Archive for the ‘Detroit Autorama’ 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.


Ahh, springtime!

Ahh, springtime!

In a desperate attempt to enjoy the outdoors here in Michigan on  March 1st,  the crew here at Cool McCool’s Garage spent a little time yesterday relaxing in the shade of the new canopy for the Tini-Home.   We all agree the canopy is a success, but the surroundings are not what we would have chosen, if we were in charge of weather.

Today, at least it’s sunny, and a balmy 16 degrees.   The truck camper is ready to go, but there was 4″ of new snow last night that had to be plowed.  Who plows with a rig like this?

Look for us next weekend in beautiful downtown Detroit at “Autorama Extreme”, in the basement at

This is how we do it.

This is how we do it.

Who's idea was this long driveway?

Who’s idea was this long driveway?

Cobo Hall.  I promise, no snow inside, the awning will be up, there will be shade, although no palm trees.  We’re bringing the forest with us, so come on out!

I’ve had almost a week now to digest the experience of showing the car(s) at Cobo.  Admittedly, I got off to a rocky start, but I had a REALLY good time.

I’m not sure if it’s because I’m more sentimental lately, or the potentially catastrophic brake failure of the pickup made me appreciate simply BEING there with the car intact, or if the guys I was hanging out with made me feel welcome and part of something bigger than myself.  Probably all of the above. 

I do think that the experience of being on the HAMB message board has been positive, certainly meeting some of the people whose names and cars I recognize from there was a big part.  I had fun in the basement checking out that show, as well as  looking at the “show” cars upstairs.  Part of me still wants to be a little judgemental about each extreme, but ultimately the expression of personal taste in either end is worth examining without prejudice.  I’m learning.   I felt no small satisfaction in having picked the same car as my favorite, the Ford convert here,  as it was ultimately the Ridler winner.  Evidently , I have good taste.  I still find myself looking at these high dollar pieces thinking, “I could do that.”, and planning how to go about it.  Ever the optimist…

So, to Larry from Singlefinger Garage,  to all the HAMB’rs who I got to met, to my old friends whom I got to visit with and hang with, and to the many new friends I met and look forward to seeing again next summer, next winter, or whenever, thanks for making the show memorable. 

See ya!

Really Brian, really?

I won’t rehash the beginning of this story, except to briefly explain this photo.  At left, you’ll see the Pontiac wagon hitched to the car trailer, in a snowy winter scene.   Most guys wouldn’t even pull a car like this out of the garage for picture in weather like this, let alone for a drive to Detroit hauling an enclosed trailer with another car inside, but not me.  No sir, I am not like other guys!

Constant readers will remember that the brakes failed on my aging Chevy pickup, leaving me with two choices.  Either stay home and miss the Autorama at Cobo hall with the ’36 roadster, or get there last Wed. with the only vehicle I have (that I could get out of the garage anyway) that’s capable of towing, our ’51 Pontiac wagon.  I HATED the idea of driving the car in the salt, but I’d been planning on, and looking forward to, participating in the show that I was going to get there regardless.  It was hitch up the wagon, or just set down on a stool in the garage and cry, one or the other, and I’m too big, and too old for that.  I hitched up, after taking the load leveler brackets off the Spartan and headed out.

Finally, after getting lost and ending up in Mexican Town, I rolled into Cobo Hall’s basement.  A quick rinse with a hose washed the travelling crud off the wagon, and it looked surprisingly show worthy.  I had brought a bottle of spray detailer, some towels and other car care stuff, so it wasn’t too big a job.  I have to say it really looked good under the lights.

Thursday morning I was able to detail the roadster, get the spots on the wagon I’d missed the night before, and got my “display” all set up.  Sadly, I couldn’t park the cars next to one another, but it actually worked out better with the wagon where it was.

The wagon ended up with a group of guy’s who’d brought their own 50’s style “living room”, complete with black and white TV, vintage magazines, furniture and a variety of malt beverages.  The TV was  hooked to an inverter and car battery, an MP3 player loaded with vintage cartoons and hot rod movies.  Pretty cool.  Nice bunch of guys, they made me feel welcome.  Thanks Brad and Aaron!

Friday morning, I took some time and went thru the upstairs show, primarily to see this, the “Imperial Speedster”.  A cut down ’59 Chrysler Imperial 4 door sedan.  Amazing, right up my alley.  The down-side is this makes me feel like cutting up another car, when I have several in progress right now!

I took a lot of pictures of this ’64 Riviera, because of the very striking charcoal over bright silver color combination.  This is the color combo I want to put on the ’59 Thunderbird,  I was glad to see a similar car in the colors I want.  I like the color break stripe too, although I think I’ll use dark navy blue and red rather than black and red as seen here.  Beautiful.

I spent all day Saturday in the basement show, talking with people and looking at cars.  Never went upstairs, it was shoulder to shoulder up there.  One of the cars there shocked me when it pulled in, a ’64 Thunderbird that looked VERY familiar…  As it turns out, it was indeed my brother Barry’s old T’Bird, that he and I had driven (lucky us) all the way to Kalamazoo from Manhattan.  As in New York.  Barry’d bought the thing from some slick talking car curbing shyster sight unseen, I’m sure the photos he sent were of another car.  Anyway, this thing had sat 5 years since Barry sold it to the present owner, who decided it was car show material, and had a buddy of his drive it from somewhere in Ohio to Detroit.  With NO BRAKES!  The kid said the emergency brake worked, barely, he thought it was pretty funny.  The car stunk as badly as I remembered from our drive home of rat poop, mildew and oil.  It was displayed with a half-dozen other examples of  cars in a similar state of automotive ruin, looked the Dead End Kids.  Not surprisingly, we saw the car last night in the tunnel under Cobo after the show, hood up, on the shoulder, with the hapless driver and his buddies looking a little concerned.  It was knocking loudly when they pulled out of Cobo, it looked like curtains for the old T’Bird. 

No such problems for us, aside from the fact that as usual I hadn’t bothered to find out when the show actually ended.  Somehow I thought it was all over at 3 pm, but really it ran ’till 8 pm.  This blow was softened somewhat by the fact that we earned a “Major Award”, receiving “Outstanding Wagon” and neat handmade trophy.  That was a surprise and a treat, which took the edge off my bad day on Wednesday getting over to the show.  The wagon was VERY popular with spectators and with other participants alike, so ultimately I wasn’t too disappointed that the truck broke down.  I’m the only guy to ever have gotten a trophy for his tow truck, I’ll bet.

As a treat to myself for the hassle, I had the roadster striped at the show.  I’d always pictured some orange stripes on the car, and the guy who did it was very enthusiastic about putting lines on it.  He helped pick out the right colors, and the results are, I think, the icing on the cake.  Raquel liked it too…

Kim wasn’t as enthusiastic about the striping as Raquel was, but I think she’ll come to like it as much as I do.

The move out went pretty well.  We drove the wagon down to pick up the trailer, then back inside to load the ’36.  That took just long enough to let all the driven cars leave, we were like the fourth of fifth trailer to load inside.  Happily, the ’36 fired right up and it rumbled into the trailer with no worries. 

We drove through some torrential rain, with lightning and thunder, but the Rain-X did a great job.  The car actually looked pretty good this morning, but I took it to the car wash to wash the salt off anyway.  The sun was out, and I’m not planning on any more road trips untill May when the Tin Can Tourist’s meet in Milford at Camp Dearborn.   Note to self:  fix massive leak at windshield wiper towers and trim, and put electric wipers in the car!