Art Cars On Community Walk Powered by Google Earth

CommunityWalk Map - Art Cars

This so cool, now art cars can be mapped all over the world on google maps community walk. If you have an art car you can click on the link above, create and account and post you car and up load a picture of you car. You can also post art car events and you can pretty much plan an entire summer vacation from art car to art car.

July 31, 2009 Kettering Cruise -In

It was another beautiful night at the Kettering Cruise-In, located off of I-675 Exit 10 in the K-Mart parking lot. And it was a very busy night, so much so that it was extremely difficult to find a parking spot just to walk through the various rows of cars on display. A coupe of cars stood out during my casual walk tonight. First, if you look at the previous blog entry on the 1948 Chevrolet that I first have memories of, you can imagine my surprise to see this evening a black 1948 Chevrolet Fleetline on display. It was about as good as it can get, even equipped with a swamp cooler, perhaps not the most effective way to cool down in a humid climate like that of southwest Ohio. But great for the desert! This terrific car is owned by Ken Koontz of Beavercreek, Ohio.
Getting a bit ahead of myself related to my auto-biography, Bob Bilbo had on display a 1962 Chevrolet Nova 300, again like one that my father owned when I was in junior high school, although this one was painted black, while my family's car was a light sand brown. This is a very original car -- Bob is quite a car guy if one listens to his own list of cars once owned, and cars that got away, now worth far more than a person could imagine 30 years ago when cash was short and more immediate needs had to be met.

Next entry: at the cruise-in, Kirby's 1965 427 Cobra.

Kickin' Around in K-town

Kenosha was my first race since upgrading to the 3s a few days before.

John Wolters and I took an early Metra up, arriving in downtown at 8:20. Carrying my bike with my race wheels zip-tied to the back of my Chromebag, $7 and change is not a bad price at all to get to a race. We chilled at a pretty nice coffee shop on 6th street, of which I can't remember the name.

They had really good coffee (Alterra, Milwaukee's answer to Intelligentsia) and tasty breakfast sandwiches. Also on the menu was key lime and sweet potato pie, of which I made a mental to note to include in my recovery routine after the race.

John picked up a $20 paycheck in the 4/5s and then I met Greta, her sister Nadia, and fellow paralympian Matt Bigos in the parking lot just north of the start/finish. I got a solid warm up on Greta's rollers, sugared up, and then took a few laps, scouting out the field and seeing who I recognized.

Ernesto from Van Wagner had apparently upgraded with me, and I also recognized Marc Howe from Geargrinder, who was the points leader in the 3 for Superweek. Voytek from ABD was there as well, but otherwise, a complete bunch of strangers. I'd been getting quite used to seeing familiar faces in the 4s lately, and being able to trust a lot of wheels when the shit got thick.

It was a good first race for me.

I was solo, so I started off at the back and let the early attacks soften up the field. The wind was pretty vicious right after turn 3 and it continued across the field through the home stretch. Nothing was getting off just yet.

I bridged a few gaps, took a flyer, got in a short break of my own. I was active and it felt pretty good, stretching my legs like that:

It was all together with 5 laps to go when dudes started riding into me in the corners. I had flashbacks to last year's horrific crash in the 3s sprint, and right there I phoned it in. I'm not proud of it, but I don't regret it. Everyone did stay up right but more importantly so did I, and I've got a lot more important races to contest before the season is over.

Happy Friday

(Thanks to HTATBL)

Thursday Hate: He Brew It

Sorry about the time off-air, er...offline.

I rode off into the furious finale of Superweek under a banner of controversy, an apology, and an upgrade. Kenosha started off promising, but, ultimately I finished superweak under the banner stretching across Columbus Drive.

Race reports will come later. There are more pressing issues at the moment.

After details began to emerge that Boston police sergeant James Crowley didn't act as stupidly as Obama said he did in arresting his old friend, Professor Henry Gates, the President manned up - much as I did last week - just short of an apology, and invited both men to the White House to mend fences over some cold suds.

We all know the President doesn't wipe his ass, let alone choose the actual toilet paper, without a full sign off from an army of advisers. So it goes without saying that the choice of Barack's beer did not go down without 48 solid hours of focus groups and no fewer than 12 power point decks, analyzing what your beer choice says about you, reveals about you, defines about you. And they chose:

Bud Light?

The social lubricant of date rapes everywhere? The swill drunk by those only looking to get drunk, by those who gag on the taste of real barley, by 99.91 percent of NASCAR fans, and approximately .09 percent of Obama voters everywhere?

How he missed Goose Island is beyond me. Imagine Obama sitting at the table with a brown and yellow bottle of 312, glistening with condensation in front of him. Our local, American-made, beloved brew would've gotten some national exposure, and Obama would've been gotten huge points for a sly choice that isn't too expensive or snobbish, and shows a bit of home-town pride and "in-the-know."

And it certainly would've eclipsed both Gate's and Crowley's equally pedantic choices of Red Stripe and Blue Moon, respectively.

The Obama who wowed us with his amazingly subtle, supple choices designed to show character and originality during the campaign is almost gone, in my eyes, after this display of lame pandering - vainly trying to boost his image with those already aligned against him and shore up his dropping ratings.

A bland, obvious choice, much like the beer itself.

He's lost originality by giving into drinkability.

MB Slot Ferrari 430 Challenge kits and RTR's

New Ferrari F430's at REH Distributors in Cincy this week.
BBR SL002/A Ferrari F430 Challenge RTR Limited Edition Retail $105.99 (very limited quantity)
BBR SL002 Ferrari F430 Challenge kit Retail $79.99

BMW F1 video - press conference

Schumacher returns!!!!!!!!!

From it's official!

Michael Schumacher has returned to Formula 1 for Ferrari in place of Massa.

BMW leaves F1

The BMW Group will not continue its Formula One campaign after the end of the 2009 season. Resources freed up as a result are to be dedicated to the development of new drive technologies and projects in the field of sustainability. BMW will continue to be actively involved in other motor sports series. The landmark decision to restructure BMW Motorsport’s activities was made at the Board of Management’s meeting yesterday.

“Of course, this was a difficult decision for us. But it’s a resolute step in view of our company's strategic realignment," explained Dr. Norbert Reithofer, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG. “Premium will increasingly be defined in terms of sustainability and environmental compatibility. This is an area in which we want to remain in the lead. In line with our Strategy Number ONE, we are continually reviewing all projects and initiatives to check them for future viability and sustainability. Our Formula One campaign is thus less a key promoter for us. Mario Theissen has been in charge of our motor sports program since 1999. We have scored a large number of successes in this period, including some in Formula One racing. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Mario Theissen and his team for this,” said, Reithofer.

Dr. Klaus Draeger, the member of the Board of Management responsible for development, said: “It only took us three years to establish ourselves as a top team with the BMW Sauber F1 Team. Unfortunately, we were unable to meet expectations in the current season. Nevertheless, our ten years of Formula One experience have had a major impact on our development engineers. We have racing to thank for numerous technological innovations as well as the competitive spirit that drives us to develop mass-produced cars.” Possible redundancies in Munich and Hinwil cannot be quantified at present. Says Draeger: “Since we only made this decision yesterday, we cannot provide any more precise information. We will develop and assess various scenarios and do our best to find a solution for the employees in Hinwil and the staff members involved in the Formula One project in Munich. We are aware of the responsibility we shoulder and will inform the staff as soon as we can make a clear statement."

Says BMW Motorsport director Dr. Mario Theissen: “Of course, we, the employees in Hinwil and Munich, would all have liked to continue this ambitious campaign and show that this season was just a hiccup following three successful years. But I can understand why this decision was made from a corporate perspective. We will now focus sharply on the remaining races and demonstrate our fighting spirit and put in a good result as we bid farewell to Formula One racing.”

BMW will continue its programs in a number of motor sports series: BMW will appear on the starting grid in the touring car series and young driver promotion program in Formula BMW. This will be supplemented by BMW’s participation in ALMS, the American Le Mans Series, endurance races and close-to-production customer sports. Furthermore, BMW Motorrad Motorsport will continue its campaigns, with the super bike world championship leading the way.
BMW looks back on a long track record of success in the field of motor sports:
BMW achieved eight Formula One victories from 1982 to 1985 with Brabham. In 1983, BMW won the driver’s championship with Nelson Piquet (Brabham BMW). The last win with the legendary turbo engine followed with Benetton in 1986. Ten victories were scored during the partnership with Williams (2000-2005). BMW had a total of 19 grand prix wins and 33 pole positions before the BMW Sauber F1 Team era.

In its debut season in 2006, the newly established BMW Sauber F1 Team wound up fifth in the constructor’s championship. In 2007, the German-Swiss team came in second after McLaren-Mercedes’ exclusion from the points standings. The 2008 season saw the team in the hunt for the world championship until the end of the season, winding up third. Polish-born Robert Kubica achieved the first and hitherto only GP victory in Canada on June 8, 2008. So far, the BMW Sauber F1 Team has taken one pole position (Kubica in Bahrain in 2008) and 16 podium finishes. The BMW Sauber F1 Team occupies the eighth spot in the manufacturer’s standings in the season presently underway.

News used with permission from BMW Motorsport.

Red Hot Cool Car

cool car
Originally uploaded by !XxHaLeYxX(//_^)XxRawRxX!

This is one awesome cool car! I wish I could say it was mine, but it is not. I can always wish though. Props to whoever owns this flaming Hot Car!!!

Powerslot Lola's

These two Powerslot Lola's have arrived in the US at REH Distributors.

86965 Lola T-298 Repsol
86964 Lola T-298 Banco Occidental

Auto-Biography 3 -- 1954 Chevrolet Bel Air

Hi folks -- when discussing my family's auto history, I have to bring in our 1954 two-tone Chevrolet Belair. As depicted in the photograph and other illustrations, it was blue and white, and perhaps was the best car we ever owned. Down the street, my aunt Rose owned a similar 1953 Green and white two-tone, but it was a 210 and not the Belair. These were rugged and dependable vehicles, reflective of the best that America could make. In fact, one story about the car that I remember centers on my disconnecting ignition switch wires under the dash so I would not have to go to Sunday School. I still dislike what they call "Life Groups" instead of Sunday School to this day, but now at least I don't have to sabotage a car to keep away from Church.

Sadly, our family's love affair with Chevys ended after my father bought a 1979 Malibu with a THM-200 transmission. That unsavory episode resulted in my current attitude of never even considering a GM product.

Auto-Biography -- 1948 Chevrolet Fleetmaster

Hi folks -- I need to backtrack a bit concerning my auto-biography (and I hope you are working on yours!). Before I owned cars, I experienced them largely through my family's vehicles. The first car I remember is a 1948 Chevrolet Fleetmaster, a black two door. It is funny how our mind goes back to memories from long ago, and how those events shape what we do today, including our decisions about cars in the present. And those memories I have of that '48 Chevy are as clear to me now as what I remember of breakfast this morning.
Because my family was so wrapped up in WWII and its consequences, we didn't not have a car when I was born. Indeed, my father rode a bicycle to work from Tonawanda to Niagara Falls, New York for several years, and then after having a worn-out car or two that simply was not very good, he bought a used 1948 Chevrolet Fleetmaster. It was a car that served us well, and with one exception, my father bought Chevrolets for the rest of his life. I remember so well the interior of that car, which was actually a top-of-the-line model for that year. 1948 was the last year of a body style that actually went back to 1942. 1949 marked the first true post-war Chevrolet. The '48 Chevy that I remember had la plush interior, with cloth that felt like velvet. It was big and comfortable, and more than once on a summer day I took a nap in the front seat when my parents were shopping with my legs hanging out the window. I had regrets , however, that our car did not have a radio, or turn signals, and wanted them so badly for whatever reasons, probably because my friend's family cars had these features. This car was as reliable as it could be. But another thing I remember was the early mornings on the coldest of winter days in North Tonawanda when my father actually had pulled the spark plugs and had heated the electrodes on the kitchen stove, I guess to get the car started! Perhaps it worked, but I have never heard of that practice since I witnessed it as a child.
It was a plain,black car, but it put the Heitmann family on the road once and for all, and for that I am grateful.

New Avant Slot Peugeot 908 HDi #8 is showing the new Avant Slot Peugeot 908 HDi from LeMans 2008, the blue and black No.8. at this link.

Boatmobile by Bob Sokol - Video


Mainline Rush 36k Motor, New Version

The following report was filed by Robert Livingston of Slot Car News.

Les at Mainline Hobbies kindly sent us two samples of the new-production Rush 36k motor. The first version was tested by the Slot Car News Motor List staff at 36,600 RPM at 12 volts; with torque at 215 gcm/12v, about as close as you can measure to the specified value of 218 gcm. Overall power in the mid range of RPM (the maximum power band) was computed at 19.7 Watts, which is plenty powerful indeed. By comparison, a Slot.It long-can Boxer 2 puts out 18.3 Watts.

The new Rush 36k has cooling holes in the top and bottom of the case; these vents should allow the performance to stay strong for a longer time during a race. Heat in a motor increases current draw and lets the torque fall off, so heat is the enemy (especially in heavily loaded magnet racing, for which this motor would be well suited).

Both new test motors have balancing marks on the armature stack; one motor had blue epoxy applied to balance it. The other was evidently in balance and needed nothing. Both seemed smooth as they sang at full RPM.

No-load RPM tests of the two new sample motors resulted in 38,145 RPM at 12 volts for one motor, and 38,146 RPM for the other. These are average values for about thirty seconds of running, after a few minutes of warm up. Torque tests (an average of nine readings at stall, around a full rotation of the armature) showed a hefty 257 gram-centimeters for both motors. This is remarkable consistency for production-quality motors. The test motors are exceeding their specs (36,000 RPM, 193 gcm) by a considerable amount.

Maximum power output was computed at a whopping 24.5 Watts on 12 volts, in the mid range of both torque and RPM. Looking through the Slot Car News Motor List, only the 38k and 46k NSR long-can Kings produce more power. The Rush weighs only 22 grams, with long shafts on both ends; the Kings are 10 grams heavier, at 32 grams.

The new version of the 36k Rush motor is a bear. If you need high revs and LOTS of power, in a small, light package, this is your motor.

Thanks to Les at Mainline Hobbies for the chance to test these motors.

Art Parking Garage from Perth Australia

This private parking garage is located at the Condor Tower Car Park in Perth Australia was created by the Perth street art production group Ololo.They approached the construction manager of an inner-city skyscraper when they heard he hated the grey walls of the recently built Condor Tower five-storey car park. The three creative friends – Hurben, Shensing and Griv proposed a far more whimsical and creative solution to the bare walls, by allowing the group and their friends to embellish the interior with street art-inspired murals. Each floor has a theme based on the elemental planes of Earth - Space, Sky, Land, Underwater and Core; with both local and inter-state artists coming together to fill the space with color. Participating street artist ‘Creepy’ hopes the project will encourage similar ventures between urban developers and the creative community within Perth.
article via

Send Me your Auto-Biography! What Cars Have Been Important in Your Life, and Why?

Hi Folks -- in my history of the American automobile classes I usually start out by asking students to write me an "Auto-Biography." Put simply, that is an essay on the cars that have been the most memorable in your life, and precisely why they are so significant as you look back in time. So I am going to start with my own Auto-Biography, at least the first installment. You can get a sense of what I am thinking here by reading the "Epilogue" in my book, The Automobile and American Life, available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. If you send me your Auto-Biography at I will publish it on this blog.

My first car, purchased for $625 in 1966 while a senior in high school, was a 1959 MGA roadster. It was a car that was restored by a couple, the man doing the engine and body work, the woman the interior, and it was black with a red interior. It looked great, and ran fairly well, but it did burn some oil, especially noticeable on start up and after the car 's engine got hot, indicating bearing wear. But there was nothing like driving it with the top down on warm summer nights that first summer after high school graduation. It established me once and for all as a top down guy. It certainly needed more maintenance than I was capable of at the time, and the side curtains needed replacing after a few months, but it was a car that never let me down, except once, and only after I had tried to change the points and neglected to put back every little washer that was supposed to be in the distributor. it was then that my father had to tow the shiny MGA with his 1962 brown Chevy Nova.

I had some good times with driving around with girls, but remained a rather shy and reserved young man, more comfortable with books than with girls. It certainly did not transform me in terms of being a social animal, but it did set a course that took me to the writing of my auto history book. Every time I see an MGA I think back to that summer of 1966, before I encountered the trials and tribulations of life. My trials were in terms of still living at home, getting enough money for gas, getting to work on my summer job in Niagara Falls, and overcoming a lack of confidence when around those of the opposite sex.

When I went to Davidson College I sold that MGA to a former high school friend, and the last I saw of it was on a village road with what looked like a broken rear spring. Undoubtedly it rusted to pieces, but perhaps some of those pieces are keeping another MG running today.

The MGA was in production between 1955 and 1962, replacing the traditionally designed MG-T cars, the most famous of which was the MG-TC. It was introduced at the at the 1955 Frankfurt Auto Show, and by the time production ended in July 1962 some 101,081 units were assembled. Most MGAs were exported, with only 5869 cars sold in Great Britain. It was thus a great success for BMC, and for a national economy still reeling after World War II.

In 1952 when MG designer Syd Enever created a streamlined body for George Philips' MG TD, slated to run at Lemans. Initially the design featured a high driver seating because of the use of the TD chassis. Consequently, a new chassis was designed with the side members further apart and the floor attached to the bottom rather than the top of the frame sections. The prototype based on this design was shown to the BMC chairman Leonard Lord, who initially rejected the new car, since he had just signed a deal to produce the Austin Healy. Falling sales of the MG-TD and the MG-TF 1500 models, however, caused Lord to change his mind about the radically redesigned sports car, and indeed the MGA was initially advertised as the "first of a new line." With its BMC B engine, a lower hood line was now possible. Featuring independent suspension, and rack and pinion steering, the MGA, came with either wire or steel wheels. In a 1955 road test the MGA had a top speed of 97.8 mph (157.4 km/h) and could accelerate from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 16.0 seconds.

MGA and Car Culture:

  • “Blue Hawaii” (1961, Elvis Presley & Angela Lansbury) Elvis sings from his open red 1960 MGA 1600 Mk I roadster. The car made numerous appearances in the first half of the picture, often with camera work that seemed suspiciously marketing-like, panning back to the car or putting the car under complimentary soundstage lighting. Elvis so liked the car he bought it for himself, and after changing hands once or twice, he re-acquired the vehicle, which is now at Graceland.

  • Music Video – “Right Now” (2009). A black MGA appears alongside Akon in his video for the hip hop hit single "Right Now."

  • Music Video – “Radar” (2009). A MGA appears in the opening sequence for the Britany Spears music video entitled " Radar.

There were more than Hot Rods at the Cruise -In!

Hi folks -- one thing about the local cruise-in is that there is an incredible diversity of cars that are parked in the parking lot at the K-Mart across from the Greene in Kettering, Ohio. For example, there was a 1950s R-R Silver Cloud, several Ferraris, at least two Porsches (including my own!), a few VWs, including a 1950s or early 1960s Combi, an entire row of Studebakers, old pickup trucks, post-war Fords from the 1940s and 1950s, Cobras, real and replicas, an Excaliber. There were cars for sale, and cars just purchased. That was the case of Scott Sloan's 1966 Karmann Ghia convertible that he bought at a gas station in Beavercreek, Ohio a week ago for $2500. It was fairly original, with an undetermined amount of Bondo, and in need of a new top and a paint job. Karmann Ghias were first introduced to the public in 1956, and a production run to at least 1974. In my opinion they were great, fun cars, especially the convertibles like Scott's. They were elegantly designed, nicely proportioned, tastefully appointed, and as reliable as a VW Bettle. In Germany they are now very hot collectibles. And here in the U.S. they are appreciating steadily. Congratulations, Scott, on a great purchase!

A Bit of History

The Karmann Ghia debuted at the October 1953 Paris Auto Show as a styling concept car. In the early 1950s, Volkswagen was producing small, fuel efficient, reliable automobiles. By the mid-1950s consumers in Europe began to demand more stylish vehicles. Executives at Volkswagen decided to produce an "image" car for post-war buyers. The Karmann-Ghia, VW's venture into the sports car market, was created in 1956. While it had limited power for a sports car, its stylish looks and reasonable price made sales strong.

Volkswagen contracted with German coachbuilder Karmann to build this car. In turn, VW contracted the Italian firm Ghia for a sports car design. Ghia took an existing, but unused, design and modified it to fit a slightly modified Beetle floorpan.

The body and nose of the car were handcrafted and significantly more expensive to produce than the assembly line-produced Beetle, which was reflected in the Type 14's higher price. Instead of fenders bolted and pre-welded together, as with the Beetle, body panels were hand-shaped and smoothed in a time-consuming and expensive process. At the time it was built, only the manufacturers of the finest cars took similar care.

The design and prototype were well received by Volkswagen executives, and in August 1955 the first Karmann Ghia, also known as the Type 14, was manufactured . Public reaction was excellent, and over 10,000 were sold in the first year, exceeding Volkswagen's expectations.

Since all Karmann Ghias used the same engine as the Beetle, the car was not suitable as a true sports car, but the car's styling and "Beetle reliable" parts compensated for this shortfall. It also shared engine development with the Beetle as the Type 1 engine grew larger over time, finally arriving at an engine displacement of 1584 cc which produced about 60 horsepower.

In August 1957, a cabriolet version was introduced. As with other automobiles, multiple changes were made. Notable exterior changes in 1961 included the car's new wider, finned front grilles, raised headlight relocation, and rear taillight lenses which became taller and more rounded. Cars made from 1955 to 1959 are referred to as "lowlights," due to the lower placement of the headlights. In 1970 larger tail lights integrated the reverse lights and larger wrap-around turn signals in contrast to the earlier "bullet" style lights. VW models of this era have earned the slang nickname fat chicks. Larger and wider tailights in 1972 increased side visibility. 1973 modifications included larger energy-absorbing bumpers and the provision of a package shelf in lieu of the modest rear seat.

The big enemy today when buying a Karmann Ghia today is rust. Rust around the front headlights and nose, and rust around the rocker panels can be costly to fix. In a later post, I'll tell you about my rusty 1969 Karmann Ghia, and its ultimate fate.

Hot Rods at the Friday Night Cruise-In, Kettering, Ohio!

A perfect Friday night for a cruise-in! Only one problem -- to get there in time to get a good place in the parking lot you have to be there by 4:30 p.m.! I brought my Porsche 911, but by the time I got there -- around 5:45 p.m., I was relegated off on the periphery far away from the action and the main stream of visitors. Of course the asses that save spots by placing lawn chairs in spots didn't help matters ( these folks tend to be more than a bit cliquish), but still one has to wonder concerning some of these folks. It seems to me that while there are plenty of younger followers, most of the people who are showing cars are older gray hairs -- that is if they are lucky and have hair at all, like myself. It is the older guys who have the time and the money to sink thousands into a hot rod, or just buy one already done, whether it be a real one or a fiberglass replica. Hot rodding started out after WWII as a poor-man's hobby, but it has become a pastime for the folks who either ahve money or spend a larger than they probably should portion of their budget on chrome and fancy accessories. Only a percentage of these cars are really well designed and road wrothy. They will beat you up on a long trip, and actually often more comical than elegant. Why spend all this money -- to attract girls? I doubt it for these geezers.

Live Spa 24 video feed link.

And here too!

No plain Jane for sure... Sideways DP white kit!

A surprise from Sideways, a Sideways Daytona Prototype white kit is being shown on Electric Dreams via their newsletter. Check it out, very cool to have a plain white kit... now... where are those Brumos decals I bought last years????? Hmmm....

Hamster Tread Mill Car Races

When I saw this this hamster art car race on the Internet I new I had to post it on art car central. Necessity is the mother of invention but Boredom, money and booze is the father of the rest. Hamster tread mill cars are here to stay.

Hot Rods and Culture

Hi folks -- tonight I'll be going again to the local Cruise -In and photograph some local hot rods. Seen often as curiosities by those outside the car hobby, hot rods have had a powerful influence on modern culture, particularly during the Golden Age of the automobile during the 1950s. What follows is an analysis of hot rods, their history and culture, taken from my book, The Automobile and American Life:

Hot Rod

The car hobby grew to be quite complex by the mid-1950s, and it involved both engine and body modifications along with creative painting techniques. Pre-WWII antecedents included the organization of dry lakes racing at Muroc, California in 1931 under the leadership of speed equipment manufacturer George Riley and sponsorship of the Gilmore Oil Company.[1] Racing at the lakes continued to 1941. Hot rodding took off after WWII, however, and it is clear from reading early issues of Hot Rod Magazine that the phenomenon, while focused in Southern California and dry lakes racing, was really nationwide in scope. By 1948 numerous dirt track activities in the Midwest featured designs similar to Southern California cars at venues at Columbus, Indiana and Dayton, Ohio.

One example of the diffusion of hot rod culture from west to east involved the Granatelli brothers of Chicago. During the late 1940s, Joe Granatelli, who had constructed a hot rod in Chicago, drove it to the West Coast, where he picked up parts to stock the family speed shop Grancor.[2] The rise of this post-war phenomenon on a national scale led to the remarkable success of publisher Robert Petersen. Hot Rod Magazine was first published in January 1948 and distributed at the Los Angeles National Guard Armory Automobile Equipment Display and Hot Rod Exposition. After an initial experiment with the inclusion of fiction in the first issue, readership demands focused the periodical on two major topics: technology and pretty girls. In fact, the remaining eleven issues of Hot Rod Magazine in 1948 featured the photo of a very pretty Hollywood model holding a car part! Pretty girls attract young men, and at its core hot rodding was all about autonomous technology; young people tinkering on limited budgets and working in their garages. These hot rodders and custom car builders, using rule-of-thumb methods, made significant improvements in engine horsepower and chassis design. It was all about going fast and looking good, first on the streets and the lakes and then later more on drag strips and custom car shows.[3]

The tensions of this era relating to rodding were encapsulated in Henry Gregor Felsen’s Hot Rod, a novel directed to early 1950s youth but that became so popular that it remained in print to the mid-1960s. The central figure of the story is Bud Crayne, with an accompanying cast of half a dozen high school students from the small town of Avondale. As mentioned above, Bud is a car builder and street racer, and while a social outsider, also has as his girlfriend the pretty but mercurial cheerleader LaVerne. Overconfident of his driving skills and easily manipulated by his girlfriend and rivals, Bud sets a record driving from his town to another. In the process, he leads the police on an exciting chase. Bud escapes the consequences of his actions, however, as he strikes a bargain with the local police and a school teacher, agreeing to participate in a test in driving skills, a so-called roadeo. The concern of authorities is street racing and “teenacide,” and their hope is to use Bud to convince others that driver’s education is of value. Since he did not take lessons, however, and despite his prowess behind the wheel, Bud does not place first in this event. Nevertheless, due to a tragic accident in which half the teens in his town, including estranged girl friend LaVerne, are killed while imitating Bud’s driving, Bud gets to the state competition. The carnage aside, the story has a happy ending, as Americans of the 1950s would like, for Bud, now much wiser, goes to engineering school to improve the modern motor car. His past somehow now forgotten and forgiven, he nonetheless left a wreckage not only of cars, but of lives. The assumption – which was that of educational leaders of that day – was that education can cure teenage driving impulses, and that properly directed, rodding can be a healthy way to let off steam. However, the author does acknowledge toward the end of this book that risky behavior was “a question of glands.”[4]

Felsen’s writing about hot rodders and the police took a very different turn four years later in his Cup of Fury. In this story, the reader is introduced to a young hot rod enthusiast, Link Aller, not terribly different in character than Bud Crayne. Unlike the understanding policeman in Hot Rod, however, in Cup of Fury there is a new sheriff in town, and he taught young Link a brutal lesson in obedience and respect at their first meeting. After Link was caught spinning tires in the school parking lot, policeman Kern, introduced himself this way:

The cop didn’t say anything. There was a click and before Link could set himself, the door of the police car was hurled open, and smashed against him. It seemed to hit him all at once, from his head to his knees. He was stunned where it hit against the side of his face, and bruised where it hit his chest and legs . . . Holding his light inches away from Link’s eyes, Kern used his wrist to push Link’s chin up, and his head back. Link’s eyes were glassy. Except for the hold Kern had on him, he would have fallen. His mouth was open and he was fighting for breath. Kern pressed against him, choking him a little. Link’s left eye was beginning to swell and change color. Kern maintained his pressure as Link sucked air into his throat in long, noisy, tortured gasps. His eyes cleared and his limp body became rigid. He stared into the light that was being directed into his eyes, trying to remember what had happened.[5]

Most likely, the police of the 1950s in reality treated young men more like Link Aller than Bud Crayne. It was an era before such issues as police brutality and human rights were public concerns.

In addition to Felsen’s fiction, the hot rod was also the subject of songs – actually many of them by the early 1950s. The seminal lyrics of many versions that followed was that written by George Wilson and performed by Arkie Shibley and his Mountain Dew Boys in 1950. “Hot Rod Race” proved to be the precursor of many future songs, including “Hot Rod Lincoln,” the best-known version of which was performed by Johnny Bond in 1960 and Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen in 1972. Initially, the song told the story of a family trip from San Pedro in a Ford that turned into a race with a Mercury. Surprisingly, at the end both the Ford and the Mercury are blown off the road by “a kid, in a hopped up Model A.” Later, the Ford and Mercury were replaced by a Cadillac and a Lincoln, but the continuity in common among the long chain of version is obvious.[6]

As one might expect, numerous B-grade films featured teens and hot rods during the 1950s – Hot Rod (1950), Hot Rod Rumble (1957), Drag Strip Girl (1957), Hot Rod Gang (1958), The Ghost of Drag Strip Hollow (1959), and finally, perhaps the best known of the group, Hot Rod Girl (1956). Following Felsen’s story line, Hot Rod Girl was about an attempt on the part of authorities to co-opt teen hot rodders by getting them off the street and onto the drag strip. Its actors and actresses are teens who look more like they are in their mid-to-late 20s and early 30s. Starring Lori Nelson as the “hot rod girl,” the budget for the film was so tight that Nelson drove her own 1955 Thunderbird to save money. With Chuck Conners playing the role of a sympathetic policeman and Frank Gorshin as the character “flat-top,” the highly unlikely and often silly plot involves a confrontation of “chicken,” several fatal accidents, and a happy ending. The message of the film seemed clear: in the war between good and evil that takes place in the minds and lives of teens, understanding elders know best and incorrigible rebels meet with an untimely demise.[7]

Shifting from cultural manifestations to the technology that made the hot rod possible, perhaps the best example of this tinkering that led to cutting-edge technologies was the efforts in Southern California of Stuart Hilborn, who worked as a chemist in a paint laboratory during the day and raced in his spare time. Using scientific logic on one hand, and primitive machine tooling methods on the other, Hilborn moved from using an arrangement of Stromberg carburetors injecting fuel into each cylinder to true mechanical fuel injection. Hilborn’s system was relatively simple, so much so that the shade-tree rodder could employ a state-of-the-art technological system that rivaled that of Mercedes Benz 300 SLs. He was a true pioneer in developing a technology that is now universally used as a fuel delivery system in automobiles, although this technology now employs computer controls and a vast number of sensors.[8]

The hobby demanded not only new technology and expertise, but also equipment suppliers, and Hilborn marketed his fuel injection apparatus by the 1950s. Other prominent equipment manufacturers included Vic Edelbrock, Ed Iskenderian, and Phil Weiand, who ported, polished and in other ways modified Ford flathead V-8s in Los Angeles area speed shops. Body shop men like George Barris and Ed “Big Daddy” Roth chopped and channeled old 1932 Model B and 1928 to 1931 Model A and 1908 to 1927 Model T bodies and began lowering and cleaning up the chrome from late ‘30s and early ‘40s convertibles. Trial and error methods were even extended to the formulation of car paints, as colors like candy color red came out of southern California body shops during the late 1950s. Using these new paint formulations, Von Dutch (Kenneth Howard) earned a reputation for the finest in pinstriping and flames.[9]

[1] “Hot Rod History,” Hot Rod Magazine 1 (March 1948): 7. In Hot Rod Magazine: The First Twelve Issues (Osceola, WI: MBI, 1998). Especially important on this topic and more is Robert C. Post, High Performance: The Culture and Technology of Drag Racing (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 2001). For a British sociologist’s history of the hot rod, see H. F. Moorehouse, Driving Ambitions: An Analysis of the American Hot Rod Enthusiasm (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1991). See also Dean Batchelor, Dry Lakes and Drag Strips: The American Hot Rod (St. Paul, MN: MBI, 2002); Tom Medley, Tex Smith’s Hot Rod History (Osceloa, WI: Motorbooks International, 1990).

[2] Anthony (Andy) Granatelli, They Call Me Mister 500 (Chicago: Henry Regency, 1969), 46-63.

[3] The definitive work on the history of drag racing and its technologies is Robert C. Post, High Performance: The Culture and Technology of Drag Racing, 1950-1990 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1994). See also Stephan Wilkinson, “Tanks, Hot Rods, and Salt,” Air & Space Smithsonian 12 (1997): 60-63.

[4] Felsen, Hot Rod, 183.

[5] Henry Gregor Felsen, “First Skirmish,” in Evan Jones, ed., High Gear (NewYork, Bantam, 1963), 10-11.

[6] Joe Wajgel, “A Short History & Evolution of ‘Hot Rod Lincoln,’” RodLncln.html (February 26, 2004).

[7] Hot Rod Girl, Alpha Video (1956), 203.

[8] For an interesting interview with Hilborn that discusses the various steps that led to his development of fuel injection, see (July 2, 2007).

[9] See ad for Ditzler custom colors for custom cars, Hot Rod Magazine 1 (October 1948): 28. See Andy Southard, Jr. and Tony Thacker, Custom Cars of the 1950s, (Osceola, WI: MBI, 1993); Nora Donnelly, ed., Customized: Art Inspired by Hot Rods, Low Riders and American Car Culture (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2000).

Pestilencia Art Car by Cheri Brugman

Pestilencia Art Car by Cheri Brugman
Pestilencia Art Car by Cheri Brugman Shooting Flames
photos by Harrod Blank

Cheri Brugman is the creator of this now non existent art car called Pestilencia that was featured in Harrod Blanks Automorphosis movie that just came out. Pestilencia was covered with decapitated body parts and heads and "Stop Greed”, an art car created in response to how she felt about the world at the time. The most obvious part of this car is the flames shooting out from the hood of the car, which is definitely good for roasted marshmallows in a pinch. Pestilencia was eventually crushed at an art car festival in San Francisco called Art Car Fest.

24 Hours of Spa

Check this site for details about the 24 Hours of Spa, which is this weekend.

3 teams penalized for rules infractions in Grand Am Series

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 23, 2009) - Three teams competing in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16, have been fined and penalized for rule infractions committed this past weekend at Barber Motorsports Park.

Penalized were two teams competing in the Daytona Prototype class, the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley and the No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley, along with the No. 86 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche GT3 competing in the Acxiom GT division.

The three teams were found to be using equipment in violation of Section 9-7 (refueling equipment).

The infractions were discovered following the race on July 19.

The two Daytona Prototype teams were fined $15,000, while the GT team was fined $7,500. In addition, each team and driver was assessed a 15-point penalty in their respective championship.

News used with permission from Grand Am Series.

Porsche CEO forced out... merger with VW?

One Turning Point in GM's Recent History

Hi folks -- One area that I am focusing my current studies on closely examines the period between the middle 1960s and the early 1970s. For some time now I have intuitively sensed from my reading that it was then that some major changes took place within the auto industry that sowed seeds for the present-day crisis. And I think a key player in this episode is GM executive Frederic Donner, who began to shift finance experts into the area of operations. In fairness to Donner, however, GM, and the other manufacturers of automobiles during the 1960s, began to experience the instability brought on by inflation, environmental concerns (especially air quality), consumerism, and safety. In response to these pressures, GM's upper level management shifted away from the decentralization derived from Sloanism to what was terms "Coordinated Control." Excerpts from a 1970 article in Business Week describes this new management system:

Donner explained that “Centralization means you are bringing into one level the operating decisions of the company. Coordinated control means that where policies have to be determined…you would have coordination” among operating units.

The most visible and dramatic illustrations of change are an emphasis on using many common parts in all the car lines and the direction financial analysis is evolving. Until the 1960s, finance and operations executives were separated, with little cross-over.

Thomas A. Murphy, who was treasurer when in the spring of 1969 he was placed in charge of the car and truck group. His job was to do a financial analysis of the operating side, and to get maximum commonality of parts among the car divisions.

As Ed Cole stated, a nail’s a nail.”

Under a program initiated in 1964, but given high priority in 1966, each division is given long-range design responsibility for an area of a car. Buick is responsible for brakes, Cadillac for parts that affect the driver’s vision, Pontiac for carburetion, and all suspensions for 1971 in 1971 models will be designed by Chevrolet.


Mighty GM Faces its Critics,” Business Week, July 11, 1970, 72-73.

In sum, the distinction among the GM brands became blurred, and Brand value was ultimately diminished. Alfred P. Sloan's marketing strategy of a"car for every purse and purpose" was modified to meet modern complexities, but in the process its elegant simplicity, and that inherent power, was significantly diminished.

GTSlots Pa website

Rich Shanfeld of Great Traditions has a website showing the dates of the Regional and National Final races for the races he will be hosting. See the website at this link.


Well you find a new site every day... well new to me anyway. Mas Slot is one of the best slot magazine's in the world and, naturally, they have a blog. Check out MasSlot's blog!

96 VW Golf Harlequin Art Car - And the Harlequin Wannabe Registry

The Original 1996 VW Golf Harlequin Art Car
The Original 1996 VW Golf Harlequin Art Car
photo via

A 1996 Volkswagen magazine ad said, “Can’t decide on a color? Try a Harlequin Golf.” The 1996 Golf Harlequin is one of the most limited production cars VW has ever produced and presumably only 264 of these car are know to exists. Currently there is a VW Golf Harlequin registry at and so far only 91 of these car have been accounted for. If you own one of these Harlequin VW cars laying around the garage let Ross know and will add you to his registry.

Since creation of the Harlequin VW there have been others who have tried to make their own Harlequin version since the originals are so hard to get. That is why I started my own Harlequin Wannabe Registry here on art car central and if any you have one let me know and I will add you to my own registry.

VW Bug Harlequin Art Car Wannabe #1
VW Bug Harlequin Art Car Wannabe #1

Trabant Harlequin Art Car Wannabe #2
Trabant Harlequin Art Car Wannabe #2

Ferrari Harlequin Art Car Wannabe #3
Ferrari Harlequin Art Car Wannabe #3

Motorcycle Harlequin Art Bike Wannabe #4
Motorcycle Harlequin Art Bike Wannabe #4

Home Made Harlequin Art Car Wannabe #5
Home Made Harlequin Art Car Wannabe #5

VW Pickup Art Truck Harlequin Wannabe #6
VW Pickup Art Truck Harlequin Wannabe #6

Audi TT Harlequin Art Car Wannabe #7
Audi TT Harlequin Art Car Wannabe #7

Redneck Limo Art Car Harlequin Wannabe #8
Redneck Limo Art Car Harlequin Wannabe #8
Not there yet, but gets an "A" for effort

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