Going fast and big horsepower have never been my schtick. To me styling is everything. Cars like '32-'40 Fords are unquestionably objects of absolute beauty. But when I go to the Louisville NSRA Nats or the LA Roadster Swap Meet and see thousands of pre-war Fords, to me they are a blur of sameness. Beautiful, yes, but essentially the same. Been there, seen them. They are often Xeroxes to the 16th power of some car done back in the late 40's. Who cares if this one has a hand made calfskin honk baffle or platinum gritzial pivots? It seems everybody is reshuffling the same deck of cards, rehashing the same cars over and over. Please, show me some sign of imagination and originality.
I have a long memory and a short attention span. When I go to a car event or read a car mag I crave and search to see something that is different, yet at the same time looks "right". We've all seen cars that are different but look glaringly wrong for one reason or another. Like the fable of the KING's NEW CLOTHES, usually the owner/builder can't see the clumsy gaff. But show me a car, truck or bus that's "right" which I've never seen before and it gives me a thrill. The people who designed cars in the first place were gifted professionals and it's very easy to screw up their work.
Today's rod movement is concentrating on recreating the past with patina finish and period perfect hot rods. And at the exciting no bucks/young rodder end of the scale, the Rat Rod/Jalopy thing is exploding. That's all good as I love and savor all the neat old stuff tons more than I felt about the ill-fated "Pro Street" trend or bullshit in billet era of a few decades back. My personal orientation with rodding is looking forward to the year 2040, not looking back to 1940. It seems everybody is concentrating on hot rod history. What about possible future directions? I'm not talking about 28-inch diameter wheels, I'm talking about totally new cars, with new styling. I feel like a one man Captain Kirk of rodding, going where no man has gone before with some of my cars. The only problem is it can get lonely way out here on Neptune and beyond. When you're building a car that is not a classic and is so far removed from traditional street rods, you follow the path of your dream and suddenly realize you've distanced yourself from the masses.
When you go to create an entire car that is totally new and different, there is a high risk factor involved. What if the mainstream doesn't like it? Peer pressure has always been paramount in street rodding. Subconsciously people ask themselves, "If I buy/build this next project, will everyone approve of it and think it's (I'm) cool?" You have to be a charter member of the lunatic fringe to spend five + years of your life and way too many bucks to follow your dreams as I have. You have to have a passion for the project, and I'm totally passionate about the styling of certain classic coach builders of the thirties. So what would happen if you combined those incredible lines with a "right" hot rod treatment?
My life's quest is to find the best looking cars ever designed, and together with no money and a lot of perseverance, produce a classic that has been sliced and diced, hot rod style, that ends up looking "right". Retired top Chrysler exec and visionary Tom Gale told me he felt the best cars ever designed were from the mid and late 1930's. I could not agree with him more. I'm not the only guy to look toward the future with "deco-flavored" (if you'll pardon the plug). John D'Agostino's '41 Packard Darrin, Mike Hudson's orange Indiana-built Cord with fully enclosed and steering front pontoons and Roger O'Dell's Figoni, Falaschi & Stanford inspired black and gold fastback 4-fender skirt '39 Zephyr are three other examples of street rods with strong classic coach builder influence. Boyd's recent Marcel-bodied Delahaye-flavored car for Scotty Weeks and Posie's "Extremeliner" are two more totally scratch built cars that come to mind. They were on target, each was unique and they looked "right" for the most part. It took some serious cajones to build something that far removed from the mainstream. Five or six cars do not a "movement" make, but are signs that some guys are bold enough to break out and go in fresh, new (old) styling directions.