Monday, May 14, 2007

a ROCKIN' salute to the golden age of show rod kits, and a special shout-out to www.showrods.com

Li'l Gypsy Wagon. 1972. AMT. Designed by John Bogosian (above)
Tijuana Taxi. 1969. Monogram. Designed by Tom Daniel (above)
Rommel's Rod. 1969. Monogram. Designed by Tom Daniel (above)
rare Paul Revere and the Raiders figures, from Raiders Coach. 1969. MPC.
Kit designed by George Barris (above)
side panel: Paul Revere and the Raiders' Raiders Coach. 1969 (above)
Monkeemobile. 1967. MPC. Designed by Dean Jeffries (above)
Astro-Vette. 1967. MPC. Designed by General Motors (above)
Sonny & Cher. 1967. AMT. Designed by George Barris (above)
Uncertain T. 1966. Monogram. Designed by Steve Scott (above)
Uncertain T. (1). Kit built by Don Valdiviezo, El Paso, TX (above)
photo courtesy www.showrods.com
Uncertain T. (2) Kit built by Anthony Warren, Portland, OR
photo courtesy www.showrods.com
Uncertain T. (3) Kit built by Don Valdiviezo, El Paso, TX (above)
photo courtesy www.showrods.com
Wild Dream and King "T". AMT. 1965. (above)
WD designed by Joe Wilhelm
KT designed by Don Tognotti
Surf Woody. 1965. AMT. Designed by George Barris (above)
Phone Booth. 1964. MPC. Designed by Carl Casper (above)
Mysterion.1964. Revell. Designed by Ed Roth (above)
Kit built by Paul Burke, Cotati, CA
photo courtesy www.showrods.com
Munster Koach. 1964. AMT. Designed by George Barris w. Tom Daniel (above)
'39 LaSalle Hearse. 1964. Aurora. designer unknown (above)
Tweedy Pie. 1963. Revell. Designed by Ed Roth (above)
XR6. 1963. AMT. Designed by Steve Swaja (above)
Ala Kart. 1963. AMT. Designed by George Barris (above)
Outlaw. 1962. Revell. Designed by Ed Roth (above)
Lincoln Futura. 1956. Revell. Designed by Ford Motor Company (above)
-
I was fortunate to have been a model-making young fella in the golden age of kits, roughly 1960 - 1972. I graduated high school (Englewood, NJ) in 1969, and immediately left for college in Northern California. As I noted in a recent blog, during Junior High School primarily, I built at least 50 - 60 kits, and displayed 'em all over my bedroom. Two of the greatest were Li'l Coffin and Orange Crate.
-
A designer friend posted on www.gigposters.com a link to www.showrods.com, created by Dave Rasmussen. It's an inspired site, chock full of amazing information about the hobby which consumed my young life for quite a number of years (particularly 1960 - 1965)--until Motown, the Beatles, surf-rock, and psychedelic rock fully took over center stage.
-
At www.showrods.com you'll see commentary on several hundred show rod kits, and see magnificent box art. Now, what is a show rod, exactly?
-
Dave posted the introduction to CLASSIC PLASTIC, a book written by Rick Polizzi--a pictorial, primarily, of the great models of the '50s, '60s, and '70s. Here's a snippet or two, which provides some of that explanation:
-
"The 1960s saw the pinnacle of one of America's most unusual native art forms. Flowing streamlined designs, radiant colors, and amazing craftsmanship blended together to develop a new concept . . . Show Cars.
-
"Show cars evolved from the custom car, which was basically a modified version of an existing vehicle. Early pioneers of auto customizing in the 1950s began changing and improving their wheels for speed, originality, and a cool look. During these times, cars were "chopped, tubbed, raked, and hopped-up." These basic customizing techniques continued to become more elaborate, until custom cars were being designed from scratch or by heavily converting existing vehicles into unbelievable designs. These cars were (mostly) meant to be looked at, not driven. The men who created them (George Barris, Ed Roth, etc.) were true artists, and their creations were true art. Show cars belong to the genre of sculpture, and for those of us who couldn't afford the originals, there were always the model kits."
-
I won't go into the entire history of show cars, show rods, and model kits because that's covered all so well at www.showrods.com. But it was because of the model kits that I learned about Daryl Starbird, Carl Casper, Bill Cushenberry, and Monogram's chief designer, Tom Daniel. And, it's how I picked up about the Oakland Grand National Show, because many of the winners yielded fantastic models, such as Orange Crate. The box art particularly blew me away--just as LP art would just a few years further on. I'd look at a box, and literally fall in love.Powerful stuff, art.
-
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Dave Rasmussen by e-mail. Here's part of his story:
-
PG At its peak, how many kits did you have?
-
DR To be clear, the collection you see on my web site did not start coming together until I was about 38 years old. In addition, I don't have 3/4 of those kits any more [editor's note: Dave sold many of the kits in order to acquire a '73 GTO, about which I'll blog next]. That having been said, there were 275 "show rods" as I defined them that ended up in my collection. When I sold off many of the kits to help fund my new passion, a few people on my discussion group (members) were saddened and hurt. Their sentiment was " . . . you have the only complete collection in the WORLD of these kits!" But I knew I'd never build them all and I really wanted my own first old muscle car to play with. So, I did it. There are times I regret it, but that's just my ODC kicking in.
-
PG What was the earliest-manufactured show rod kit in your collection? 1962?
-
DR I think if you look at the Lincoln Futura [shown above - later, the inspiration for the George Barris-built Batmobile] it might have been 1956. But, as I state on my site, I consider Ed Roth's Outlaw the "original" Show Rod and yes, that was 1962. There's always debate on whether a car in this genre is a "concept" car or a true "show" car. I don't worry about such things much since this is a hobby and I just put ones in that fit my ideas of what a "show rod" is.
-
PG What was the first kit you built? And when?
-
DR I'm not at all sure which was the first kit I built since my brother and I built WWII planes, ships, and armor as well as funny cars and dragsters. He even built the "Chinese Junk" back then. I don't know why I was attached to that model, but I went out and bought one a few years ago just in case I wanted to touch that old feeling again. Same thing with the "Attack Weasel." Those are the only two non-car kits I own as reminders that it was not just about cars back then for us.
-
Now, the kit that got me back into this madness (long after high school, college, jobs, marriage, kids) was the Li'l Coffin (1965 Monogram 50th Anniversary issue). A friend at work named Scotty Doyle was (and still is) a top-level aircraft model guy. I was talking to him about my old days of modeling a few times, so one day he comes into my office and hands me that kit with the (now) infamous sentence, "Here, perhaps this will get you back into models." I took it home, got some glue and built my first model in over 20 years. It lit me up beyond words. If he doesn't do that, we're probably not talking here and there would be no Show Rod Rally website.
-
PG Do you (did you) have a favorite? (Mine was Orange Crate).
-
DR My peak modeling years were 1968 - 1970. We collected and traded "Odd Rods" cards in grade school. LOVED them! There were a lot of muscle cars zooming around the streets but my favorites were the "Show Rods." My brother and I even went to the big show rod displays at State Fair Park (Milwaukee) in 1969- 1970. And at that time for show rod models, Tom Daniel was the man. The Cherry Bomb, Tijuana Taxi, Paddy Wagon, Beer Wagon, Pie Wagon--his kits were my favorites. Of all his designs, my favorite was Rommel's Rod, because it combined a cool car with military toughness, historical fantasy, and skeletons. The TV series "Rat Patrol" was a huge influence on that too.
-
PG How did you display them when you were first building 'em?
-
DR Living north of the Mason-Dixon line (Wisconsin), we were blessed with a basement. All model-building occurred on a small table down there. Dad built us two long shelves and mounted them on the basement wall where we could display our finished projects. When it got filled up, we "bombed" them with closepins from large rubber bands and other suitable methods of destruction. Others (friends?) used BB guns and firecrackers (groan). If we knew then . . .
-
PG What did your Mom and Dad have to say about your hobby?
-
DR They were supportive. They bought us models for Christmas and birthdays. My Dad played with crude cars and airplane wood models as a boy, so he saw this as a natural technological evolution of what boys should be doing as a leisure activity. Today, my parents seem amused and modestly pleased that I celebrate a big part of my youth in this fashion.
-
PG And your wife and daughters?
-
DR When I was heavy into collecting these kids, my daughters were pleased that their Dad still could be turned on by "toys" just as they presently were into their own "toy" experience. On the other hand, the wife was (not exactly totally) supportive as it was costing us about $4,000 a year for three years and diverting away some attention. Today my model and cool car influences have touched the family in positive, albeit costly ways. My 17-year old daughter loves the '99 Firebird I let her drive. It has T-tops, it's silver, and we added some neat red pinstriping and cool bird flame decals on the doors. My wife loves here '98 BMW Z3 roadster and really likes going with me on cruises and to classic car shows. And I'm teaching my 15-year old to drive "her" 1972 Chevelle SS clone. We're going to paint it her school colors (black w. gold stripes), put a ratchet shifter in it, and learn to bracket race against other high school kids and the police for Friday night "Beat the Heat" events at the dragstrip for the next three summers. In addition, our big annual event is the Route 66 Fest in Springfield. I've become a big Route 66 fan over the last five years and even got a Route 66 tattoo on my shoulder at last year's event (spouse-approved of course!).
-
PG What era of rock & roll did you grow up in?
-
DR Although it may sound strange, I grew up almost entirely on AM radio from 1964 - 1977 (WOKY the Mighty 92!! - Milwaukee). I had a Panasonic clock radio and put that hard little beige earpiece in at night an fell asleep listening to the Top 40 for years. Today, I have that same model clock radio on my desk quietly flipping the minutes away to remind me of that time. I listen to the oldies through Apple's iTunes radio and my own oldies collection of over 4,000 songs. But often in the car, I tune the dial back to WOKY and that hollow AM sound. My kids think it sounds awful. I think it sounds beautiful."
-
Be sure and tune in later this week to read about Dave's Rockin' Adventure Home in his newly-acquired '73 GTO. And, thanks Dave, for the commentary, the site, and the memories.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I've been surfing online more than 3 hours lately, but I never found any fascinating article like yours. It's lovely price sufficient for me.
In my opinion, if all webmasters and bloggers made excellent content material as you probably did, the net
will likely be much more helpful than ever before.
Also see my web site - diets that work for women

Anonymous said...

Its such as yοu геaԁ my mind!
Yοu appеar to know a lot appгoxіmately thiѕ, suсh as you wгotе the е boοk in іt or somethіng.

I belіeѵе thаt you just can
ԁo with somе р.c. to poωer the
message home a littlе bit, howeνer іnѕtead of that, thаt is excellent blog.
A great read. I'll certainly be back.

Here is my homepage ... www.Pmis.biz

Anonymous said...

So what can this all mean?

Also visit my homepage: the Flex belt Review