Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

09
Feb
18

Building the “FALL GUY” Truck

In my continuing blogs about building star cars, here’s a fun one that not too many people attempt, “Colt Sever’s” aka Lee Major’s truck from the “Fall Guy” series. From the builder himself, here is his journey to get his own version of the famous stunt truck!

 

BUILDING THE “FALL GUY” TRUCK, by Bryan D. Conrad

Well, I’m not the kind to kiss and tell…………oh wait a second, yes I am! Here’s the story of how my Fall Guy replica truck came to be. I grew up in the era of 80’s car shows and while I enjoyed all of them, my very favorites were The Fall Guy, The Dukes of Hazzard, and Streethawk. In fact, on my 5th birthday I got the Fall Guy truck and General Lee on the same day!

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From that moment on I dreamed of having one of those two vehicles and I always leaned towards the General Lee. As I got older I realized that decent Chargers were hard to come by and I found that there were thousands of General Lee’s in the US; so that became less desirable to me. I started focusing my attention to The Fall Guy and collecting data over the years of what the specs were on the truck and I kept an eye out for a truck to start my build.

In 2005 I found a truck that I nearly bought, but through certain circumstances I couldn’t make it happen, so the search went on. I had no intention of putting the truck in a museum or just to pull it out on a nice weekend. I wanted the truck to be my truck, one that I drove every day and took on family vacations. Finally, in May 2016 I found the truck that would work. I wanted a decent body with no rust and I wanted a 2500. I found a 1987 Chevy V20 Camper Special.

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Before you begin building a vehicle from movies or television, there are many, many things to consider. In the case of The Fall Guy, I had to decide which version of the truck I wanted to build or a hybrid truck of several versions. In the pilot episode, a 1980 GMC High Sierra truck was used. It had a different roll bar, 6” round off-road lights for the grille guard and roll-bar, there was no hood decal, and the color scheme was slightly different.

 

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From the second episode of season 1 through season 2, they used 1981 GMC Sierra Grande trucks. The roll-bar had been changed, larger round off-road lights (8” instead of 6”) were added, the hood decal was added, and the brown and gold paint scheme was used.

From season 3 to the end of the show, they used different trucks depending on need and availability: 1981 GMC Sierra Grande’s, 1983-1984 GMC Sierra Classics, and for the jump trucks, most often used was a 1980 GMC High Sierra (from the pilot). Again, like all TV and movie cars, I had to determine what I wanted to focus on and in my case, since I had the most screen footage of season 1 and season 2 (because they were available on DVD), and I liked the look of those trucks the best, I chose to replicate as much as possible, the unit 1 truck from season 1.

One of the barriers from the very beginning was to take a Chevy and retrofit it to be a GMC. While the body, engine, and many other parts are exactly the same, the issue was going to be that GMC changed the Sierra Grande trim package in 1982 to High Sierra. That means, that the Sierra Grande fender emblems changed in 1981 and were only available for one year! Making a 1981 Sierra Grande fender emblem virtually impossible to find. In fact, to this day I’ve never seen a 1981 GMC Sierra Grande truck in the flesh. But more about my Chevy to GMC conversion later.

The other consideration I had to quickly decide if I was going to do or not, was the secret compartment in the side of the truck. Almost every car from the 80’s needed something to make it “cool” and not just a stock vehicle. For The Fall Guy, it was the secret compartment (see below). After much consideration, I didn’t have the time, money, or know someone that could do that level of customization; so I left it on my “maybe someday” list.

I began watching every season 1 episode with the truck and taking screen shots of the truck. I studied those pictures to try and determine every aspect of the truck. Just three weeks after purchasing it, I started tearing it down to take it to the body shop to get it painted.  The paint color was one of the most difficult to determine, because depending on the lighting, the lens of the camera, and multiple other factors the color looked different in various shots. There was no “real” Fall Guy truck in a museum to go and compare it with, so I was on my own to try and determine the color. And because of the paint used and process with clear-coating it also makes the color look different. I spent hours and hours trying to find the combination I thought was most like the truck. The body shop would spray a couple of test pieces and I would quickly decline it, but eventually I found the combination I liked. The actual show truck is the front half and my truck is the back half (see below):

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It took 9 weeks to have the truck painted, during that time I continued to research the show and buy things I needed. I had a room in our basement that I quickly dubbed, “the parts room.”

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My next big hurdle was to get the hood decal made. I didn’t have a hi-res logo to use, so I hired a logo design company to recreate The Fall Guy logo. It took about three weeks and several corrections for me to be happy with the logo. I then sent it to a custom vinyl decal company to have them print it.

 

1112I used the above picture to determine the size I was going to need and measured it out on the hood of my truck. While waiting for my truck to be painted, I purchased all new exterior parts. I had to buy a new front bumper that had the turn signals in the bumper like they did in 1981. I bought a 1981 GMC grille and headlight bezels, I bought new mirrors, new side marker lights, new rear bumper, new windshield, a 102” whip antenna and ball mount, a chrome roll bar, and red double pinstripe tape.

13141516171819Finally, my truck was painted and I was ready to start putting it together. Once I had it put back together I started to focus on turning it into The Fall Guy truck. I first had to find some 1981 Sierra Grande 2500 fender emblems. I after several weeks I found a pair on eBay, but they were Sierra Grand 3500 emblems instead of 2500, but they would have to do for now (it was certainly better than nothing!) However, something that was “close” was never going to be good enough for me. It was driving me crazy, not having the right fender emblems. After a few more months of searching every day, I found a pair of Sierra Grande 2500 emblems! That was an exciting day for me, in fact, I had not seen any before nor since and consider it a blessing from the Lord!

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Everyone has their own idea of what a Fall Guy truck should look like and each person has their own set of things that make it a Fall Guy truck. For me, it was the grille guard. As I added the roll bar and hood decal, I had many people say, “That made the truck right there, that looks awesome.” But I had seen a handful of Fall Guy replica trucks on the internet and most didn’t have the grille guard and if they did, it looked nothing like the one from the show. For me, it just wasn’t a Fall Guy truck without the grille guard. I knew I had my work cut out for me. Before I had purchased the truck, I had already done hours of research trying to figure out how in the world I was going to custom make it. I had no dimensions, nothing I could physically go look at, it was going to have to be all by pictures. Finally, after weeks of research I devised my plan.

 

I took this picture: I then projected the image onto a wall with a piece of poster board taped to it, measured the front of my truck and then blew the image up until it was the size I wanted. I then traced out the design and put it onto a piece of plywood. I cut the plywood out and got some PVC tubing to make a mock of the grille guard. I then took it to a steel fabricator and had it made. Unfortunately, this was not the end of it, I would still have more obstacles to overcome before it looked the way I wanted it. So I put on the double pinstripe, roll bar, hood decal, and antenna and ball mount; it had come a long way, but there was a still a long way to go.

 

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I had purchased four 8” round off-road lights and I was able to find two Cibie square lights for the light bar. I got the grille guard back after about four weeks and I mounted the lights on the light bar and grille guard. While the average person thought the truck looked wonderful, I was not satisfied with some of the results. 1) the light bar was on top of the roll bar (it was behind the roll bar on the show) 2) the hoops on the grille guard were just off, it was too wide and too long 3) I wanted the tops lights to be spaced more like the show 4) I wanted the light covers changed from saying Pro Comp to saying Super Off-Roader 5) I still needed bigger tires 6) I needed to find a Warn 8274 winch.

 

272829The first step, was to take the grille guard back off my truck and take it the steel fab shop. I explained what I wanted and asked if they could fix it for me. They assured me they could. And just over 5 months later and numerous visits; they called to let me know it was done. So, for about 5 months the truck got put on hold and I had to be satisfied with working on a few minor fixes here and there. Once I got the grille guard back and was pleased with how it looked, it was full steam ahead on the build. The same week I got the grille guard back, I was able to find a Warn 8274 winch from 1985, and it was perfect for what I wanted. I gave the winch a fresh paint job and then put the grille guard and winch on my truck.

In my eyes, it was finally starting to take shape, there were just a few glaring problems left. The truck is a true 2500 and was a Camper Special; which meant without any weight in the back it was a VERY stiff ride. So I wanted to address ride quality, while also addressing raising the truck and putting on bigger tires. The show truck had an approximate 4” lift. I wanted to stay around that same height, but in the end I put on a 6” lift to ensure that the tires could clear. There were a couple of articles done during the mid-point of the show on The Fall Guy truck in a couple of off-road magazines. One of the articles stated that the trucks used Dick Cepek Fun Country tires, size: 36x15x16.5. Mickey Thompson bought Dick Cepek and while they still make an updated version of the Dick Cepek Fun Country tire, they are nowhere close to being that big anymore. So once again, I had to decide which “authenticity” I wanted to go with. Did I want my tires to be Dick Cepek Fun Country’s or did I want them to be a different brand, but closer to the correct size? I chose with having them closer to the correct size, I loved the look of the big tires. I found some Mickey Thompson mud-terrain tires that were 36x15x16.

 

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The next problem were the wheels. On the show they had chrome 8-spoke wagon style wheels, but I wasn’t able to find any wheels that would actually fit my tires, so I opted for a polished 16×10 wheel. With the lift and tires on, it was really starting to take shape: Like all star car lovers, the fun is in the details. Details that no one else would ever even look at or think about.

One of big quests for the “little details”, was finding a Warn sticker for the cross bar of the grille guard and putting the GMC grille emblem on the front of the grille guard. Both of those items in the show were used purely for advertising, but I had to have them! Now that I was getting close to being done (well, not really done……but ya know…..shhhh don’t tell my wife!) I wanted to turn my attention to the light bar. It bugged me that the lights were on top of the roll bar, so I went and had a 3 foot piece of square aluminum tubing cut so that I could place it behind the light bar and I wanted the lights spaced more like they were in the show. Since I was focused on the first season truck, I wanted the top round lights to have black soft light covers and the two on the grille guard to have hard plastic Super Off-Roader light covers. 8” lights are nearly unheard of now, so it took some research to find some soft light covers. In season 2, they changed to have all the round off-road lights have the white Super Off-Roader covers. I found some KC vinyl light covers and it took me about 10 coats of black paint to finally get the big KC logo covered on them. Sadly, the lights still weren’t quite right; now they sat too low. Back to drilling out my roll bar! I then started working on the Super Off-Roader light covers. Super Off-Roader products aren’t made any more so I went back to the logo company and had them recreate the Super OffRoader logo. It wasn’t exact, but it was good enough for me……..kinda….. I then had the task of sanding off the Pro Comp embossed logo on the front so I could smooth it down and paint it. That process alone was hours of work and I had given up on it at one point, but came back to it a few weeks later and finished the job. I then had to wet sand them, paint them, wet sand them again, and then finally put the final coat of paint on them so that they would look how I wanted.

323334So here’s the mostly…..somewhat…..almost……maybe someday be finished…..result: I am still working on re-doing the Super Off-Roader light covers. While they are very close……just a little off for my taste. I found an original light cover and am trying to get that duplicated. I am also getting ready to lower the truck just a little bit, so that I can have it closer in height to the show truck. Also, the truck on the show had a specific Dick Cepek truck step; one that is virtually impossible to find. I have made a mock of one and have taken it to the steel fab shop that did my grille guard and am having them make the truck step for me. So, with any luck, in 6 months to 6 years, I’ll finally have it! This truck build has been a labor of love and joy for me and I hope you’ve enjoyed going on the journey with me.

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This is a great example of the detail work that Star Car owners and builders go to in an effort to be able to drive their dream screen cars!  Thanks Bryan for a great build, and sharing the photos!  Post your comments or questions here!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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17
Nov
17

1940 Batmobile Build part Part 5

(PART ONE IS FOUND HERE!)

A LOT has happened since July 2016 which was my last update. My timeline to finish this car was hijacked by a couple of new star cars that jumped the line!

First I got a great deal on a few “Viva Las Vegas/Speed Racer Mach 5” fiberglass body parts, (tossed them in my son’s garage for the future) and then a 1966 batcycle body kit popped up that I was planning on tossing behind the hot tub so I could get back to my 1940’s N8mobile!  But life happens and both managed to jump the build line! Blogs on those at another time!

My last blog on the 40’s Bat build ended with a list of what was next:

“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!” At least I was right about it taking some time! Sheesh!

So let’s start with the dash!  I filled in the WW2 panel with lots of lights and switches from my shrinking magic box of bat gadget leftovers and it looked like this photo.

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It got test mounted in the center, and after rewiring and installing the gauges and turn signal and highbeam lights, I had to figure out what to add to that center open area.

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There isn’t a lot of room to work in the dash, and it’s surrounded by 1940’s metal, so lots of scrapes and a bit of frustration to get everything to light up and reconnected!IMG_20160724_210946152.jpg

Thanks to a fellow star car owner Mike Carey, who just happened to work in a fabrication shop, I gave him a small gauge and he mounted it perfectly in the middle, so  I reinstalled it, hooked up a few lights for future gadget triggers and the dash was done!IMG_20160724_225525852.jpgIMG_20160724_225553260.jpgIMG_20160724_225511152.jpg

The AC was “future tech” in 1940, so Bruce Wayne had it way before everyone else! That’s my story and I am “cool” with it! So with that done, that left making custom side panels, sourcing and making side pipes and figuring out the giant bat-face, with light up eye headlights!  I had one side panel from the previous owner, but he had misplaced the other one.  IMG_20160520_200538977.jpgHey Mike! He punched out two fresh metal panels, based on the original, but then moved jobs and didn’t have the same access to the metal shop after that. So the side panels are by the washing machine, waiting!

IMG_20160826_104613662.jpgDuring this time I had to find the side pipes that could make the bend I wanted and look like massive exhaust ports, as well as figure out how they would attach to the fenders and the side panels.  To make up my mind, I had to do some mock ups!  I used various round items to figure out how big each tube should be, and then laid them out on the fender to see how they should be spaced out.  I had decided on 4 tubes, so I just started taping and moving stuff around.

IMG_20160722_155643933.jpgYes, that is old school sprocket fed printer paper! I don’t have the printer anymore, but now and then it comes in handy for a banner or paper side panels for a batmobile!  I just cut out circles and moved them around until I had a clear idea of how they were going to be spaced, and where they hit on the panel and the fender.

So I searched for Duesenberg side exhausts, and replica old cars with the side pipes and it was a frustrating search. Everything I found was either too small, hard to find, and most importantly wouldn’t bend hard enough for my project.  I bought and returned a few pipes and nothing was right, but then I was walking through Home Depot and spotted something that might work, vent tubes!

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THE CORVETTE BASED SPEED RACER CAR STOPPED PROGRESS ON THE 40’S BAT, AND PARTS BLOCKED IT FROM EVERY SIDE!

So here’s a rare shot of when I just balanced them on the side fenders (without cutting them, so I could still return them if I didn’t like it) The right size, the right bend, but after working with them, they were too easily dented and I knew I needed something more rugged as I would be bombing around in this eventually.  Good enough for a museum display, I could have cut them and they would be fine, but eventually I had to take them back.

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SET ON SO THE TUBES WOULD BALANCE IN PLACE, BUT THIS WOULD BE TOTALLY WICKED!

So I didn’t get very far on the side panels and pipes, but I did get a clear idea on what I wanted and how it should look.  They will be just for show, as I don’t want them to discolor or have to try and reroute the exhaust for no reason.

Lastly, the BAT FACE!  The face is obviously very important, and choosing the right face meant going back and looking at all the different expressions, angles and ways it was mounted on all the drawings and toys.

Mike Carey stepped up again, and wanted a shot at building the bat face!  He was juggling a lot and it wasn’t a rush job as I was being distracted by the “Mach N8” and a few other projects.  Time passed and finding spare time for Mike to work on silly things like this is hard to do in a busy schedule.  Then I helped him get his dream star car, and I knew he should focus on that… oh, and his family and work and stuff too! 🙂 . But big thank you to Mike for being willing, he now has ghosts that are counting on him for a ride!  So back to the drawing board!

The next chapter all started when I got a notice that a infamous “batcar” was lurking near my house for sale…   STAY TUNED for the GRX that triggered a tidal wave in the Star Car World!

 

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
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!

(PART 5 – CLICK HERE!)

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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