Archive for the ‘car shows suck’ Category

Chip Foose is my hero.

Chip Foose is my hero.

I’ll say it right now, Chip Foose is a hero of mine.  I’ve heard, and read on-line lately, lots of disparaging remarks about his latest creation, the above Impala which took the Ridler award at AutoRama, but I’m not one of those distractors.  This car is a masterpiece, and was in my head all day yesterday while I was in the shop working on my own two customs, Kim’s ’63 Riviera and my long-term ’59 T’bird project.

I don’t have the talent, vision, or admittedly the budget for a car like this, but I take inspiration for my own cars from Chip’s work, and this one spoke to me at a very visceral level.  It’s absolutely stunning.  The proportions are perfect, the car is radically modified but still looks like a Chevy Impala.  Integrated, unified, classic yet modern/  Everything flows, beautifully detailed to a level that boggles my mind.  It’s everything that I like about custom cars, and everything I’d like to be able to do.

I overheard some comments while looking at the car, and read afterwards, comments along the line of “The Ridler is bought, not earned”, “All Foose’s cars look the same.”, “F-ugly.”, and so on.  My thoughts on looking at this (and LOTS of other cars at the show) were more along the “I could do that.”

In that light, while the images of the car are still fresh in my head, I’m going to get out to the shop and try to get the bodywork on my T’bird, and get busy with the Air-Ride system under the Riviera.  Maybe someday a crowd of guys will stand around my car and mutter “It’s all about money”, “He just wrote the checks”, “I hate painted bumpers”, and occasionally, “I could do that.”

Let’s get busy.




Yesterday, on a Facebook page devoted to traditional custom cars (we know it’s traditional because they spell it with. “K”), someone posted some photos of several vintage Cadillac customs. Following suit, I posted one of our long gone ’56 convert, a car that really initiated me into the world of “customs”. The car gave me confidence in my abilities and sense of style, I was and still am, proud of it.

Several people then “shared” the photo to their pages, which is flattering. Since I’m a bit of an attention seeker, of course I followed links their pages to see them, and read comments.

Predictably, some of the comments were less than complimentary. “I don’t like the tires”, to “Painted chrome sucks”, and so forth.  Of course my feeling were a little hurt, and I thought, “Really?”  It was the 80’s, and the car was sort of cutting edge at the time.

Several witty and cutting replies came to mind, from “…and the horse you rode in on.”,  to “Let’s see YOUR car”, to some even less refined. I paused for a second before hitting “Return”, which is NOT my usual habit. I must be getting more mature.

This pause made me wonder Why it is that people feel free to express every negative feeling they have in this way? It’s not just the cloak of anonimity of the web, I’ve heard it all in person at car shows and events as well. People seem to think if it’s out in public, their myopic viewpoint needs to be heard, especially in the example of a custom car, by the owner/builder. My wife always cringes when I let these dopes have it car shows, saying it brings me down to their level.

I guess she’s right. From now on, this kind of unconstructive criticism I’ll let slide. It doesn’t matter, I do things for me, not someone else.

And besides, they couldn’t do it anyway…

100_7427 (1024x768)For a second there, I thought I was at the Spring Home Show, waiting to see Mike Holmes tell me what’s wrong with my (it’s a long list) home improvement projects, but no, it was a diorama for the Detroit club, “Poor Boys”, which included, yes, the kitchen sink.   Cool display, they even had some cars there…

Kim and I went to Detroit on Friday for the opening day of this years show, after missing last years show.  I was anxious to visit the basement, but Kim persuaded me to go through the upstairs first, before the crowds got thick. 

Once again, she was correct, and once again, the show was great, with a diversity of machinery, and level of craftsmanship that approaches supernatural.  True, we may not LIKE everything, but we have to admire the quality of work, and the vision (sometimes clouded) that goes into some of these rides.  It’s a popular pastime on the HAMB to bash high dollar show cars, street-rods, and anything that doesn’t fit precisely into the “traditional” hot rod category, but that’s a reflection of the “me too”, and largely anonymous, feature of the internet.

Here now, without editorializing, are some pics of what here at “Cool McCool’s Garage”, thought was outstanding at the show…

100_7395 (1024x768)100_7419 (1024x768) 

100_7410 (1024x768)100_7413 (1024x768)

100_7405 (1024x768)100_7399 (1024x768)

100_7414 (1024x768)100_7422 (1024x768)

100_7401 (1024x768)100_7431 (1024x768)

100_7441 (1024x768)100_7458 (1024x768)

100_7454 (1024x768)100_7392 (1024x768)

100_7423 (1024x768)

100_7462 (1024x768)

So, there you go.  From Gene Winfield (at 80 something) jumping up on the cowl of a ’39 Chevy marking the top to be cut,  a kid getting a flat-top, to hanging out with your pals in the kitchen, and oh yeah, some killer cars of all kinds, it’s the Detroit AutoRama, as we saw it.

Here at Cool McCool’s Garage, our panel of automotive styling experts and Hot Rod Historians sometimes don’t always agree on what’s “Hot”, and what’s “Not”.  This year, our executive committee traveled over 10 miles to attend the NSRA “Nats North”, right here in sunny Kalamazoo, MI.  We didn’t all agree on the cars, but we did agree it was a great weekend, that we got to hang out with some great friends, and that we managed to not spend all our project money on, well, another project.  (Thanks John Hall for letting the CEO off the hook on the Riv’s when the CFO put the brakes on the Riviera project).  Anyway, without further ado, our panel of experts now present, in maybe no particular order, what’s “Hot”, and what’s “Not” in Hot Rodding, 2012…

Hot, hot, hot.  Pagan Gold ’40 Ford Coupe.  And, yes, it’s got a Hemi in it.  From the white firewall, white walls, and just enough “bling” to be period correct, but still a “real” car, this was a standout.

Remember the ’80’s?  Of course you do, how could you forget when you’re reminded of it every time you look at your ’40 Ford Coupe and realize you now can’t afford to paint over that God-awful pastel pink paint job you thought was so cool?  Even if you still sort of liked the grey tweed interior, you know it’ll cost 20 large to undo what you did back then.  Of course, those Jordasche jeans don’t look any  better on you now either… 

There were, of course, even worse examples of this sad, but popular trend, but, this particular car represented the best, and the worst, of hot rodding.  Like a “Project Runway” winner, and loser, all in one.

Smok’n hot.  Traditional, tasteful mild customs, these happen to both be Fords, but they could have as easily been GM or Chrysler examples, we just didn’t see any of them in the hotel parking lot.  The fact that the shoebox belongs to drag legend Dick Lahay makes the one on the right even better.

Elvis and Jerry Lee were right.  Cadillacs are IT.  These two represent two completely different custom themes, but both got our blood boiling.  Although we have to say to the owner of the stunning red ‘vert,  “Close the bloody hood.”  It’s impossible to get the full impact of the car with the hood up.  Of course, we did get to see it with the hood down at the awards ceremony, where it, very deservedly, got a pro’s pick.   They’re both HOT.

Embarrassingly “Not Hot.”  Three old fat guys in lawn chairs could be the new NSRA logo.  WAKE UP!

A Cord 810 Cabriolet and a Packard “Speedster”.  Tell me, at what other show, anywhere, will you see two cars like this parked beside chopped up old Fords?  This is HOT, and it speaks to the creative genius, and diverse interest of car guys, and Hot Rodders, in general.  Steaming, scorching hot, and classy too. 

This is the exact opposite of either of the above photos.  From the sublime to the cheesiest of the cheesy.  This is great example of taking the easy way out, at the last possible second.  The car is actually OK, if you discount the (miles) of wavy, delaminating, stick on wheel lip molding plastered all over the car.  Really?  You couldn’t lay the stuff on straighter than that?  Seriously, didn’t the builder know you can get polished stainless quarter round trim right inside the exhibitors building?  Somebody needs to tell the owner of this (otherwise pretty cool) boat-tail ’36 to stay out of the accessory isle at AutoZone.   Dreadful, and even less hot than frozen dog turds in the back yard in Feb.

How do you like your trucks?  Traditional, of Bobber style?  These two demonstrate that whatever your taste, an eye for style and craftsmanship make either style a lasting statement.  Hot.

We’re not saying 4 door sedans aren’t “Hot”.  What we’re saying is that if you have no taste, and either not enough money to build a nice car, or too much money to throw at a car, the results can be equally, staggeringly awful.  Where to begin?  Square headlights in round fenders, or a chop that leaves the center of the top lower than either end.  20″ wheels and a paint job that says “If a little is good, too much is not enough.”  Not hot.  Either one may have been built as a joke, but we didn’t get it.

At least the “Street Beast” Vicky didn’t have fake bullet holes.  Although we’ve seen plenty that do.  Actually, even though it’s not “hot”, we have to give the builder of the (ahem) ’34 kudos for actually being able to put one of these things together.    The Boyds wheels look strangely “right” on it too.  In a really wrong kind of way…

Yeah, one’s a VW, and the other is a late ’70’s wagon.  These both show that NSRA is “Hot”, and that the leadership of the group has the stones to include stuff that will hopefully keep the organization going.  Of course, both of these cars are probably owned by guys with equally smok’n hot ’32 Highboys home in the garage, but they sure look good!

Flames.  Some hot, and some, not.  Which is which?  You decide.  We won’t tell you, but two of them will still look good in 20 years, and one will leave people scratching their heads wondering why those colors were chosen. 

So, there you have it.  One fabulous weekend of rods, customs, total messes and some mind-blowing success’.  Was it fun?  You bet!  Did we eat fair food and get heartburn from the Italian sausage sandwich?  You bet?  Will we do it again?  You bet, and we’ll complain, and compliment in equal parts, knowing that our car(s) will be examined in exactly the same way. 

Please remember that the opinions expressed on this blog DO NOT neccesarily represent the opinions of the management of Cool McCool’s Garage, particularly if your car was singled out for ridicule.  Also, remember that we here have made some dreadful mistakes of our own, and have, from time to time, committed sins against style on hapless old cars in an attempt to emulate popular, but misguided, trends just becaue we could. 

More news and illustration of questionable taste and judgement will follow in our next episode,  where we’ll show you where the money from the ’36 Special is going.

Stay tuned!

I just broke my new rule about arguing with idiots on the internet (it seemed like a good idea at the time, although I was thinking specifically about politics and religion when I made that promise, so I’m technically still OK).  Some dufus on a Yahoo group for old Pontiac’s opined that he wouldn’t attend a car show that charged more than 5 bucks entry fee to display his car.

Really?  Having more than one car is, by almost any stretch, an almost unimaginable luxury to a HUGE percentage of the world’s population (not counting, I guess, residents of Detroit, the UK, or China), and this clown thinks he’s being ripped off to have to pay to show off his ride?  Seriously? 

This same guy is, in my experience, the same guy who bitches if he doesn’t carry home a cheesy trophy for his tacky, over-embellished piece of crap, sets in a lawn chair behind the car acting superior.  This same guy probably also complains about the cost of gas for his (totally unneccessary) trip to the show, the cost of an Italian sausage once  he gets there, having to wait to get in, or that he couldn’t get his power-parking spot once he rolled in.  And, he probably didn’t build it himself either, and complains about how much he spent,  brow-beat the poor sap who built it for him out of any profit on the job, then bad-mouths the guy at every opportunity.

Ignore the fact that these shows contribute, donate, or otherwise support a variety of worthwhile charities, scholarship funds, social programs, and their community at large,   just try to cover costs, spend thousands of dollars, and countless  hours of free time to organize and set up, this guy thinks he’s OWED a favor to display his POS.  Give me a freak’n break. 

Of course, I unloaded on him on the message board.  It felt good, and makes up for holding my tongue on FB when somebody asks me if I belive in Angels, support tax breaks for millionaires,  and brags about having eaten three meals a day at Chick-Fil-A.

There, I feel better now.

Car Shows Suck!

Posted: September 19, 2011 in car shows suck

OK, I’ve been proven wrong, AGAIN!  Kim and I had a GREAT time at Nats North in Kalamazoo this weekend.  Saw some great and innovative cars, met up with lots of old friends, and made some new ones.  I only wish I had the time, garage space and money to try to emulate all of them.  

The swap meet was filled with potential projects that I could see myself building, and happily, one of my friends bought one, a very nice Briggs Model A leatherback sedan.  That one won’t tempt me, but the Graham Hollywood, the really nice ’29 roadster on ’32 rails, finished, for 15K made me wish I had some extra $$.  Oh well, to many projects now.

Rather than blather on, here are some pics of what I was impressed with.  Enjoy.

’55 Plymouth Nomad Wagon.

The Plymouth wagon above knocked my socks off, and it was for sale!  Happily, we already have a wagon, so I wan’t tempted, but that shows some imagination and creativity.  I like it.  Now, back to what impressed me…
’40 RPU.

As you can see, I like wierd stuff!  There were lots of COE trucks there this year, and I was happy to see another olive green ’36.  I was surprised when I loaded the pics, that I’d:
a)  taken so few, and:
b) that I’d taken so few. 
I guess what’s fun for me now is just hanging out with my friends, and having fun.  The cars that made an impact on me are burned into my memory, and if I can get some of the things I already have going, maybe there’s a ’63 Riviera in my future.  Or, finishing up what I’ve got going now. 
My friend John Hall, seen below in a cloud of smoke from the coolest bar-b-que grill on the planet, cooking lunch for his buddies,  summed it up, “It’s like a tape measure thing.  You mark where you are, from there  how much distance and time is left, and  figure out what’s important.” 
Right on John, I think you’re right.