Archive Page 2

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

27
May
17

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

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

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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!

(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!

03
Jul
16

The Batmobile that no one has driven…1940 style!

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THE 1940’s BATMOBILE aka N8MOBILE BUILD STORY Part One

By Nate Truman

The hobby of star cars has grown from a few crazy people like me pre-internet looking for original movie and TV cars, sweating the details by scanning every frame of a show to try and recreate our childhood dream cars, to a world wide movement!   Since the 1970’s fans of famous cars have been recreating, or restoring the famous rides of the small and big screen to live out their childhood fantasies of driving the ride from their favorite film or TV show.  Even cartoon cars, like the Ninja Turtle van, Speed Racer’s Mach 5, the Scooby Doo Mystery Machine, and Transformers have become real drivable vehicles when a fan with a dream decides to bring them to life.

I have been called a “Founding Father” of the star car movement. That’s a nice way to say I have been doing this a long time. Since the 1970’s. Because of that I am running out of cars to find or build that “float my boat”.    I still have a short list of cars I want to drive or see on the roads of Hollywood, but the list is getting smaller. Other fans have jumped in and are building most everything now, sometimes before the movie has even come out!      One that has yet to appear, however, is one I have been waiting for someone else to build for many years.  Because it’s hard, expensive, and not a car that everyone will even “get” except the big time Batman fans. Only a couple of people have tried it. Due to life getting in the way the few that have started builds have given up or stalled.  So I have stopped waiting and am building my own version!

Batman started in 1939 driving a couple of red sedans, but as the early artists and creators, Jerry Robinson and Dick Sprang started to make batman stuff, like the Bat-plane, the Batarang, etc.  it was only a matter of a few issues of the comic books that the term “Batmobile” showed up.  Throughout the 1940’s various young artists drew the Dark Knight’s ride.  Even though they were pretty similar, it was when the Batmobile burst through the cover of the Batman comic #20 that the world knew Batman’s ride was something pretty special!

batman #20 batmobile

Believe it or not, the Batplane was created first! Made to look like a bat, Batman was flying everywhere in his custom bat plane, but just had an ordinary car for a short while.   As the early artists were young guys trying to work fast to finish more pages to make more money, continuity and conformity to previous art was not a high priority.  So the car was drawn based on each artist’s skills, and their favorite cars at the time.  In other words, it rarely looked the same way twice! No stripes, red stripes, blue stripes, the fin changed in every panel, sometimes with or without fender skirts, windows moved around, doors opened both ways but a few things stayed the same.  It had a big BAT face on the front, and a big bat wing/fin down the middle and out the back!
1925 round door rolls royce

 

I think someone saw the 1925 round door Rolls Royce and just took it a step further.

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 9.55.12 PM Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 9.55.19 PM Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 9.55.29 PM Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 9.56.51 PM Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 9.57.02 PM Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 9.57.09 PM Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 9.53.13 PM  Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 9.53.29 PM  Batman introduced the Batmobile, then drove it off a cliff in the first story, but it was right back in the next issue!Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 9.54.44 PM  batman#5 first batmobile panel

For the sake of speed, many times panels were copied, or used as reference to draw the car like it had been drawn in previous issues, like these two panels.  Basically they played fast and loose with the details of the batmobile, as each artist tried to copy another version, or put a new spin on it for his panels.

For my 1940’s “N8MOBILE” build, I decided that I would use what inspired me from drawings from 1941 to 1948.  After world war 2, the new artists started updating the batmobile and the design changed almost every time the car appeared for decades after 1948.  (If you want to see all the different versions, go to a great site by a pal of mine,  Batmobile History.)

1940's black no bumper art Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 3.14.40 PMdc direct color drawing

As there were surprisingly few panels of the batmobile over the 41-48 years of the comics – a few versions emerged based on different artists. Some of those have become available as toys or maquettes and toy designers had to decide what a solid 3d version of these drawings would look like.  Above are some early designs for the toy versions from several companies.

Danbury Mint came out with the first high end detailed model and I like a lot of what they decided on in the real world!

The red stripe patterns, the four exhaust ports out each side and the coupe style with the swoopy back end was what I wanted to shoot for in my artistic “mash up” version.  The one thing I did NOT like was the bat fin.  TOO big. Rear skirts maybe, front skirts no. In several panels of the comic the doors had “suicide” front opening doors. I think reverse opening doors made it more custom and less like a car from the 40’s with a bat and a fin on it!

40's back1940 danbury mint engine bat     danbury 4danbury 6 danbury 7 danbury 8 danbury 9 bathead danbury

There have been a few other toy versions, Corgi, Eaglemoss, Mattel and a couple of model kits release as well.

Here is the 4 door Maquette version.

dc direct 2 blueprints dash dc direct4 dc direct5 dc direct6 dc direct7 top

Most of all the drawings had the car with two doors, but a few had 4 like this display piece.  I liked the split back window, and the fin on this version was a better design in the real world.  So my fin I would be built to look more like this version.

1940s batmobiles

Here’s a great line up of most of the toy versions. All the fins are different, there are versions with 2,3 and 4 exhausts on each side, stripes move around a bit, or all black, but it’s basically the same overall design.  I looked at how many times a detail appeared, and what I liked and didn’t like, as well as cost to come up with my final design that I wanted to bring to life.  I searched for shots of cars with the side hood exhaust in 2-3-and 4 versions and two looked stingy, three would raise questions of “Is this a v6? (no, they had v8’s but the two center exhausts were combined) so for various reasons mostly that it looked the coolest, I decided I would have 4.

auburn-cord-duesenberg

 

In my quest to do my due diligence I also scoured old comics, one shots, and any source where I thought I might find another take on this era Batmobile.  A few items showed up, but my favorite was in a modern version of a Batman cartoon where his current batmobile is stolen and he has to use his “vintage” backup ride.

Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 12.37.14 PMHere is a frame that is a nice “nod” to Michael Keaton stopping his Batmobile from the 1989 movie.

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As you can see, the red stripes and many of the details from the Danbury Mint version are included, other than adding an afterburner to the rear.  Because, afterburners are just cool. 🙂 

Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 12.37.47 PM   Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 12.41.38 PM Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 12.42.48 PM Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 12.42.53 PM Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 12.43.35 PM Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 12.44.03 PM Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 12.45.50 PM Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 12.47.52 PM Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 12.48.47 PM Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 12.49.02 PM

Actually in this cartoon version, they swapped out the big curvy batfin and added a composite version fin.

Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 9.53.42 PMThis cartoon also brought something else to my attention, the interior of the car. In the comics all you see is a 1930’s “Banjo style” steering wheel, and a “circle” on Robin’s side.  Most cars of the day had a clock on the passenger’s side dash, and just a few dials for the driver.

Pretty simple by today’s standards but it’s just what cars looked like then.Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 12.38.06 PMScreen Shot 2016-05-25 at 12.39.12 PM

 

 

 

 

In this recent cartoon take though, the animators decided to “gadget it up” for some Joker gags and add lots of switches and stuff.  I suppose Batman could have had this batmobile retrofitted with bat stuff over the years, he does tend to over prepare!  It was a fun bit, but the bat gadgets didn’t really get going until almost the end of this batmobile’s run – in the comics all they added during those years were some boat propellers and extra costume storage compartments. Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 12.39.02 PM40's police
The police of the day did have early CB like radio systems, so I would have to put in something like that in mine.

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 2.19.51 PM

There was a blueprint dash that was just made up for one of the toys. It was cool, but it was also too busy for the time period and what I wanted the final product to look like.

 

Lastly I had to decide what my Bat symbol would look like. It has changed a lot over the years, and during the 1940’s batman often had NOTHING on his chest or a weird scribbled wing with no head. Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 5.54.34 PM I was amazed at how this iconic part of Batman was not really defined in the early years and it seemed almost an afterthought to the artists.  The Danbury Mint version had it’s own classic bat on the hub caps and on the motor.
Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 5.53.29 PM

I eventually combined a few designs, and cropped the ears to come up with a bat I liked.

Now, all that was left to do was find a donor car, and make this fictional cartoon car into my version of a street legal crime fighting monster!    STAY TUNED, BAT FANS, the best is yet to come!  PART TWO, the search for the CAR!

danbury bathead2




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