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West Coast Eastwood

  • West Coast Report — Eighth Edition: By John Gilbert

    Nothing can stop the Duke of Earl. Why are donut boxes pink? Hang on friends, its early, early morning and I’ve been drinking coffee that’s blacker than the tires on my black Harley-Davidson. Blacker than the cat that keeps trying to cross my path. This coffee is so black I could use it to guide coat a fender on Satan’s Buick and not even find the dents — whatever that means. No sense wasting a good coffee buzz, I’m going to use it to create. The first thing that comes to mind is I’m going do this week’s West Coast Report a little different and see how you all respond. I do welcome comments even if its just to ask if all the people in California are as weird as I am. That said, of course I’m going to invoke the Starbucks defense. I mean did any of you ever notice there wasn’t any such thing as road rage until Starbucks started popping up everywhere? Will coffee be banned like Twinkies were? — Quick, email California, US Senator Barbara Boxer, and express how much you like the underwear she invented, and to please keep coffee beans legal. For medicinal use only of course.

    And now a serious note from our friends at SEMA SAN. Okay, I’m not going to copy and paste what was sent, but I will give a quick overview and include a hyperlink. You guys might remember that no sooner than I had started my campaign to help bring a little awareness to the SEMA SAN model for a Pro-Hobbyist Inoperative Bill here in the West Coast Report, a war with the city I live in broke out in my own front yard. Notice of Violation followed by Second Notice of Violation followed by Notice of Invoice. Bloodsucking … uh, sorry it’s a subject rawer than my dog’s butt during flea season. Check it out, Washington state almost got a reasonable law enacted, and then it went south. Of course that expression isn’t a good one because the lucky folks in Kentucky already have a Pro-Hobbyist Inoperative Vehicle law on the books.

    Things were headed north in Nevada (that means bad) when working with Nevada lawmakers SEMA SAN amended legislation (A.B. 363) and that’s good. Please follow this link for more information  A longtime friend of mine is the Commander of DAV (Disabled American Veterans) Chapter 23 here in Orange County, and has a great working relationship with Senator Lou Correa regarding veteran’s rights. In the near future I’d like to meet with Senator Correa, and find out what the possibility is of him introducing a Pro-Hobbyist Inoperative Bill for California might be. Updates to follow. After all who wants to come home to a country that hates collectible automobiles. Have you ever seen a politician in a parade riding in anything other than a classic car? … Oh yeah, maybe on top of a pooping horse.

    One of the nicest guys in the automobile industry is Chip Foose. Here’s some shots of the Eastwood gang visiting Chip’s shop in Huntington Beach while they were out here last month. It didn’t take any kind of big time connection to meet up with Chip. All anyone has to do is drop by Chip’s shop during lunchtime, and if he’s in town you’ll get to meet him. No matter what there’s always an open house at lunchtime, so if you’re in the neighborhood drop by. There’s a little sandwich shop next door, that’s a good place to eat. We wandered into the sandwich shop after everyone got to meet Chip.

    I met Chip Foose in the early 90’s through my friend Jonny Anderson. Jonny along with another friend Simo Simensen worked with Chip at Hot Rods by Boyd in Stanton, California. Way back then and to this very day I have to say Chip is one of the most talented, and nicest guys in the automobile industry. He won’t bite your face off like…

    A good example was the time “Boss” Bob took a couple of teenaged neighbor kids to a car show, and they got a chance to meet and talk with Chip. The conversation soon moved to Chip asking the two young fellers what kind of cars they liked best. After one kid said a specific year of Ford Mustang, Chip sketched a quick concept illustration of the kid’s dream car on the back of a flyer, autographed it, and then gave it to him. The other kid’s dream car was a ’57 Chevy, and Chip did the same thing for him. Notice there was no mention of money changing hands, that’s because there wasn’t. Chip drew those concept drawings for those two kids just because he’s a great guy, and it was something those kids will never forget. Maybe they’ll even build those dream cars one day.


    “Boss” Bob’s M-code ’62 Ford Galaxie 500

    “There’s nobody meaner than the little old lady from Pasadena, she’s the terror of Colorado Boulevard.” In case anyone ever wondered the inspiration for Jan and Dean’s lyrics were inspired by the favorite lie Southern California used car salesmen always liked to tell prospective buyers. “It was owned by a little old lady from Pasadena that only drove it to Church on Sunday.” There were some low-mileage cars to be found in So Cal back in those days. They only got driven a quarter-mile at a time. Here’s a good example, a friend of mine, “Boss” Bob owns this M-code ’62 Ford Galaxie. I shot and wrote a tech story about installing a Gearvendors Overdrive into the ’62 for Muscle Car Review. You can Google “Hot Rod Gearvendors John Gilbert” and the story will come up archived on Hot Rod magazine’s web.

    Here’s an excerpt from the Muscle Car Review story I wrote. For Bob Wells of Laguna Beach, California, and his mint ’62 Ford M-code Galaxie optioned with 4.56:1 gears the challenge was on to seek out a means to bring down the RPM for street use without destroying the car’s legendary dragstrip acceleration. For those unfamiliar, an M-coded VIN means the car is one of just a few early ’62 Galaxies built by the Ford factory especially for drag racing. Bob’s car in particular was race prepped by the late Les Ritchey, and competed from ‘62 until 1964. Bob holds a special affection for this car since it was Les Ritchey who was his first boss. In addition to preserving instantaneous acceleration Bob’s concern was to keep the M-code’s original personality. The answer wasn’t to slap in a late model 5-speed, because the gear-spacing is incorrect, plus attempting to shift one fast feels like trying to churn broken glass into butter. The name of Les’s shop was Performance Associates.

    SHOW & GO

    Donut Derelicts, Caffeine Cannibals and Everyone is Welcome!

    Men, boys, and maniacs. Ain’t it funny how the best examples of bad journalism can be found in stories written about the Donut Derelicts? For an event that saw its earliest attendees composed of an inordinately high ratio of automotive journalists the Huntington Beach event’s history sure is clouded in a bunch of unsolved mysteries. The reason is “the donut shop” as authentic veteran Derelicts refer to it was off limits for any of us magazine types to publicize and screw-up. We didn’t want hordes of moronic idiots, and squirrels showing up and ruining it. The best photographers in the business showed up without cameras, and the most gifted writers remained silent. That all changed when one day the square press showed up and interviewed some guy wearing a buffalo hat coming out of Ace Hardware, and asked him how the Donut Derelicts got started. Needless to say the buffalo hat didn’t have a clue about anything much less how he was going to unplug his sink. The newspaper article hit, and the parking lot was covered with a Heinz 57 mix of automotive history. That was in 1984, or maybe it was ’82. No, it could have been 1985. There’s folks that claim they started showing up at the donut shop in hot rods much earlier than that, but of course they don’t have the photo documentation to prove it. Here’s what I do know.  A high school buddy named Rick Finn invited me to show up in my ’60 Rambler American 2-door wagon, to checkout a few of his friends cars, and the artwork he’d created. Now deceased, Rick Finn was the voice of the Donut Derelicts, and did a great job explaining the donut shop scene on a segment that aired on the Travel Channel.


    The 1st  Coupe de Ville

    The year 1921 was the first year for a Cadillac coupe, so I guess one could say this was the very first Cadillac Coupe de Ville. This car was offered by Chris Unger he’s one of the donut shop’s faithful, and really has a reputation as being the King of Barn Finds in the So Cal area. I checked out past auction results, and it looks like it wouldn’t be too hard to find a pretty cherry 1921 Cadillac for under 20-grand. This one had a stock ’21 Cadillac V8 engine under its hood, and checkout the Cadillac crest on its hubcaps.


  • West Coast Report - Seventh Edition: By John Gilbert

    Dirt on the Bottle

    It’s the wine bottle theory, some things must stay as they are. I was listening to Merry Go ‘Round a song by Kacey Musgraves that kind of reminded me of Robert Earl Keen’s lyrics and that made me think of a guitar that I didn’t used to own. It was a candy apple red Teisco Del Rey with a candy striped aluminum pickguard, four pickups, and a string-stretcher. That was in 1965, and the music store wanted $49.00. Instead I ended up with a Daphne blue Fender Mustang that was from the first batch of Mustangs, Fender made with a full-scale neck. And now that you’re starting to wonder where all of this is going.

    Yes, its true Eastwood has restoration tools and supplies for just about anything a person might want to restore, but that doesn’t mean everything should be restored. Take for instance a vintage guitar. The most idiotic moronic thing a person can do is to refinish an old guitar. It will destroy the guitar’s sound qualities, and money wise make it not even worth putting back in the case. Not even in one of those useless plastic guitar bags. Don’t say it, I know there’s been more than one popular TV show where some feller finds and old guitar and the whole show is all about how he stripped it down and made it look just like new again. Of course now that I think about it, it would be kind of dumb to do a TV show that’s all about restoring things, and then warn people not to do it because it will destroy the guitar’s value.

    It’s okay little shavers, go out there and find yourself a ’65 Strat, or a honeyburst ’59 Les Paul, and then grind the original finish down until the wood smells like a smoked ham. Once you have all of that original Fender Dupont acrylic lacquer, or Gibson’s special varnish in a pile of dust, pick out a really hideous color, and… Okay, sorry folks. What we have here is a good example of why its not a good idea to write the West Coast Report at 3AM while listening to alternative country music, and drinking really strong coffee. Shoot, I’m not even sure what country that music was from. Did Buck Owens ever play a pedal Sitar?

    By the way I threw a slightly incorrect fact into WCE-6’s West Coast Report, did any of you catch it?

     —John Gilbert

    Show & Go

    World’s Fastest Amphibious Car: By John Gilbert

    The other morning around 100 of us Gray Panther types met at the local Applebee’s in Fountain Valley, California with our hot rods, plus some other cool cars and trucks. It was for a little breakfast get together in support of a car show that’s coming up this Summer. Its called the Fountain Valley Classic Car & Truck Show held next June 29, 2013 at Mile Square Regional Park. Oddly enough Mile Square Park is named so because it is exactly one square mile in configuration. During World War II it was the Santa Ana Marine Corps Air Base facility with a training field where Corsairs landed on a regular basis. For any of you that remember Baa Baa Black Sheep the TV show about WWII Marine fighter pilot Pappy Boyington, and his crew, it was F4U Corsairs they were flying.

    After breakfast at Applebee’s we all piled as many people that could fit into each car, and then headed over to Fountain Valley Body Works. Frankly I wasn’t real excited to look at a bunch of smashed up foreign imports that I couldn’t identify. But on the other hand I have a lot of respect for anyone that knows how to unglue all of those plastic parts, and make it look it was never wrecked. The new cars innards look like a bunch of mechanical bug guts. Something like an octopus eating an air-conditioner. I mean that new stuff goes together so different than the way an older American car does it isn’t funny. The thing that’s really amazing is how many more miles you can rack up on those new cars. The sad truth is there’s no way someone is going to be able to restore a 2013 car 20 years from now. That is unless of course one will be able to go to local Walmart and buy a program for a 3-D printer to spit out replacement parts.

    The best part of the day was to get a behind the scenes look at how FV Body Works owner Dave March reacted to how underpowered his vintage Amphicar was. Dave didn’t stop at trying to figure out how many more hamsters needed to be added to the Amphicar’s hamster wheel, he engineered an entire new amphibious vehicle, and ended up with the world’s fastest amphibious car. Here’s a few flicks.

    Rustin’ Gold

    My ’88 Built to Lay and Play… its For Sale: By John Gilbert

    Well, here we have it yet another week, and not a rusted old hulk that someone might rescue. Instead I’m running some flicks of my 1988 Chevrolet C/K 1500 that I’ve owned for 20 years. I really don’t want to sell it, but the city of Garden Grove’s big push to make me fit in with its vision for a perfect world is kicking in, I just got a $70.00 fine. As soon as I get my home conforming to where I know I have a leg to stand on, I’m fighting back. Updates to follow. Meanwhile this truck is for sale, $4,500. Some of you might recognize it, its been in Tailgate, American Truck, Street Trucks, and Custom Classic Trucks. I hauled the ’88 up to a friend’s property in the high desert. The background is Mormon Rocks, I love that place. Please buy my ’88 before it rusts to death… Will deliver.

    Here’s a news flash the state of California just announced there’s more tax hikes on the docket. Assembly Bill 8 (Perea & Skinner) will extend for an additional eight years vehicle registration surcharges, tire fees and fees on vehicle identification plates to fund alternative fuel and vehicle technologies – particularly hydrogen fueling stations.

    Personally I think it would be smarter for the state of California to put outhouses on every corner and then harvest the public’s fecal matter to be turned into methane pellets. Take my word, methane pellet technology will surpass hydrogen propelled cars by the end of this year, and that’s no s#*t.

  • Sidewalk Surfin’ — Shades of Gray

    West Coast Report - Sixth Edition: By John Gilbert

    Welcome to the 6.5th edition of West Coast Eastwood, and in particular the West Coast Report. First I’d like to say thanks to the 40 folks that took the time to leave a comment regarding the fourth edition’s content — I read every one. There were 43 in all, but three posts were comments made by me commenting on comments, and if you think that sounded dumb, just keep reading.

    Actually maybe what’s to follow isn’t all that dumb. It’s no secret I’m a guy that grew up in Southern California, during the 50’s and 60s in a household that customized, restored, or hopped-up anything that used wheels to roll forward. Maybe even a few things that didn’t have wheels. I just remembered as a kid we used to drag big sheets of cardboard up Maplegrove street where it dead-ended into the San Jose hills, and then slide down “cardboard hill”. That was in the late 50s, by the early 60s Maplegrove was continued further up the hill, and luxurious split-level homes were built. The hill’s new name was “Maplegrove hill” and the challenge was for us skateboarder types to make it all the way down on a steel-wheeled Roller Derby without wiping-out. Nobody ever made it all the way down on steel wheels, it was a real hairy grade. We always ended up running off the nose scrambling to make it to someone’s front lawn before having to hit the ground knees first. In mid-‘64, the automobile industry finally got the clue wider tires were better for going around curves, and Firestone introduced Tiger Paws. The next improvement in skateboard technology was wider wheels made out of clay. The clay wheels were a vast improvement, but they still wouldn’t roll very good over asphalt, and a tiny pebble could stop you dead in your tracks. I stopped skateboarding when my dad bought us a ‘64 Bug Super Flea minibike with a Hodaka Ace 80 motor, I still have it today. I think the sport of skateboarding ground to a stop around 1965 because too many little hodads (dorks) were getting hurt.

    A decade later, it was on a major scale the second wave of skateboarding hit. I couldn’t believe it, the new style of skateboards had these red urethane wheels that were totally unaffected by asphalt streets, or pebbles. The new technology was absolutely amazing. In 1975 I was already six years into a custom painting career. When I started in ’69 the way to primer bare steel was to begin with a green colored metal prep that smelled like acid-laced cider, and then spray it with acrylic lacquer primer. Acrylic lacquer primer wasn’t bad stuff, you could leave it in a dedicated gun, plus it smelled good like model airplane glue. The problem was acrylic lacquer primer used a talc (chalk) base that was porous and wouldn’t seal out moisture. Left exposed to the elements it wouldn’t be too long before millions of little rust pimples rose to the surface. A distant second choice to shooting primer from a gun was the aerosol spray can. The convenience of a spray can was superior to having to deal with cleaning a spray gun with thinner, but the quality of spray bomb primer wasn’t so hot. For example the primer remained soft, and gummed up sandpaper faster than you could grab a new sheet. The hardness test, pressing a few fingernails into the surface always left tiny crescent shaped grooves. In short spray bomb primers weren’t anything a professional would dare use.

                                                                           — John Gilbert


    Quick & Easy Pro-Quality Primer: By John Gilbert

    Gee, I really didn’t intend to write so many words for the West Coast Report, which consequently it turned it into a tech feature. But since we’re already on the subject here’s a quick couple of tech tips starting with Eastwood’s Self-Etching Primer available in aerosol, or can. When I started writing about my skateboarding days in the mid-60s I wasn’t thinking about the parallels between primer and skateboard technology, and how much it has improved in the last 50 years… It just kind of worked out that way.

    The test subject is my ’76 Ford F-250 Camper Special. There’s not one dent to be found anywhere, but there is rust coming through the original paint, plus a couple of major rust holes on the roof.

    Look how rust has worked its way through the hood’s original thinning paint to the surface. This a perfect test bed for Eastwood’s California legal, High Build Self-Etching Primer.

    I used Eastwood Pre before and after stripping this small area down to bare metal with an abrasive stripping disc. Oil, or silicone contamination can abbreviate the life of paint not appearing sometime until years later.

    Just for the heck of it I’m conducting a rust test on my ’76 F-250 to see how long it takes for Eastwood’s Self-Etching Primer to rust through, or even if it will.

    A billion years better than the old days, I was absolutely amazed how hard Eastwood’s Self-Etching Primer set up in such a very short time. A couple of hours later my fingernails couldn’t dent the surface, plus it sanded great.

    Somewhere in the near future I’m going to have to repair this heavily rusted area on the roof. It’s the strangest thing, this the only area that has rusted out.

    All of my adult life I’ve wanted a retractable hose reel for my shop, but never got around to getting one. Now that I’ve mounted an Eastwood retractable reel in my garage, I’m kicking myself for waiting so long. This thing really saves a lot of time not having to roll up hoses, and the floor looks much better without hoses laying around… not to mention not tripping.


    Cliff’s ’55, Where’d it Go?: By John Gilbert

    The instrumental hits of Buck Owens, and the Fenders he played them on… Sorry, I think I just had an out-of-body experience, must be the lacquer thinner. Deviating slightly from Rustin’ Gold’s premise, but still a question of what this car’s future is going to be here’s a ’55 Chevy I’ve known since January 1979. I had just moved shop from the San Gabriel Valley, to Westminster, California. One of the first cars I noticed always seen driving around town was this ’55 Chevy Bel-Air.

    In 1980, I learned one of my customers coming into Auto Exotics was engaged to the daughter of the guy that owned the ’55. The years passed the two got married, and we became lifelong friends.

    Black plates, and optioned with every available bumper guard. The amber turn signal lens were aftermarket add-ons. Somewhere along the line someone installed a 6-cyclinder radiator core support. V-8 radiators were mounted behind and 6-cylinders in front to clear the stovebolts’s length.

    Cliff was a hot-rodder for life. The ‘55’s engine is a 327-inch Corvette. This was his one and only for many decades. Notice factory power-brake booster.

    Kind of like an overstuffed couch with shag carpet, and avocado refrigerator, that’s an 80’s custom interior if I ever saw one.

    Kept in a Huntington Beach, California garage all its life the ‘55’s trunk floor was absolutely rust free.

    Sadly, the ‘55’s owner passed away. Here’s the last shot I took of the ’55 Chevy before my friend sold the car for $17,000. It was kind of strange, the chiseler that bought the car pretended like he was going to restore it. It was pretty clear this dude was fresh off the boat and he had a buyer waiting back in some such far-away foreign land.

    The question is where, or if this car will ever surface again. We haven’t seen it in town and that’s where the buyer claimed he was from.  I hope the ‘55 hasn’t been turned into a chicken coop, with room for goats in the back.

  • West Coast Report – Sixth Edition: Wild Card By John Gilbert

    Stormin’ Norman’s ’52 F-1

    Text by John Gilbert from the March 2008 edition of Custom Classic Trucks…I think it was March.

    Photos by John Gilbert recently discovered turning dark on an old CDF card… Who knew there was a shelf life?

    I don’t think it’s plagiarism if you authored the story in the first place. I wrote this feature about my buddy Norm Marshall’s ’52 F-1 Ford pickup back in 2008 while I was the editor of Custom Classic Trucks. The photos shown here are outtakes from a photo shoot where I decided the background wasn’t good enough for publication in CCT. Norm brought the ’52 to another location the week after, and that’s what appeared in the magazine. Google Custom Classic Trucks Norm John Gilbert, and you can see the original story archived on Custom Classic Trucks’ web.

    Not necessarily in this order, but it's a good bet when the subject comes to some of the lifelong relationships held dear by classic truck owners the list will include family, friends, guns, dogs, country, and of course old trucks. A good example is Norm Marshall and his '52 Ford F-1 pickup built by Ron Scheussler of Oakhurst, California. Norm's known Ron's wife, Ann, since the two lived on the same street in Redondo Beach, California, and attended grade school on up to graduating from high school. In the years after high school Ron and Ann married and lived on the same street as Norm and his wife, Sally. Blasting past Ron's years of racing at Ascot in Gardena, California and fast-forwarding to the '80s Ron and Ann moved north to Oakhurst, California, where Ron built the ultimate home dream shop, complete with three bays. It wasn't long before Ron became known as the hot rod building guru of the Yosemite outskirts community.

    It was in 2001 when Ron started on the '52 F-1, and true to his "get out of the way, I'm going to get it done" reputation the '52 was completed by 2002. Suspension grafts was one of the areas where Ron specialized, and hanging a Pontiac Firebird front clip (same as Camaro) on the shortened nose of the '52 F-1 'rails was one of the first modifications the truck's original chassis underwent. For brakes, Ron retained the stock Firebird front discs, along with the stock drum brakes attached to the Ford 9-inch rearend Ron suspended from parallel leaf springs. Ron's intentions were to use the F-1 as a shop truck, so a set of airbags were hung in place between the frame and leaf springs to help the old truck out with a heavy load if need be. For rolling stock on the rear Ron used a pair of 15-inch Cragar chrome reverse wheels shod with P235/75R15 Bridgestone tires, and up front the Cragar/Bridgestone combo was downsized to P185/75R14. Under the hood, propulsion comes from a 350-inch Chevy punched out to 355 inches. For induction an Edelbrock carb and intake manifold combo rests between a pair of billet aluminum valve covers. The automatic overdrive transmission is a 700-R4, and the ignition is based around a GM HEI distributor, famous for its simple one-wire hook-up.

    When one takes a close look at the extensive customizing Ron did to the '52's body the one-year completion period takes on an increased appreciation. Starting from the F-1's radical nose where Ron flipped the front sheet metal robbed from another '52 F-1 upside down and then created a grille cavity and roll pan things get kind of serious. The next steps were to channel the cab 2 1/2 inches, and bob the front and rear fenders. In the rear, Ron fabricated a roll pan from scratch and then welded up every body seam and molded them in. When the time came for the '52 to get shot in a champagne metallic derived from some kind of Mopar, Ron's nephew Larry Klecka drove up from Las Vegas and sprayed it on. The striping over Larry's paintwork was done by Dale "Sogy" Oftedal of Fresno, California. Sogy is known for his extremely intricate work where he loads his brush with two colors and then blends it into one color to form a very thin line.

    It's on the '52's interior where Ron's old-time hot rodder ways match what he did on the outside. For power windows, power door locks, and air conditioning Ron scavenged parts from newer GM automobiles and made things work. From the GM air compressor to the rear of an unknown aftermarket head unit the air conditioning and power options are true mongrel hybrids. The seat frame used is one glommed from a Monte Carlo, and then Ron sectioned out the middle and welded it back together to fit within the F-1's notoriously narrow cab. With all of the interior amenities handled the next move was for the F-1 to be transported to Rick Struck's Auto Upholstery in nearby Ahwahnee, California. A good friend of Ron's, Rick stitched a combination of tan fabric and leather to provide the old truck with luxurious appointments and that good cowhide smell.

    If you've noticed we've been referring to Ron in the past tense, that's because he passed away in mid-2005, it was in September of 2007 when Norm acquired the '52 from Ann. Norm told us "that old truck is a part of the family, and a tribute to one of the great hot rod builders. There's no way I could have let it slip away from us." The only changes Norm has made to the truck since he got it was to install a Grant wood-rimmed, banjo-style steering wheel and rack up a bunch of miles on the odometer.

                                                                          — John Gilbert

  • West Coast Report – Fifth Edition: By John Gilbert

    Walls to the Ball

    There’s nothing quite like crashing a’64 Chrysler through a 6-foot brick wall to get a guy’s attention. I didn’t actually drive through the wall, but I came so close I visualized seconds into the future as the adobe blocks bounced off my hood leaving a clear pathway towards my screaming neighbors diving out of their backyard lounge chairs.

    In last week’s West Coast Report I mentioned the notice of violation letter I received last January from the city I live in. The letter was relating to complaints from a neighbor regarding some vintage cars stored on my property. Sure, its sounds a little ridiculous the neighbor has to peer over a 6 foot wall to spy the cars are there, but that’s all it took for the city to get involved. Two of my cars are in violation of the municipal code stating that vehicles must be parked on a fully paved surface. Instead of pavement, I parked my ’69 Buick, and ’64 Chrysler on the grass. The municipal code gets a little unreasonable when it comes to inoperative vehicles and car parts specifying they must be kept in a fully enclosed garage.

    I live in California, but the problem of heavy-handed urban decay laws threatening the preservation, and restoration of vintage vehicles are spreading nationwide. The seizure of private property sounds like a plot line from a nightmare movie where ruthless fascists bust down doors, but local zoning laws can make confiscation a reality in your town.  I contacted Colby Martin, director for the SEMA Action Network to find out how to get started towards enacting a reasonable law in California, and he said to start at the local level. In future West Coast Reports I’ll recount my meetings with local legislators, and share how things went. Updates to follow.

                                                                                    — John Gilbert

    It was over ten years ago I drove my ’69 Buick Riviera and ’64 Chrysler 300K into my backyard for storage. Here’s where I crashed the Chrysler into the wall. All at once I was able to stomp the emergency brake, throw it in park, and turn the ignition off… almost just in time. The K hit the wall with a loud bang, but neither car nor wall was hurt.

    I had to gas it hard to plow through the soft dirt and when I hit the brakes to stop the master-cylinder popped. Here’s the empty aftermath.

    For adjustable suspension instead of air bags the Chrysler is on hydraulics. The hydraulics stopped working, so I cut up wood blocks to lift the car off the bump stops.

    Partly with a pruning saw, and mostly with a Chrysler bumper I had to trim my dwarf orange tree to make room to get the car out. This was a pit stop, changing the wood blocks that disintegrated every six feet under the load of the 413’s torque.

    Rear wheel-spin on the grass was at a maximum with the car drifting uncontrollably sideways towards the wall. I got real close to hitting, but thankfully no cigar.

    I can just imagine the headlines: ’64 Chrysler found in the backyard of Orange County hoarder. A neighbor said “Mr. Gilbert has always been a quiet man. We were quite shocked when he came flying out of his entry way courtyard backwards with the Chrysler’s tires smoking.

    All Chrysler Letter Cars came standard with bucket seats, and a floor shifter. Checkout the square steering wheel.

    The original mileage is 38,047. When I found the Chrysler it was in storage, and then I parked it for 25 years after buying it.

    SHOW & GO

    Mullin Automotive Museum: By John Gilbert

    This gives new meaning to the French curve. The benefit of visiting an automobile museum dedicated to cars from one particular country is it really opens one’s eyes to construction methods unique to that country. What I’m trying to say is my two visits to the Mullin museum in Oxnard, California really opened my eyes to how incredible 1918-1941 vintage French automobiles really are. My first visit to the Mullin was for a press opening on April, 15 2010, the second time July 14, 2012 coincided with my 60th birthday— My mom always used to say I was a little Bastille ever since.

    I know for West Coast Eastwood readers appreciation for these automobiles will rate on numerous levels with styling, engineering, construction, and craftsmanship at the very top.

    At center is my all time favorite hood ornament the Lalique Eagle. Originally intended as a distinctive radiator shell ornament for early 20’s luxury automobiles the Lalique Eagle now stands alone as a work of art to be shown in a glass display case.

    If memory serves me well this is one of if not the very first Bugatti Veyron made.

    Here’s world renown cinematographer and yacht builder Henry Mohrschadlt photographing the Schlumpf Reserve Collection. Checkout the cute little Bugatti soft-top delivery hack at Henry’s left.

    I don’t believe its open to the general public, the upstairs lounge features furniture designed by Ettore’s father, Carlo Bugatti, and bronze sculptures by younger brother, Giovanni Bugatti.

    Sarah from JMPR was my personal guide for the first visit. A very patient person, Sarah had her hands full preventing me from drooling onto displays.

    This 1927 Cooper Miller Indy racer was sponsored by the Buick Motorcar Company of Flint, Michigan. Through later owners the car made a major impact in European racing decimating an entire fleet of specially constructed Gordini Alpine bread trucks on the streets of Monte Carlo — Sorry, I made the last part up.

    Powered by an inline eight-cylinder engine this 1925 Bugatti Type 25C was ordered new by the Bugatti dealer in London, England.

    In a full-scale paddock setting the upstairs features open wheel racecars. This 1911 Hispano-Suiza featured DOHC (dual overhead camshafts) and produced 64 horsepower from 3,616 cubic-centimeters… in 1911!

    In Southern California we’d call this ’37 Hispano-Suiza a woody wagon. The proper name is a Shooting Brake, and has nothing to with inadequate brakes causing the car the to shoot through a red light.

    Powered by one-horsepower this is one of three Bugatti carriages built by Ettore Bugatti for his horse ranch in Molsheim, France.  Notice the rear suspension consists of parallel leaf springs linked with a transverse leaf spring at rear.


    Jewels of Julesburg: By John Gilbert

    The images of what looks to be a 1950 year model Plymouth Deluxe Two Door Sedan were taken by me on the outskirts of Julesburg, Colorado in early April, 2012. I know its not a ’49 because it doesn’t have triple-fluted bumpers, or vertical positioned taillights. By 1951 the single-fluted lip at the bottom of ’50 bumpers was replaced with rounded blade type bumper. The odd feature of this particular car is the stainless steel molding (trim) on the door and quarter panel. I say odd because search as thoroughly as I might on the Internet for another ’49-52 Plymouth with this trim I couldn’t find photos of another example equally equipped.

    That said I do have a trusted source I go to when I can’t find information online it’s called the Standard Catalog of American Cars by John Gunnel. Truly an inspiration, John Gunnel is one of my heroes that I finally got a chance to meet in person and discuss his work. If there ever was an author that should go down in gearhead history as the most prolific producer of great automotive research books, it’s John Gunnel.

    You can locate this ’50 Plymouth by exiting I-80 onto Highway 385. It’s on the East side of 385 just a little ways south of the Julesburg sign. I guess I should mention it was stored behind a chain link fence with no signs of life around. The antique shop next door was out of business with a for lease sign posted in the window. There’s a Subway sandwich shop next to the Interstate.

    The good thing about this car is it’s a two-door. I don’t want to hurt any four-door owners feelings, but two-door cars make for much cooler customs. Can you imagine how badass this fastback coupe would look with a chopped top, and a nice custom paint job?

    Notice the door handle is of the turn-down type instead of pushbutton.

    In California we think of Colorado cars as usually being rusty,  but take a close look and you’ll see this car has only surface rust… No big ugly rust holes. Look at the chrome it’s all there and it’s perfect— yikes!

    Zoom-in and checkout that dashboard. Can’t you just see it packed with custom gauges, and color-matched to the custom exterior color with your  girl’s name lettered on the glove box — a chrome plated glove box door.


    The Chadly Coupe: By John Gilbert

    Got $34,995?— This baby’s for sale. Here’s copy I wrote about the Chadly coupe for Newport Classic Cars website. The old car is really starting to make a name for itself. Since the blogs that were posted on Street Rodder’s web during my cross-country trip the Chadly coupe has appeared in the May 2013 issue of Street Rodder, plus in an ad for Coker tires on the back page of Car Kulture DeLuxe. Future coverage on the Chadly coupe will be for KUSTOM a French magazine, and then maybe Rebel Rodz, and Chop & Roll an Italian magazine.


    Google the “Chadly Coupe” and numerous search results pop up with links to text and photos illustrating the traditional style hot rod displaying everything from a Wisconsin license plate to a Florida Antique plate progressing ultimately to sporting a California dealer’s plate.

    The story of the Chadly Coupe and its origins are as interesting as any traditional car in the annals of hot-rod history — Hi, my name is John Gilbert, and after driving the Chadly Coupe on behalf of Newport Classic Cars over 4,000 miles from St Augustine Beach, Florida, taking the long route across country to Newport Beach, California I’ve got a pretty good idea of what this car is all about.

    Chadly started with the “best example”

    The saga of the Chadly Coupe began when Chadly Johnson of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, a manufacturing support technician for Hutchinson Technology Inc. decided to build his first hot-rod. “I built the car after spotting Kris Elmer’s “Green Grenade” in a hot rod magazine, and had to have one just like it. It took approx 3 years of weekends and evenings to build the coupe. I got a ton of help from my fellow Hot Heads Car Club members in as well as from many veteran hot rodders in my home town. I found the coupe at a buddy’s transmission shop after he’d purchased it at an estate sale. I had to have it due to its great patina with a rock solid body. Before I left Southern California to pick the Chadly Coupe up near St Augustine Florida, I called Chadly to get an impression if it really was feasible to drive the car across country. It was quite interesting to learn that as a first time builder Chadly adhered to the advice of Boyd Coddington among other top car builders, and started with the very best example he could find — It’s a credo that strikes terror in a purist’s blood. The estate the Model A came out of was from a man that had owned the car for a very long time, and only used it to drive in summer parades. It was a perfect original paint car that any serious Model A collector would have loved to get his hands on and preserve it as Henry Ford made it. That all changed when the very first thing Chadly did was to severely chop 7½-inches out of the top. The coupe’s virtually rust free body is still in its original Ford factory applied black enamel except for the minuscule areas where Chadly sprayed black paint onto the welded seams of the chop.

    On pinched ’32 rails

    Underneath its near perfect body, the chassis of the Chadly Coupe appears outwardly as a traditional 1932 Ford frame, but that’s where the similarity ends. One of the main reasons I attribute being able to drive the car over 4,000 miles without a problem was thanks to the modern technology incorporated into the Pete & Jake’s Stage III 3100 chassis. In between the boxed ’32 rails there’s steel reinforcement tubing that doesn’t allow the chassis to twist or flex. Instead of buggy springs for rear suspension Chadly chose the Aldan coilover option and I’m glad he did, this car rides and handles great. For braking up front GM style disc brakes with large late-model Ford drum brakes bring the coupe’s ability to stop into the 21st Century. Tired from the drive, and not all that alert I made a few hard panic stops in Atlanta, Georgia during afternoon rush hour traffic. What could have been a major pileup with the coupe totaled turned out to be nothing more than a tense moment for the cars stopped in front of me. I pushed onward until I made it to Chattanooga, Tennessee that night.

    The switch from Coker bias-ply to Coker Excelsior radials… in Chattanooga

    The week before I flew out to pick the coupe up in Florida, I met with Corky Coker in Irvine, California, at a SIM (Source Interlink Media) editor’s roundtable on Coker tires. As in years past Corky extended an open invitation for any of us editor types to visit him, and view his legendary vintage car and motorcycle collection at Coker headquarters in Chattanooga, Tennessee. In less than a week to the day I screeched up to Corky’s Chattanooga headquarters in the Chadly Coupe, and spent most of the day with Corky. As a part of the visit for an upcoming tech story, and car feature in Street Rodder magazine, Corky took an active part in replacing his bias-ply Firestones with a new set of Excelsior radials. Next Corky insisted his crew over at Honest Charley’s Speed Shop give the car a thorough going-over before I hit the road to Speedy Bill’s Speedway Motors in Lincoln, Nebraska.

    A low-mile ’54 Chrysler gets sacrificed for its 331-inch Hemi

    The purists will cringe — Damned if Chadly didn’t do it again. The 331-inch Hemi engine powering the coupe was plucked out of a mint ’54 Chrysler New Yorker with extremely low mileage. Chadly left the Hemi in its original silver engine enamel, in fact he didn’t even clean the original grease and grime off the engine. The internals of the Chrysler Hemi are stock with a mint example of a Weiand 6-duece intake manifold packed with Holley 94 carbs supplying fuel. A Joe Hunt magneto style HEI distributor along with a high-torque starter fired the Hemi up every time on the first try during the entire course of my journey. Corky had the crew at Honest Charley’s Speed Shop change the oil with Champion Classic & Muscle 20W-50W oil enriched with high levels of ZDDP. Amazingly the coupe only used one quart of oil from Chattanooga, Tennessee up to Lincoln, Nebraska on to Lake Tahoe all the way home to Newport Beach, California, a pretty good indication of its excellent condition. The 4-speed transmission is a close-ratio Muncie originating from a ’63 Corvette Stingray. Thanks to tall 3.23:1 gears in the 9-inch Ford rearend the coupe just sipped gas from its Tanks 18-gallon gas tank. Another item with an old school look that’s actually quite high-tech is the Delco-Remy style PowerGen alternator delivering 75-amps. The coupe’s Stewart-Warner volt gauge never dropped below 14.5 volts the entire trip. For engine cooling the coupe behind it’s Deuce grille shell is running a genuine Walker radiator, a company that has been manufacturing radiators in Memphis, Tennessee since 1932.

    “Stitch Bitch” did the black tuck ‘n roll

    In Florida, Todd, the coupe’s second owner installed a ’32 Ford dashboard packed with genuine Stewart-Warner gauges plopped in front of a shrunken ’40 Ford steering wheel. The black tuck ‘n roll upholstery was done by “Stitch Bitch” of Stillwater, Minnesota.

    The Chadly Coupe passed its trial by fire with colors… er, make that Flat Black.

    After my 4,000-mile banzai run across country in the Chadly Coupe there’s no doubt the car has proven itself reliable. To get an even better idea of how monumental its cross-country journey was please check out my blogs on the Chadly Coupe at  or read the May 2013 edition of Street Rodder.


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