Archive for February, 2011


Edelbrock and join forces for Revved up for Kids event May 1st!


For the second year in a row, Nate Truman’s will display a grouping of famous movie and TV vehicles at the 2011 Revved up for Kids event!  Mark your calendars, and stop by and support a great charity, while looking at cool cars and learning the history of the Edelbrock company! Many of the early Edelbrock cars are on display inside, along with fun events for the whole family!

Here are all the details, see ya there!

Edelbrock to Host Rev’ved Up 4 Kids Charity Car Show
May 1 to Benefit Children with Learning DisabilitiesTORRANCE, CA (February 02, 2011) – On Sunday May 1st, Edelbrock will host the Rev’ved Up 4 Kids Car Show located at “Vic’s Garage” in Torrance, CA. Participants are invited to come out and enjoy a day of hot rods, great food, live entertainment and all around good fun. This charity fundraising event benefits The Center For Learning Unlimited, a private educational institution that provides a comprehensive education to students with complex learning differences. 

All makes and models are welcome and interested participants can pre-register online at Early bird car entry registration costs $35.00 and is available until March 1st. Standard registration costs $40.00 and day of show registration will cost $45.00. A limited number of VIP spaces are also available for a $75.00 entry fee. Show hours are 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Spectator entry is free and The Center for Learning Unlimited will be accepting donations. Vendor space is available as well as event and trophy level sponsorships.

The 2011 Rev’ved Up 4 Kids Charity car show will host the 3nd annual Hot Rodders of Tomorrow Engine Challenge Regional competition. Local high school students will compete in a high-energy engine building competition. The top teams from each region will earn their spot to compete at the National Finals in Las Vegas in the “Showdown at SEMA” in November. The top teams are honored with scholarships from Ohio Technical College, University of Northwestern Ohio and the School of Automotive Machinists.

“Supporting America’s youth throughout the country and the community is something that we are very passionate about” states Christi Edelbrock. “It’s so amazing to me what we can do together to make the dreams come true for young individuals. Given the right opportunities America’s youth can contribute so much to our society, my goal is to provide opportunities to learn, scholarships and job placement in the workplace. We have national support for these initiatives and this is only the beginning.”

All event proceeds go to the Center for Learning Unlimited. For more information visit: , ,

Just a few of the cars that attended last year!


Founded in 1938, Torrance-based Edelbrock, LLC is recognized as one of the nation’s premier designers, manufacturers and distributors of performance replacement parts for the automotive and motorcycle aftermarkets. Edelbrock produces their core products in the United States of America using state-of-the-art equipment in their world class manufacturing facilities. Edelbrock, LLC encompasses six locations in Southern California totaling more than 500,000 square feet. For more information please visit us at


Established in 1985, The Center for Learning Unlimited is a highly specialized non-public school that provides comprehensive educational and social-emotional interventions to high-functioning students having complex learning differences, as well as on-going support and solutions for the entire family.

For Editorial and Media Relations Contact:Eric Blakely
Director Of Advertising
(310) 781-2222 ext. 2938 


SCC on TMZ at Comikaze Party! Rain, towtrucks and starcar crashes!

Last Friday night in the worst rain and traffic I have been a part of in years, three intreped members braved the weather and conditions to support GAMERS UNITED.

Harvey Levin’s TMZ TV show had a camera crew at the Beverly Hills event for the first L.A. ComiKaze Comic Con party where three SCC members came to support the cause of the night, giving out comic books and video games to sick kids!  Michele Rodriguez was a celebrity guest and was really sweet to all three of us, she loved the cars!

Nate and Paul caught by TMZ

Jon Bumblebee, Paul BTTF, and Nate Knight Rider all braved the rain and REDONKULOUS traffic but all got there before the party and the rain started.  Various camera crews were on hand to cover the party thrown by Regina Carpinelli CEO Comikaze Expo and was held at her art gallery “The Celebrity Vault”  at 345 North Canon Drive Beverly Hills,Ca 90210 that specializes  in celebrity and rock and roll star limited edition photography.

A donation of comic books or cash and an invitation got you into the party, but there was only room for three stars outside: Bumblebee from the Transformers, Back to the future Delorean and KITT from Kinght Rider were parked out in the elements!   The buzz and photography around the cars was non stop through the night, but after a few turns in front of the camera we went next door and the three of us had a New York Style Pizza and caught up on a few stories!  After some more rain and a few more times lighting up KITT for the cameras I decided it was time to go home, as Monster Jam was the next day.  Kitt had other ideas!  It let out a terrible sound and the starter decided it didn’t want to play any more! So what does every good Knight Rider do in that situation? TURBOBOOST!!!!


Actually, I just called AAA and they sent out a tow truck to take KITT back to the Knight Industries repair truck.

Paul and Jon stayed a while longer while the paparazzi never stopped taking photos of KITT even while being loaded on the truck!

I got KITT safely home, dropped him in the driveway and got the A-Team van out for Monster Jam the next day.   (see previous blog!)

Sadly it was Paul’s turn next to have some bad star car incident, he made it fine to the Monster jam the next day, but on the drive home hit  a stalled truck in the road and tore up the side of his BTTF car!

When you play with your toys, stuff like this happens!  Luckily the F.L.A.G. mechanic was over on Monday (aka Alex!) and had a new starter in KITT in no time flat and we went out for a nice lunch all before noon!  That man has skills and connections! But I don’t think he can get Delorean stainless panels.

Here’s a look at Pauls car before the accident.   I am not sure I want to see what it looks like now! 😦

Paul vows to be all back together and rolling by our next event!  Many of your favorite star cars will be on display in November at

TMZ was also at another SCC event but didn’t get any of the Knights of the West Coast on Camera on Valentines day.  A few fans of the Hoff showed up with Knight Rider stories for a new series where stars trade places with celebrities who have their same name!

David Hasselhoff looks different! (click the link to watch the TMZ video)



Thanks to Charger Steve, Star Car Central Los Angeles and San Diego Chapters  have been part of the attraction at Monster Jam shows for the last four years. Most shows we drive  a parade lap inside the stadiums for the fans as part of the pre-show.  This year we appeared at three Monster Jam shows in San Diego, Anaheim Stadium and a first time ever at Dodger stadium with different members of the famous television and motion picture car group at each event.

Back in black! Bandit, KITT and the A-team van! I Pity the fool who don't like black star cars!

In the shadow of the famous Dodger Stadium we eventually lined up our cars, hoping the rain would pass over us and we could drive the infield of Dodger stadium!

Our first stop of the day was to gather in the nearby police academy parking lot, not just because it was close and a big open area to gather but also because it was a movie and TV location used many times. Most notably in the opening sequence of “Charlie’s Angels”

So in another instance of “Cross geeking” (tm nate truman 2003) Here’s a shot of Paul’s Back to the Future delorean under the Academy arch!

"1976 pilot shoot of Charlie's Angels! Where's Farrah?"

So we all parked in the historic lot until everyone arrived!

Then we all drove around the stadium, stopping to admire a few closed gates and lined up for the driver’s area display.


We also welcomed Scott with his Jurassic park Explorer for the first time! Everyone agreed he was an easy addition to the SCC team!   Lou was a trooper and came all the way to the event, and after a call from his wife and a look up at the sky made a wise decision and went home! Little did we know what was in store for us!

Charger Steve led us in and lined us up, then lined us up again, then finally got us where he wanted us!

"Rain? What rain?"

Lou was the first to leave of the 15 cars that made it to the stadium. We lost about three cars in the days leading up to the show, and another three before the main event started! It was going to be 20 cars! Darn Rain!

Magnum P.I. Ferrari and Back to the Future Delorean, with Knight Rider bookends!

Jenn’s SPM Kitt lead the display, Paul’s Delorean, Oscar’s Magnum P.I. 308 GTSi Ferrari followed by Alex’s KITT at the start of the row of movie and TV cars. Before the big show started, Oscar and Alex had headed for cover with their cars due to leaks! Thanks for staying for the fans as long as you did!

Herbie the Love bug, Star wars, and James Bond?

Obishawn and Yoda made a mad dash for cover, but Cliff and Justice in their Nascar Herbie and Brian in his James Bond BMW stayed for the show!  (We did have a nice tent city to keep us dry during the worst of it thanks to Mater Mike!)

Next up was the Blues Brothers 2000 police car, and Tony’s perfect Smokey and the Bandit trans am! He even had the T-Tops off for a while!  Tony’s bandit is spot on, even down to the Coors boxes!

This was the first SCC event for Scott and his dad Norm with their Jurassic park Explorer.  We have to get Ari and his Jurassic park jeep together at a future event!

What's that Orange car next to the A-Team van? It should have a sign.

Down at the far end of the display was Jon’s Bumblebee, some orange car Steve brought ( he’s working on a sign so people know what show it’s from. It was a spin off from Smokey and the bandit I think…) and the A-Team van!

Charger Steve's General Lee, and Mr. T's A-team van! (Mr. Truman, that is!)

Due to the rain, most of the owners and drivers of the Star cars stayed under cover and enjoyed great food and stories in a near by tent city, but the crowds still flocked to the cars to see their favorite movie and TV cars!

Not even pouring rain could keep the fans away from the famous cars!

Towmater and the A-Team, and some contructobot transformers at HQ!

Bringing up the other end of the display was Mike’s Towmater tribute tow truck and Nate’s A-Team van!  Those darn constructobots always are photobombing . They act more like decepticons than Autobots!

Even though the rain thinned the group throughout the day, hats off to all who came! Otherwise we would never have this cool shot of the rain storm with starcars at dodger stadium!

Next up, KITT turboboosts into the Knight Rider repair truck, and Back to the Future has a run in on the freeway on the way home….


LMX: the next batmobile?

While there are a few of us who are driving George Barris’ classic TV Batmobile, and even fewer that own  one of the movie models, maybe there is a car that will fill that “need’ to be batman coming soon. With Sasank Gopinathan’s Kinetia LMX Supercar, one day you too, might be able to have a ride that would make Batman proud.

Inspired by F-1 cars, and specifically the Peugeot 908, the LMX is designed to have attractive curves while still having little air resistance. In fact, the car is built in mind for normal roads, rather than race tracks. This makes it highly likely if the car ever hits the mass market, it’ll be street legal out of the box, as it were. With its gull-wing doors and LED running lights, this is one car that may put the fear of the Bat into any shady characters passing by. All it needs is little eye cutouts on the hood!

Sadly, the LMX hasn’t reached the mass-production stage yet, and there is no word on how much it’d cost when it does. Even so, it’ll probably be easier to register and make street legal than owning one of the other Batmobiles, so let’s all cross our fingers!   Yeah, a few bat logos, and this one’s good to go!kinetia-lmxkinetia-lmx-vehicle4




Intro by Nate Truman

Unless you have the “disease” of seeing a hunk of rusting parts and have the unstoppable yearning to hand polish, repair, repaint and restore them into a gleaming machine like it just came off the showroom floor you won’t ever really understand the mind of a Classic Car restorer.  I walk through junk yards and see finished cars, not money flying out of my pocket and endless hours of work, pain and problems.   Such is the mind set of the writer of today’s featured car.   The Yellow Rolls Royce has a huge cast of super stars that perform in three stories, but the only cast member that is in all three is the car they all own, a Yellow Rolls Royce! (Star car crossgeeking fans bonus appearance, a similar model RR in Yellow was also “Nevil Sinclair’s” transportation to the Griffith Observatory at the end of “The Rocketeer” and Nevil was played by former James Bond Timothy Dalton!)

1931 Rolls-Royce Phantom II LHD Newport Town Car from rocketeer

Below is the story of the restoration of the original car from the film.  I left in all the details for those who like to hear the journey!  Neal has done a top notch job and brought back this famous Rolls Royce to it’s original glory at great cost in sweat, money and time!   If you love star cars and classic movies check out “The Yellow Rolls Royce” it’s a great date movie! Check out this all star cast!

Ingrid Bergman Ingrid Bergman
Gerda Millett
Rex Harrison Rex Harrison
Lord Charles Frinton – The Marquess of Frinton
Shirley MacLaine Shirley MacLaine
Mae Jenkins
Jeanne Moreau Jeanne Moreau
Lady Eloise Frinton – The Marchioness of Frinton
George C. Scott George C. Scott
Paolo Maltese
Omar Sharif Omar Sharif
Art Carney Art Carney

Neal and Lillian Kirkham own “The Yellow Rolls-Royce,” a 1931 Barker Sedanca De Ville, 9JS.

Neal and Lillian Kirkham now own and have restored the actual Rolls-Royce used in this 1965

Movie. (The film is available on VHS and DVD.)

Restoration of The Yellow Rolls-Royce

By Neal Kirkham


In 1987 I began searching for a formal, prewar Rolls with some
uniqueness. After considerable research, I decided that a Phantom II would be my choice. In classic car circles, the early thirties are generally considered to be the zenith of prewar styling. Also Sedanca de Villes, with open driver’s compartment, have a desirable flair, and they were prevalent on PII chassis. I also wanted a passenger compartment with an assortment of features such as vanities, picnic tables, jump seats and, hopefully, a cocktail cabinet. In my search through the RROC directory and register I found many PII Sedanca de Villes and wrote to their owners on the East and West coasts. Several were available for purchase but none had the features I wanted.

Subsequently I learned that Millard Newman had purchased 9JS, The Yellow Rolls-Royce, at an auction two years earlier. I called him and he said he was considering selling the car since he had just purchased an early Ghost at a Swiss auction and would have to make space for it. Additionally, the PII was really too new (1931) for his tastes. Since Lil and I were to visit Tampa in a few weeks to pick up our recently purchased 3 ½ litre Bentley, Millard suggested we drop by to look at the PII.

We flew to Tampa in mid-April of 1988, picked up the Bentley and drove to Millard and Margaret’s lovely home on Tampa Bay. Years before, when their collection outgrew their garage, they put a roof over the front courtyard of their home and added a new front door that opened to reveal the cars. These included a Silver Shadow estate wagon, a half dozen early Ghosts (pre WWI) and one PII. It did not take Lil and I long to decide that 9JS was the car we were seeking. It had all the features I had prescribed and, in addition, spotlights, opening windscreen, adjustable shock absorbers and an engine heater. We reached agreement on price that evening and left the next day on the first of many adventures in the Bentley.

After the P-II arrived at our home, I made a few minor repairs to make it run more smoothly and reliably. We drove the car on quite a few club events over the next two years but I became more and more disappointed with the steering (which required enormous effort during parking maneuvers), the dangerously slow acceleration and a top speed of about 65 mph. In an attempt to understand why the engine lacked power, I put a dial indicator on several valve spring retainers and rotated the crankshaft. Several cam lobes had worn .030 – .040″ and through their hardened surfaces, which meant future wear would accelerate. Unfortunately cam removal necessitates entire engine disassembly, a daunting project. Additionally the steering system would have to be overhauled.



Final installation of PII body to the chassis

9JS during final assembly approximately six weeks before Pebble Beach. Chris Le Barr, upholsterer, at work in his improvised shop in back.

A small sampling of the number of parts spread out in our party room.

Yellow Rolls-Royce photos by John Carey



A succession of owners after the movie was made (1965) left the car in a generally rundown condition. The gray rear interior had been replaced by tan and was poorly done. The cocktail cabinet, ladies vanity and the smokers cabinets for owner and driver had been stripped of their contents and all the tools were missing. Due to the car’s exotic history I thought it deserved better and began a lengthy dialogue to convince Lillian it should have a ground-up restoration. What else did I have to do in my retirement? Lillian reluctantly agreed and disassembly began in 1991 albeit with several interruptions.

The first of these was due to large pieces of body putty falling off our 3 ½ Litre Bentley. What’s more, I rationalized, it had incorrect taillights, front fender lights, , incorrect(for the ‘30s) metallic silver paint and an impossibly slow rear axle ratio. Consequently, I shipped the rear axle to Fiennes Restorations in Oxfordshire to receive an overhaul and “overdrive” crown wheel and pinion, while I stripped the body of paint (and buckets of body filler ). Since the aluminum bodywork would need much straightening and welding, the car was delivered to an expert aluminum panel beater, and I returned to the disassembly of the Phantom II.

The casual observer of a P II cannot possibly imagine the number of parts and the complexity of its chassis. The Bijur chassis lubrication system alone has hundreds of parts, as does the mechanical braking system with its servo (a form of power boost) . I recently read an article where several major restoration shops said their typical ground-up restoration required 2000 hours while a P II took them 6000!

In addition, My P II has several additional features, including a second set of shock absorbers (Andre Telecontrol) that the driver can adjust while the car is in motion. The system consists of two firewall-mounted hand pumps, two pressure gauges on the dashboard and two driver-controlled pressure adjustors (for front and rear shocks). Increased pressure from these control valves further expands rubber bladders at the shock units which results in increased pressure on friction discs and more damping action. There must be over 100 parts in this system..


P II chassis nearing completion.


During early stages of disassembly, I realized that my space problem was becoming acute. The body was removed from the chassis and resided on its subframe in our garage. The chassis was in my workshop where dismantling continued. The fenders, running boards and four bonnet pieces were in our only other available space which was our 20′ X 20′ “party” room, and its light tan carpet was not the proper place for greasy chassis parts. Consequently, as we disassembled, we restored sub-assemblies before moving them to the party room. By the mid -90s.the room was getting quite full and I began looking for more space.



The Bentley, the MG and the Maserati were projects that had to be completed to make room for the Yellow Rolls-Royce.


“The Yellow Rolls-Royce,” a 1931 Barker Sedanca De Ville, 9JS. Shown at Pebble Beach in 2004.



I resumed work on the P-II late in 2000, and now had room for all the P-II parts. As the restoration

progressed, Peter Lind was organizing the “Around The World” tour for 2004. I thought this would be a grand adventure and subsequently hired a local engine builder (who had done work for me before) to assemble the P-II engine in order that I might focus on chassis completion. About this time, I also hired a retired mechanical engineer and experienced car restorer to assist me a few days each week. Then in 2002, I hired an aluminum welder and panel beater to fix the many dents and tears in the P-II body. I thought there would be no problem finishing the car for Pebble Beach in 2004 and participating in the world tour. WRONG!

In October of 2002, I picked up the P-II engine which was about 90% assembled since the engine builder was in the process of moving to Canada. Subsequently we mounted the engine in the chassis and began to check valve lash. When we attempted to rotate the crank shaft (no spark plugs installed), it required about 100 lbs pull on a 3 foot bar to move it!” Obviously something was very wrong so we began a complete disassembly. Correction required crankshaft straightening as well as regrinding, repouing and machining of all the bearings. With vendor backlogs and broken promises, this work consumed a year and made participation in the World Tour impossible.

Once the body paneling was straightened and fatigue cracks and corrosion welded, the body was reinstalled on the chassis to make sure that bonnet, door and boot fits were acceptable. It was then removed and taken to the paint shop. Chassis restoration continued and included complete disassembly of the transmission, front and rear axles, brakes and, in short, every nut and bolt on the chassis. Bearings, seals and other worn parts were replaced. Hundreds of parts were repainted. All chrome pieces were stripped and brought home for restoration (dents etc), then polished before returning them to the plater for chrome.

Interior trim wood restoration was a major task. I stripped, sanded, stained and resprayed all trim wood with catalized polyester. This then had to be sanded flat with 220 grit up to 2000 grit and then polished. Trim wood in the driver’s compartment totals 33 pieces and in the passenger compartment, 29 pieces. These tasks required 5 weeks (12-hour-days). An unfortunate by-product of this activity is backlogs and broken promises, this work consumed a year and made participation in the World Tour impossible.

Once the body paneling was straightened and fatigue cracks and corrosion welded, the body was reinstalled on the chassis to make sure that bonnet, door and boot fits were acceptable. It was then removed and taken to the paint shop. Chassis restoration continued and included complete disassembly of the transmission, front and rear axles, brakes and, in short, every nut and bolt on the chassis. Bearings, seals and other worn parts were replaced. Hundreds of parts were repainted. All chrome pieces were stripped and brought home for restoration (dents etc), then polished before returning them to the plater for chrome.

Interior trim wood restoration was a major task. I stripped, sanded, stained and resprayed all trim wood with catalized polyester. This then had to be sanded flat with 220 grit up to 2000 grit and then polished. Trim wood in the driver’s compartment totals 33 pieces and in the passenger compartment, 29 pieces. These tasks required 5 weeks (12-hour-days). An unfortunate by-product of this activity is that I now have carpal tunnel syndrome mainly due to the repetitive nature of the sanding and polishing.

In the third quarter of 2003, the painters promised they would have all the body parts ready for assembly onto the chassis by February 1st. This fit nicely into my “schedule.” In actual fact, there is no possibility of making an accurate schedule on a unique car. Each week brings problems never anticipated on a complicated chassis. However, once all the bodywork was completed, except for filler and paint, a reasonably accurate painting schedule could be made. Imagine my displeasure when the last painted parts were installed one week before Pebble Beach – five months late!

Once the bare body (no doors, bonnet, wings, etc) was painted and bolted to the chassis, we were able to install the dashboard, connect instruments and finish the electrical wiring. My days, however, were getting more and more hectic. Beginning in April, I began four months of 80-hour weeks. Concurrently, my upholsterer began residence at our house and worked the same schedule. I had promised Lillian that I would never let this familiar pre-Pebble Beach problem happen again – so much for good intentions!


Let there be lights!” Yellow Rolls is equipped with a wide variety of spot and parking lights.

Well stocked liquor cabinet in front compartment assured that passenger riding with chauffeur would not go thirsty.

One wonders if Jeanne Moreau, Shirley Maclaine and Ingrid Bergman used this built-in vanity to repair their makeup during the shooting of ‘The Yellow Rolls-Royce.’

Jump seat and another liquor cabinet were fitted into rear compartment.

About a week before Pebble we were ready to start the engine. Experienced engine rebuilders warned me not to let the engine idle for extended periods or the piston rings might not seat properly. They recommend driving the car to put the engine under load as soon as possible. This required installation of wings and running boards to prevent rock chips in the paint. I had been apprehensive over starting the engine since I am not an experienced engine rebuilder; this was my first P-II rebuild and I had installed several internal modifications. To my delight the engine started quickly and ran smoothly, albeit with a few leaks at external oil tubing and water joints.

My next thrill was to take the car for a drive. Since we had totally disassembled the braking system during restoration and our driveway has a 20% downward slope, I tried to plan what I would do if the brakes did not restrain the 6000 pound jewel. Nothing came to mind! Fortunately, all went well with only a few minor problems surfacing.

Synopsis of The Yellow Rolls-Royce Movie

MGM released a film entitled “The Yellow Rolls-Royce” in 1965. It was unusual that an automobile was the star. The story follows a 1931 Phantom II (9JS) while it was in the hands of three different owners in the 1930s. The first owner, Rex Harrison, purchases the car new as an anniversary gift for his wife, Jeanne Moreau. Rex returned it to the dealership a few days later after discovering his wife and his assistant (Edmond Perdom) behaving badly in the rear seat with all five shades drawn. 

In the second segment, the car is on a showroom floor in Italy when it is discovered by Shirley MacLaine. She persuades her boyfriend, George C. Scott, to buy it and they begin a tour of Italy with Art Carney as chauffeur. Shirley subsequently meets an itinerant photographer, Alain Delon) and when George returns to the U.S. on Mafia business, Shirley and Alain swim in the grotto (Amalfi Coast) and then retire to the rear seat of the Yellow Rolls-Royce and draw all the shades.

The car is next purchased by a wealthy American, Ingrid Bergman, who wanted a proper car for her visit to Yugoslavia to see the prince. She is persuaded by a Yugoslavian partisan, Omar Sharif, to get him across theborder, hidden in the boot. Ingrid spends some time transporting soldiers for Omar and, inevitably, is bedded down by him and completely forgets about the prince.

The film was released in the U.S. only on laser disk. (It is not available in stores on tape or DVD). It was released in Canada on video tape or DVD in both English and French. Recently U.S. compatible video tapes and DVD copies have appeared on eBay. (Search on “The Yellow Rolls-Royce.”) Alternately the movie is shown on the TCM channel (Turner Classic Movies – which currently owns the film).

To see their schedule go to the TCM website and search on the movie title. If it is not on their near term schedule – message will say the title could not be found. When it is in the schedule you will be given the date and time. (Eastern.)



Editors’ Note:

We recently saw a short documentary on TCM about the making of the Yellow Rolls-Royce movie which, since it was shot on location, required the car to be shipped from London to Italy and from there to be driven over the Alps to Yugoslavia. It also indicates that the car was originally blue, but was painted yellow for the film.


We departed for the Pebble Beach “Weekend” Thursday in order to attend the Ford party that night. The ambient temperature was 90 degrees fahrenheit near Salinas and the engine temperature was 90 degrees centigrade so I stopped and added ‘Water Wetter’ to improve heat transfer to the coolant. Newly rebuilt engines have internal friction, mostly due to piston rings abrading cylinder walls, and this generates additional heat. I stopped again about 20 minutes later and found the left rear tire was almost flat and had to be changed. A 20″ wheel with steel “disks” covering the spokes probably weighs 80 pounds and must be lifted out of its well clear of the fender to avoid paint scratches. This is not one of my favorite things to do! 

The remainder of this 75 mile journey was, I thought, without incident until I discovered my turn signals and brake lights were inoperative(2 blown fuses). We missed Concours Italiano Friday while attending to these problems. Saturday morning was also a very busy day (no Historic Races) polishing, cleaning, and detailing the car with help from Lillian and our “kids.” In the afternoon we took 9JS to the home of a friend in Pacific Grove where it was on display for his annual Car Guys party. We left the car there late in the afternoon and went on to another party.

The next morning, I arrived at 6:30 AM to retrieve the PII and to drive it to the field at Pebble Beach. The weather was foggy, cool and very damp. The PII had always started instantly in warm and dry surroundings. It would not start! When the problem occurred I was emotionally and physically drained from the months of frantic activity and unable to rationally diagnose the problem. After 20 minutes I covered the car and departed since I was obligated to attend the judges meeting. I was completely demoralized. During the meeting, several RROC members offered encouragement and assistance which caused me to work out a plan. When the meeting ended, I went to the judging field in search of George Colgett who is well-known to the Region members and owns Acme Car Service, a local facility specializing in Rolls-Royce and Bentley. He had been at my home to offer much appreciated help during the final days of assembly and debug. I found George and my son drove him to the car where he diagnosed the problem as a burned out coil resistance element. This resistor is in series with the coil and allows 12 volts to the coil to aid starting and a lesser voltage as the resistor becomes hot in order to prolong the coil life. George by-passed the resistor.

The car started and he reached the show field mid-morning to cheers from the crowd. When I finished judging the pre-war small HP class, I made my way to the pre-war large HP class to have 9JS judged. Mid-afternoon I learned the car had won the Lucius Beebe award. This is an annual award at Pebble Beach for the Rolls-Royce in the field that Beebe would have chosen as most elegant.

Beebe was a famous bon vivant, man about town and an owner of Rolls-Royces and a private rail car. He was also a correspondent for the San Francisco Chronicle which published his review of the Yellow Rolls-Royce film.

The foregoing tale chronicles 13 years of my restoration activity To those who think restorers like me are deranged, I suggest you watch the program “Car Crazy” (Speed Channel). Based on car collectors and restorers featured in these episodes I might qualify as approaching normalcy.!

In retrospect, being normal is not all that important. Restoration gives one a gratifying sense of accomplishment and driving these cars as they were intended to be driven can provide either thrills or relaxed touring, depending on the event and the car selected. And most important, these events bring together like-minded people and foster lasting friendships.

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Onc gets a pronounced sense of 1930’s high style from items such as the door handles and veneer on rear liquor cabinet.

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Highly polished coachbuilder’s plate is a lovely touch.

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Wheel covers on spare tires are works of art.

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Art Deco theme is carried even to the illuminated license plate holder.


click to enlarge these pictures


PA160009p.JPG (94817 bytes)Driver is surrounded by beautiful woodwork 

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Engine was restored to exactly how it looked when it left the factory.

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Tools in their case gleam like jewels in a jewel box.


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Can’t you just see yourself at the wheel of this magnificent motor car?

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Items on the scuttle opposite the tools




Thanks to Monster Jam Fan Charger Steve, it’s now been three years that Nate Truman’s  star car central gang and Steve’s San Diego star car owners  have appeared with the monster truck drivers at Monster Jam events!   Both in San Diego and Anaheim, and this year for the first time at Dodger Stadium!

Monster Jam 2011 Charger Steve leads the way around Anaheim Stadium with Nate Truman's StarCarCentral movie cars.

Charger Steve's Mystery Machine!

On Feb 12 10 famous movie and tv cars took a lap around Anaheim stadium and enjoyed the show, and this weekend on the 19th, EIGHTEEN star cars are in the line up to appear!  (Let’s hope for no rain!)











Your ticket to Monster Jam includes entry into the drivers area where the star cars will be on display!

Come say you are a fan of the blog and meet the owners – and get a photo with your favorite movie or TV car!    Pray for no rain on Saturday and we will see you at DODGER STADIUM at 2:00 pm! Then stay for the show, we will take a lap inside the stadium as part of the pre-show around 5-6 pm! Cheer on your favorite car!  NITRO BURNING FLAME THROWING CRASHES!!!  And that’s just you trying to get into the parking lot!  Come say “HI” and we will see you there!

For fans of FACEBOOK, International now has it’s own page to see all the photos from members at the event!


Can you design the next batmobile urban assault vehicle?

Here’s a challenge for all the builders that want a chance to design something along the lines of a functional batmobile, or futuristic version of today’s HUMMER.

If you ever wanted to design a super car loaded with as many weapons and tools as you could imagine (think your own personal Batmobile), now is finally your chance. Not only do you get an opportunity to design the craziest vehicle you can dream up and see it built in real life, but you can also win up to $7,500 in prize money from the Pentagon’s research branch, DARPA.

There are a few simple rules that you do have to keep in mind though:

  • The vehicle has to use “tubular steel chassis with existing GM LS3 V8 powertrain,” which is the steel frame pictured below.
  • Has to carry up to five passengers, including up to three people lying down.
  • It’s got to carry up to 1,200 lbs and tow up to 4,000 lbs

As long as you follow the three rules above, you can get as creative as you want with your design. Thinking of stealing some ideas from the Transformers movie? How about jet propulsion and speedboat ability? Go for it. DARPA is open to all suggestions. Submissions are to be in before March 3, 2011.

body 300x75 Ever Wanted to Design a Military Supercar?

To find out more information and submit your designs, click here.

I have a chassy ready to go, but I don’t think it will seat 5 people even if they are lying down!


rockford files pontiac firebird esprit – all you need to know!

1970-1981 Pontiac Firebird Esprit

Sometimes I just have to let someone else write a blog, because they covered a star car subject better than I would ever do!  Below is a great write up on the Rockford Files cars that covers pretty much everything you would want to know!  Let’s go practice some Rockford files “J” turns!

by Anthony Cagle on February 08, 2011

You may not ever have heard of this car, but many of you over a certain age probably already know of it. The Firebird, arguably, rarely gets quite the attention that the Chevrolet division’s sister car, the Camaro, does but it has a nice lineage and it produced quite a few memorable cars–even though a lot of them appear here at Car Lust rather than in the big muscle car magazines and web sites. 1974Rockford

I always preferred the Firebird to the Camaro myself, for whatever reason, and the second generation has always been my favorite, especially the later ’70s. Again, for whatever reason, the first generation’s styling never quite did it for me; it just looks to me like something that was thrown together quickly to get something into the pony car market (this is all apart from the performance which was generally stellar). The second generation’s styling just seems to have been well thought out with clean lines, good proportions all around, and manages to seem elegant, powerful, and sporty all at the same time. They look good from any angle. Although I adore my Mustang II the Firebirds from that time remain my absolute favorite car.

Now, as to this car’s notoriety, fans of NBC’s The Rockford Files (1974-1980) will recognize it as the car driven by Jim Rockford played by James Garner. I don’t recall watching the show that often, but I remember the car. Oddly, all these years I’d remembered it as a Camaro, too, which shows how much I really paid attention back then. Recently, however, PBS has been doing a show called Pioneers of Television and the latest segment was on crime dramas which featured The Rockford Files, and it prompted me to finally put pen to paper fingers to keyboard and extol the virtues of yet another brilliant, if under-appreciated, 1970s car.

The Esprit was in reality a trim version of the basic Firebird. As our fearless leader has noted, the second generation redesign of the Camaro and Firebird, along with some other models, was a significant departure from the hunky and blocky muscle cars of the ’60s. It had far more of a sleek and understated European look to it, something it shared with the much-maligned Vega. While today we tend to associate that generation with mullet hair-don’ts, at the time I think they were meant to appeal more to the up and coming leisure-suit-and-martini crowd rather than the t-shirt-and-beer set.1975Rockford Like other models, the Firebird came in several trim and performance levels depending on the market niche each was appealing to: apart from the base, there was the Esprit, Formula, and Trans Am versions, largely upgrading the power and handling options for each step up although emphasizing different features for each, the latter two being the high-performance models. 

The Esprit was geared to this more upscale and also older group, more for the 40-and-up managers rather than the 20-something gearheads who traditionally bought muscle cars. The interior was more upscale and refined than the standard and the exterior had touches of chrome here and there along with special lighting in the trunk and custom colors for the seat belts. Many of the performance looks–hood scoops and spoilers and what not–weren’t available on the Esprit (at least not initially), again making it far more subtle and understated than the higher-performance versions.

Pontiac offered a number of engine options throughout the ’70s, including the vaunted 400 and 455s–neither of which could be had on the Esprit. Instead, Esprit buyers had to make do with small-block V-8s: Pontiac’s 301 and 350, and Chevy’s 305. While not barn-burners, they provided pretty good oomph while still going easy on the gas mileage. On the other hand, this also forced the producers of the show to be, as we will see, ‘”creative” in their depiction of Rockford’s “Esprit”. In sum, the Esprit was, to coin a phrase, the Thinking Man’s Firebird.

James Garner had made his TV acting name more in Westerns up to that point, having starred in the 1976Rockford wildly successful Maverick in the late 1950s. On the other hand, Garner was equally famous for his role  in the 1966 film Grand Prix. The film, popular in its time, has attained cult status for its superb and realistic race footage and the use of actual F1 drivers. Garner was into racing, but wasn’t much of a driver before the film. By all accounts, he learned the craft exceptionally well and did most or all of his own driving, earning acceptance from the real drivers. Garner went on to be involved in various racing contexts, but made his name largely through offroad racing. By the time of Rockford he was an accomplished race and stunt driver in his own right.

The choice of the Esprit as Rockford’s car was deliberate for a number of reasons, some of which Garner had input into. The series was unique for the genre up to that point in that Rockford was very much a flawed “hero.” He lived in a trailer on the beach, wasn’t exactly a hard-bitten PI in the form of Phillip Marlowe, and he certainly wasn’t wealthy, not to mention being an ex-con; very much in the vein of the 1970s anti-hero which gained popularity at the time. As a 40-something, Rockford would have been attracted to the Esprit for its relatively upscale appearance and creature comforts, while having enough power and handling prowess to get him out of whatever scrapes he got himself into. As an accomplished driver himself, Garner preferred the exceptional handling of the Firebird/Camaros. In fact, Garner did nearly all of the stunt driving himself, not because he was the star and wanted to, but because he was one of the better stunt drivers at the time.

In fact, a standard stunt maneuver has become associated with the series. The J-turn, where a car in reverse does a 180 and ends up traveling in the same direction but pointing forwards, has since been nicknamed “the Rockford” and is a staple of the genre. See the video at the bottom for an example.

1977fb-esprit-5 As for the cars, the first season a real Esprit was used. Some modifications were made to the car, notably using the show’s own paint. The producers wanted to maintain a consistent color through each season and the vicissitudes of the automotive market often dictated subtle changes in colors from year to year. So they mixed up their own paint and used it throughout the series. Interestingly, they changed cars each season to reflect the new models which you can see in the series of photographs presented here which I’ve placed in chronological order. After the first season, however, they stopped using actual Esprits and turned to the Formula version of the Firebird due to its enhanced power and handling characteristics. So, each season they would buy a bunch of Formulas and rework them to make them look like regular Esprits.

Observant viewers would have caught the model year changes, especially the 1977 change to four square headlights and the new “beaked” look of the grille area. The producers tried to maintain the fiction that Rockford was still driving the same car throughout the series, but this would have fallen completely flat in 1979 when the front fascia went through a major change; rumor also hath it that Garner didn’t like the look of the redesign. Instead, they purchased a few ’78s and used those (in addition to some others they got from GM) for the remainder of the show’s run.

The program ended in 1980 and after 1981 GM switched the Camaro and Firebird to a new body design 1978Rockford and dropped the various flavors of Firebirds to the base model, S/E and Trans Am version. I was never really taken with the new design and haven’t caught the fever since; it always kind of struck me as being more of a “boy racer” look rather than the more elegant grand touring look of the second generation.

Esprits aren’t that easy to find these days, since they were more of a niche market than the other versions which made them not very numerous to begin with and a lot of people didn’t bother to take care of them since they weren’t really viewed as the Firebird to have, despite its evident popularity because of the TV show.

A similar model, the Camaro’s Berlinetta version, is also a personal favorite (that’s actually what I was thinking Rockford drove), though I haven’t really been able to work up enough data to do a post on it. Both, I think, sum up much of what was good about the 1970s in terms of car design: very nice styling, decent performance, and a comfortable driving experience for those who regularly drive their cars into swimming pools as well as to and from the office each day.

Credits: All of the photos come from either the Internet Movie Cars Database or Jim Suva’s blog who happens to own a ’77 Esprit which was used in the PBS series (be sure to check his blog as it provides a wealth of information on the Esprit generally and his own car). Pete Dunton also did a good writeup on the Esprit and Suva’s car at Old Car Memories, which is well worth perusing regularly. Below is a classic J-turn/Rockford maneuver in, of all things, a limousine.

–Anthony J. Cagle


Green Hornet movie, the Black Beauty stunt car is the star!

I saw the Green Hornet in 3-D for $17.50 a ticket (Talk about ticket shock!) and there is lots I didn’t like about the film, and how the story of the Green Hornet was handled, but there is no denying that the stunts and action scenes, even if improbable,  were really cool!

In conjunction with Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s promotion of the film, the stunt car made many personall appearances at restaurants around the country.  Below are the photos from one such stop, and the detail on the car is truly top notch! Now I have to brush up on my Chineese!

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Top marks to all the builders that were involved in the many cars used in the movie. Last count was 28 cars with very few surviving!  Now let’s all go find out who won the Carl’s Jr. free black beaty give away!

I want my car, Carl!!  I bought a lot of large drinks, and entered 5 times a day for two months!





If you have the problem of Transformers on your lawn all the time, you may have to call the police!

Of course not just any police, but you will need the evil Decepticon BARRICADE to deal with this infestation of robots!

OK, Stunt Black Beauty will be next, but I got an email from Robert who built this amazing replicar of the Decepticon BARRICADE!  Take a look at the photos, they say it all.  If you want to see more about his build, there are 80 pages on how he did it at the bottom!

Interior is just as fun…

For lots more photos and a build log, go to Way to go Robert!

While working at Paramount I had to hang out with Barricade, but he didn’t have much to say.  It may have to do with the guy standing behind me at the time  🙂

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