Hot station wagon.
Oxymorons all? In the past, I have sung the glories of a station wagon precisely once, in that case the 1955-57 Chevy Nomad which I described then as a "beautiful and gloriously dysfunctional car lust ". Then again, I probably would have happily praised the Dodge Magnum had not our own Chris Hafner already done so.
And that pretty much covered all the bases for my Wagon Lust. Until now. There are two reasons why this one has been added to the corral of Things I Lust After: 1) Some guy in my neighborhood has an old red one he's restoring that I think looks really cool, and 2) This old C&D review of a 455 (!) VIsta-Cruiser:
It goes, stops, steers, and handles like hell. It is so fast you wouldn't believe it. It does a big 94 in the quarter-mile, with an ET of 14.7 seconds, but unlike so many cars that deliver lots of sturm und drang in the quarter, it is perfectly happy to turn a corner or stop at the end.. . .Anybody who ever criticized American cars' handling should try this Oldsmobile. With its voluptuous bodywork, trick Super Chief roof, enormous engine, and great overall size and bulk, it is as purely American as any car could be, but its behavior on the road is so impeccable that it's a machine to make converts of us all. By the same token, anybody who ever defended typical American car handling as "good enough" ought to take our Oldsmobile home tonight.
If that doesn't blow your (fender) skirts up, I don't know what will.
In my last post on the Buick Flamingo, I mentioned the Ventiports that were present on the vehicle and suggested the topic was ripe for a Car Lust treatment. Well, here it is.
These things have fascinated me for a while, mostly for geeky theoretical reasons. I studied evolutionary theory as part of my graduate studies in archaeology and, oddly enough, automobiles provide very good examples of a lot of the sort of evolutionary principles that can be applied to cultural phenomena; in this case those big ol' 'artifacts' that we drive around in. Cars have a
number of functional features that have been molded by selective forces -- gasoline won out over electrics over a hundred years ago, for example -- but they also have a lot of stylistic features that illustrate the sort of cultural factors that influence their design. And then there are others that manifest the complicated history of design trends and historical "hiccups" that make for odd combinations of features that aren't really explained by either purely functional or stylistic concerns.
And this is where Ventiports come in. At first glance, they appear to be. . . .well, what? They look like they might have some use, and in fact a lot of the questions that appear on various web sites contemplate what possible function they have or may have had at one point. Once people realize that they're really just decorative elements, they're often dismissed as meaningless. But their history is a bit more complicated and interesting than simple decoration may suggest and it offers potential for insight into how seemingly trivial design elements can tell us something of our collective automotive history.
Plus it gives me warrant to utilize all that theorizing I did way back when. I've bracketed the geeky theoretical mumbo-jumbo section so non-nerdy (read: normal) folks can ignore that part, or at least just skim it. So put on the coffee and let us delve into Style and Function: A Fundamental Dichotomy.
(Originally posted by That Car Guy on April 01, 2010.)
Today, building a new car from previously introduced components such as engines, instruments, body, and chassis pieces is nothing unique. Lotus even does it with a Toyota engine. But back just before The Great Depression, when there were practically more automotive manufacturers in America than there were cars on the road, the idea of borrowing bits and pieces from one make and/or model to complete another one was a brilliant, pioneering breakthrough.
Witness the 1928 Porter Touring Car, valued today as a rare treasure, lusted after by antique car collectors. Built by kitbashing real cars on a true 1:1 scale, the Porter engineers began with a Chevrolet frame, engine, and transmission. And why not? All the development work and costs were done, everything fit perfectly together, and it was a strong, reliable base for a grand touring car in the Roaring '20s.
Originally posted by That Car Guy on May 21, 2009.)
"Quick, Robin, to the Batpoles!" Whoosh! "Atomic batteries to power... turbines to speed". The hidden cave door drops, a sign falls, and it's 14 miles to Gotham City. ♫ "Da da da da da da da da da... 'BATMAN'!" ♫
There have been "Batman" cartoons and comic books and TV shows and movies, but the one vehicle that carried the Dynamic Duo and won the popularity vote is George Barris' 1966 TV Batmobile. Originally a car show concept car, a 1955 Lincoln Futura was the donor vehicle for the Batmobile.
There would be 3 more copies later, built from fiberglass molds onto stretched Ford Galaxie frames for public displays and such. Ghia of Italy built the Futura; it was used in "It Started With A Kiss" with Debbie Reynolds and Glenn Ford.
The Futura was sold to Mr. Barris for the whopping sum of one dollar, since Ford had no use for it and was storing it at Mr. Barris' shop anyway. The 21-day conversion included enlarging the tailfins, black paint, red trim, red flashing lights, new headlight fins, and new Bat-trim.
(Originally posted by That Car Guy on June 15, 2009.)
Two hilarious monster-themed TV shows, The Addams Family and The Munsters, premiered and expired the same two weeks of the same two years in 1964-1966. Both were in black and white. Each had their audience, and you were either a Munsters fan or an Addams Family fan, or both. I liked them both, but I guess I was more of a Munsters fan, primarily because they had The Munster Koach.
George Barris is a genius. He created custom cars like the Batmobile, Monkeemobile, and The Beverly Hillbillies' truck; if a studio wanted a cool custom vehicle for a TV show or movie, Barris Kustom Cars was the place to call. Barris was also wise enough to retain ownership rights to some of his vehicles and just rented them to the studios, guaranteeing him rights for displays, models, and other rewards.
(Originally posted by Cookie The Dog's Owner on November 13, 2008.)
Submitted by John Boyle
I bought the car in 1998 and spent two years restoring it while I was living in Abilene, Texas. I had never owned a unique (that's a good word for a Barris car) car before so I went into the restoration with blind faith and a lot of luck. Luckily, I had just finished helping a friend restore my 1977 Jeep CJ-5 Levi's Edition Renegade, so I was much less a "babe in the woods"automotively speaking than I would have been a couple of years before.
We did all the work locally, with the exception of some brass refinishing and overhauling the brass radiator, which I sent to a specialist who restores high-dollar brass cars in California. I was the general contractor and, with my friend Charlie's help, put the car back together. Mechanically, it was sound--the Ford drivetrain really paid off. I changed the generator to a GM “one-wire” alternator, and had the master cylinder and carb rebuilt. I was able to walk into an auto parts store with a wheel cylinder and walk out 45 minutes later with a new set--try that with a real Bearcat! By comparison, I have a friend in the Stutz Club whose '18 Bearcat was off the road for two years while he sourced a starter. No such troubles with mine. (Knock wood.) The body is all metal and required only a repaint. I had new upholstery done and a new instrument panel made with new old-fashioned looking dials. The new wood wheels took a wheelwright in Oklahoma a year to fashion out of solid hickory. They came out great.
Born in Chicago, he, at three years old, and his brother Sam were relocated to California after their mother passed. While still in high school, George was already customizing cars and started the "Kustom Car Club," and used that spelling throughout his career.
I grew up during the heyday of his work; I was 9 when BATMAN premiered. Many scale models of his creations have been assembled with these hands. And just this year I was planning a trip to Los Angeles, mainly to see iconic TV locations such as the Batcave and Andy Griffith's fishing hole, and of course, to visit Mr. Barris' shop. Sadly, part of that proposed trip may not be completed now.
The list of vehicles, from hot rods to golf carts, Elvis' limousine, and more, that Mr. Barris and company customized is too long for this post. But we here at Car Lust have had the priviledge of featuring a few of them, and as a tribute to the man and his work, we'll be showing them this week.
And as usual, this Open Thread is also the place to discuss anything else in the automotive world.
--That Car Guy (Chuck)
Image Credits: Mr. Barris' image is from Gannett-cdn.com.