West Coast Eastwood

  • 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.

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  • 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

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  • 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 www.StreetRodderweb.com  or read the May 2013 edition of Street Rodder.


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  • West Coast Report – Fourth Edition: By John Gilbert

    Notice of Violation

    Worldwide, I believe most car collectors recognize California as the birthplace of custom car culture, and the ultimate source for rust free vintage cars and parts. That said, I wonder if folks realize its all hanging by a thread? California isn’t famous for preservation of automotive history, I call it the Cash for Clunkers mentality its a big push to erase California’s car culture from the face of the earth.

    Around mid-January, I received a letter from the city I live in with a list of violations someone in my neighborhood accused me of committing.  Unfortunately when one gets turned in to the city by one of their neighbors they don’t have the right to know who their accuser is. The passive aggressive sort can remain anonymous, there’s no way to determine if the complaint came from a legitimate neighboring home owner, or a real estate agent intent on squeezing a few more bucks out of a nearby listing. A fellow car collector in the neighborhood told me the latest scam is for people trying buy a car from someone that doesn’t want to sell, is to report the car as a nuisance to the city, and then wait until the owner gets forced to sell, or scrap.

    Cutting through paragraphs of boilerplate the city’s bottom line is the only place I can work on a car project or store it is inside my garage. The bright side to all of this is shortly after the letter from the city arrived I was in an MPMC media trade meeting with Colby Martin. Colby is SEMA’s director for the SEMA Action Network. I’ve written about it before, SEMA already has a model in place to deal with unfair inoperable vehicle laws. The task is going to be how to get the model enacted into California law. This is going to be an ongoing subject, and its one that applies to anyone that lives in the United States. Updates next week.


    Cameo, Cameo, wherefore art thou Cameo?

    If that’s not the corniest title ever — It’s the Cameo Carriers I want to spotlight here, but the entire Tri-five series, 1955-59 Chevy trucks were out in full force at the 2013 Scottsdale Barrett Jackson auction. Not only were they there, some were bringing pretty good money in comparison to the prices they’re currently bringing on the street. A Tri-five Chevy in the So Cal area selling in the $25-35,000 range brought as much as $71,500. A look at Barrett-Jackson’s results page revealed prices were all over the map. A good example was lot  951. If I were writing a feature about this truck for Classic Trucks or Custom Classic Trucks I would title it “Heinz ’57.” What else would you call a truck listed as a ’57 GMC, with a ’55 Chevy hood, and a ’57 Chevy grille? What struck me the most about the truck was it’s small-window cab with shaved drip rails. I say this because small-window cabs are in the least demand, and shaving the drip rails is the easiest way to save a rusted-out roof.

    Bringing the focus back to the Cameo Carrier, was it a styling exercise done to indicate market demand? The fiberglass bed sides GM used to wrap its standard steel stepside bed pre-dated the ’57 Ford Styleside by two years. A year and a half after Ford the all-steel Chevrolet Fleetside bed wasn’t introduced until mid-year 1958.

    This is a 1957 Chevy Cameo Carrier. Note in’57 Cameo bedsides gained extra trim that lent well to two-toning.

    Note 3124 in the side emblems: From 1955-1957 instead of the 3100 used to designate a ½-ton shortbed, or 3200 a ½-ton longbed, 3124 denoted a Cameo Carrier.

    This is a 1958 Cameo Carrier that sold at auction at Scottsdale 2013. Note the 3124 emblem was replaced with Apache 31. The Apache model was introduced in 1958 and available throughout the ½-ton lineup.

    The rarest Cameo ever? Research for another day it would be interesting to know if this 1958 NAPCO Cameo Carrier is real, or just a really neat exercise in recreating something that never was. I found several vehicles at Scottsdale 2013 that were upgraded after the fact with factory options… In other words, cars that never were. A fully-loaded 1963 Studebaker Champ pickup that was built up from a base model with only one original option comes to mind.

    When late-model bed swaps go bad: Got a $25,000 truck you’d like to get $8,000 for? I found this ’57 Chevy in the auction area at Hot August Nights in 2007.

    SHOW & GO

    Street Art for the Road

    Art and object driven, sounds cool whatever it means. I hadn’t planned on going to the Scottsdale auctions until the day before when my friend Henry at Newport Classic Cars called and said he’d like me to be there to help him size up some vehicles. My first choice for transportation is always to drive. A dumb idea, I told Henry as long as I was driving out I might as well drag along my tandem car trailer. I drove all day across the desert just to get to the desert. Let’s just call it performance art. Sure the square art world doesn’t recognize anything associated with Custom Culture as art, but that’s okay because we all know that’s because they’re square. So if I want to call hauling Bruce Willis’ former ’55 Chevy Nomad back to Newport Beach performance art, I can do that.

    The first thing I did in Scottsdale was to drop off my tandem at Russo & Steele’s trailer lot. It would have cost $50.00, but the lot attendant said there was only a couple of days left, so I parked for free. Everyone working at Russo & Steele was first class.

    I didn’t get a parking sticker like the other trailers, so I was a little nervous about leaving it.

    Newport Classic Cars hauled five vehicles out to Russo & Steele. This ’61 Chevy Impala SS was the first one I got to see cross the block. Although the people running it are really nice, Russo doesn’t spend as much time describing the vehicles, and it wasn’t mentioned this ’61 was a real, and very rare SS, and it didn’t come even close to hitting the reserve.

    Held at West World I think it would be safe to say due to the immensity of it all the Scottsdale Barrett Jackson auction is the granddaddy of all car auctions. Outside there was a giant vendor area inside and outside of tents. This inflatable spray booth captured my imagination.

    Available in custom painted pink the Mercedes-Benz Unimog is the ultimate urban survival vehicle.

    The best gathering of great automotive artists I’ve ever seen, I wish I’d shot better coverage of the automotive art gallery assembled at Barrett Jackson. I did take a snap of Eric Hermann next to his booth. I met Eric last December in Ventura, California while we were both exhibiting at the David Mann Chopper Fest art exhibit.

    Here they are at Scottsdale: Another great automotive artist I met Al DiMauro and his wife at the Syracuse Nationals in Syracuse New York. Originally from Upstate New York, Al and his wife live in Arizona.

    How’s this for confusion: With GM Classics Rule! emblazoned down each side of the trailer the tow truck pulling it was a brand-new matching red Ford pickup.

    I took this photo of the Nomad before I loaded it just in case I ripped the sides off driving the ’55 onto the trailer… hey, there’s always that risk.

    Point it straight, and veer tight left trying to keep driver side trailer fender in sight.

    Perfect! balance the car on the trailer with the tongue angle right, and tie it down. Four straps is the legal minimum.

    The first rest stop west of Phoenix. Check the tie-downs, talk with tourists digging the ’55 and then keep driving.

    The second rest stop west of Phoenix. A Utah tourist remembered Tim Allen’s Nomad on Tool Time… she didn’t know who Bruce Willis was, weird huh? Check the tie-downs, and cheack there’s still four tires on the trailer. Donate used Coffee to the porcelain shrine.

    Gas is a half buck less in Arizona than California. Pulled into Quartzite, but the gas lines were too long. Opted for a Subway tuna barge with extra onions. Bought a Subway cookie, but it was too stale to eat, it made a good wheel chock.

    The only place my truck and trailer would fit in Quartzite was in the no-parking area behind the Subway. I asked a guy working there if my rig would be okay, and he said “no problem.” Nice folks in that town!

    The official Chevrolet name for the ’55 Nomad’s light blue color is Skyline Blue… Where do you think they got that name from?


    This one got Away

    Photo by Bob Ryder editor, Drive! magazine: That’s me next to it.  I’d always dreamt of finding an old Peterbilt, and turning it into a big ol’ hot rod truck for the open road when on Ocotber 2, 2010 the dream came true. I was checking out a Chevy pickup to shoot for Custom Classic Trucks in Atwater, California when I was given this ’77 Peterbilt 289. It was the neatest thing ever, the owner saw how much I liked the truck, and said it yours if you want it. As you can see by the photos the truck didn’t have one dent, but was missing its Cat engine.

    Here’s a Polaroid of the Pete when she was in her prime.

    It came to a sad end. The Pete was always on my mind, but I never came up with an affordable way to get it hauled some 300 miles to my house. Eventually the owner got tired of waiting for me and sent the truck to the scrapper. I’m guessing it got melted down and turned into hubcaps for 4,323 Honda cars.

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  • West Coast Report – Third Edition

    The High-Capacity Magazine

    Maybe I’ll always begin the West Coast Report with welcome to the whatever number we’re up to so if anyone would like to question me on something I said in a past edition it will be a lot easier to locate. Say for instance if someone was the lucky winner of a West Coast Eastwood free invisible frog, and now they wanted to know which issue it was that carried all of the necessary health warnings associated with a West Coast Eastwood free invisible frog.

    That said, welcome to the third edition of West Coast Eastwood. I think I’d like to take this opportunity to talk about something I know absolutely nothing about, but somehow feel qualified to do a spiel on the subject. It’s all the hubbub surrounding Lance Armstrong these days that got me to pondering it. I think where this is all going to end up is every sport will adopt uniforms like NASCAR drivers wear with sponsorship logos emblazoned from head-to-toe. I think the idea would open up athletes being able to chug down their sponsors supercharged energy drinks, or use prescription drugs the same way race cars burn its sponsors special blend of a specific brand of racing fuel. Of course now that I think about it most of the main sponsors plastered on race cars have little to do with a mechanical part, or chemical that contributed to the car winning a race. I wonder if the marketing people for Viagra ever approached NASCAR short track legend Dick Trickle to do an endorsement? A look at the less prominent logos reveals contingency award sponsors are mostly parts companies like ARP, Holley, Hurst, etc… Coors beer once offered a contingency award, but I think you couldn’t claim it until after the race. Mothers against drunk race car drivers?

    This is only the third West Coast Report I’ve written and I imagine WCE followers have already noticed Eastwood allows me a tremendous amount of editorial freedom when it comes to the subject I choose to write about. I’m pleased to point out Eastwood extends the freedom to say what one wants and not be censored to all of its customers in its open forums. The first time I went on an Eastwood forum, I was kind of surprised to find even the person with a not so kind product review was allowed to speak their peace without censorship. It was also kind of neat to read other customers replies to the person with an even keeled response to the person stating maybe they hadn’t used the product properly, with tips how to correct the problem.

    Speaking of reviews check out what seven different Eastwood customers had to say about this product. She won’t stay down, I’m not a very good K-9 trainer, my dog Ruby loves to sleep in the sun on the roofs of my ’64 Chrysler 300K, and ’69 Buick Riviera. There’s a million deep scratches where her big feet slide up and down the windshield and rear glass when she leaps from car-to-car. For an upcoming tech I ordered an Eastwood #12526 Pro Glass Polishing Kit for Deep Scratches. I remember many years ago when I owned my first car, a ’57 Chevy Bel-Air, my dad told me about this process. Windshield scratches can be polished out, but it has to be done with a fine touch, so as not to distort the optics. (note to brain: find out optimum RPM for polishing windshield glass) Until next week, keep your fingers out of the grinding wheel.

    —   John Gilbert


    SHOW & GO

    CPP’s 1st Annual Truck Show & Cruise

    Here’s a few flicks I shot at Classic Performance Products 1st Annual Truck Show & Cruise that was held March12, 2011. I wasn’t there to gather coverage for any of the truck magazines, but rather checkout what trucks showed up, and meet up with a lot of my friends that live outside the OC area. Since we’re on the subject of CPP, I should mention to the local guys that like to shop direct in the showroom don’t go to the Anaheim location on 175 East Freedom Street because as of February 4, 2013 CPP is located at 378 Orangethorpe Ave. Placentia, CA. 92870.

    I wish CPP had moved to Placentia back when Custom Classic Trucks editorial offices were still at 774 So. Placentia, in Placentia, it would have been a little quicker for me to drop by and shoot a tech feature. (note to brain: that was a dumb comment, considering I’ve driven to Tennessee, and much further to shoot tech features)

    For those early birds that liked to pig out on great breakfast fixin’s such as Starbucks coffee, and baked goodies from the incredibly delicious Polly’s Pies, CPP had a big ol’ spread, and it was all free!

    It’s going to be real interesting to tour CPP’s new manufacturing facility. CPP expanded operations numerous times picking up 10,000 square-feet at a time while the company was located in Anaheim. Updates to follow.


    Find it near Fallon Nevada

    Horizontal-vertical-horizontal —vertical-vertical, I just kept shooting flicks of this big old steam shovel before a big ugly dog was going to make a meal out of me if I didn’t run for cover. Because I’ve got a dog now, and used to have five dogs at one time I always carry a Dog Whisperer starter kit in the cab of my truck (box of Milk Bone dog cookies). Unfortunately my trusty ’05 GMC was parked about a mile down the road from where I found this steam shovel. Even if a guy did all the work himself it’d take big dough, plus a giant sized gantry to restore this beast. Who knows maybe there’s a guy reading this that can do whatever it takes to bring this old girl back to her former beauty. If so she’s rusting near a slough just off of Highway 50 near Fallon, Nevada. If you’re serious I’m sure I could find it again. Don’t forget to bring a big box of Milk Bones, and your best running shoes.


    Know this ‘57’s Owner?

    Hey does anyone know the owner of this super bad Tropical Turquoise ’57 Chevy panel? The truck is from the Reno, Nevada area, I shot it in 2008 while I was the editor of Custom Classic Trucks. I was in town for Hot August Nights and shot this truck along with a red Cameo Carrier that made the cover of CCT. It has always bugged me that this truck didn’t make it.

    The dealio is I somehow managed to lose the tech sheet, or maybe I didn’t get it back from the owner… hey, it happens. Anyways here’s the images, I hope you guys dig it, and maybe we can locate the owner.

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