Thursday, March 30, 2006

Hot Rods Need To Be Reinvented!

It was a great idea in the 1950s when guys began building hot rods. They were bored, wanted cars that would go faster and desired something with a cool, new look. In the 1960’s, hot rods took a turn toward futuristic design with bubble tops and gimmicks.

It was the late 1970s that hot rods again changed, builders wanted cars that handled better and took advantage of the technology of the day. Jaguar independent rearends, power windows and late model drivetrains found their way under the bodies of the 1920s and 1930s. It was thought that these cars could get no better.

As the 1980s dawned, innovative thinkers reinvented the hot rod again, the “Vern Luce Coupe” and the “Jamie Musselman Roadster” dramatically changed hot rods forever! These two hand-built hot rods utilized aerospace machining technology and artistic vision to create what is considered commonplace today. These were the hot rods that introduced billet wheels, billet components, smooth style and laid-back grills and windshields.

The 1990s saw this style of hot rod refined and developed virtually every way possible. It was a fantastic time for hot rodders as imagination, innovation and opportunity loomed around every shop. As the Millennium grew closer so did the anticipation that a new era in hot rodding would dawn. Who would usher in the next era? What new style would some innovative hot rodder develop?

Just like the ballyhooed Y2K scare, nothing happened! It is now 2006 and still no new innovative look has emerged. The cars that win Riddler and the GNRS all would look virtually the same if painted white. The smooth look sans door handles and flush mounted everything is now overdone. The only new look in hot rods has been rat rods. I love rat rods and have been happy to see this trend grow, but it is the restoration of a 1950s look.

Sure, I see cars that I really like and I see parts or small details that scream with innovation. What I don’t see, is a fresh new look, an overall design that changes how everyone imagines building a hot rod. Maybe it is the intimidation of the high six-figure cars that scares away anyone from trying. It could be that anyone who cares enough is looking to retirement and, hot rods are becoming a dying breed.

Will hot rods be replaced with the next generations interest in muscle cars? That is where the money is being spent, just look at Alan Johnson’s latest project, a 1971 Plymouth Cuda that has raised the bar and the standard for muscle cars or street machines, as you like. Nothing like that has found its way from a shop wearing a hot rod skin. It could be an evolution that will dawn, not the revolution of style.

The time is now for hot rod builders to take a forward looking eye at what they build. Hot rods have become a big business and any good businessman knows that products trend and that your next product better be new and improved!

See More Photos and read about the Alan Johnson built Cuda:

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Hot Rods by Boyd 10.5 Years Ago

A little over ten years ago my days were filled with attorneys, accountants and tons of billet aluminum. It was 1995 and I had just achieved a tremendous goal, taking Hot Rods by Boyd and Boyds Wheels public!

I was the guy behind the scenes; Boyd Coddington’s business partner and President of both companys. Just six years earlier, I had joined a small but creative hot rod shop and now we were listed on NASDAQ. You have heard the saying, “These are the best of times and the worst of times.”. That pretty much sums up my last year with Boyds.

PHOTO: Boyd Coddington and Brad Fanshaw on Wall Street the day of Boyds I.P.O. 1995

The best of times are so endless, that I cannot even list them all, but here are some highlights:
• Leading the creative marketing and a team that crafted some of the finest hot rods and innovative wheels ever built!
• Working with Harry Hibler (Hot Rod Magazine’s Publisher) and Gray Baskerville (Hot Rod Magazine Legend)
• An assembly of the finest employees and friends to work with; such as all of the Swedes like Larry, Karl, Andy, Pele and Johnny, Keith Russell and Greg Morrell (Painters Extraordinary), Jesse James, Chip Foose and Lil’ John Buttera. Yeah it was quite a team!
• The planning and completion of the I.P.O.
• Having a job that was all about cars!

Instead of going into the worst parts, I’ll leave it on the positive side. The people, the cars and the projects are what made Boyds the incredible company it was. When I resigned and sold my stock in the company, I thought that I was out of hot rod and wheel business forever. If you love cars, I mean really love cars you can’t just walk away.

Many things happen in ten years and it was 1996 that I was starting a new part of my automotive life, that is when bonspeed was born. Born under the name Bonneville Sports and later the Bon was combined with Speed; “bonspeed”. This blog represents a new era and it is a great way to begin the next ten years.

That brings me back to a question, where were you? Leave your comments about where you were ten years ago and what you drove.

Top photo:
Boyd and I proudly showing off the newest creation from Hot Rods by Boyd. The Larry Erickson designed “Smoothster”, a hot rod that set new standards. With us is the team of craftsman who made the cars from Hot Rods by Boyd reality. Look just behind me and you will see Chip Foose, he had just recently been hired to sketch the hot rods.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Car Collectors Need More Room!

The wish for a larger garage is never satisfied, no matter how many square feet. We all could use just a little bit more room. You have most likely seen the guy in a magazine with a huge car collection that sits in a 25,000 square foot warehouse. Undoubtedly, he has said at least once, “I could use a little more room.”

Now, I do not have a garage that is anywhere near 25,000 square feet, but I feel quite lucky to have a sizable garage. By Orange County, California standards, I have a huge garage. Mine is 1500 square feet and that does not include the garage where my wife parks her car. I actually should say, where she previously parked her car, before, I installed the car lift and stored another three vehicles in her space.

There was a time when the family room or den was the guys domain, now for car guys it’s the garage. Today, some garages have cable or satellite TV, phones, internet, heat and A/C. The days of impressing your friends by having the old refrigerator filled with beer in the garage are past.

Organizing a garage is also a big deal and having the best hardware is essential. Everyones needs are different but some items are just “Must Haves”! Here are a few things that anyone could use in their garage.

Cord or Air Hose Hanger:
If you still have an old Cragar SS hanging on the wall with an extension cord or air hose wrapped around it, tear it down. Fabricated aluminum hangers that look cool and hold your cords and hoses tangle free are now available.

Flashlight Bracket:
Everybody has a flashlight, the problem is you can never find it when you need it. The darn thing has rolled under the car or it is hidden in plain sight. Time to hang it up on the wall with another of those handy yet simple aluminum mounts.

Reproduction Posters:
Vintage posters are also great items to cover those walls. Today, so many enthusiasts want to remember the past that a huge variety of reproductions are available.

We will never have enough room, enough time or enough money. We can have a better looking and better organized garage.

Garage Gear:
Retro Posters:

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

bonspeed Turns Up the Bass

The bonspeed studio designs and builds trend-setting cars, clothing, watches and accessories. Recently, we also designed some innovative Yamaha guitars!

Michael Anthony, the bass player of the legendary rock group Van Halen is also one of bonspeeds owners. Because Michael and everyone at bonspeed have a love of hot rods and rock-n-roll the graphic ideas came easily!

Designed at the bonspeed studio each bass was crafted at Yamaha’s custom shop in Hollywood, by John Gaudesi. Each guitar began with one of Michael’s signature models. John at Yamaha put hours into each guitar to ensure that the graphics stayed true to our designs.

Here is the scoop on each Yamaha bass (Left to Right):

bonspeed “Black Rose” Bass
This Yamaha bass has a gloss Black base paint and Pearl Black graphics that match the hood of the “Black Rose” Mustang GT concept car. The graphics are positioned on the head and the body has bonspeed in red. This guitar was given to the lucky winning bidder of the bonspeed “Black Rose” at the recent Barrett-Jackson auction. Michael was on-hand to autograph the guitar!

• “Speed Cult” Sunfire Bass (Shown with Michael Anthony)
Painted to match the gargoyle graphics on the GM concept car, built by bonspeed this bass is painted a bright “Road Stripe” Yellow. This guitar was given to the winning bidder of the bonspeed “Speed Cult” Sunfire at the recent Barrett-Jackson auction. Michael was on-hand to autograph the guitar!

• “banshee F-150” bonspeed Logo “b” Guitar
The bonspeed supertruck came complete with its own matching guitar as well! The dark Currant colored bass has the bonspeed “b” graphically angled across the Yamaha body. The new owner of the bonspeed Ford F-150 also had Michael lay some ink down on his new bass.

• Ford GT40 Gulf Bass (Center)
the team at bonspeed also designed this bass that pays tribute to the famous Gulf Oil sponsored, Ford GT40 race cars. Michael took delivery of a new 2005 Ford GT and it was displayed at SEMA with 20” bonspeed wheels. Custom wheels were not enough, so we designed this bass to display with his new car.

Michael will play this Yamaha bass on-stage when he tours this summer with Sammy Hagar. Visit Michael’s, Mad Anthony Cafe website for tour dates!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Our Muscle Cars Cruised The Streets!

Are there any real cruise nights anymore? Not the fairground cruises that Goodguys and NSRA promote. Those overly structured, local parking lot gatherings do not count either. What I am seeking is a place where every week, on a given day, street machines, muscle cars, hot rods and barely street legal race cars just know where to go and when to be there.

No glossy advertising, monthly magazines or even a flyer, you just know. That is how it was on Van Nuys Boulevard, or Central Avenue in Phoenix, Arizona and even one of my stomping grounds Dodge Street in Omaha, Nebraska.

Towns big and small around the country all had a local cruise night. Some cities had numerous cruise night locations! It was just a known fact that places like these existed. They were unorganized bastions of youth rebellion where your shouts were made with Hooker headers and screeching tires.

Like I said, Dodge Street in Omaha, Nebraska was where I learned the ways of real car cruising. Every Friday and Saturday night, from the first night in April (above 45 degrees) until late Fall, we gathered on Dodge. I learned quickly that parking was done in a hierarchal manner. Just pulling in anywhere could get you at best, leering stares, at worst a fight. On Dodge, it was Big O Tires, McDonalds, the Music Store and National Automotive. Sure there were other places to park but these were where “The Cars” parked and National Automotive was “The Show”.

During my second season of Dodge Street cruising, I was asked by a guy with a notable LS6 triple black 1971 Chevelle SS if I wanted to park at National? No need to ask twice, I was in the show!

That night, my 1967 Chevelle SS drove down Dodge with a newly found swagger. I pulled up to the driveway of National and inched my way into a parking space. The night was warm and humid the exhaust fumes just hung around and made the night air grey. The haze was no annoyance, this was the spirit of horsepower.

My Chevelle was ready for this night, the car was unmistakable with a bright Vega Orange paint job that sat in stark contrast to the Blue, Black and Red muscle cars of the day. The big block was bored .40 over, with an Holley 850 double-pumper, Hooker headers, a Powerglide with a high-stall converter, B&M shifter and 9” slicks wrapped around Corvette rally wheels. Ready, if someone wanted to meet at Abott Drive by the Airport for a late night street race.

Nothing worth mentioning happened that night. But, I can still remember seeing my car parked at National amongst the best cars on the street. Nowadays, that collection of cars would command millions at Barrett Jackson.

Cars like “ThunderColt” a Pearl White Mach 1 Mustang, a Black 1969 COPO Camaro, Hemi cars of all types, a flamed H.O. 455 Olds, the dual-quad Galaxy lightweight that ran pop-can Thrush glass packs. So many notable cars that were impressive then for their command of the street not the auction block.

I guess those days and those cruise nights are gone forever? Today, liability limits the parking lots and corporate-minded promoters organize the cruise. I’ll keep searching and if you know of a place that still exists, let me know. Maybe I will visit it sometime!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Barrett-Jackson Where bonspeed Sold Out!

Every January Barrett-Jackson plops a giant tent in the Arizona desert and sells some of the finest cars, trucks and motorcycles in the world. This year bonspeed brought five concept cars and Sammy Hagar's GT500 Shelby to the event.

It was hard to see these cars cross the auction block. Each represents hours of fabrication, our original ideas and the collective creative soul of the bonspeed crew. The cars included the 2004 bonspeed X-Type Jaguar, 2003 "Speed Cult" Pontiac Sunfire, 2004 bonspeed "Banshee" F 150, 2005 bonspeed "Black Rose" Mustang GT and the 2003 Saleen "bonspeed Edition" Thunderbird.

Sure we emptied the warehouse and refueled the bank account by selling these cars. Still it was difficult to see the cars drive away. in one case literally. The new owner of the F-150 drove his new purchase home, even after I advised against it. The bonspeed concepts are not just show cars they are one-off vehicles built for the factories and really represent part of american car culture and history. It was nice to know these enthusiasts bought our cars out of the 1500 or so at the event, but deep down I had hoped they would go to a museum or maybe a foreign country. Some place I could visit them regularly or that far off land where I would never again see them.

The F-150 buyers trip home, Phoenix to Palm Springs, it is just what the truck was built to do, however, I recommended, after you familiarize yourself with the GT motored six-speed road demon. I also directed him to the fiberglass front fascia and like all of the bonspeed concepts, it represented the only one in the world. A late night run across the desert might prove fatal to such a part!

Maybe I'm just an automotive parent who hates to see the kids leave or maybe deep down I wish they still had a place in my warehouse?

It was the Monday after Barrett-Jackson and the phone rang at the office, it was him! I wondered, what happened is my truck his truck wrecked? Worse, maybe it was something mechanical and he was stranded in some desert town and totally pissed at me. I picked up the phone and his cheery voice exclaimed something to the effect of, "What a truck! I got 18 miles to the gallon and it drove perfect, I love this thing.

I hope the other cars are appreciated and will be put to good use, I even hope to see them again some day. Now it is time to begin filling that warehouse again and we have already begun working on two new concept cars here at the bonspeed studios. When the time is right we will tell you about them here. We will design them, build them and some day sell them.

See the cars at: