West Coast Eastwood

    • West Coast Report The Sturgis Special: by John Gilbert

      The Road to Sturgis — And The Long Way Home

      This week’s West Coast Report is going to deviate slightly from its usual semi-unpredictable content. As I’m writing this the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is in full swing. I guess that’s what the square world calls it… my friends and I just say Sturgis. Today, August 5, 2013 is the first official day and the fun continues until August 11, 2014. No, I just made that up, the event only lasts for one week. Anyways, it got me to remembering about the last time I rode to Sturgis in 2010 for the 70th. The following images are extractions from actual coverage, they’re more like fragments of three Easyriders staff members journey to and home from Sturgis. I’m sorry I couldn’t show you guys the wilder side of the lifestyle. That un-coverage appeared in Biker, In the Wind, and Easyriders.

      This shot is from before I left for Sturgis in 2004. My plans were to ride with “Clean” Dean, and Beatnik on my rigid frame chopper like all the years before.

      I was going to make some old guy concessions like Mickey Mouse mounting a Heritage windshield onto my Apes. The OL convinced me the rigid bike was a bad idea, so I bought a 2005 Road Glide the day before we left.

      In 2004 I had five dogs, and then one-by one they all died off. In 2010 the only Lab-Pit left was Bear, and Ruby the red Pit Bull pup I inherited from a neighbor that passed away a few days earlier. Here’s Bear watching me leave out the front door for Sturgis. He looks kind of sad. Ruby slept on the couch and didn’t budge. That’s the next photo.

      In year’s past we’d make 800 miles the first night. Here’s the first night 2010 for the 70th .We made it a whopping almost 200-miles to the state line. The three of us were on the phone to the old ladies complaining about how hard life on the road can be. Then we went to the endless buffet and ate like pigs… it was so good.

      Beatnik is a rockabilly superstar in Sweden. Here he is on the stage with the Fryed Brothers at the Knuckle Saloon filling in for I think it was Harry Fryed had a broken arm.

       Sorry about the bad focus folks, my camera drank a little bit too much beer that night.

      Google the Fryed Bros. I Ride movie, Beatnik wrote the Sturgis Tango.

      Can anyone tell me what this is?

      More important than 60W oil. Notice the Senior Center sign? There was a prune shortage in Sturgis, and we heard those folks at the Senior Center were sitting on a large stash of fresh prunes.

      That’s Easyriders editor Dave Nichols judging bikes. We were all bike show judges, but it was like herding cats when the promoters asked for us to turn in the results.

      This is out at Michael Lichter’s annual bike show at the Buffalo Chip.

      Arlen Ness and the digger style of custom motorcycles are synonymous.

      The bike is a ’61 Harley-Davidson Sportster XLCH.

      The sign says Carl Olsen owns the World’s Oldest Knucklehead. Yea Carl.

      The first year for the Harley-Davidson Knucklehead was 1936. I think there’s only around 50 Knuckles known to exist. Ron Paugh owns 10.

      Not to sound artsy-fartsy, but this bike shows a direct lineage to the Streamline Moderne design movement expressing all the … Ah, just call it Art-Deco.

      The distinctive pushrod tubes on ’36 Knuckleheads were unique to 1936.

      Sticking out halfway at right is a Sears. They were sold by, you guessed it Sears & Roebuck from the Sears catalog.

      Once of out of Lichter’s exhibit and back outside we wandered around looking for food. We ate some overpriced greasy Gyros.

      With a World globe for a gas tank, I’d say this was one of the corniest theme bikes I’d ever seen… Except for the Corn Dog bike that is.

      There sure is a lot of long-haired greasy guys at the pool, we said as we looked at each other.

      Fellow Easyriders staff member Kit Maira rode a Victory test bike from California to Sturgis and back. He wrote the article, and I did the photography the story ran in V-Twin.

      Here’s my old ’05 Road Glide, I borrowed it back from Dean to make the 2010 ride. We did oil changes on the bikes before we returned to California. I can’t remember what brand of oil we used.

      Japanese tourists always take pictures of the trash cans at Disneyland. I thought as a tourist that lives 4 miles from Disneyland I should take a picture of a Sturgis trash can.

      I travel pretty light, as you can see my right saddle bag was consumed almost entirely by my camera gear. I still can’t remember what brand of oil we used.

      This is the motor court in Buffalo, Wyoming we stayed in the first night out of Sturgis. It’s also where I shot the breakdown tech featured in this edition. Please see below.

      Next stop the hot springs in Thermopolis, Wyoming. We rolled into town around mid-day. It didn’t look like a bad place to live.

      Things look pretty average, just another beautiful day in a really nice little Wyoming town.

      Then walk towards the hot springs and it gets more beautiful by the step. There was a bad sulfur smell, but I think that was Beatnik’s socks.

      Only an idiot would have climbed out on the rocks to take this picture. I darn near fell off climbing back down.

      Check out the colors.  I don’t ever use Photoshop, this is the real deal.

      The next night out we made it to Rock Springs, Wyoming. If you’re ever there and the place still exists, stay at the Springs the rooms are huge!

      We got a room back in the corner where we could park the bikes out of site. Did I mention Beatnik rides a BMW? I have to tell you, I was really impressed by that little 500cc single-cylinder BMW. Beatnik rode an Ironhead Sporty for years before.

      There’s “Clean” Dean in the master bedroom. The highest ranking member of our troupe, Dean was paying for meals and rooms for us two bums, Beatnik and I slept in the room seen in the background. Bad noises came from Dean’s room.

      Its always a good idea to photo-document the toilet in the motel room, before its put to the challenge. Somehow at every motel we arrived with a sanitary wrap across the toilet seat, and left with crime scene tape in its place. We don’t mean to be bad men, its our digestion.

       —John Gilbert

      Just look at the size of smaller bedroom at the Springs. There’s luxury homes in Tokyo that aren’t this big.

      We don’t get to see that many plain Jane shortbed 4x4s in So Cal, most of them are fully-loaded Extra, and Crew Cabs. Notice the ’91 Chevy has GM’s infamous paint adhesion problems. I think a good Eastwood pressure washer would go a long way in getting this thing ready for paint.

      Around the corner to the left there was a pretty good little topless bar with cheap beer at a fraction of California prices. We stayed around for about 20 jiggles.

      From Rock Springs, Wyoming we cut directly down toward Utah via the Flaming Gorge. It’s a long downhill decent and my borrowed back Road Glide got 73 miles-per-gallon, an all-time record for that bike.

      This is across from it. We made it to the Big Rock Candy Mountain that night. We heard a pack of riders talking in Elsinore, Utah about heading there, so we hopped on the bikes and hauled buns, before they got there.

      That’s the Big Rock Candy Mountain. The building at left is a little restaurant with real good food. At right next to the trendy Japanese import is the motel we stayed in.

      Here’s the sun hitting the Big Rock Candy Mountain the next morning.

      From Hershey, some Penn State girls laughed at us when we told them we were staying in the Chocolate Fudge Room, and declined our invitation to visit… Hey, no highway jokes.

      After another great meal, breakfast at the Big Rock Candy Mountain restaurant we headed for Las Vegas. Heavy winds through the Virgin Gorge and extreme heat into Nevada was the order of the day.

      Actually we didn’t leave the Big Rock Candy Mountain until after enjoying the Chocolate Fudge Room’s dual bathrooms one last time. When I get rich I’m going to have two bathrooms in my master bedroom with dual chrome toilet paper roll holders.

      I still call them Geezer Glides. I returned the Road Glide back to Dean after spending the day detailing. This made the 3rd time I’ve ridden the Glide to Sturgis. I think between me and Dean the Glide has been to Sturgis every year since ’04.

      I hate Tour Packs, and don’t like stuff tied to the bike. Everything I packed for Sturgis fit inside the bags. And going home the sexy Sturgis souvenir tank tops I bought for the OL.

      The ’05 R-Glide is stock except for Vance & Hines True Duals with a Fuel Pak installed in a tech feature done while I was at Hot Rod Bikes.

      Motorcycle Breakdown Tech

      The Bronson Rock Lives!

      On the road to Sturgis’s 70th anniversary, “Clean” Dean, Beatnik, and I observed the only thing that had changed since the old days was instead of Shovelheads, whiskey, and all-nighters it was now all about baggers, Metamucil, and hitting the sack early. Actually a lot of things have changed since the three of us first started riding Harley-Davidsons. Instead of having to tinker constantly with the mangy old Shovelhead, Knuckle, and Panhead rats we used to rely on for daily transportation we now count on new motorcycles to fill the bill. In 2004 just two days short of Dean, Beatnik and I leaving for Sturgis on our beat up old choppers I chickened out and bought a brand-new 2005 Road Glide. The scramble was on for Beatnik and Dean to come up with some new iron. Dean checked out a bagger from Harley’s press fleet, and Beatnik scored a dorky looking Kingpin test bike from the nice folks at Victory. Mechanically speaking the trip to Sturgis that year was uneventful, but that wasn’t to be for our 2010 pilgrimage. The trusty Road Glide I bought new in ’04 has been to Sturgis five times. I took it again in ’05 while I was still at Hot Rod Bikes magazine, and then after I sold it in ’07 to Dean he rode it numerous times more. For Sturgis 2010, I found myself the proud owner of three crusty old barhoppers, but with nothing worth trusting all the way to South Dakota. Aware of my plight Dean loaned me back the Road Glide, and then opted to ride his ‘99 Road King. Outside of riding through California, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah in triple-digit heat everything was turning out pretty delightful. In Colorado things took a turn for the worst. The Colorado border brought heavy rain and with it an urge to stop for an early lunch. Dodging the storm we ate like pigs at the Wendy’s in Grand Junction, and then resumed our journey when it lightened up. When Dean kicked the Road King’s kickstand back it didn’t want to tuck up against the frame. The kickstand’s return spring had broken and Déjà vu, we had ourselves an old-fashioned breakdown. For a temporary fix Dean wrapped an extra bungee cord around the kickstand and then we headed off to the Harley-Davidson dealer on the other side of Grand Junction. This was not to be the last of Dean’s mechanical troubles, but that’s okay because it really added a nostalgic touch to our roadside sojourns.

      Leaving Sturgis we were headed for Yellowstone. But it was unusually cold, so we cut down toward Buffalo, where it was only freezing cold. In the morning we left for Rock Springs, Wyoming, 339 miles away. All of it incredibly beautiful riding.

      This was at the Rusty Cannon motel in Rifle, Colorado. Biker friendly it was a great place to stay. With over 70,000 hard miles on the clock breaking a kickstand spring didn’t tarnish Dean’s esteem of his trusty Road King named Elvis. Carrying a complete tool bag is a habit Dean never shook from the old days. When things went south it really paid off. Knowing the trick on how to change a kickstand spring the easy way came in handy too.

      Before hitting the road back to California, Dean and I had the oil changed with Lucas 50-weight synthetic motorcycle oil. When I owned the Road Glide I used Screamin’ Eagle Syn3, but I noticed its Twin Cam motor ran quieter with Lucas straight 50W oil in it. The real test would to pull the Twin-Cam motor down and see if the straight-weight oil scuffs the cylinder walls when cold… I don’t know.

      Dean’s 95-inch Road King got a whole lot noisier when the stock Harley exhaust system decided to break in half. This was somewhere in the middle of Wyoming, miles from the nearest town. At the side of the highway we figured out how to cannibalize the heat shield to remove and use as a temporary splint..

      This is a typical spot for a stock Harley exhaust system to break — Kit “not the devil” Maira says he’s broken nine of them in this spot during the course of riding his EVO bagger 290,000 miles. For an emergency fix all one has to do is remove the heat shield, take off the stock Harley hose clamps holding the shield and then attach (wrap) the hose clamps on the outside of the shield to use it as a splint.

      Once we got to Buffalo, Wyoming we went to the hardware store and bought this steel strap along with two longer hose clamps.

      With the exhaust pipe shoved back into position we placed the strap at the bottom of the pipe. At the bottom is the best place for strengthening against up and down movement.

      Next we used the two longer hose clamps to pull the pipes together at the Y section.

      Since we couldn’t find a muffler, or welding shop that was open this fix really worked like a champ. Dean never had another problem with his exhaust system all the way home from Wyoming to California — And it sure beat the snot out of some Harley shop telling us they could have a new pipe for us in a couple of days.

      Speedway Motors Remembers Joyce Smith, “Mrs. Speedway”

      I remember meeting Joyce Smith with Speedy Bill for first time at Americruise while covering for Custom Classic Trucks. That was in the Museum of American Speed, my associate editor Cody Wentz and I got a chance to talk with Bill and Joyce for several hours. It was truly amazing, both very gracious with wonderful stories. We were the last four people out of the building that night. She was a nice lady, real down home, like someone's favorite grandma. 

      John Gilbert

      The Speedway Motors family is mourning the loss of Joyce Smith, “Mrs. Speedway.” Joyce was co-founder of Speedway motors; wife of “Speedy” Bill Smith; mother to Carson, Craig, Clay and Jason Smith; and a great friend to an extended family of thousands of Speedway Motors employees, business associates and customers. Joyce died Sunday after a courageous 34-month battle with cancer.

      Joyce Smith played an integral role in the Speedway Motors business since its inception in 1952. Fresh out of college, Joyce loaned her new husband, “Speedy” Bill, the $300 he needed to start the Lincoln, Nebraska-based speed shop. She worked alongside him for the next 61 years, initially serving as Speedway’s bookkeeper, parts runner and counter girl, and always as a financial officer, corporate secretary and treasurer.

      Through the decades, Joyce provided crucial support to all facets of the Speedway Motors business. “Every step, every minute, every day, she’s been right there with me,” said “Speedy” Bill in his biography, Fast Company. “I could not have reached this point without her. Even if I had made it this far, it wouldn’t have been near as much fun without her. Joyce was the glue that held everything together.”

      Joyce’s six-decade involvement with Speedway Motors earned her a wonderful reputation throughout the racing world and performance industry. She likely attended more races, car shows and trade shows than anyone in America. Since their inception, she walked the fields of Hershey, the aisles of SEMA and PRI, the pits at Daytona, and the lanes of nearly every NSRA Street Rod Nationals. Her tremendous impact on the automotive community was recognized in 2005 when she was honored with the Goodguys Woman of the Year Award. As the proud co-founder of the Museum of American Speed, Joyce was able to share her profound love of racing and rodding with future generations.

      The Smith family is extremely grateful for the thousands of friends and fans Joyce has in the racing and street rodding communities, but has respectfully requested privacy during this emotional time. Funeral services will be private. A public celebration of life is scheduled for late September.

      In lieu of flowers, the Smith family asks that friends share their memories of Joyce through a memorial at the Museum of American Speed:

      Joyce Smith Memorial
      Museum of American Speed
      599 Oak Creek Dr.
      Lincoln, NE 68528
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    • West Coast Report — 20th Edition by John Gilbert

      More Photo Tips — Corky Coker’s New TV Show

      Carrying over from last week’s West Coast Report’s 19th Edition, here’s a few extra photography tips. It’s a great sensation to look at something and know one has developed a trained eye to recognize it was done right. In this case, done right as in with an artistic touch that’s pleasing to one’s eye. OK that’s kind of a vague statement and perhaps even a little weird, so I’ll dial it in a little tighter and tell ya’ll what got me to thinking about this. I just had a friend call and tell me the Chadly coupe is in the new Coker tire catalog. The news got me to Google’n Chadly coupe to see what would pop up. There it was, a series of images including a photo my friend Marla took of me with the coupe only a few miles away from where my Florida to California journey began. It’s an image of me checking the ’54 Chrysler Hemi’s oil. Look closely at how Marla composed the photo, its just absolutely as spot on as it can be. The gestalt is a textbook example of perfect. At left the visor on my hat, and at right the visor on the chopped coupe guide the eye directly towards the dipstick with the 6-duece carbed Hemi in the background. There’s no sequence of visual hierarchy, everything is picked up by the human eye in the first gulp.

       John Gilbert

      As a rule of thumb I look for a light background to contrast with a dark car, and vice versa.

      Get in the habit of checking out the subject vehicle from several different angles. It doesn’t hurt to bring a ladder along to get a bird’s eye view. This particular shot required laying flat on my stomach (which isn’t flat) and bracing the camera with my elbows to act as a tri-pod.

      Anytime that I’m shooting a vertical in the back of my mind I’m thinking about it as a possible magazine cover. This is the most common angle for a cover, a front ¾ view taken standing straight up. Up on a ladder capturing the hood and roof works even better for covers.

      Next is the rear ¾ view taken standing straight up from a distance with a Zoom lens.

      Notice the red inside the carb stacks stand out. Some things pop in the photos, but they didn’t while I was taking this photo. One often discovers things like this later, and that’s a good thing when it happens.

      Notice a lesser degree of red exposed in the stack takes a few seconds longer for the eye to pick up.

      Here’s an interior shot with half direct sunlight combined with shade.    Forget about Photoshop; a simple trick, the lighter background outside automatically gets blown out into almost pure white by the camera’s light meter.

      The mounting location for this AZ. license plate was a temporary measure.

      The side of this 1941 Army Air Force hanger looked like it would be a great background, but appears way too busy once the photos were viewed. Or at least that’s my opinion. I guess differing opinions create different styles.

      For 99-percent of the interior shots I’ve done for car features the goal has always been to have even light. That said, for some reason I love this shot.

      I metered the light for the dashboard, and ignored the rest. I think this is kind of a cool effect too, it sure puts the focus on the dashboard.

      Like I said, you guys that live in the middle of nowhere are lucky when comes to finding good backgrounds. Although this background wouldn’t work as well for a high-tech street rod.

      Here’s without a flash.

      Here’s without a flash.

      And with a flash. Notice how it made the reflective sign pop? Not what I intended. Especially since it didn’t bring anymore detail. There’s different ways to throw light including a 4x8 sheet of foam core, or a flash pot nearby, but out of the frame.

      Shop Tour: ARP Bolts

      Nuts for California

      As a part of reporting the West Coast gearhead scene it’s always a pleasure to spotlight a California company that’s hasn’t perished, or left the state because of its hostile environment towards manufacturing.

      Automotive Racing Products is based out of Ventura, California with extensive manufacturing facilities in Santa Paula. ARP originated in 1968 as a cottage industry (as in home garage)  producing sublet orders rolling threads for the aerospace industry. Today ARP is housed in a complex of buildings consuming well over 200,000-square feet of prime industrial real estate. Every phase of manufacturing is handled in-house. In addition to custom design and build orders, ARP maintains a product line of supplying thousands of part numbers to high-performance OEM manufacturers as well as NASCAR, NHRA, and Formula 1 applications. Beyond providing a much cleaner look in comparison to stock garden variety nuts and bolts, thanks to manufacturing standards that exceed aerospace specs ARP fasteners make it a lot easier to produce immaculate show quality work. Instead of oddball hardware that might or might not be concentric with threads that are sloppy loose, or fit too tight, ARP bolts add precision, along with a touch of class to any car, truck, or motorcycle project. Automotive Racing Products can be reached at (800) 826-3045, or online at www.arp-bolts.com

      I spent the day touring ARP’s Ventura, and Santa Paula, locations, taking my lunch hour at Hozy’s Grill, a company owned restaurant ARP built onto the end of one its Santa Paula buildings. If you’re ever in Santa Paula, eat at Hozy’s Grill the food is absolutely incredible!

      Huge coils of premium grade 8740 chrome steel direct from a Reading, Pennsylvania steel mill. There are four grades of steel, commercial is the first followed by aircraft quality. ARP uses only SDF, and CHQ the top two grades which are twice as expensive as commercial, or aircraft grade.

      Cold forging: This is one of ARP’s numerous cold heading machines. Horizontally it forms (presses) the steel coil perfectly flat, and then cuts it to a desired length.  ARP bolts, and studs begin the manufacturing process as either 12-foot lengths of high grade bar stock, or a 200-foot coil of USA made steel.

      Hot forging: Here a two-story tall hot heading machine induction heats, and forms ARP fasteners under many tons of pressure.

      Museum quality: ARP prefers to restore older heavy based US made machinery to exacting specs including a custom coat of ARP Green paint rather than buy new lighter constructed machinery imported from overseas.

      Heat-treating, shot-peening, thread rolling, and much more: In some cases it would take over 50 individual photos to capture every step ARP takes to produce its fasteners.

      Thread rolling to MIL-S-8879A military specs: Done after heat-treating its more costly because of wear and tear on expensive dies, but ARP bolt threads are 10 times tougher than bolts that are threaded prior to heat-treating.

      Centerless grinding guarantees the outside diameter of ARP studs are perfectly concentric. In this area of manufacturing alone up to ten different steps are taken to ensure ARP studs, and bolts are produced with zero-defects.

      Some as tall as a fully grown banana tree: Lots of Starrett measuring tools kept on hand at every machine, and placed at individual stations: One can’t walk 15 feet inside an ARP manufacturing facility without encountering some type of measuring device used to ensure quality control.

      ARP maintains extreme cleanliness from start to finish: Believe it, or not there’s a specially constructed automatic pan washer that keeps clean pans ready for every phase of an ARP fastener’s evolution. Note the pans are custom made to satisfy ARP specifications.

      Manual labor intensive: There’s hardly one step of production where a single ARP fastener isn’t held by a human hand. Each and every one of these ARP stainless steel bolts were checked individually for quality before being placed in a thread protecting sleeve by hand.

      One-hundred percent in-house means ARP does it all including specialized metal finishing: An entire building houses a massive ecologically friendly series of tanks ARP uses to apply a trick black oxide finish to chrome moly fasteners. For polishing stainless steel products to a high luster three separate giant tumblers spin horizontally with an increasingly finer grit of media towards the final stage.

      ARP works hand in hand developing specialized hardware with many of the world’s best engine manufacturers including Ford, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, and of course a brand us Harley-Davidson riders all know, S&S.

      Here’s a hot tech tip from the pros: ARP Ultra-Torque fastener assembly lubricant virtually eliminates preload scatter. This means applying it a fastener need only be torqued once to get within 5 percent of ideal preload… Not to mention you’ll only have to access hard to reach bolts once.

      This Vibe Tech tumbler is loaded with special abrasive pellets and through a vibratory process polishes bolts and fasteners to a show-quality sheen, like you’ve never sheen before.

      I didn’t write notes, but I know this guy isn’t centerless grinding bolts. Anyways that’s one heck of a row of machines isn’t it?

      Stacks of full pans waiting. The young lady sitting down at left one-by-one inspects each and every bolt in a continuous chain of quality control inspections ARP performs.

      Did I mention ARP prefers to restore vintage US made machinery back to perfect operational condition as opposed to buying lighter-duty new machines?

      I don’t know what this machine is doing, but it sure makes one heck of a thud every time it revolves. Maybe its called a big giant thudding revolver. Eh, maybe not.

      Rustin’ Gold

      Backroad Gold, Corky Coker’s New TV Show

      Along with a pack of the Performance Automotive Group’s editors, and publishers, I met with Corky Coker yesterday at a roundtable held at Source Interlink Media’s tech center in Irvine, California. I learned about a new TV show Corky will be hosting on the Travel Channel… and yes, the chopped coupe is related to this story.

      Last August while blasting around Chattanooga searching for Corky’s place I found out extended blasts of full-throttle causes Holly 94 carbs to gurgle up gasoline. Note the Vicegrips pinching the main fuel line.

      This is Coker’s main offices; kind of hard to find when you’ve got a 7 ½ -inch chop and can’t see Bo Diddley. I drove around for 20-minutes before Mike Goodman flagged me in.

      Coker really knows how to make a person feel welcome. At Corky’s invitation I was there to see his museum, and do a tire test story for Street Rodder. That was in 2012 last August. Sometimes I’m a little slow, I figured out the Coker roundtable is an annual event.

      The Source Interlink Media offices are right around the corner from my Irvine office. No Michelin didn’t prototype air-bags for motorcyclists.

      And that’s a good thing how’d you the Feds to mandate bikers wore something like this?

      This was in Corky’s office. While I was there Corky bought one the cars that’s going to be on his new show.

      This was in Corky’s office. While I was there Corky bought one of the cars that’s going to be on his new show.

      Here’s Corky, Butch, and Tommy Lee Byrd out in the shop with the Excelsior radials we replaced my bias-ply Coker Firestones with. When choosing tires you have to decide what you want to use them for.

      Here’s the coupe when it first went up into the air. Bet you didn’t think this car would have disc brakes, huh?

      See the green color showing on the Power Gen? In photographer terms that’s called apex, you get it when you shoot into the sun.

      Here’s Corky right before he recommended installing trim rings on the coupe.

      Coker just opened up a 100,000-square foot manufacturing plant for wheels in the City of Industry, California. Here Corky is showing me how they custom manufacture wheels on a special one-off basis in Chattanooga, TN.

      Here’s a look-see at the wheel making machinery in Chattanooga.

      Look way back to the left and you’ll notice a white cab sticking up. That’s the ’53 Ford F-100 Corky will driving on his new show Backroad Gold.

      I think the Ford shoebox Corky is lifting the hood on will be featured on the show. The truck snout at right is the ’53 Ford F-100.

      Yahoo, Corky said it was time to eat lunch, and I was ready to chow down.

      I got to drive Corky’s Buick back from the Mexican restaurant we ate at. It was me Corky, and the entire Honest Charley’s Speedshop crew that went there. Big fun, what a great bunch of guys. The beans didn’t hit until I was in Nashville. Atlanta, Georgia, I hear there’s a wanted poster for me at a truck stop… You’d think they would have had DOT rated restrooms.

      Here’s the Travel Channel’s boilerplate for announcing the show is new for next season. "Backroad Gold" follows antique car expert Corky Coker as he scours the highways, back roads and small towns of America, wheeling and dealing for hidden riches such as antique cars, motorcycles, trucks, gas pumps and road signs. This is Coker's life-long passion and his business - he is constantly on the road hunting for the next big find. Together with his expert team of restorers - which includes his father, son-in-law and daughter - Coker buys, restores, and sells all finds from his shop, Honest Charley's Speedshop in Chattanooga, Tennessee. This old Harley-Davidson Panhead is one of the bikes that’ll be featured.

      It’s nice to have friends that care. Corky insisted his guys gave the coupe a once over before I got back on the road for California.

      I didn’t have any car trouble outside of the gurgling Holley 94s, but notice the bad focus? I think the camera bouncing around in the coupe was starting to take a toll on my lens, it was starting to sound like a maracas.

      Here’s Hal giving the front end a once over.

      I was real impressed with how well the Champion oil maintained oil-pressure for the entire rest of the trip. What was dumped out must have been made from fish oil.

      I’d gone over the car before leaving Florida, but that was on jackstands. It was good to actually see it up in the air.

      Tommy Lee Byrd took this group shot. Corky told me to sit on the front tire. Some guy on Coker’s Facebook page said tell that old coot to stand up. If I knew where he lived I would have driven to his house and left a magic corn log on his front lawn.

      After leaving Chattanooga, I made it to Cadiz, Kentucky, that night. Here’s a perfect example of the camera’s Auto White Balance not quite working as it should. No messing with white balance, I was dog tired I blew these shots off and went to bed.

      Hot-rodders are Hell raisers? It was an obvious case of profiling, the motel owner gave me a room far away from everyone else… Maybe it was for my own good.

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    • West Coast Report 19th Edition by John Gilbert

      Neato Burrito - DIY Photograph Your Ride Like a Pro

      In last week’s West Coast Report 18 I expanded a little on how to get your ride into a magazine, and promised a follow-up on how to photograph your ride like a pro. Oh, and by expanded I didn’t mean I was experiencing a bad reaction to cabbage burritos. Although I have to warn you guys never request extra cucumber slices on a cabbage and anchovies burrito… it’ll create the mother of all gut bombs. Oh, and never ever forget the “always carry an extra pair of shorts and Levis” rule.

      ‘Nuff said, onto the photography tips. First thing be glad the days of film are gone. Not that film was bad because it wasn’t, but because the digital age has revolutionized photography in the same way Eastwood welders have enabled DIY guys to weld like the professionals. Whether its point and weld, welders, or point and shoot cameras, the quality that can be obtained with modern technology is amazing. The new technologies take an absolute minimum of understanding to produce pro results. Settings that once required the operator’s hands-on knowledge are now handled by the equipment. Light settings, F-stops, white balance, ISO (film speed). The thing to accomplish with analog (film) shooting at night or in low light. That’s pretty much history with digital.

      Here’s the most important step to photographing your ride. You need to look up into the sky and see where the sun is at. You want it at your back with the light hitting exactly where you want it. For example if you’re a taking a front ¾ view which most times is the lead shot for a magazine feature, you want the entire grille lit, and the entire side of the vehicle lit as well. This isn’t always possible if you’re working with a sketchy background. You guys out in the middle of nowhere are lucky when it comes to finding a good background. We’ll get to picking out the right background.

      The time of day is important too. As a magazine editor covering an event, plus trying to shoot as many car, truck, or bike features I rarely had the luxury of perfect light. There are times of the day when you flat shouldn’t shoot (take photos). The absolute worst time of the day is 12 ‘O-clock noon on a sunny day. The sun is directly above making the worst shadows imaginable, and the light is way too hot. “Hot” is a photography term meaning bright.

      Now if the day isn’t sunny with a complete cloud cover the overcast skies can work to your benefit. That’s in varying degrees though. For example if there’s sunlight breaking through the clouds there’ll be light and shadows to contend with. The front can be perfectly lit, and the shadows can overtake the rear.

      Here’s examples of what sunlight and shadows can do to ruin a photograph.

      Using the camera’s built-in flash can help to some degree to fill in the shadows.

      A good accessory add-on flash can handle shadows even better, blasting stronger light. Sometimes these shadows can’t be avoided if its not your car, and you can’t move to a better spot.

      If the color of this truck was lighter the sunlight wouldn’t be too hot. This was taken at 9:30AM and already much too bright out for a dark color.

      Digital camera focused on the Donuts sign at 5:00AM. The meter reads the sign and ignores the rest.

      Refocusing on the car without a flash, the camera does a much better job overall. But notice the sign is now a dingy white because of using the camera’s auto-white balance. This can be correct with White Balance settings in the camera.

      This was taken only a few minutes later after adjusting the camera settings. I bumped the F-stops up which is real easy on a digital. You don’t even have to know what it means. Twist the dial up or down and watch the screen afterwards to see how it effected your photo. Bumping up increases light, and bumping down from Zero decreases light. The white balance is still on Auto.

      Here’s a second later with the F-stops bumped another notch up.

      Here’s finding a location. In Orange County, CA. good clean backgrounds (locations) are hard to find.

      Keep an eye out for ugly distractions especially like other cars in the background. Dark fresh asphalt is like finding gold. In fact here’s a hard fast rule; never have other vehicles visible in the background, period!

      Same location only I moved to the right to lose the red car and white truck in the background.

      Here’s a vertical like I’d shoot for a cover. Notice the sky and tree make for a more interesting photo. There was a naked girl next to the car, but I’m not allowed to show that kind of stuff.

      This was a cover for Biker magazine… uh, sans the scantily clad girl. This was inside a bar in Costa Mesa, CA. with a minimum amount of light. There’s one spotlight to the left of camera. Move a spotlight as you would want the sun to hit the main subject.

      Again only one spotlight. Notice the lightest colored parts (Pan motor) soak up light. I used three spots to get the desired lighting. Neutral balance is the best type of electric light. You can adjust White Balance to compensate.

      This photo is acceptable and was published, but it could have used a little light thrown under the carb on the pushrods, etc.

      Here’s a what a good flash can do for blasting out shadows. Try using a using a fill-flash on every photo you take, and then see if you can’t notice an improvement in your photography.

      Multi-colored floors with tons of reflection are a real killer. Not to mention the composition of this photo is bad.

      Back to shooting in the sun using natural light. Notice the difference where you stand and how the light hits affects the photo? Shooting from the left exposes a major shadow down the right inside of the bed.

      Moving to the right hides the shadow and focuses on the better lit left side of the bed.

      The best interior photography is done out of direct sunlight. This shot of the cab was taken in direct light without a flash. Notice where it’s out of the sun on the driver side its dark.

      Same exact conditions a second later only with a flash. The sunlight had been subdued and now the driver side door and floor are clearly visible.

      What’s wrong with this picture? Trucks approaching in the background, the grille is improperly lit, big ugly shadow all around underneath, and worst of all there’s a giant pile of horse manure mixed in with pig poop visible… pig poop, I tell you.

      Alright same exact Syracuse, NY. location, but now the truck has been moved into the sun where the grille, and driver side are perfectly lit. And no, that isn’t a pile of giraffe turds behind the truck.

      Liverpool, NY. Slight cloud cover allows shooting the passenger side with sunlight coming from my right shoulder illuminating the grille, and hood. Notice the truck’s color.

      Here the Klondike Gold ’59 has been repositioned to the perfect ¾ angle with the sun coming over my shoulder. Also note how the direct sunlight illuminates the paint bringing out its true Klondike Gold goodness.

      Perfect light. Proper angle into the sun. Look at the right side and across the tailgate

      Bad light. improper angle into the sun. Inside the cab is dark and worse yet, the tailgate is completely in the dark.

      A former Street Rodder Road Tour car. This photo is a tossup whether one likes how the overhead lights accentuate the curvature of the hood.

      Shooting into the sun with electric light from behind.

      This floor is just too busy for a feature shot, but sure is cool. Can you imagine taping out 8,000 square-feet worth of checkers?

      Outlaw Rodder

      ROAD & TRACK Almost Goes To Hell

      Road & Track magazine isn’t long gone as in kaput, out of print, or finis, but rather gone from its longtime Costa Mesa, California home. Here’s some shots of the old The R&T offices overlooking Newport Beach, and the Pacific Ocean.

      Boy, those must have been the days checking a Jag XKE, or some kind of V-12 Colombo powered Ferrari out of the press fleet and blasting down PCH trying to find something about the car they could complain about in print.

      I drive past the old R&T offices every time I do work for Newport Classic Cars just a little ways down Monrovia street. Strangely enough I was driving the Hot Rod To Hell when I jumped out and blasted these photos of R&T’s old digs. OK, so that doesn’t sound all that strange, but get this Road & Track’s new digs are only 19.4 miles from Hell, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Speaking of the Hot Rod to Hell, the polished stainless steel Shotgun style headers arrived from Speedway Motors, so I have some update shots of the exhaust mocked up, plus the front shock brackets and chrome shocks from Speedway that I’m using to convert from friction to tubular shocks. So as you can see, I’ll be going to Hell in style.


      Battery Tray Survival Tips

      The number one area for any classic vehicle to have rust troubles brewing is the battery tray. Be it truck, or car the odds are real good lifting out the battery will reveal anything from rust starting to big rust holes that have already occurred. Sandblasting, paint, welding… tying a vehicle up for a week, or so: A guy could get carried away, and start tearing things apart, but for a quick 15-minute fix that will last a long time, and keep a daily-driver on the job here’s the fast track to make it happen.

      I grabbed a box of baking soda, and sprinkled it onto the battery tray. Then hosed tap water onto the tray and scrubbed the bubbling baking soda briskly as it dissolved the battery acid. Battery acid is the main cause of damage.

      Using compressed-air I dried the battery tray, and the surrounding wheel well. Eastwood Rust Converter worked great for sealing the area after stripping the battery acid.

      Rust Converter goes right over rust and provides a polymeric coating that’s ready to paint without sanding.

      Afterward I placed a battery mat over the dried black rust converter, and installed the battery. Did I mention the job took only 15-minutes to do?

      — John Gilbert

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    • West Coast Report 18th Edition: By John Gilbert

      Here’s How to Get Your Car into a Magazine

      So, how do you get your car into a magazine… not only cars, but trucks and motorcycles as well? Many years before I was a magazine editor this was a question that I really wanted to know the answer to. As I mentioned in last week’s West Coast Report I’m really starting to enjoy listening to the Podcast interviews Kevin Tetz conducts on Shop Talk. In Episode Seven, Kevin speaks with freelance automotive photographer Robert McGaffin. I knew I’d heard Robert’s name before, in fact I was thinking maybe I’d written the text for some of the truck features he’s shot for Custom Classic Trucks. The fastest way to confirm such a notion was to Google Custom Classic Trucks combined with my name, and Robert’s. Sure enough there it was the truck feature I had titled Wurlitzer Deluxe with the photo credits attributed to Robert McGaffin. If you’d like to peruse the article, Google Custom Classic Trucks – Wurlitzer Deluxe and you can get a look at Robert’s photography firsthand … I have to warn you, the guy is pretty good!

      Listening to Robert explain how a person goes about getting their vehicle into a magazine reminded me of the different methods I’ve used for the various car, truck, and motorcycle magazines I’ve edited in the past. In particular how I went about choosing a certain vehicle to go cover. “It went cover” that’s editor cool talk for getting the cover. Uh, I’m starting to get a little ahead of myself. We’ll dig deeper into making the cover at a later date.

      Bull’s eye! Robert McGaffin hit the target right on the nose, the surest way to get into a magazine is to enter your vehicle into a custom car show and have it discovered. Note the phrase custom car show is an all encompassing term that covers cars, trucks, motorcycles, and even model cars, it all happens at the custom car show. That said, there’s several ways to get into a magazine. Now, interestingly you don’t have to enter the biggest car show, or annual event there is to get your car or truck discovered. In fact some of the largest events in the nation have hit and miss reputations amongst editor types for delivering the goods. By delivering the goods I mean a good selection of high quality vehicles that haven’t appeared in a magazine before, and have the right look. I’ve been to large events with 10,000-plus really good cars, and trucks, but none fresh enough to qualify for a feature.

      Investing all the money in the world can’t make a vehicle magazine acceptable if the thing is just a dorky looking hodge-podge of parts bolted to an awkward stance. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t have a lot of bucks into your ride because the first thing a magazine editor looks at is if the vehicle has the right look as in profile, centerline, or stance for his magazine. Around five years ago there was a rusty old slammed F-1 Ford on the cover of Classic Trucks that got there because the thing was just as cool as an old truck could be. Confirming then editor, Rob Fortier made the right choice, the newsstand sell-through numbers came back real high, as in a lot of people bought that issue. I forget what I put on the cover of Custom Classic Trucks, that month. I hope it wasn’t the issue where I put my Barn Find ’56 Ford Big-Window on the cover… It’s coming back to me now, it wasn’t.

      Another good way to get your ride into a magazine, especially if you live in the middle of nowhere far away from any show or event is to mail, or email the editor (magazine of your choice) photographs with a written description of the vehicle’s specifications. Specifications are what’s under the hood, the transmission behind it, and the differential pushing it all. Describe the engine, is it stock, or a really intriguing swap from another year, or even a different make? Next you’ll need to describe the bodywork. Is it custom, restored, did it have a ton of rust that you had to repair before you were even close to painting it?  The list just goes on from there, suspension, brakes, interior, you get the picture, describe everything about your vehicle.

      Address the images and description of your vehicle to Reader’s Rides. Don’t be a dummy, look in the magazine and see what your magazine of choice calls its readers’ rides. it’s a red flag that you don’t read the magazine if you don’t know the title of its reader’s rides department. I think while I was editing Custom Classic Trucks I had a real creative title, it was called Reader’s Rides. The address information for where to send your submission will be on the bottom of the Reader’s Ride page in small print.

      Speaking from personal experience I always kept close track of the submissions readers were sending in. You’d never know, a so-called pro photos speculating a possible feature would miss the target by a mile with an inappropriate vehicle, or bad photography. In contrast a reader just hoping to get into Reader’s Rides, turned out to own something worthy of a full feature, sometimes even a cover. A good example were the photos Al Ming of Spokane, Washington sent in of his ’65 Chevy C10. And I should mention that the photography quality for Reader’s Rides doesn’t have to be up magazine standards like a vehicle feature, or tech story does.

      Back to Al Ming’s green ’65 Chevy. The first time I saw Al’s ’65 he’d sent a packet full of photographs to Reader’s Rides with a brief description. There was no doubt the truck was worthy of a Reader’s Ride, so I put it into the next issue. Less than a year later I made plans to pack my dog Bongo into a brand-new 2006 Harley-Davidson Ford F-150, and haul buns for the weekend up to Spokane, for the Good-Guys show. Before I left I gave Al a call and asked how his truck was doing. In the time since we last spoke he’d plucked out its 283 and dropped in a 383 stroker along with further brake and suspension upgrades. In addition Al had a local custom painter lay some graphics on the truck.

      Towards the end of the day I lined up 15 trucks from the show and then we all caravanned to a scenic old industrial area and I photographed every one of them. Thanks to the time of year it was, I had sunlight until 8:45PM. Al’s truck was among them, and not only ended up in the magazine as a feature, it was selected (by me) to be one of the 12 trucks featured in the Brother’s truck calendar the next year.

      Well, since this is a blog, and not a monthly magazine I’ll be back next week. In the meantime if anyone has any questions, please post it in the comments, and I’ll give you an answer. Also on my list of things to come for future editions of West Coast Eastwood, I’m going to post tech tips on how to photograph your vehicle. That will be on how to use a real camera, not a cigarette lighter, cell phone, or toaster that takes pictures. These tips will work for any camera ranging in price from one-hundred bucks up to very expensive. Just like Eastwood’s welders that utilize the latest technology to make it a lot easier for the DIY guy to use, the same is true for today’s digital cameras. So, after just a minimum amount of guidance my money says a lot of you will be able to produce some fair decent photography in no time at all.

      — John Gilbert

      Outlaw Rodder

      One Day Closer to Hell… Michigan, that is

      The Hot Rod to Hell is starting to shape up. Not as fast as I’d like it to, but it’s coming along. Last Saturday at the donut shop one of the Derelicts asked me if I was going to make my August 10 deadline to leave for Michigan. That deadline is coming awful fast. I told him I know I’m going to Hell, but I’m not sure when. I just love these Hell jokes, it reminds me of the Summer of ’62 when I was an eight year-old kid living on a farm outside of Stockbridge, Michigan. Back then Hell was a bad word, so anytime I could work “can we go to Hell” into a conversation, I would. Even the local newspapers couldn’t resist temptation. Every time it snowed the night before the morning headlines always read “Hell Freezes Over.”

      Checkout the aluminum hood Bob Marianich made for the car. Bob has an extremely interesting life’s story, he started out metal shaping for the Alexander Brothers, moved on to his own shop in the mid-60s building Ferrari, and Porsche bodies from scratch. Placing his wife and children’s security above his desire to create from his own shop, Bob ditched it all and went to a 9-5 job working as an industrial designer in Detroit.

      The years working, and designing for Detroit are far behind Marianch now, and he’s picked back up from when he was in his 20s building car bodies from scratch. I’m not allowed to reveal too much of the project, but it looks like a car Marianich built from scratch is going to compete for the 2014 Ridler Award. You can barely see it behind the hood for the Hot Rod to Hell.

      I’ve been picking up metal-shaping tips from Marianich, that I’ll be sharing with you guys in the future. In fact here’s a quick tip for now. Before attempting to shape a fresh sheet of aluminum the tempered skin must be broken with 80-grit on a D-A. Notice on my hood the outer edges are still have a tempered sheen while the shaped areas are in an 80-grit finish.

      Tech Tips

      Freezing 2K AERO-SPRAY

      Ever since I first became aware of Eastwood 2K Aero-Spray two-component paints I’ve been curious to find out if they could be frozen to delay the catalyst kicking-off.

      I know this might sound crazy, but way back in 1973 I opened up a custom paint shop up in Calgary, Alberta and discovered Endura. There’s a lot more to this story, but the bottom line is I learned that Endura, a two-part component urethane’s pot life could be extended.

      By freezing Endura its 24-hour pot life could be extended indefinitely by chucking it into a freezer. Weeks later I’d take a catalyzed can out of the freezer and start shooting. It was truly amazing, it cut down material waste tremendously. Recently I conducted an experiment and in the early stages it looks like 2K Aero-Spray can be frozen to delay hardening.

      I say the early stages because I was too chicken to test a half-full can, and maybe waste it. The 2K Aero-Spray test can had about 10 good passes left in it. I used the entire can on an abstract painting I’d created using Auto Air Colors. The thawed 2K Aero-Spray clear worked as well as the pre-frozen portion of the test did. Also I’d like to mention I’m really impressed with how slick 2K Aero-Spray clear lays out, and what a nice thick coating it provides. I think next up I’m going to custom paint a Harley tank using 2K Aero-Spray clear as the topcoat.

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    • West Coast Report 17th Edition: by John Gilbert

      Shop Talk — Street Rodder Road Tour Heads to Eastwood

      The beauty of cranking out a weekly blog as opposed to having to adhere to the strict format of a monthly magazine is being able to rely on stream of consciousness to come up with the content instead of a predetermined pagination. That said, it’s not a guarantee that I’m going to be writing anything here that someone might want to read, but I’ll take a shot at it.

      I do start with an idea, or premise as we used to call it back when I was a script writer for reality TV. First things first in this 17th edition of West Coast Eastwood I’d like to talk a little about the Podcast interviews Kevin Tetz conducts on Shop Talk. I’m sure anyone reading this is familiar with Kevin’s name, the first time I was introduced to Kevin’s work was while I was watching Trucks! on TV.

      In the first of the Shop Talk series Kevin has to look no further than the crew at Eastwood, and gets a preview of things to come with Eastwood’s Senior Content & Engagement Marketing Manager Nick Capinski. Next up was Brian Finch, and then on to Ron Covel. The interview with Ron Covel was very interesting because it covered who he apprenticed with and how he got started by building race car bodies at Brian Fullers. Of particular interest was listening to how Ron made the jump from fabricator to adding teacher to his credits, and ultimately developing the ability to speak in front of an audience.

      The latest Shop Talk interview posted 7/1/13 is with long time Street Rodder contributor Jerry Dixey, and I knew that was going to be a good one. It’s one thing to sit down write an article where one can back up and do a rewrite, but it’s really a talent when one can put it all together while they’re speaking, and have it as coherent as the written word.


      Last year I met up with Jerry at the Syracuse Nationals in Syracuse, New York, and was able to hear firsthand some tales of the cool places the folks got to visit while on the Street Rodder Road Tour. The really neat part is some of the places they go are private collections that are rarely seen by the general public. Next to the 2012 Road Tour ’40 Ford here’s an example of how hard Jerry works to keep the Road Tour participants up to date, and having memorable fun — Talk about providing personal attention for Road Tour participants, Jerry mans the Road Tour Hot Line 24-hours a day with his cell phone.

      —   John Gilbert

      ‘Merican Muscle

      The Longpre Grand Prix

      The following is an unedited draft of a car feature I shot and wrote for Muscle Car Review that appeared in the June 2013 issue. In the article I didn’t have room to expand on Ray Harstad at J&R Motorsports telling about how much he relied on using Eastwood products, but since I do have room here why not run an expanded look at Ray’s use of Eastwood products — But first, here’s the story.

      If there ever was a surefire way for a muscle car aficionado to make a fool out of himself its to get into an argument insisting a particular configuration of car was never built by the factory— There’s always an exception. Take for example Robert Longpre II’s 1960 Pontiac Catalina factory equipped with a Bonneville bucket seat interior, 4-bolt SD 389, and Corvette 4 speed transmission.

      The seed for this special edition Pontiac coming into creation began before World War II when Robert’s grandfather Raphael Longpre rose through the ranks to Pontiac’s Production Manager at the company’s home plant in Pontiac, Michigan. Robert’s father worked at Pontiac, and GM divisions all through high school and college before joining the Army Air Corps, and going off to war. After World War II Bob’s dad worked for Pontiac Motor in the Cincinnati office. In 1947 Bob Longpre senior formed a partnership with his cousin also named Bob Longpre, and opened a Pontiac dealership in Arlington Massachusetts. In 1950 Bob’s father moved the family to California, and opened Bob Longpre Pontiac in Monrovia. The dealership was on Route 66 the main drag right through the heart of town.

      In 1958 Bob’s father bought out Suburban Pontiac in Bellflower, California. Part of the new car inventory was a red and white ‘58 Pontiac 860 2-door hardtop with a hot 370-inch V8 and three-speed stick transmission. Bob’s dad decided to give him the ’58 to use as a driver. Bob told us “Suburban Pontiac had been big into drag racing, but the recession in 1958 took a lot of new car dealers down. This had been their drag race car and I doubt that GMAC or Pontiac would have wanted to buy the car back. It had a lot of horsepower, but was cursed with a three-speed column shift transmission. The shift linkage was always locking up in one gear or another. The shifting for the three-speed was so bad that it was common for Pontiac drag racers to start out in second gear hoping they could get at least one shift without jamming. I never took it to the drag strip, but had lots of street races.

      When the 1959 Pontiac models arrived, I had the chance to move up to a different car, and chose to go with an automatic transmission. As it turned out the silver Catalina coupe I named “Hydra-Magic” was fast. I ran it in A/Stock Automatic, and the car won lots of trophies at nearby San Gabriel dragstrip. I graduated in June of 1959 and my graduation present was to spend a month with my grandfather at the Pontiac plant and learn how cars were manufactured. My granddad introduced me to the various department heads, Pete Estes, John DeLorean, and General Manager Bunkie Knudsen.

      In September of ’59 I returned to Detroit with Hydra-Magic for the NHRA Nationals. At that time my granddad made the suggestion that I let him help build me a special racecar for 1960. I asked how special, and he replied anything that I wanted. Earlier that year in June while I was staying with my granddad I was cruising Woodward Avenue and spotted a ’59 Catalina 2-door hardtop Bunkie Knudsen had custom made for his daughter. It had a funny squared-off roof that later became the 1962 Grand Prix roofline. The interior had individual front bucket seats not available in a Catalina, and a 4 speed transmission obviously pirated out of a Corvette. It also had funny looking finned wheels instead of wheel covers. (As Pontiac’s General Manager John DeLorean got the lion’s share of credit for creating the Grand Prix line in ’62, but behind the scenes it was Bunkie Knudsen in 1959).

      When I got back to California I ordered what I wanted through my dad’s Pontiac dealership. The special options I desired that weren’t listed on the order form were handwritten on a list and sent to my grandfather for production. As a 17 year-old kid I made some goofy decisions on how I wanted the car equipped. I thought 3.90:1 was best, but Bunkie Knudsen convinced me a 4.56:1 rearend with Safe-T-Track would work best for drag racing. With the same interior dimensions fitting the Bonneville interior into the Catalina body was easy. The bucket seat mounts were welded in on the assembly line. The four-speed stick shift however could not be accommodated on the assembly line. A 4-speed was sent over from the Corvette plant and installed at a service department housed at the end of the production line. Afterward due to public demand there was maybe 15 Pontiacs ordered with the part number created for my car with 4-speeds installed at the end of the line. My ’60 Pontiac was the 12,690th car built that model year”.

      It took about a month for the Pontiac to be built. Unbeknownst to Bob, somewhere in between ordering the car in California to driving it off the assembly line in Michigan, his grandfather had Ray Nichols in Indianapolis add some super stock modifications including a lumpy solid-lifter cam. Bob recalled the performance of the car was very good, but not exceptional. He said it was so big and heavy racing it was like trying to teach a fat man to become a ballet dancer. The first time down the quarter-mile it ran 98 mph with a 14.30 ET. Not bad, but citing it wasn’t fast enough to win in 1960, Bob started to hop things up.

      The first improvement was a set of tube headers with cut-outs by Doug Robinson at Horsepower Engineering in Pasadena, California. Next the OE two-ply tires were ditched in favor of Atlas Bucron four-ply tires sourced from a local Chevron station. A drag racer’s dream, Atlas Bucrons were famous for a super soft sticky compound backed with an incredible guarantee that if you wore them out within so many miles Chevron would replace the tires for free.

      Bob’s dyno tune and engine guy was Roger Bursch owner of Scientific Automotive in Pasadena. Roger had a dyno, but couldn’t run cars uncorked adjacent residential housing. The solution was to drive down Colorado Boulevard to Champion Chevrolet, and borrow Don Nicholson’s dyno. After an evolutionary process that involved identifying the 348-horse, four-bolt 389’s hunger to round-off camshafts, and battling low oil-pressure spinning main bearings the final result was an NHRA legal 389 punched .060 over to 403-inches. Equipped with Jahn’s pistons, and cammed with an Isky E-2 carrying a Pontiac part number the Poncho picked up 30 horsepower at the rear wheels. By the time it was all said and done the ’60 uncorked, and shod with Bucrons held the super stock record at San Gabriel dragstrip, running 104.71 mph with a 13.41 ET.

      In February 1960, Bob joined the Army, and had hoped to store the Pontiac, but his dad informed him they were in the car business and cars were not to be kept as pets, they were merchandise. The ex-drag car was shod with Vogue tires and sold like cattle.

      Fast forward 50 years to July 16, 2010, Bob is at his Westminster, California Lexus dealership when he spots an ad on eBay headlining a 1960 Pontiac Catalina with Bonneville interior. The seller’s name is George Knevelbaard, Bob discovers George to be extremely honest, and a Pontiac preservationist to boot. George bought the car in 1993 from Dale Boomgaarden a Gilroy, California drag racer that bought the ’60 in 1964 from Bob Shiro Motors in San Jose. Dale’s description of the car when he bought it fit right to a T including the Vogue tires. In 2004, George loaded up the ’60 Pontiac and moved from Artesia, California to retire in Michigan.

      The first thing Bob did when he was reunited with his “brass hat” drag car was to contact Raymond Harstad at J&R Motorsports in Costa Mesa, California. Raymond is a fully-certified master mechanic, and one those rare individuals that can disassemble a vintage automobile and put it back together without signs of it having ever been apart. Next along with his Mopar racer buddy Bob Small, Bob hauled the gutted shell down to Steve Kouracos’ autobody shop in Rancho Santa Margarita, California. When the ‘60 returned to Raymond’s shop for reassembly it was in a perfect rendition of its original Newport Blue metallic paint.

      Bob recalls the 60s were the Golden Age of factory sponsored drag racing. Stating if you found a part you liked the factory would give it a part number so you could race with it. He also considers himself very fortunate for having the opportunity to enjoy this particular car not once, but twice.

      Ray Harstad at J&R Motorsports in Costa Mesa, mere feet from Newport Beach, is known for producing show quality work on a consistent basis. Ray said he used a lot of Eastwood products during the ’60 Pontiac’s restoration. 2K Aero-Spray Underhood Black was used throughout including the Poncho’s Tri-Power air-cleaner. Two component urethane paints provide a finish equal to powdercoat in durability, and do require complete disassembly of the part to be painted.

      Under a dual-snorkel air-cleaner resides a Tri-power SD 389 blueprinted for racing. Eastwood spray paints coat the carbs, aluminum parts, and cast-iron brake master-cylinder. Undercarriage as well.

      Eastwood Carb Renew II Bronze does a beautiful job of replicating the factory original zinc chromate (gold cad) plating, plus offers a Fuel-Resistant formula. Notice the Alternator has been renewed with Aluma Blast.

      It isn't necessary to disassemble carburetors to spray Carb Renew II Bronze onto the carburetor. Although disassembly produces more professional results. Note the triple Rochester 2GC cast-iron carburetor bases have been restored using 12 oz. aerosol Spray Gray acrylic lacquer.

      Ray used Eastwood’s special coatings to ensure proper engine and cooling system performance. Radiator Black dries quick, resists heat to 300-degrees, and will not clog radiator cooling fins as heavier bodied paints tend to do.

      Brake Gray resists damage from brake fluid which is a quality that not all paint finishes can claim.

      Spray Gray, and Aluma Blast provided the Pontiac factory installed Corvette 4-speed with a show-quality appearance. Notice the car’s underside was treated to Rubberized Undercoating.

      Unlike heavily petroleum tar based undercoatings Eastwood Rubberized Undercoating can be top-coated with spray paint and achieve flawless results without oily bleed through.

      The Poncho’s stunningly clean appearing undercarriage was painted with 2K Ceramic Chassis Black. Again thanks to being a two component product the finish far exceeds the durability of common single component spray paints.

      Superior to bias-ply Coker American Classic whitewall radials are mounted on the original 8-lug Pontiac factory mags. Gas-charged shocks complete the upgrade.

      Pontiac utilized the ’60 Corvette console with a Pontiac ashtray supplanting the chrome knob Corvette ashtray.

      Every model of 1960 Pontiac trunk mats were trimmed in red. A ’61 blue style pattern was custom made in a ’60 pattern to fit Bob’s trunk.

      Bonneville emblems adorn the wood accented dash with grab bar and rear optional speaker. Power windows, but no power brakes, Bob didn’t like the wide PB pedal.

      The Longpre Grand Prix is the only 1960 Catalina ever fitted with a Bonneville interior.

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