50 years late to the party. Born of Gary “Chopit” Fioto’s childhood obsession with all things bubbletop, the Beatnik Bubbletop went on to win numerous awards including the desireable Grand Prize at Darryl Starbird’s National Rod and Custom Car Show, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Fioto had been influenced by Starbird’s magazine features from the 50s, inspiring the Long Island native to chop his first car at the tender age of 11.
Fioto’s love of automobiles would inspire a long and storied hot rodding career that culminated in his Orange County shop, Chopit Kustoms. The Beatnik Bubbletop began life as just another 1955 Ford, though there isn’t much of the original car left. Fioto merged elements from Cadillac, Chrysler, and Lincoln onto the Beatnik Bubbletop, including a ‘59 Cadillac front bumper the finned taillights from a 1960 Chrysler, and the chassis of an ‘88 Lincoln Town Car. Powering all of this is a Chevy 350 V8. Seriously.
The Beatnik Bubbletop is expected to fetch between $150,000 and $250,000 when it rolls onto the auction block this weekend at Auction America’s Santa Monica event.
Article courtesy of Street Legal TV, written by Chris Demorro.