27
May
17

The Return of Xander Cage’s xXx GTO Flame Car!

The Return of Xander Cage’s xXx GTO Flame Car!
xXxGTO15_SunsetRGB~LR
Fans of the ‘xXx’ movie series were pleasantly surprised earlier this
year when, fifteen years after we were first introduced to Vin
Diesel’s “Xander Cage” and his high-tech, color-shifting secret agent
gadget car, we got to see this very same 1967 Pontiac GTO make a
brief cameo appearance in the latest installment, ‘xXx: Return of
Xander Cage.’
Pontiac owner and historian Thom Sherwood was on hand in Toronto,
Ontario this past April for filming with the GTO Flame Car and got to
hang out with the cast and crew.
“It was yet another amazing once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Thom
revealed. “It was so fun to observe the whole big-budget movie making
process. This time it was shot digitally, in IMAX 3-D, with a new
director, new technology…”
But this was actually the second time his Flame Car has been filmed
internationally.
“The original film was done in the Czech Republic back in 2002,
during a whole different lifetime, it seems. The GTO got lots of
screen time back then, flogging the back roads through small villages
just south of Prague.”
“It was quite an unusual sight for the locals. None of them spoke
English, and they certainly had never seen a big, purple American
muscle car like this roaring through their narrow streets. I’ve since
gone back to the little village of Drhovy — where that crazy potato
cart explosion scene was filmed — looking for locals to share their
memories. There was only a lot of nodding and smiles.”
xXxGTOFlameSide_Weir~LR
“In that movie’s finale atop the famous Charles Bridge in the middle
of Prague, the GTO got what I, for many years, thought would be its
last few seconds of screen time. So, when the production company in
Canada called last year to ask if they could use my car again for the
newest ‘xXx,’ I couldn’t say yes fast enough!”
Fortunately, he had kept the now forever-roofless car in the exact
same condition and appearance as when it appeared in the closing
frames of the first film, even keeping the exact same set of
BFGoodrich tires mounted along with most of the special effects
hardware originally installed by the studio.
This proved advantageous for everyone in 2016 when the script for the
new ‘Return’ film required the car to appear exactly the same —
unchanged, as if it had been in hibernation — since the original Vin
Diesel spy adventure in Europe.
“The only thing we discussed that would be different was a change in
the license plates since the newest film sees the GTO being reunited
with Xander Cage in Detroit,” Thom shared.
xxx rockets
“In retrospect, I would have preferred if they (the Canadian
production crew) had kept the iconic “KY 29-0” Euro license plates on
the car, but they really insisted it should have Michigan plates to
help explain the car’s current location after fifteen years. In the
end, however, they filmed the car just from a front and side angle
without any license plate mounted up front at all! Oh, well…”
“First thing I did when I got the car home to Tucson was to put the
European plates back on. Then, a long-overdue set of fresh (and
safer!) BFGs was finally installed prior to a photo session that led
up to the red carpet event in Hollywood earlier this year.”
Today, Thom actively shows the car at various venues, and with all
the commotion from the release of the newest ‘xXx’ film and DVD, he’s
been quite busy.
xXxGTOFlameIntOverhd~LR
One big date on his summer calendar includes a fun gig in Texas. The
Pontiac-Oakland Club, International (POCI) will be having their
annual convention and car show in Fort Worth at the Texas Motor
Speedway in July and, as a special promotion with co-sponsor Ames
Performance Engineering, Thom will be giving some lucky ‘xXx’ fan a
ride around the banked oval NASCAR track in the Flame Car. (This
contest, which is open only to members of the club, is  also a
prelude to his multi-media “Secret Agent GTO: The Pontiacs of ‘xXx'”
presentation there on July 13, 2017. For more information, visit
http://www.poci.org.) If you go, stop by and give Tom a “HI!” from StarCarcentral.com!
———
Here’s a transcript of an interview Thom did about his GTO:
ThomSherwoodxXxPromo17a~LR
2017 marks the  50th anniversary of Pontiac’s legendary 1967 lineup
of Wide-Trackers. It also marks the 15th anniversary of Vin Diesel’s
blockbuster hit film ‘xXx’ which first introduced us to “Xander Cage”
and his high-tech, flame-throwing, color-shifting GTO Flame Car.
This car, with its crazy, hypnotic cache of instruments, spy gadgets
and weapons, has dazzled millions of fans worldwide, but we suspect
that not everyone may be familiar with its legend. For the
uninitiated, here’s an interview with Flame Car owner Thom Sherwood.
Q: What exactly is ‘xXx’ and just what does it mean?
A: When you say “Triple-X,” you’re actually referring to a franchise
of spy-action films (of which three have been made thus far) and the
main characters within those stories. Just as James Bond is referred
to as one of the “Double-O” agents in Ian Fleming’s British spy
novels and films, here we’ve got an American equivalent with a kick-
ass attitude and some street smarts!
Q: When did this franchise start?
A: The very first ‘xXx’ film debuted fifteen years ago (August 2002)
with Vin Diesel in the starring role. It actually did very well at
the box office, but was followed-up three years later with a related
sequel entitled ‘xXx: State of the Union’ (2005) where actor/rapper
Ice Cube becomes the next Triple-X agent.
Then, after many years and a couple of false starts, the ‘xXx’
franchise was re-booted just this past year with Vin Diesel returning
in the lead role for the highly-anticipated ‘xXx: Return of Xander
Cage.’ That film was released in theaters worldwide at the beginning
of this year (January 2017) and, by the time you read this, it will
have just been released on DVD to rent (RedBox, iTunes, OnDemand,
etc.) or to purchase at the big-box stores (BestBuy, Target, WalMart,
etc.)
Q: Just how similar is this to a James Bond film?
A: Very similar, actually, but the whole spy film genre has become
very formulaic ever since the success of Bond’s Goldfinger back in
1964. The original ‘xXx’ film’s tagline (“It’s Time for a New Breed
of Secret Agent”) was obviously a direct poke at the apparent aging
and stiff manners of James Bond’s character, but the expected girls,
guns, and global domination ethos remains very evident. What is
different in ‘xXx’ is that the secret agents here are supposed to be
more a bit more hip and edgy, well-versed in extreme sports action,
and have a penchant for a particular split-grilled American muscle car.
Q: Oh, so that’s how your GTO got involved! Does your Pontiac appear
in all three of the ‘xXx’ films?
A: No, it is introduced in the first film from 2002 as Vin Diesel’s
“hero car” to help his character ultimately save the world from the
evil villain’s twisted plans.
In the second film from 2005, Ice Cube’s Triple-X character also
drives a ‘67 GTO, but it is intended to be (and most certainly is) a
completely different Goat — totally blinged-out!
Then, in the newest film which debuted earlier this year, my car
returns for a brief but important cameo role, appearing exactly as it
did in the closing frames of the first ‘xXx’ fifteen years ago while
helping tie-together the seemingly disconnected plotlines of the two
earlier films.
Q: What makes this car so unique and why is it called the “Flame Car”?
A: Well, when  you talk about spy cars, you know there are going to
be all sorts of gadgets and weapons on board. The GTO that you’ll see
in Fort Worth is the actual car from the film that made all those fun
special effects — or “gags” — really happen on screen. None of that
stuff was computer-generated. This car really did shoot flames from
its custom hood scoop and fire rockets from the upper headlights!
Then there’s the crazy gauges and dashboard…
Q: Is the car street legal? I imagine you’ve gotten some interesting
looks!
A: Yes, it is fully street legal, and I do occasionally drive it to
local Pontiac club functions or cruise nights. But, I’ve got to be
extra careful… Once, when I was driving on a busy multi-lane road,
a person pulled alongside my car in the adjacent lane and became so
transfixed — just staring at the GTO and all its lights and gauges —
that he began drifting off into another lane of traffic. He came
within inches of sideswiping some hapless guy in a BMW!
Q: Is it a real 1967 GTO convertible, or maybe a Pontiac LeMans “clone”?
A: That’s actually the most frequent question I hear. Yes, it is a
real “code 242” GTO with its original 335hp 400-cubic-inch Pontiac
V8. But, it is not a convertible; it began life as a genuine GTO
hardtop built at the Fremont, California plant.
One of the gags seen at the end of the first ‘xXx’ requires Vin
Diesel’s character to eject himself from the car with a parachute.
But, to do that, his GTO has to first shed its hardtop roof. And as
you might know, the quarter panels on a Pontiac A-body convertible
look completely different. So, in order to maintain proper continuity
throughout the film, the production crew knew that they had to
utilize a hardtop model to accomplish this gag. What all this boils
down to is that the Flame Car is now best described as a roofless
hardtop.
Q: What can the folks expect when they attend your “Secret Agent GTO”
seminar on Thursday, July 13, 2017 in Fort Worth?
A: I’ve done countless hours of research on the xXx GTO legacy and
have collected all sorts of fascinating behind-the-scenes stories,
photography and trivia that I’ll share with the audience there. I
certainly hope my enthusiasm for all this will prove to be
entertaining while providing some unique insights to the whole big-
budget filmmaking process. I’ve got lots of fun and fresh material to
reveal in Fort Worth — especially since the release of the newest
‘xXx-3.’ Plus, it’s always fun to do a “show and tell” with all the
cool spy gadgets. The best part of this is that it all focuses on
your favorite brand of automobile — Pontiac!
Q: For anyone who hasn’t yet seen any of the ‘xXx’ trilogy, what
would you suggest?
A:  Back when the first ‘xXx’ was originally released on DVD, about a
gazillion copies of that disc were sold to the public, so today, you
can easily find a used copy of it on eBay for less than $5.00
including shipping.
After you’ve watched the film, go back to that DVD’s Home Menu and
peck around there to watch some of the fun “extras” that accompany
the film — especially the 10-minute featurette called “The Vehicles
of ‘xXx.'” What’s highlighted there is the very same Flame Car that
you’ll see in the flesh — minus Vin Diesel, of course — in Fort Worth
from July 12-15, 2017!
xXxDVDcoverGTO~LR
17
Jan
17

Then Came Bronson – build that bike!

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“Then Came Bronson” was a fun adventure TV series, about a guy on a Harley, driving from town to town and getting into conflicts, and helping out.  It was on the air in 1969-1970 and was great escapist TV.  If you know the show, and want the bike, I found a great website really doing all the work for you and handing you the recipe on a silver Harley!  Here’s an excerpt from the first page! If you want to build one, go to the site HERE and enjoy all the fun detail work that was done and shared!

“You will need to find a 1968 or 1969 XLH 883cc Harley Davidson Sportster. Your model must have a battery and points. (Not a magneto model)Since the Pilot aired in March of 1969 the bikes used in the pilot were probably 1968 XLH’s. The location schedules denote November 1968 for filming. The TV series episodes used possibly hold over 1968 models from the pilot and the 1969 XLH’s, pictured left, were purchased at the Salinas Harley-Davidson dealership. Any 1967, 68, 69 or 70 XLH will do. The kick start Bronson used was added later to give the bike a more mechanical touch and nostalgic attitude.

Note: Back then the bike was advertised as a 900cc, however this was a marketing technique used by Harley-Davidson when they rounded up the cc from 883 to 900, making the engine appear bigger than it really was. The bike above is the rare Boat-tail model. One of Peter’s many bikes.The 1970 Cycle Guide Magazine article gives evidence of what is required…. “A Harley-Davidson CH gas tank replaced the standard turtle tank. The front wheel was replaced with a 21” aluminum rim carrying a 3.00 x 21 ribbed Avon Speedmaster tire. The front fender was changed to a chromeplated, bobbed piece and the headlight nacelle, or housing, was removed and a chrome sports light replaced it. The oil tank and rear shock springs were chrome plated. A kickstart was added although the Sportster carries an electric starter. The seat was replaced with a custom leather unit and a short chrome hand-hold was mounted behind the passenger seat. (Folklore has it that the sissy bar was cobbled from a Schwinn banana seat bicycle – ed.) The chain guard cover and the voltage regulator cover were chrome plated. The rear fender was bobbed 5 inches and the tail light replaced with an old style English light. The motorcycle was repainted with a specially mixed formula which is called from this point on, Bronson Red. The final touch was the addition of the Bronson “Eye” insignia to the gas tank.”The 883’s pictured here below are a 1970 XLH and 1969, a kick starter was added later. A 1970 has a slightly different front fork because of the way the front fender mounts, but can be adapted by welding tabs on the forks for the Bronson front fender. A vintage XLH is hard to find now-a-days. Once you have your bike, move on to another step.”

12
Jan
17

Rockford, KITT, Bandit and Bumblebee in Charlotte Motor Speedway 4/6/2017

Rockford Files Firebird to be Displayed at Charlotte AutoFair

This April 6th through 9th 2017, at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, a Rockford Firebird will be on display. They are celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Firebird and Camaro’s.

KITT from Knight Rider and the Smokey and the Bandit Trans Am will also be on display with some significant Firebirds and Camaro’s.

The Bumble Bee Camaro from the 1st Transformer movie will be there too. This Bumble Bee Camaro is from the Volo Auto Museum collection.

They are expecting over 100,00 people to attend. So here is a link to the shows information. http://www.charlottemotorspeedway.com/tickets/spring-autofair/

21
Nov
16

30th Anniversary Marty McFly Vegas Toyota Dream Truck

Putting it all back together again!  After tearing the truck down to the frame, the bed came off, and WAY too much in “ding” repair was done.  Then finally the paint job.  As this was an old truck and had to look brand new most of the cost was repairing 30 years of small dings and imperfections.  Now it was back in my yard, and time to put it all back together again, but with new reupholstered seats, new carpets, new headliner etc.

 

I had custom Statler Toyota Licence plate frames made, and of course, McFly personalized plates! it was the 80’s after all!

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I did have to rush the job as the mechanical and paint work took much longer than I had figured, and I had an appointment to drive down Las Vegas blvd. with the cast of Back to the Future, and almost 30 Deloreans and many other movie and TV star cars!

After my trailer was hit by a fan trying to take a photo of the truck, I got back on the road with miraculously no damage to my truck, just tore off a fender of the trailer!  (I had bought rental insurance, so no worries on that!)

Once we all got to Vegas, it was filled with panels with the stars, the big parade and lots of photos!  We had a great time, and I got to interview Bob Gale the writer of Back to the Future along with the cast members and fans.

 

The truck worked great, and during the parade I heard several people shout out “Is that you Mike?” That was funny!  Claudia Wells who played Marty’s Girlfriend finally got a ride in that truck she was promised, but we didn’t go up to the lake with sleeping bags! Sorry!

Michael Scheffe, who helped design the Delorean Time machine, as well as KITT from Knight Rider is a friend, and I had the pleasure of delivering him up to the podium for the big event in Vegas!

In the back of this cast photo with Paul Casey, the Organizer of the event, you can see Bob Gale and I taking questions from the audience that was gathered to see the stars.  Lea loved my truck, and we ended up providing a KITT for her episode of “The Goldbergs”  Hollywood is a small world, sometimes!

mcfly-in-parade

One of the few times they shut down the main strip!  In the parade out front was a pair of Blues Brother’s cars, then two Starsky and Hutch Torinos.  Next I’m in my McFly Truck followed by the cast in two convertibles and rows of Deloreans with their “wings” up!

 

After all that excitement a few weeks later, I was invited to come see the Hollywood Bowl screening and also stayed afterwards and partied with the cast and crew that came out.  My truck was on display for the crowds of fans, some even came as their favorite characters!

 

Now the big year is over, and it’s time for the amazing truck to go make a BTTF (aka Back to the Future) fan happy!  It’s for sale to make room for my next project, the 1940’s Batmobile!

21
Jul
16

The Batmobile no one drove… Part 4

By Nate Truman

(Part 1 is found HERE!)

By waiting and buying the perfect donor car, I had jumped over months of work! I skipped taking the car to and from shops, and haggling over price and workmanship.  So I found myself in a great place starting with the fun  details and the finish work!

After registration with the DMV, looking for insurance, it was time to go over the car.

I went through all the paperwork to see what had been done.  As the dash was all custom, I had to get acquainted with all the switches, find the fuse box, etc.

The door handles had no locks, but I had been given a set of new replacement hot rod handles.

There were no windshield wipers.

A gas leak had emerged from the rear of the car.

The trunk wouldn’t open, and it had no lever, just an electronic switch.

The battery was dying because the lights would come on when I had the door open, but the battery was locked tight in the trunk!

The door handle could be a blog by itself!  Figuring out how to remove a door panel in a “regular” car is hard enough, but a hot rod with custom interior, shaved doors, custom glass and reversed hinges proved to be a long learning curve!  After many attempts I finally got the interior panel off, only to discover why the new handles had never been installed.  There was no way to get to them!! Surrounded by sharp metal, there was a clamp like paperclip to hold the handle together. A custom metal piece held the handle in place with two screws.  If you removed the screws, it fell down into the door with a thunk.  So I used magnets, dental instruments, tiny clamps along with a lot of sweat and attempts to finally operate on the driver door and successfully replaced the door handle.  After not being sure if I would ever get the door to close and latch again,  I decided to wait on replacing the passenger side for now.  I had an interior lock on that side, so I could at least key lock the car now.  wp-1469070448128.jpg

Next I knew I needed some bat hubcaps to replace the jag emblems, and a bat in the steering wheel if I was going to keep that.  It came with what I think was the original horn, but was rusted beyond recognition.  I will try and restore, but it may be hopeless.

wp-1469070359281.jpg I would have to find a 1940’s police siren anyway, you know, for crimefighting!     Also I wanted to make another big bat somewhere on the motor, and the whole dash needed the batman treatment! To the Bat-garage photos!!

 

So first things first, off with the Jag center caps, on with some period bats I designed and cut by my friend, the late great Eddie Paul.  (He was my “brain builder” and we had started the project a few weeks before his passing.  I love that guy, and I am proud that his talented hands worked on this final project.  He will be sorely missed.)

wp-1469068025636.jpgI swapped out the Jaguar logo for a bat in the steering wheel, until such time as I want to swap it to either a banjo type classic wheel (They are very big, so not leaning that way) or some other custom bat wheel! A custom car is never finished!

The couple of drawings in the comics of the dash in the car were a brown dash of the basic variety, (The shot above was the most detailed drawing of the era) but I know bat fans wouldn’t go for just a plain dash!  So out it all came, and I wrapped it in bat black, added a ww2 aircraft panel and dug into my magic box of switches and dials.  I had to have a FEW bat-gadgets! Just for me!  I moved the stereo into the glove box so the modern stereo couldn’t be seen, but I could still play batman music!

Ace the Bathound stood guard by the car most days, powered by what else?  Gentle Giant Dog food, created by Burt Ward!

Remember that shot from the 40’s cop car? Well, I got a ww2 hand unit to connect to the dash, and a period linesman phone for when Batman had to make a call.  With this piece of crime fighting equipment, Batman could clip into any phone line anywhere, and dial anyone, while being untraceable!  It was very nostalgic to spin the dial and have that feeling again to make a call!  I know it will be a fun attraction to show kids!

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Found the smallest blades 9″ and the smallest arms from a 70’s VW bug.  Batman’s ready for the storm!  The car was sliced in the back and the front of the roof was lowered, so the windshield had to be custom cut and it’s not very tall!

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Finally I made a bat for the back wall like in the toy, but I dropped it on the air cleaner, and liked it way better there. wp-1469070468922.jpg I had one spot in the dash I didn’t have figured out, but once that was filled in I could reinstall the dash.  Then I would have a cool bat themed hot rod, ready to take to car shows!  I think I have to start driving this thing soon!  Sorry for the cliffhanger, but that’s all for now!

Next episode:  Making custom side panels, getting that dash back in and working, sourcing and making side pipes and figuring out the giant bat-face, with light up eye headlights!  Stay tuned bat-fans, this may take some time!

19
Jul
16

The Batmobile no one ever drove… part 3

The Batmobile no one ever drove… Part 3  Pulling the trigger!

In the custom or “Kustom” world, hot rodders of every shape and size spend their time, talents and money building their dream cars. They change their minds, start over, give up, and some actually finish their weekend warriors!   From “Rat Rods” to “Trailer Queens” lifted, slammed, the list goes on and on of all the directions customizing a car can go.  It’s the beauty of the hobby.   If you have ever been to a car show you have seen chromed engine compartments costing thousands of dollars.  Lifted trucks, lowered chevys, rusted racers – each one is someone’s dream ride. It’s what they wanted to bring into the world of cars.

Some guys have been in the game a long time, and now just “fix and flip” cars they know.  Get a heap, hot rod it up and sell it – then repeat. Mainly because very few of us can afford to keep every car we think is cool!

During my search for a donor “beater” or “Project” car, I had kept my eye on one amazing build that was perfect for my dream.   It was out of my price range and it was just too darn pretty!  But it had everything I wanted and more.     It had been on a journey before I saw it though.  Starting out as a project 1939 Dodge – it got the NHRA frame off overhaul.  New chassis, 400 hp motor, and a builder who was willing to tinker to get a car the way he wanted it.

First a new chassy, and a new crate 400 hp motor was built for the base. The car and body was stripped clean.  You can see in one photo there was a blower on the motor. That’s part of the process, trying looks and ideas, and then deciding to keep them or not!

Here is a set of different ideas for the front of the car. Swapping out original air vents, then sealing them up. The dodge had a center hinged hood, but it was converted to a solid one piece.  Had I found this car for sale, it would have been on the top of my donor list even at this point!

Custom side panels were made, then discarded, and another front grill was designed.

These are not in chronological order, but a few shots to show the body work being done to smooth it all out for paint.  A custom licence plate indent was added by the Rodfathers.

Lots of handwork, rust repair and sanding, priming and sanding again, until it was ready for paint!  wp-1468007063803.jpg

The builder/owner even took a black marker to a photo, to see what it would look like in black, with rear wheel skirts!

build photos

The whole process of searching for a project and seeing it through to your finished vision is a long and costly process.   Lots of work and yet another grill this time built by Dean Jeffries brought it all together!    Finishing touches of pinstriping and a new modern interior were added.  All the unique ideas and skills of many hands brought this new car to life!  Once done, it was taken to car shows and just “bombed around in” for a few years like this and enjoyed!    However, once a project is finished and driven for a while eventually it’s time to sell and move on to the next project!

I had watched the craigslist ad for months but never bothered to see the car because it’s list price was fair, but out of the range of what I wanted to spend on the project.  I was also in the mindset of doing a build up of a project car.    But then one day I was appearing in a parade in Burbank, and even though I knew it was too finished and the price was out of my budget I decided to go look at it in person.  The shots of the interior were so spot on to what I would do to match the Batmobile red stripes, I just had to see it in person.

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Suicide doors, check! Red and black interior with custom point, SUPER CHECK! 

 

400 hp Crate HOT ROD motor and transmission pro installed, CHECK!

 

Cool from every angle? Oh yeah!

 

Super cool modded body with great paint, and custom red and black wheels? Check!  I fell for this car.  It was just too nice! The list of mods I would have to do to get it to MY dream car, was pretty short.  Just all the fun stuff!  I started making mental lists of what I would have to do with a few areas, like with the trunk, when I added a giant bat fin.

trunk open

And the dash was going to have to be bat-upgraded.  The steering wheel was out of a late model Jag, and there were Jag emblems on the wheels, and a Dodge emblem on the dash. Great signs that the car was a toy that had been played with and enjoyed!

Lots of fun modern upgrades, like courtesy lights all around, AC!!, hot rod door handles.driver side pedals

A beautiful headliner! How to add a fin without destroying it?

celing interior

The owner had been trying to sell for a couple years, and for various reasons needed it sold ASAP.  I knew I would never find a car like this again, one where so much of the work I was planning on doing was already done!  After a day or two of deliberation – this beauty was in my batcave!!    wp-1468955738069.jpg

And just as the modder before me, I had to do a quick sketch to see what my ideas might look like, down the road!

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Let the Bat-transformation begin!    Stay tuned bat-fans, the best is yet to come!

PART FOUR:  The rise of the 1940’s N8mobile  “I like to personalize all my toys”

08
Jul
16

The Batmobile no one ever drove, part 2

on black 1940_batmobile

The building of the 1940 Style N8MOBILE part 2!  Read part one HERE!

By Nate Truman

How do you take an idea of a never built car and get to a finished car that’s legal to drive down the highway?  Focus.  Desire.  Time.  Creativity, and of course, CASH!  I had a lot of the first four, but not an unlimited amount of the last one.  Besides, if I had unlimited amounts of money I could just go to a custom shop and say “BUILD THIS” and throw money at them.  That’s a terrible journey.

I did also have a few rules: Rule #1. As a son of a “Car Guy” I knew a few things I shouldn’t do.  DON’T destroy a car that can be restored to it’s original condition. These are also known as OS, Original Steel.   I wouldn’t use a car like this because they are rare and if there is someone out there that wants to restore a car back to it’s original look, it should go to them.  So it had to be a car that would be near impossible to take back to stock.

Rule #2. RUST will drain your wallet.  Cars from 1939-42 are 75 years old. Rust happens and it costs a LOT to repair.  I don’t like to do it, I don’t want to do it, it’s not fun.  SO I must have a  car with no rust or the rust already repaired.

Rule #3. The closer the donor car is to your idea of a finished product the fewer variables there are to get it there.  This basically means that if a car has some costly work done the way I want it done, that’s a fixed price.  A finished interior or installed motor, etc. is work that is paid for in the purchase price.   It’s very easy to get way over budget by hoping for the best prices and no problems and then end up thousands of dollars in higher costs because of unforeseen problems along the way.   A cheaper donor car can often mean a lot more expensive finished car. Ask any Knight Rider replica builder!

I spent months scanning craigslist for about an hour a night.  I started seeing some cars that didn’t sell for months.  I figured out what was a good price, what was way too high, and what was a deal.  I didn’t buy anything, I didn’t go see anything, I was just learning. I was an expert on other cars, but not this era.

The odd part about this search was that I wasn’t looking for a specific make and model!    Ford, Dodge, Cadillac, Plymouth and Chevy were all on the table.  Details I had to have: 2 door coupes, with two windows on each side. Headlights incorporated into the fenders. That would eliminate a lot of cars.  For between 6-18 grand there were lots of choices of “heaps”.  That means it’s a body, and a HEAP of parts!   Maybe an engine inside, some ran, some were in great shape, others were barely cars.

I considered a lot of cars, but I knew I had to be patient to find the perfect donor car. I didn’t mind doing the interior exactly how I wanted it, but that opened me up to lots of cost overruns. These kinds of cars can be an endless project of broken parts and unknown problems.  I wasn’t going to pull the trigger until the perfect car showed up.  Besides, shopping for cars is pretty much the only shopping I consider “fun”!

As time passed, I found a few good possibilities.  I was searching about a 1000 mile radius, so if I just wanted to get a better  idea of the actual condition of the car, I would ask a friend who lived closer to go take a look at it for me.

Unfortunately, rust and the state of disrepair made most of them unsuitable.  In fact, the more I looked at the “heaps” the more I realized that starting that far down the ladder would really open me up to a lot of frustration, and money spent with little to show for it.  So I changed my parameters of my search.  Still 1939-1942, but now I added “Hot rod” or “Kustom”.    I started seeing chopped and channeled projects, cars with motors replaced with newer more reliable and powerful motors, and for about the same price as the “heaps”.

 

I was finding many more cars that fit my specific bill, and a few that I started looking at hard.  The best one was in Northern California, and a hot rod guy had started building a big horsepower 1/4 mile race car.  I didn’t want or need a car that was “tubbed” with 800 hp, but he had to stop his build for personal reasons, and it was at just about the point where I wanted to take over.  Motor and tranny were brand new and mostly installed, and the body was mostly straight. I loved the overall look of the car.  So we started to email back and forth, looking for any problems, haggling over price, and figuring out transportation.  I thought I had found THEE donor car for my Bat build.

 

I didn’t like the single window in the back, but I had toyed with the idea of just sealing that up.  Challenges:  A few missing panels, missing glass, ZERO interior other than a cage and a couple of really low racing seats.   At this point in the journey is when the rational mind needs to step in!  I really wanted to get started and this was the best donor I had found up to that time.  The price was fair, and I sensed he would go even lower, giving me some financial room to finish it my way without breaking the bank.  But there was the window, and several “mostly’s”.  I did some math, looked at how much I would have to do, and what would have to be undone. It just didn’t add up.  I sighed, and took a pass.  At the time I was disappointed, but in the long run it was a great decision to let someone else finish this for the race track, and wait for the street driver I wanted.  Another old rule, don’t spend ANY money for starter cars or cool extras that make your project less accurate to your idea. 800 horse power! Tubbed! Cool!! But I had to remind myself, not on my want list.  The search continued on…

NEXT PART 3: Nate finds the right car to get started!




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