ESI processing not enabled ESI processing not enabled
ESI processing not enabled

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.


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.

51 thoughts on “West Coast Report – Fourth Edition: By John Gilbert”

  • John Gilbert

    The first four editions of West Coast Eastwood's West Coast Report I cranked out way ahead of time. For next week's 5th edition I'm going to knock it out only hours before it goes live.

    This means if any of you folks have any comments or something you'd like me to respond to you can post it here in the comments and I'll get to addressing it in the 5th WCE.


    John G.

  • Chris Henson

    Unfortunately we have a bunch of misleading leaders in this country that have other agendas. Here's something for them to chew on....

    Where Does the Carbon Really Come From? Professor Ian Plimer could not have said it better! If you've read his book you will agree, this is a good summary.

    Okay, here's the bombshell. The volcanic eruption in Iceland, since its first spewing of volcanic ash has, in just FOUR DAYS, NEGATED EVERY SINGLE EFFORT you have made in the past five years to control CO2 emissions on our planet - all of you.

    Of course you know about this evil carbon dioxide that we are trying to suppress - it's that vital chemical compound that every plant requires to live and grow and to synthesize into oxygen for us humans and all animal life.

    I know, it's very disheartening to realize that all of the carbon emission savings you have accomplished while suffering the inconvenience and expense of: driving Prius hybrids, buying fabric grocery bags, sitting up till midnight to finish your kid's "The Green Revolution" science project, throwing out all of your non-green cleaning supplies, using only two squares of toilet paper, putting a brick in your toilet tank reservoir, selling your SUV and speedboat, vacationing at home instead of abroad, nearly getting hit every day on your bicycle, replacing all of your 50 cents light bulbs with $10.00 light bulbs ...well, all of those things you have done have all gone down the tubes in just four days.

    The volcanic ash emitted into the Earth's atmosphere in just four days - yes - FOUR DAYS ONLY by that volcano in Iceland, has totally erased every single effort you have made to reduce the evil beast, carbon. And there are around 200 active volcanoes on the planet spewing out this crud at any one time - EVERY DAY.

    I don't really want to rain on your parade too much, but I should mention that when the volcano Mt Pinatubo erupted in the Philippines in 1991, it spewed out more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than the entire human race had emitted in all its years on earth. Yes folks, Mt Pinatubo was active for over one year - think about it.

    Of course I shouldn't spoil this touchy-feely tree-hugging moment and mention the effect of solar and cosmic activity and the well-recognized 800-year global heating and cooling cycle, which keep happening, despite our completely insignificant efforts to affect climate change.

    And I do wish I had a silver lining to this volcanic ash cloud but the fact of the matter is that the bush fire season across the western USA and Australia this year alone will negate your efforts to reduce carbon in our world for the next two to three years. And it happens every year.

    Just remember that your government just tried to impose a whopping carbon tax on you on the basis of the bogus human-caused climate change scenario.

    Hey, isn't it interesting how they don't mention "Global Warming" any more, but just "Climate Change" - you know why? It's because the planet has COOLED by 0.7 degrees in the past century and these global warming bull artists got caught with their pants down.

    And just keep in mind that you might yet have an Emissions Trading Scheme - that whopping new tax - imposed on you, that will achieve absolutely nothing except make you poorer. It won't stop any volcanoes from erupting, that's for sure.

    But hey, relax, give the world a hug and have a nice day!

  • John Gilbert


    Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. I'll address what you have posted in the 5th West Coast Report. It's an interesting subject for sure!

    — John G.

  • Terry Melen

    Nice blog.
    Great photos

  • Lee Alexander

    Nice report . Glad to see Pickups are bring better prices. As for story in California better think about getting out. I moved to Colorado 13 yrs ago and no problem with neighbors about projects in progress.

  • Dave1162

    very nice rides I am restoring a 1977Jeep Cherokee 2 door 4x4 I am looking for 100% factory and I am having trouble finding parts for the old 258cid and I need 1 marker light chrome any thought where I can find them

  • Ben

    " I call it the Cash for Clunkers mentality its a big push to erase California’s car culture from the face of the earth." Sorry, I don't see that changing anytime soon, you are on the wrong end of that argument with your fellow comrades. Expect it to get worse before it gets better.

  • -Nate

    I live in Pasadena and have been through the fake " Code Enforcement " nightmare thanx to the drnken old woman next door who colluded to falsify evidence against me with the crooked Code Enforcement Officer who told me it'd all go away if I just gave him one of my Vintage cars...

    FAT CHANCE ! I'd burn 'em all first .

    One tip : title and register _EVERY_ONE_ you have then file a one time Non Operational Status form with the DMV as most Munincipal ordenances pivot around un registered vehicles moreso than non operational .

    Nice Cameo Carriers ! .


  • Finatic

    The West Coast Report is a great read, looking forward to the 5th edition.

  • David Wood

    This kind of thing has happened to many people and has caused them to let their vehicle go to the wrecking yard or practically given away because they have no where to work on it or store it... I'm glad that their is a group that will try to step in to help in these matters so cars and peoples hopes and dreams are not lost forever. Thanks, to all concerned... P. S. I am not a home owner and have a couple of project vehicles, it's been difficult to say the least to try to juggle where to keep them and also have a place to work on 'em too.

  • Steve

    I had the same thing happen. On Jan 22 2013 I received a notice from the city of Norwood Ohio to remove 2 cars within 10 days or I would be fined every day past the 10 days. These cars had been here over 10 years with no problem. I read the city ordinance & it said the cars had to be in a structute but it didn't say it had to be a permanet structure so I asked if I could use a portable tarp covered car shelter, they said if I was able to get it approved by the building department I could keep the cars. I was able to only get a permit for a shelter that would fit 1 car so I did that and got rid of the other car less all the parts I was saving the car for. It's bull crap since Norwood Ohio had been a long time car building city since they used to build the Camaro & Firebird here but they just flat out don't care. GOOD LUCK

  • Jesse

    Same problem, Fairborn, Oh.
    Goes around comes around Ms. Karen Bocko

  • Ken Mayle

    Lots of great humor, pictures & information in
    your reporting process. I was glad to know there are other old iron freedom seekers still on the planet...
    Thanks for updating & sharing the fun stuff....
    Stay mobile, don't get trampled by the system......


    I am painfully aware of this kind of harassment.
    The city of oklahoma city hauled away my projects. ie
    1 1978 mercedes benz 450 sl with hard top
    1 1972 chevrolet c10 pickup
    1 1978 gmc blazer
    they tried to take my 79 ta firebird on my trailer, but I towed the trailer and car away, almost ran over the guy from th city......he was pretty fast on his feet.

  • wizardofx

    I just moved to Pasadena because I thought CA was the mecca of classic cars and hot rods. The fact is, it's a nanny state with everyone in your business telling you what you can't do. When I started restoring my '68 Torino this year. (LOTS and LOTS of supplies from Eastwood...btw) I was warned not to try to paint my car in the garage because of "the man." I found it's best to get to know your neighbors- FAST. Once they know you, respect your hobby, craftsmanship and your story, there's a human connection. I bring lemons off the tree to them all as a gesture of friendship. It has definitely helped. That and a NON-OP registration.

  • Andrew K.

    I must admit I've reported my neighbor a couple of times. NOT for working on his car, but for doing burnouts in front on my house at 11pm or 7am. It's just loud enough to wake up my 2 year old.

    I figure of all the parking lots at those hours that are empty why does he choose a neighborhood.

    My township on the other hand only requires a car have a current PA state registration. The car can be a parts car stripped to the frame, but if it's registered they can't do anything.

    Though they do require you to mow your grass if its over 10 inches, and will fine you for using a tractor, bathtub, old motorcycle, etc as a planter or ornament in front of your house.

    The township is Bristol, Pa. btw, just north of Philadelphia.

    Bottom line. get out of California. their laws just plain suck @ss

  • Pat

    Welcome to the nanny state. Remember Government knows what's best. Now bend over and take it like good little compliant sheep.

  • Michael Lehner
    Michael Lehner March 24, 2013 at 7:59 am

    This can happen anywhere. I have a 71 Benz and a 72 Benz,2 70 and 2 71 Karmann Ghias, an 89 Plymouth Colt, an 04 Beetle convertible 5 speed turbo and a 2012 Honda CR-V. I rent 4 garages to keep out of trouble and still have cars everywhere. I'm a neighbor's worst nightmare. I even annoy myself. I live in Iowa and sometimes I feel like I am all alone in this car storage thing. I just keep switching them around and working on them and waiting for the hammer to drop.

  • Chuck

    California, known here a "liberalism gone insane" has long been the bane of car guys. They have tried to pass laws that won't allow any unregistered vehicle in your yard (makes it hard to own a race car). As I recall for a time they were impounding cars right out of peoples driveways. I can understand they don't want a small junkyard at your house but they get ridiculous about it.

  • Jim Owens

    I got reported once for my 89 Mustang LX and 77 Mercury Capri the latter of which was behind my solid fence and you had to go onto my property to see it. Luckily for me they trespassed to get the plate and the administrator was a car guy so he suggested I fill out a "project vehicle" report which gives you a year of time to work on it and can be extended if the project does not get done in time. Well to say the least I have not had a complaint since and it has been a quiet three years. I do try to help out my neighbors when I notice they are having car troubles as a public service in the hopes that they will put up with my projects and my friends coming over to work on theirs at times.

  • Lakeratiam

    Hot rodders are unfairly and unjustly being viewed in a negative way by ignorant/uninformed government entities as eco unfriendly, speed demons with "eye sores" in their front yards. Most all of the negativity comes from a very small few that play to the stereo type. Thus the rest of the enthusiasts pay the price. Seems like that as enthusiasts, we need to police our own and work with local government entities to find acceptable solutions. Money talks, and in our town one way in which there has been positive progress towards improving "the image" is having a official city sanctioned cruise night. It is sponsored by the local car clubs and a local radio station. The entire down town area is closed off to all traffic except the classic cars of course which must show proof of insurance and registration. The public shows up in force to see all the cars and spend money in the shops that would otherwise be closed for the evening. Good for the enthusiasts and the local down town economy.

  • David Steen

    I've never heard of the Non-Op permit. Everyone needs to check on this. It would really suck to have a '32 Ford or Hemi-Cuda,or Grandmas Buick towed away while at work. My Uncle in Greenville,SC called a few years ago,a friend had a '71 Dodge Demon he was forced to sell by the city. He'd rollit out of the 1 car garageto the driveway to work on,and roll it back in when finished,never left out. Got busted for Non-Op. Had to quick sell $10,000 project for less than $2,000. Or city would've gone into garage and take it !!!!! Scary and true !!!! C.Y.A.!!!!!

  • Rick Doone

    As a citizen of the U.S. you have a Constitutional Right to face your accuser. I would get a lawyer and go to court if the police, city or whatever agency won't release the info on the accuser.

  • Steve Hitz

    had the same problem over the years. i'd use a 'classic car cover' over them. put jack stands undrerneath them to give the impression that the tires held air. mowed the grass around them. i think they just hate an 'eyesore', so if you cover it up, they'll leave you alone. plus--get tags and insurance. all they really want is money, after all. lol

  • warren t

    Towns all over are terrible to deal with. I had to scrap 42 cars all to be used for parts and projects. The cars were on 29 acres hidden between the trees and could not be seen from the road. They found them using google earth . BIG BROTHER is watching!


Items 1 to 25 of 51 total

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
Leave a Reply
ESI processing not enabled