Rod & Custom guru and automotive journalist Pat Ganahl has spent his hot-rodding career on the left coast and just posted this short-course on HOT RODS, CUSTOMS & DRIVE-INS.


Before social media and cell phones, hot rod and custom car owners communicated with each other at club meetings, shows, drag strips and drive-ins. Drive-ins were where you took your dates and showed off your wheels, finished or unfinished. In some locales, drive-ins were the places to go looking to hookup for runs. Yeah, illegal street racing!

If you were a serious carguy growing up in the New York City metro area, drive-ins were where you went to earn street-racing cred. It only mattered how fast your car was, not how good it looked. It was not unusual to see real Super/Stock racecars (Ramcharger’s CandyMatic Dodge) and even blown gassers with license plates, ready to run if the price was right.


Most of you know that besides this bi-weekly column, I also post individual photos from my archive regularly on Instagram,  http://@patganahl. A few weeks ago, I ran a simple black and white version of a color cover photo I set up for a Street Rodder cover in 1975, showing two rods at an A&W drive-in at night. I was astounded at the number of “likes” and responses that one image drew – more than any other. So, this reminded me that I have a whole binder titled “Misc. Color, Drive-ins etc.” You like Drive-ins? I’ve got plenty!

Baldwin-Motion SS-454 Camaro waiting for a “run” at Wetson’s on Sunrise Highway, right, near Motion Performance, Baldwin, NY.

Sometime in the 1980s I joined a group called the Society for Commercial Archeology, a slightly academic “National organization devoted to celebrating the 20th century American roadscape.” In other words, they appreciate and study what we call roadside attractions: bright neon signs, Googie diners, hot dog stands shaped like hot dogs (or dogs), cobblers in shoe-shaped shops, giant Uniroyal tires, big oranges, Wigwam Motels–stuff designed to grab your attention as you drive by in your car. This of course includes drive-in restaurants in several shapes, sizes, and colors. And note the involvement of the automobile.

This group holds annual conferences where members present papers with large-screen photos on a wide variety of relevant (usually colorful, often amazing) topics, and in late-1988 it was scheduled for the Henry Ford Museum, which had recently been redone in diorama form. We had just relaunched Rod & Custom, and I wanted to see and cover the new Ford Museum, so I submitted a paper titled, “The Dynamic Architecture of the Drive-In.” Briefly, its point was that however unique, zany, or neon-lit a drive-in was, it wasn’t complete without a bunch of cars parked around it, which were also colorful, of many shapes and forms, perhaps zany or noisy, and constantly changing. They became part of the architecture, thus making it dynamic, both in sight and sound. So, I collected a whole lot of photos of drive-ins, several I had taken myself, others from sources I can’t remember. Plenty included rods or customs. The paper was well-received.

To illustrate my point, I found photos of several early drive-ins built in a unique round style, usually with a central tower on top with a name in bright neon. But as you can see, they really aren’t complete without a full ring of cars parked around them.

Continue reading HOT RODS, CUSTOMS & DRIVE-INS@


Who doesn’t love a special deal? Perhaps it’s CGC’s Jim Palam’s years in advertising that was behind his idea to give our readers two-reports-in-one, combining two of the Central Coast’s popular car shows – The Solvang Fall Classic & The Montecito Motor Classic – into one feature. It’s a great idea, so here’s CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’: CENTRAL COAST WHEELING WEEKEND.

CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’: CENTRAL COAST WHEELING WEEKENDCovid changed the 2020 Car Show scene significantly – pretty much eliminating many if not all of the popular gatherings not only in America, but around the world. It was a year to ponder our priorities and for many a time to get back in the garage and finish projects that were in the works or on-hold. What was a bummer in 2020 turned out to be something of a bonanza in 2021 with many of these unseen or improved projects making their way to re-launched car shows, races and auctions.

CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’: CENTRAL COAST WHEELING WEEKEND started early on Saturday morning in the heart of Solvang, CA with The 2021 Solvang Fall Classic Car Show. By 9 AM there were over 200 pre-1990 classics, hot rods, sports cars, customs and motorcycles. The show was free to spectators and thousands of car enthusiasts, tourists and locals strolled through the show-car-lined streets of “The Danish Capital of America.” Proceeds from the show benefitted local charities including The Rona Barrett Foundation, The Vikings Kids Christmas and The Veggie Rescue Program. In years past this show was held during the summer and promoted as The Wheels & Windmills Car Show. As hoped for, there were many cars there I hadn’t seen before and the cooler October weather was perfect. My vote is to keep holding the show in the Fall.

I started the second day of my “Wheeling Weekend” zipping down Highway 101 along the Pacific Coast in my 914 to the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club for The 2021 Montecito Motor Classic. This was the second year the MMC was held at the Polo Club’s panoramic Carpinteria foothill’s location. This was also the 9th year that the Presenting Sponsor for the MMC was the Armand Hammer Foundation which meant that dedicated Car Guy Michael Armand Hammer would be involved, and that we’d see an exciting mix of exotics, hot rods, customs, classics, concept cars and even famous TV cars – like the first “car” I encountered – the George Barris built Munsters Koach, left. This hopped-up hearse was featured on the iconic 1960’s TV series, The Munsters.

One row over from the Munster Koach I spotted the Backdraft Racing Indigo Blue 427 Cobra, top, that had been wheeling down the 101 next to me on the way to the show. The affable owner is an aerospace executive whose passenger was a large Teddy Bear. Once on the show field he donned a Propeller Beanie Cap and shared his infectious effervescence with showgoers enjoying the perfect weather and exceptional cars on the expansive Polo Field.

There were also a number of side attractions at the MMC including the Avenue of Chalets vendor area and a tribute to show honoree and automotive designer, Mark Stehrenberger. Now I must apologize that I kept my camera focused mostly on the 200-plus cars on the show field and I missed the Fashion Hat Competition sponsored by Silverhorn Jewelers!

A trophy winner at The Solvang Fall Classic Car Show and a standout at any show it’s entered in was Keith & Lynne Raphael’s jaw-dropping ’61 MGA Roadster. This ‘lil beast sports a supercharged Chevy 350 tucked neatly into the radically-modified, all-steel MGA body that sits snugly on an altered ’78 Corvette chassis. This red racer is no Trailer Queen and gets driven often for joy-rides and to shows by Keith and Lynne.

This man is not only on the step-up to his “La Bestioni No. 8 ~ Beast of Turin” but on a mission to wow and entertain as many people as he, and his oversize creations, can. Some of you may recognize Gary Wales from his many appearances on Jay Leno’s Garage. Gary’s “Beasts” (he has built 8 so far) are tributes to the original Beast of Turin, a 1911 Fiat S76 that was powered by a massive 28-liter inline-4 engine. To create his “Beasts” he starts with pre-1930s American La France fire trucks and from there let’s his creativity flow. Many of the mechanical chores – such as rebuilding the 14-liter Simplex motor – are handled by his ace mechanic, Andres Aranda. It was one of the most popular exhibits of CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’: CENTRAL COAST WHEELING WEEKEND.

CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’: CENTRAL COAST WHEELING WEEKENDIn conspicuous contrast to Gary’s “Beast” is Don Nichos’ ‘56 Messerschmitt KR200 Kabineroller (Cabin Scooter) which buzzed into the Solvang show with a BMW Isetta in hot pursuit. This head-turning 3-wheel microcar was designed by Fritz Fend for German aircraft manufacturer Messerschmitt. While spotting one of these on the road is about as rare as spotting Warren Buffet at the 7-11, they actually manufactured approximately 40,000 of them between 1955 and 1964. Capable of reaching a top speed of 56 mph, the 507-pound KR200 is powered by a 191 cc Fichtel & Sachs 2-stroke engine. If you close your eyes as one passes by you might think you’re hearing a classic Vespa scooter!

It was the very first car I spotted at The Solvang Fall Classic Car Show and I knew immediately that it was special. While over 21 million Volkswagen Beetles were manufactured between 1938 and 2003, this little, unpretentious Pastel Green Bug was one of the last split-window Zwitter Beetles manufactured in 1952. And here it sat, like an obedient and patient Dachshund, perhaps waiting for its owner to come out of one of the Danish pastries shops on Copenhagen Drive. This iconic, concours condition ’52 VW is proudly owned by Randy Maskell of Burbank who purchased it over 35 years ago. Everything works in this all-original survivor including the dash clock that you wind-up by reaching into the right-side glove compartment, and the delicate, flip-out style semaphore turn signals. Open the front trunk and you’ll find all the original tools.

What a difference a day makes! In striking contrast to Saturday’s Solvang show’s humble ’52 Zwitter Bug was this brutish Baja Bug on display at Sunday’s Montecito Motor Classic. Sitting mean and nasty on meaty BFGoodrich Baja T/As, this desert destroyer is powered by a high-revving, deep-breathing 700 horsepower LS7 Chevy. Configuration and Fabrication of the car’s complex suspension and chassis was handled by Bradley Nipper. The Bug’s concept was by Stephan Sutton and the assembly by EWR Racing. Oh, by the way, the car is air-conditioned!

Hi-yo, Silver! OK, I know this ’59 Corvette is painted Roman Red, but that’s Dawn Moore holding a photo of her father, Clayton Moore. If you’re a Boomer like me you probably watched Clayton on TV in his role as The Lone Ranger. He bought this Vette new in 1959 and it’s been in the Moore family ever since. Dawn is the latest family caretaker; she brought this classic up from Beverly Hills to proudly show it at The Montecito Motor Classic.

CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’: CENTRAL COAST WHEELING WEEKENDThere are some bad ideas that are fabulous – like John Lynch’s awesome ’51 Kaiser Henry J Gasser! So, the story goes that when John told his buddies that he was going to stuff a blown 392-inch Chrysler Hemi into his diminutive Henry J, they all agreed – that was a really bad idea. When John completed the build – which included details like the Ford 9-inch rear, ladder-bar suspension and Turbo 400 transmission, his friends were speechless. This glowing example of a classic 1960s period Gasser is finished in John’s home-brewed “Evil Orange” paint, with its name Bad Idea boldly displayed on both doors!

Speaking of big motors in small cars – Jeff Jones of RatRod Jeff Fabrications brought customer Roger Regen’s wild & wicked ’29 Model A Tudor Ratrod to the manicured Polo field to tear up not divots, but perceptions of what a show-worthy automotive head-turner could be. Jeff’s intricate tube chassis connects all the rod’s components, serving as a sturdy base for the massive 540-inch, 850 horsepower Mooneyham-blown Hemi, Turbo 350 trans, and also a roll cage in the smashed, 32-inch to the roofline Tudor body. This attention getter drew in many admirers including this lovely lady from Ojai and her taller-than-the-car Great Dane. That’s Jeff enjoying the canine and lovely chapeaued company.

I met British motorcycle and car restoration expert Phil Honer years ago while I still owned my ’74 Triumph TR6. I never knew he owned this stunning Jaguar E-Type Coupe and was excited to see him and his meticulously-restored Opalescent Blue ’67 XKE on Copenhagen Drive for The 2021 Solvang Fall Classic Car Show. I grabbed this photo early on Saturday morning as the first arrivals were positioning their show cars in their assigned display areas. A native of Birmingham, England, Phil boosted his E-Type’s performance with high-lift cams, an aluminum flywheel, improved brakes and an improved cooling system.

Green: The color of money and envy! If you’re planning on putting a plug-in e-hybrid 918 Porsche Spyder in your garage, get ready for a considerable investment of time and money as they are near impossible to find. Touted as one of Porsche’s most advanced models when introduced in 2013, this hybrid features a 608 horsepower 4.6-Liter gas powered engine, paired with a 129 horsepower front electric motor and a 156 horsepower rear electric motor, fueled by a 6.8-kWh lithium-ion battery. Doing the power-curve math reveals a jaw-dropping 0 to 60 sprint in 2.5 seconds! Priced around $845,000 for a base model in 2013 you can expect asking prices from $1.3 million and way-way up today.

There’s nothing like a classic Tri-Five Chevy to bring us back down to earth and to Solvang, after our lofty visit with the 918 Spyder. GM produced over 1.5 million Chevys in 1957 and the odds of finding one at your local car show are very high. I was surprised to learn that even with these impressive sales numbers it was in 1957 that Ford outsold Chevy for the first time since 1935. Chevrolet recovered quickly and Ford spent the 1960s unsuccessfully trying to make a comeback!

Introduced back in 1946, Dodge’s Power Wagon was essentially a civilian version of the Dodge WC Series 4×4 military truck. Many were put to hard work as utility vehicles on farms and work sites and if serious mechanical problems were encountered far too many were left to slowly rust right where they quit running. Over the last 10 years Power Wagon aficionados have resurrected and restored the ones they could find and specialized restoration facilities, like Legacy Classic Trucks, have created growing businesses building Power Wagon conversions that feature high-performance drivetrains and custom interiors. This big orange wagon on the Polo Field was a favorite of the many kids who attended the show with their families.

Another early arrival in Solvang was this 5th generation Plum Crazy ’73 Dodge Dart 340 Sport. Its Chrysler small-block V-8 produced approximately 240 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. With a curb weight of just over 3,200 pounds these cars offered above-average performance. Plum Crazy paint wasn’t actually offered in 1973, but this Dart looked ready to command the intersection outside the Solvang Shoe Store!

Although both the 2021 Solvang Fall Classic and the Montecito Motor Classic’s advertised motorcycles in the mix of show vehicles over my Wheeling Weekend adventure, I only saw two motorcycles on the Polo Field and less than a dozen on the grass at Solvang Park. Even though there was a nicely restored Brough Superior at the MMC, the bike that caught my eye and camera lens was Ron Curtis’ quintessential 1960’s chopper, a beautifully scalloped ’64 BSA. It of course had radically extended forks, “ape hanger” handlebars and a tall “sissy-bar” seat. What it didn’t have was a hardtail frame, the builder opting to retain its original coil spring set.

CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’: CENTRAL COAST WHEELING WEEKENDOne of the fun things about these local shows is you will often discover interesting vehicles parked within the vicinity of the show. One such giddy discovery was this authentic Japanese firetruck. To navigate the narrow and twisting streets in Japan smaller vehicles are often chosen as utility and emergency vehicles – such as Bear Erickson and Adriana Ortiz’s red-and-ready Nissan Safari firetruck. I happen to know Bear and Adriana and they have always walked to the beat of their own drummer. Instead of an engagement ring Adriana asked if Bear would get her the firetruck – for no other reason than it would put a smile on her face!

Words & Photos © Jim Palam

For more information, please visit the CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’: CENTRAL COAST WHEELING WEEKEND show websites:



Rod & custom archivist/historian, Pat Ganahl blogs about Charlie Smith’s ROD & CUSTOM: ART & THE AUTOMOBILE that turns as many heads as do iconic show-stoppers.

ROD & CUSTOM: ART & THE AUTOMOBILEI was going to title this column “The Unknown Artist,” but that’s not true at all. I’ve known Charlie Smith of Kansas City at least since the mid-1980s. I’ve published his work in Hot Rod and Rod & Custom, and you’ve seen it elsewhere. You’ve also seen cars he’s designed, though you might not know it. Just one example is Pete Chapouris’ Limefire ’32 roadster, loosely inspired by Tom Pollard’s green-and-flamed ’29.

ROD & CUSTOM: ART & THE AUTOMOBILEThis is another piece he did for Chapouris’ So-Cal Speed Shop (on spec) when they restored the belly tank and built similar vehicles for Chevrolet. But look at the detail and realism in this. That’s why I call it Unreal Art–because it’s so super-realistic.

Charlie says he’s not doing this to impress viewers, he’s doing it to show whoever is going to build the car exactly how he wants it to look.  But just look at the texture of the Bonneville salt, the mountains in the background, and the detail in the gold-tinted and red-striped mag wheels in this rendition of a ’53 Studebaker pickup/push truck (note rubber strip on front bumper). And this was just a suggestion. It didn’t get built.

Charlie first displayed his version of the classic chopped ’40 Merc at a Design Center at the 1990 SEMA show. Then it was blue. He recently recolored it in this burgundy red. The front “wheel covers” are hub-attached to stay stationary as the wheel turns.

Want more realism? This one has a bit of Euro-flavor to it, as well, which is faintly reflected in the village/mountain background. Calling this his vision of a ’49 Eldorado, below, the obvious change is a slightly chopped and hard-topped roofline. Other changes include the obvious extended stainless rear skirts. Less obvious are ’55 Chevy-type hooded headlights and slightly enlarged taillights.

Continue reading ROD & CUSTOM: ART & THE AUTOMOBILE, (Unreal Auto Art) @


If you are truly interested in the birth and evolution of hot rodding, the speed equipment industry and drag racing in America, Bob McClurg’s FIVE-STAR: THE AMERICAN SPEED SHOP is THE book to read!


If there’s anyone who should be teaching Hot Rodding 101 at your local community college, it’s Bob McClurg! He’s an accomplished photographer, scribe, author and a true student of the evolution of hot rodding and drag racing – from four-cylinder and Flathead and OHV V8 revolutions, through modern times. At the heart of these iconic times is the speed shop, where dreams were and, in some cases, still are turned into reality.

Decades before the Donut Derelicts launched the Cars & Coffee (and donuts) culture phenomenon in Huntington Beach, CA in 1985, speed shops were where carguys went on Saturday mornings to bench race, hang out and even buy stuff for their rides before heading to tracks. Parking lots at speed shows, however small, were transformed into revolving mini car shows. There was always something to see and talk about. McClurg captures those moments in his terrific tome: FIVE-STAR: THE AMERICAN SPEED SHOP.

To set the tone of when racing started in America, closely followed by the history of speed shop growth and speed equipment manufacturing, McClurg quotes Henry Ford, who certainly was not the only one to say, “Auto racing began five minutes after the second car was built,” in Chapter 1, BIRTH OF A SEEDLING INDUSTRY. Ford’s Model T, followed by the modernized A, started a racing revolution that actually continues more than a century later – stronger than ever – in Pre-War Historic racing both here and abroad. Henry Ford successfully raced a car of his own design before there was a Ford Motor Company.

FIVE-STAR: THE AMERICAN SPEED SHOPClaus Mueller’s Model A Speedster, competes in historic racing events in Europe.

Most enthusiasts of a certain age, credit the start of hot rodding to the Ford Flathead V8, an engine that broke cover in 1932 when four and six-cylinder engines were popular power choices for enthusiasts. By the time first Flathead surfaced in the ’32 Ford, thousands of speed and performance garages dotted the map from coast to coast. They specialized in coaxing more power from popular four-cylinder Fords. New-car dealers got into the action as well. They converted used Model Ts and later Model As into sporty cars, hot rods and racecars using Mercury and Langdon Speedster bodies, Ruckstell two-speed rear ends, Franklin steering, Buffalo 20-inch wire wheels and modified engines.

Riley four-port Model A four-cylinder engine with dual Stromberg 81 carbs.

McClurg devotes a good amount of space to how enthusiasts coaxed more horsepower out of the popular four-cylinder Fords of the pre-Flathead era,1920s and 1930s. Ford enthusiasts could choose from overhead valve (OHV), or single overhead cam (SOHC) or dual overhead cam (DOHC) conversion heads made by Clemons, Cragar, Frontenac, Gemsa, Hal, Hunt, Rajo, Riley, Roof, Winfield and others. The Frontenac or “Fronty” DOHC 16-valve conversion, manufactured by Arthur and Louis Chevrolet (yes, that Chevrolet) was extremely popular with racers and hot rodders searching for maximum performance. It was not unusual for highly modified Fronty Fords to produce more than 125 horsepower and redline at over 5,000 rpm. There was also a rare “Peugeot-Type” OHV 16-valve head conversion kit for Model T Fours, manufactured by The Laurel Motors Corporation in Anderson, IL.

In the 1920s in California, the Model T Ford gave birth to the exclusively American hot rod movement. When Ford introduced its new and improved 40-horsepower Model A in 1928, it took over. Highly modified Ford Fours delivered V8 performance, powering roadsters, coupes and belly tankers (Lakesters/Streamliners). They could be found on weekends at both the dry lakes in the Mojave high desert (El Mirage, Muroc and Rosamond) and the wood-board and dirt race tracks in California. Racing on the dry lakes was sanctioned by the Russetta Timing Association (RTA) and Southern California Timing Association (SCTA). When the 65-horsepower Flathead V8 Ford debuted in 1932, it assured Ford’s domination of the hot rod field until the advent of OHV V8s in 1949.

FIVE-STAR: THE AMERICAN SPEED SHOPBobby Meeks, left, and Fran Hernandez, with three-carb Flathead on dyno at Vic Edelbrock’s shop, 1950s.

Ford’s Flathead V8 revolutionized the hobby, fed explosive speed shop growth, and gave birth to speed equipment manufacturers that would completely change the go-fast culture. Many of those names (brands) are still with us today and can see them on traditional “old-school” hot rod, and Specials competing in Historic Pre-War class road racing.

As early as the 1930s, Ford was capitalizing on what would become known in the 1960s as “Win On Sunday, Sell On Monday” marketing. A major win at the 1933 National Road Race in Elgin, IL established Ford as a feared competitor in road racing. Savvy dealers wasted no time bragging about Ford’s win in the Nationals in local advertising. This drove customer traffic and V-8 model sales. Almost instantly new V-8 Ford roadsters could be found, less mufflers and fenders, tearing up racetracks. The 1932 Swedish Winter Grand Prix was won by two mechanics driving a Ford V-8 Special. McClurg focuses on how Flatheads changed racing, from local drag strips and dry lakes to Indy (Miller-Ford Specials) and beyond our borders.

Legendary hot rodders and racers wasted little time developing speed equipment for the Flathead. The list included cam-grinder Ed Iskenderian, aluminum intake manifold and head pioneer Vic Edelbrock, Sr., Ansen’s Lou Senter, Bell Auto’s Roy Richter, above, So-Cal Speed Shop’s Alex Xydias, below, and speed merchants Barney Navarro and Meyer Kong, Eddie Meyer, Barney Navarro, Tommy Thickstun, among others. Racing venues increased thanks to George Wight and George Riley, Muroc Racing Association (MRA), Lou Baney, Russetta Timing Association (RTA), Bill Burke, Southern California Timing Association (SCTA), Art Benjamin, Valley Timing Association (VTA) and, of course, NHRA’s Wally Parks. In addition to popular bolt-on heads, intake manifolds, headers, etc. there were also ARDUN overhead-valve conversions pioneered by Zora Arkus-Duntov and his brother Yuri working out of a small shop, Ardun mechanical Corporation in Queens, NY.

After World War II, hot-rodding, racing and the speed equipment industry experienced incredible growth. As the dry lakes became less and less available for racing, the popularity of quarter-mile drags surged. It would not be until 1950 that the first organized track, Santa Ana Drag Strip, would open on a Southern California airfield. In 1951 Wally Parks, then Editor of HOT ROD and founder of the National Hot Rod Association, produced the first official NHRA race at the Los Angeles Fairgrounds in Pomona, California. The Flathead also distinguished itself in NASCAR competition. Jim Roper, driving a Lincoln, won the first NASCAR race on June 19, 1949 at Charlotte Speedway.


So-Cal Speed Shop of Arizona.

FIVE-STAR: THE AMERICAN SPEED SHOP also documents how OHV V8s changed the course of both street and track performance, 1960s and 1970s:  gas and fuel drag racing, the birth of funny cars, Detroit’s Super/Stocks and FX racers, and how the popular Mom & Pop speed shops had to keep up with changing times – big distributors selling retail and today’s online giants. High-profile racecars, drivers and speed shops that you might be familiar with – and many you may not – are covered in detail by McClurg, including rare vintage photography.

David Snyder painting showcases the unique Motion Performance/Baldwin Chevrolet partnership.

One of the phenomena of the mid-1960s through mid-1970s was the unique marriage between a full-service speed shop specializing in dyno-tuning – Joel Rosen’s Motion Performance and a small, neighborhood Chevrolet dealer, Dave Bean’s Baldwin Chevrolet in Baldwin, LI, NY – that generated head-turning and crazy-fast 1967-1974 Camaros, Novas, Chevelles, Corvettes, and even some Biscayne Street Racer Specials. The brand was Baldwin-Motion and you could order a brand-new Chevy powered by a 427-454 big-block engine that could be equipped with mild to wild speed equipment plus suspension and cosmetic options. Turn-key racecars were available as well. No brand in the history of the genre offered more performance and customization options, and for some models, a written performance guaranty!Legendary KO-MOTION L88 Corvette set AHRA record: “In Memory of Astoria Chas Snyder.”

McClurg devotes a lot of space to Motion Performance/Baldwin-Motion, its speed shop services, unique performance products and its record holding racecars that were sponsored by Hi-Performance CARS Magazine. Baldwin-Motion’s competition in the field of dealer-built modified Chevys included Yenko Chevrolet, Nickey Chevrolet, Dana Chevrolet and others are covered as well.

The history of the speed shop is the history of hot-rodding, dry lakes competition and drag racing in America and, nobody tells it better than Bob McClurg. I came of age in the hobby when the Flathead was still very much the choice of hot rodders, owned a customized ’40 Mercury convertible sedan powered by a dual carb, dual exhaust Flathead, and this book really talks to me! I’m proud to see my name listed on the book’s ACKNOWLEDGMENTS page. Best of all, it showcases incredible rare vintage and modern photos, generously contributed by Gregg Sharp, NHRA Motorsports Museum and private collections. It doesn’t get any better; I give it five stars!

FIVE-STAR: THE AMERICAN SPEED SHOP is available @ american speed shop birth and evolution of hot rodding&qid=1619811270&s=books&sprefix=The American Speed Shop,stripbooks,1455&sr=1-1


‘If Muscle Cars Could Walk’, blogs our intrepid, photo-journalist, Jim Palam! ‘I was expecting a four-wheeled GTO Goat from Pontiac, not a four-legged Bovidae family member at the ORCUTT DERELICTS: DONUT RUN CAR MEET.’


When a carguy buddy of mine from the Central Coast told me, they were expecting some cool musclecars and other surprises at the Orcutt Derelict’s Donut Run car meet in Orcutt, he peppered that prompt to attend by also telling me there’s going to be a beautiful GOAT there that shouldn’t be missed. As a young guy growing up in the heyday of the American musclecar era and a GTO aficionado, it was a no-brainer that I’d go. Little did I expect how special this GOAT was going to be.

The Orcutt Derelicts are a fun group of enthusiasts who live in and around the unincorporated town of Orcutt in the Santa Maria Valley, just south of Santa Maria, CA. This area’s history and development has been heavily influenced by the petroleum industry, agriculture and the explosive wine industry. There are still plenty of local acres dedicated to ranching and well, maybe this is a good time to tell you about that beautiful GOAT.


ORCUTT DERELICTS: DONUT RUN CAR MEETWhen I drove into the parking area near the Golden Donut bakery I quickly spotted some of the promised muscle – a bright-orange Z/28, a Bumble-Bee, race-worn Challenger, a rev-me-red SS Chevelle with injector stacks punched through the hood, a 1970 weathered-bronze 360 Ram Air AMX and a modified Buick GS Skylark with cross-ram Holleys, also punched through the hood.

It was great seeing my buddy Tony LaPolla and his wicked ’49 Studebaker Commander that he has lovingly transformed into a 1960s-style gasser cleverly named “Stude-A-Shaker.”  But where’s the beautiful GTO I thought, as I grabbed my camera and said Hi to Tony. Then I spotted it. It was being off-loaded from a farm truck and it, was on a leash. Now where I come from GTOs have four wheels, not four feet. I had been had.

The furry goat’s name was Rocky and his polite and photogenic handlers were young twins who live on their family’s nearby ranch. Without me asking, they gathered together with Rocky and posed for a picture. I began to notice that there were more youngsters at this rural gathering than I have seen at the bigger city events.


As I was thinking about this young-with-the-old vibe, two modern aerodynamic machines joined the parking lot lineup of classics – a ‘17 McLaren 570 GT and a supercharged ‘18 Lotus Evora 400. OK, I’m guessing these guys must have driven up from the LA area but turns out they were just two donut and speed-loving locals.

Since I was running late for an appointment back in Solvang I quickly grabbed shots of other noteworthy machines that had caught my eye. There was a beautifully upholstered, Candy-Tangerine ’57 Chevy, a plain-as-vanilla ’51 Plymouth Cambridge two-door, an arrest-me-red dune buggy, a mildly modified ’58 Chevy Apache pickup, a low-riding ’61 T-Bird and a ’74 T-Top Corvette sporting a plate that read UCIMBAD. Duly noted.ORCUTT DERELICTS: DONUT RUN CAR MEET 

With my appointment looming I hurried back towards my car but noticed that my path was now blocked by two of the Orcutt Derelicts and two canine sentinels. Stopped where I was, I asked the gents how they were enjoying the Donut Run meet-up. They just chuckled, seeming to enjoy my halted progress. Mind if I take your picture I asked, at which point the brawny brown man-eater approached me and started sniffing my pant leg. Finally, the man at the end of the carnivore’s leash spoke up: “Don’t worry, he’s as friendly as that GOAT you photographed earlier this morning.” Turns out everybody and every critter at this unpretentious and fun gathering was friendly and there for the same reason I was: The cars. It’s always the cars…and the people!


Whenever you’re in the Santa Maria/Orcutt, CA area, check out the mouth-watering donuts at,