This annual gathering of car enthusiasts – ELKS LODGE 613: GROOVIN’ IN THE GROVE – reaps big rewards for Santa Barbara area veterans and their families. CGC‘s Jim Palam brought his support and camera to capture some of the good things that can happen when Car Guys with a Cause gather in The Grove!

ELKS LODGE 613: GROOVIN' IN THE GROVEThe Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks was founded in New York City in 1868. Part of their stated mission is “To inculcate the principles of Charity, Justice, Brotherly Love and Fidelity – and to cultivate good fellowship.” I’m happy to report that on Saturday, July 24th, that mission was accomplished handily at Santa Barbara Elks Lodge No. 613. Its Classic Car & Vintage Trailer Show in Goleta, CA turned out to be their highest attended car event in 12 years – with over 155 classics on display – including vintage motorcycles and travel trailers.

I had lived in Santa Barbara for 35 years and unfortunately never attended one of the Elks’ car shows. This year the timing and the motivation aligned and I was snapping and chatting as soon as the gates opened at 9 AM Saturday morning. The first gem that caught my eye was a perfect, blue 356 Porsche Speedster, above, parked by a vintage, red & white Shasta travel trailer. Now that’s how you get this reporter’s blood pumpin’ at the start of a show, and that’s one clever way to proudly display the Red, White & Blue!

A towering Weiand 6-71 supercharger kit is one of the reasons Paul Paxton of Oxnard doesn’t have a hood on his ferocious ’40 Ford Every-Other-Day Driver. I suppose if gasoline prices drop again this cooler-than-liquid-helium red coupe would be a Daily-Driver. Of course, I had to ask Paul if he was in anyway related to the supercharger folks at Paxton Automotive. His reply: “Yeah, I’ve heard that, but it’s just a lot of air.”

ELKS LODGE 613: GROOVIN' IN THE GROVEWhen Jeff and Stacey Gourson got married their wedding song was At Last. When they finally realized their ’20 years in the making’ Musclecar Dream, they plated their beautiful big-block Chevy-powered ’64 GTO, ATTLAST.  This Pontiac is a formidable pouncer, with its 468-inch Chevy delivering 580 horsepower to the rear wheels. There’s an extra “T” on the vanity plate because – surprise, surprise – ATLAST was already taken.

ELKS LODGE 613: GROOVIN' IN THE GROVECars and vintage trailers were displayed in two different areas, separated by the spacious Elks Lodge building. I found myself bopping back and forth as conversations and curiosity drew me from one location to the other. I spent time admiring David Bethard’s sexy and sleek, black ‘40 Ford Deluxe Convertible then rambled over to the trailers and discovered a fully-accessorized ‘57 Rambler Custom station wagon fronting a fully-equipped ‘56 Rainbow trailer. It was back to the cars again for a close look at the Baja-bruising Coors Light Racing No. 559 VW Bug. It seems apt that this voracious looking orange Bug was conceived and built to eat-up the desert!

Money raised from participant entry fees, food & beverage sales and donations go directly to the Elks Lodge Veteran Support programs which include homeless veterans’ breakfasts, hot meals for home-bound vets, clothing, hygiene and mental health support, plus holiday gift cards for needy veterans’ families. There’s another technique the Elks employed for raising money at the event: deploying the high-spirited Raffle Ticket Trio. Their big smiles, colorful tattoos and endless exuberance were impossible to ignore, and from what I could see, very effective at thinning wallets.

So, let’s speculate that the amount of cash collected by the Elks for this good cause was substantial. If that were true, which one of these cool vehicles would be the best to transport the bounty to the bank? Steven Jacobson’s 23-Window ‘60 VW Bus looks pretty spacious but with all those windows the haul would be far from hidden – as would be the case with Dave Boytis’ open bed ’61 Corvair Loadside. Nope, we’re going to need something stealth and swift – like Chuck Nestor’s raked ’69 Dodge A100 surfer van. Maybe paint a Diaper Delivery logo on the side for more deception and odorous security. Yeah, I’m going with the Dodge.

In addition to cool cars and travel trailers there were about a dozen vintage motorcycles lined-up outside the lodge for display: A couple of Indians, a number of Harleys, a wispy Whizzer, a tasty Triumph and my pick of the bunch – a beautifully restored, ‘69 650 BSA A65 Thunderbolt. As appealing as these 1960s -1970s-era British touring bikes were, they succumbed to the onslaught of competition from the hard-to-beat Japanese imports. BSA production ended in 1972.

While photographing the BSA an attendee asked me if I had checked out “Big Ugly” in the trailer section yet. Before I could ask what Big Ugly was, he had disappeared, so I scooted back to the travel trailers and quickly discovered this ‘48 Studebaker 2-Ton truck sporting the vanity plate BIGUGLY. Legend has it a California surfer kid bought this work truck-to-camper conversion back in 1965 for $500. When he headed off to college his dad took the wheel and made many improvements. He dropped-in a Chevy V8 and 4-speed tranny and then addressed the camper unit with upgrades like a stained-glass bay window, an RV toilet and a wood-burning stove. Dad and his lady friend traveled extensively in Big Ugly until his death. In 2021 the son, now 74 years old, donated the sturdy Studebaker camper to the Murphy Museum in Oxnard, CA.

ELKS LODGE 613: GROOVIN' IN THE GROVEThere are some classics that outshine many of their contemporaries because of their understated balance – where line, color, proportion and restraint come together in a machine that has to be owned, has to be seen, and has to be driven. Bob Hawkin’s Turquoise Blue ‘30 Ford pickup is such a machine.

And while we’ve got the Hot Rod blues, perhaps it’s a good time to get our motors running and hop on Mike and Robin Senzamici’s blue-accented ‘48 GMC Silversides PD3751 interstate cruiser. This iconic Greyhound RV conversion bus has been driven and camped often and has also made numerous appearances on TV and in the movies. Is the Silverside a Superstar? I’ll let you guys make that decision. Was the ELKS LODGE 613: GROOVIN’ IN THE GROVE Show a success? Absolutely!

Words & Photos ©Jim Palam, July 24, 2021, https://www.jimpalamphotos.com/

For more information about the ELKS LODGE 613: GROOVIN’ IN THE GROVE Show, please visit https://www.groovininthegrove.org/

Check out Elks Lodge 613 @ https://www.elks.org/lodges/ContactUs.cfm?LodgeNumber=0613


CarGuyChronicles’ Jim Palam pulls in to the MENDENHALL: CARS, GAS PUMPS & PETROLIANA MUSEUM to fill-up with American petroleum industry history and an eyeful of colorful signage and cars from a bygone era.


 Sitting at a window table at Ellen’s Pancake House I could see the large neon and red Pegasus rising up above the tall wooden perimeter fence surrounding the Mendenhall Museum – located just across Avenue of the Flags from the eatery in Buellton, CA. Over the years I had picked up a bit of the Petroliana museum’s fascinating history, hanging out with some of the local car guys and decided it was finally time to check it out.

As the story goes, after Jack Mendenhall sold his Richfield gas and service station back in the 1970s, he went on the road selling business related signs and marketing materials. He also continued searching the highways and byways of America looking for vintage gas pumps and petroleum industry related collectibles. He’d been at that hobby since the 1950s. When he found items, he liked he’d haul them back to his wrecking yard in Buellton. During those years Jack also raced cars and had a passion for dry lake, oval track and drag racing. He became a Lifetime Member of Bonneville’s 200 MPH Club in 1991 and was inducted into the Land Speed Hall of Fame in 1993.

MENDENHALL: CARS, GAS PUMPS & PETROLIANA MUSEUMDuring the late 1950s and early 1960s Jack was also the crew chief, owner and co-driver of the historic Pea Soup Andersen Special, a vintage ’46 Ford flathead-powered dragster that was rumored during those racing heydays to be “Souper-Charged.” Racing often at Southern and Central California drag strips, the Special clocked a top speed of 143 mph and a low ET of 9.474 seconds. “Souper Sponsors” of this racing machine included  racing icons Bob Joehnck Automotive, Edelbrock, Iskenderian Cams and Jim Deist. The dragster still has its own special garage.

Automotive picking, collecting and racing is in the Mendenhall family blood. In the early 2000s, the transformation of Jack’s prodigious Petroliana collection into a curated museum began. After Jack’s passing in 2005, son Mark and daughter-in-law Vickie took the wheel of the museum and have helped steer it to the remarkable treasure-trove of petroleum industry artifacts it is today. Privately owned, it’s located on the site of Jack’s old wrecking yard, just a burnout from where his gas station once stood at the corner Zaca Street and Avenue of the Flags!

MENDENHALL: CARS, GAS PUMPS & PETROLIANA MUSEUMVisitors enter the museum Private-Club-style through a nondescript door in the perimeter fence. Once beyond the portal you are hit with a graphic barrage of bold and colorful porcelain, metal and neon signs that cover every available inch of the exterior walls of the garage-style buildings that line the u-shaped interior driveway. Currently there are over 100 vintage gas pumps, 400 illuminated gas pump globes, 2,500 metal and porcelain signs, 40 neon signs and 1,500 vintage license plates carefully and cleverly displayed throughout the museum’s dozen garages and two-story center building.

Of course the collection doesn’t stop there; visitors will also discover vintage oil cans and auto parts, music boxes, soda fountain signage, street & highway signs, mid-century Americana, street rods, a Red Bluff drag boat and racecars – including another Pea Soup Andersen’s Special – this, a 350-cubic-inch-powered Oldsmobile Cutlass that Jack raced at Baja in the 1970s. Being a family that loved to race together, Mark also raced a sister-car Cutlass with his Dad during those exciting Baja years.

Every time I thought OK, this must be the last room or garage to explore, another surprising space would reveal itself – like the low-lit Fire Engine Room where the Mendenhalls had somehow managed to park and display a well-used and weathered ‘39 Ford fire truck. This fire-fighting machine was apparently used at Vandenberg Air Force Base when the base was known as the Camp Cooke U.S. Army Garrison back in the early-1940s. Camp Cooke’s remote location made it an ideal site for rapid artillery and armor training.

The Mendenhall Museum has something for everyone, but if you’re a serious lakes-racing enthusiast, get ready for goose bumps and heartfelt emotion. While the museum’s event spaces are available for a variety of special functions, its biggest celebration is the biennial “Gas Up” where land speed luminaries are inducted into the museum’s Dry Lakes Hall of Fame. Not only do you get to enjoy the camaraderie of the racers and a tasty meal, you also get to inspect the famous land speed cars that are trailered to the museum for the event.

MENDENHALL: CARS, GAS PUMPS & PETROLIANA MUSEUMOn the ground floor of the center building, behind a door displaying a Southern California Timing Association (S.C.T.A.) sign, you’ll discover the Dry Lakes Racing Hall of Fame, a special room dedicated to the history of land speed racing at the Bonneville Salt Flats and El Mirage. On one of the shelves of a long, full wall display case you’ll find the racing helmet worn by Jack Mendenhall when he set the D/GR record of 207.015 mph in his Chevy-powered, Wescott-bodied Car No. 234 roadster back on August 22, 1991.

As I was wrapping up my photo shoot and exploration, I found myself back in the large room of the center building where Mark and wife Vickie had just completed one of their guided tours. The good news is that with the lifting of Covid restrictions the Mendenhall is back in business. This room had yet another impossibly dense collection of signs and collectibles covering the walls and ceiling. At the far end of the room near the exit door is a cozy and inviting bar. If I was still a drinking man, I might have asked Mark to mix me a Mendenhall Special. Instead, I headed to the rest room to the left of the bar, not to “Unfill ‘er Up” but to grab a few more photos. By this point I wasn’t a surprised that the walls were covered with signs here too. My favorites were the three, eye-level gas-grade signs above the two urinals and toilet!

If you’re looking for relief from the mundane, make it a point to visit the MENDENHALL: CARS, GAS PUMPS & PETROLIANA MUSEUM in Buellton, CA. Tell Mark and Vickie that Jim from CarGuyChronicles sent you. Check it out @ http://www.mendenhallmuseum.com/

Words and Photos: Jim Palam, https://www.jimpalamphotos.com/

Top tips for keeping your car safe from thieves

As new research by the AA reveals that a surprising one in 10 drivers think that modern vehicles are theft-proof, we have essential advice for keeping your car safe. According to police figures for 2017, there were 280,313 recorded offences of theft from vehicles (13% more than 2016) and 103,644 were stolen (19% more than …

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Designer Ugur Sahin introduces his latest design: Alfa Romeo Nivola. It’s a modern interpretation of the legendary Alfa Romeo Stradale 33 designed by Franco Scaglione in 1967.

UGUR SAHIN: ALFA ROMEO NIVOLA!UGUR SAHIN: ALFA ROMEO NIVOLA!Our design briefing was to carefully translate the original design into a modern interpretation, while incorporating an Alfa Romeo 4C the rolling chassis. This made it possible to convert a stock donor car into something exclusive, limited and timeless…. just like the beautiful original 33! Designer Ugur Sahin, left.

A few options were considered for naming the concept, as the rich history of the Alfa Romeo brand involves many great personalities and achievements. Then after doing some deeper research I found out about the racing legend Tazio Nuvolari, nicknamed Nivola.

He epitomized courage and daring and for 30 years he amazed the racing world with his exploits on both two and four wheels resulting in several championship titles in motorcycle as well as sports car championships. For Alfa Romeo he won several world championship titles, a few Mille Miglia and Targa Florio races and, to top it off, he won the 24 Hours of Le Mans for Alfa Romeo.

Personally I was very impressed with following story of the legendary Nivola. At the Monza Grand Prix for motorcycles he crashed during practice. This resulted in two broken legs. After doctors put plaster casts on both legs he was told that it would be at least one month before he could walk again let alone race motorcycles. The next day he started the race having himself tied to his bike. He required his mechanics to hold him upright at the start of the race and to catch him at the end. The legend of Tazio Nuvolari, below, began that day when he won that race!

As I admire people who fight hard for achieving personal goals in life, I decided to name the Alfa Romeo Nivola in honor of the great Tazio Nuvolari.

The development of the Nivola came to life after I visited the Pebble Beach Concours last year in Monterey, CA. I was so impressed with the Best of Show winning Alfa 33 Stradale that I decided to try and pay homage to the Alfa Romeo brand as well as the original 33 Stradale by creating a modern interpretation of the original design.

UGUR SAHIN: ALFA ROMEO NIVOLA!As it would have been too easy just to copy the original closely, I decided to go the hard way and develop a production ready concept, based on an existing Alfa Romeo chassis. Because of the nimble size as well as the ultra-light weight of the original vehicle, it was only common sense to develop a design based on the Alfa Romeo 4C underpinnings. That created a huge challenge, as the proportions and “hard points” of the 4C chassis are quite different than the original Alfa 33 Stradale. In order to get closer to the proportions of the 33, the rear of the car was extended in order to create sleek rear fenders that extend all the way back to the edge of the rear end.

UGUR SAHIN: ALFA ROMEO NIVOLA!The Nivola concept design has been entirely developed from a stock Alfa Romeo 4C chassis scan so if there is a healthy demand, a very limited and exclusive production will be arranged with either carbon fiber or aluminum body panels.

UGUR SAHIN: ALFA ROMEO NIVOLA!For more information on the Nivola and other designs and concepts, please visit http://www.ugursahindesign.com/

The post UGUR SAHIN: ALFA ROMEO NIVOLA! appeared first on Car Guy Chronicles.


Britain’s most popular new cars revealed

The Ford Fiesta has cemented its reputation as the UK’s favourite car, taking the No 1 spot for the 10th consecutive year. However, final year figures for 2018 released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) reveal that total registrations were down 6.8% to 2.37 million cars, reflecting 12 months of turbulence. Sales of …

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