Camaro thoughts

November 28, 2011

Very often friends and family who know I own and drive a project 1967 Camaro question me about how the project’s going asking: what have I done lately, what will I do next, when will it be painted, and what will it be like when it’s finished.  I like talking cars so I always enjoy conversing what I’ve done and what I image it being but I also think I’d be fun to show what I’d like it to be rather than just relying on my verbal descriptions. If you’re interested I hope you enjoy the following. I will not be done for many years but it’s fun to bench build.

You can go many different ways and use various styles when building up a classic car. I like most things classic so I want my Camaro to look and feel very much like the 1960s from which it came. It doesn’t have to be strictly original but I’d like to keep my modifications mild and hidden. I’ll use a bit more freedom with modifications that were common to the era and period correct for gearheads of the day.

The main reason for this post is to show some colors.  It’s easier to show colors than to describe them, and color makes up a large part of how people image a car.

For a long time I was pretty set on fathom green as the color I’d paint the Camaro. It’s actually a 1969 color but I like it’s deep, dark look.  Although it’s not strictly original for my ‘67 it would still look period correct.

1969 fathom green

1969 fathom green with white hockey stick stripe

Recently, I’ve become interested in a couple other colors:  ’67 Tahoe turquoise

and ’68 Corvette bronze.  Originally I did not consider any reds or blues because I see so many other red and blue Camaros on the roads and at the shows. Also, I’m more interested in using something other than the same few colors used on the cars made today. The auto industry used a much wider color palate in the 60’s, and I wanted to take advantage of that with my ‘60s muscle. That is largely the reason I like the bronze.

Tahoe turquoise in sun with redline tires

Tahoe turquoise with black vinyl top and white bumblebee stripe

Tahoe turquoise as I would have it with black vinyl top and white bumblebee

1968 Corvette bronze in sun with redlines

Regardless of which of the above colors I ultimately choose I plan on using a white bumblebee stripe across the front.  Not only do I love the contrast of a dark color with white but the bumblebee is fairly unique to Camaros and very 1960s.

Nantucket blue with white bumblebee and correct 1967 grill and round parking lights. My Camaro currently has the grill and rectangular parking lights of the 1968 Camaro. I prefer these round lights.

Also, I’d like to install a black vinyl top (except if I use the bronze).  I like the two-tone styling it provides, and I like the contrast the textured vinyl has against the glossy finish of the paint. And, again, it’s fairly unique to ‘60s style.

1969 fathom green with black vinyl top

As I mentioned before, I like a good dark and light contrast.  So I plan on matching the deluxe parchment interior to the dark exterior.  This white interior is another reason for the previously mentioned white bumblebee stripe.  I think it’d be a nice way to draw the interior and exterior together as the white stripe highlights the white interior while looking in from outside the car.

Parchment interior with deluxe steering wheel I’d also use

Up to this point most of the work my dad and I have done to the car has been on the engine, and I have the engine looking just about how I’d like to keep it. It’s a Corvette 327 and it has that original Chevy small-block appearance. It has the beautiful, finned Corvette valve covers so it is clear it’s not the original engine, but a Corvette 327 swap would have been a modification done by original Camaro owners who wanted a little more horsepower.  I still have some changes I’d like to make to the engine but they are changes that would affect the appearance very little (such as upgrading to aftermarket roller rocker arms).

How a muscle car sounds is also incredibly important.  It’s one of the main characteristics that make driving classic cars a much more visceral and full sensory experience. Much more than just a way to get from A to B. I’d like to have my Camaro sounding similar to the following two cars. Both are ‘60s small-blocks fitted with headers, chambered exhaust and the famous Duntov 30-30 cam used on the race-breed Corvettes and Z/28s.  The cam provides the chop while the headers and chambered exhaust provide the throaty volume.

As for the wheels I’d like to use Pontiac Rallys like those I have on now (but in better condition). I have also considered American Racing Torq Thrusts which also provide a good ‘60s-modified look. I think I’ll keep using BFGoodrich Radial T/As because they’re a good and comfortable daily driver tire and I like the raised white lettering. I like redline tires but I don’t think I’d use them on a daily driver.

What do you guys think? Any ideas? What color do you like best?

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A few great car commercials

March 16, 2011

Recently there have been some great car commercials on television and I wanted to look back at some of my favorites listed here. I am not  interested in clever sales pitches, stunning visuals or feasts of strength (so common in truck and luxury car commercials). I am more interested in how the soul of the car is portrayed and in the relationships and experiences people have with their cars. (It also helps to be about an exciting car.)

I love the physical comedy/silent film style acting in this ad made great with the STAR WARS theme.

Just a fun commercial with a beautiful car.  Also, RIP Crown Victoria.

Possibly my favorite. This one brought me to my feet the first time I saw it.  It’s in homage to the Steve McQueen film Bullitt, probably the greatest car chase movie.  The 1968 Mustang GT McQueen used to chase two hitmen in a  1968 Charger R/T 440 to their fiery death was the inspiration for the Mustang’s new design. A special Bullitt Edition was later offered. McQueen’s image was taken from the movie chase which can be seen here.

And this is when the V-Series was just getting started. Check out the CTS-V coupe.

Another great. This Corvette commercial was pulled from television for its “dangerous” portrayal of children driving irresponsibly.  I believe that’s what makes it great. Children dream of driving passionate cars. (And always manuals- children don’t pretend to drive an automatic.)  This ad is so true to  the ideal driver-car relationship. Ford later made a similar ad with adult drivers- it was much less.

A car’s life flashes before its windshield and its the lives of its owners.

What ever happened to style? It’s a question I’ve asked myself many times. There was a time when style was just about everything in automotive design. I love the shots of the Chrysler Building which was designed using the automotive Art Deco style of the times.


Film music and… a costume? Really?

October 18, 2009

Last week, I got asked to play with the Golden State Pops Orchestra for their next concert. If it weren’t for the actual concert hall we sat in, I’d believe that I had been transported to a soundstage recording an orchestral tracking session for film/television!

Film composer/conductor Stu Philips (Battlestar Galactica, Knight Rider) conducted last week’s rehearsal in a downright old-timing New York attitude, experience-ridden, industry-worn way that reminded me of the great Leonard Bernstein’s down-to-business rehearsing/recording of West Side Story.

I miss it. The fast pace of rehearsal. The pressure, to play perfectly the second time the ensemble sight reads some tougher-than-classical film music. The professionalism of showing up and expecting to be on your game, in the moment, and never missing a beat (literally). The preparation that had been done before I got to my seat: bowings marked out by the principal player already, everyone in their seats, everyone stops playing as soon as the baton stops beating. Not a second to waste or a rhythm to miss.

Also conducting us is Jason Livesay, a wonderful APU alumnus, violinist, composer, conductor. Yep, he orchestrated the end titles for the new film, Astro Boy, which we will be performing. It stars the boy from August Rush, FYI. Simply gorgeous themes; pretty epic and inspiring. And here it is--for your enjoyment!

Astro Boy (John Ottman, composer; Jason Livesay, orchestrator)

Something else on the program that simply thrilled me: Though the new Star Trek movie returned to the music of the original series, I grew up with the ‘Next Generation’ shows and movies. As the orchestra started up the piece, I felt full of wonder hearing that melody that was so familiar every afternoon in front of Grandma’s TV after school!!!

Star Trek: First Contact

Here’s one I never got over. Terrified me as a kid. I even watched the X-Files show; only I switched channels every time during the opening titles.

The X-Files

And last but not least, a little class act from the early 90’s.

Knight Rider (Stu Philips)

We’re performing these exact pieces and more this Saturday, October 24. If you’re interested in the concert, there are student tickets for $15. More information and tickets here. Now I must go find a costume for this concert. They’re making us all dress up. (So HERE’S my question: what should I wear?!)


Five Honorable Movie Remakes

September 10, 2009

It seems we have moved into and era of film making that is highly practiced on remakes, recreations, sequels, and prequels.  For most of these, I am filled with frustration and disappointment at the second tries and uncreative recreations of older more original works, but I must also give credit for those who have successfully reinterpreted and refashioned classic works into something new, something great and something their own.   The remake of a previously great plot, idea or film can be a risky venture for filmmakers and I want to discuss a few successful and respectable triumphs in such ventures.

 The first is the reason for my writing this article at this particular time.  I recently saw Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, which is a loose recreation of The Dirty Dozen, and loved it.   Rather than being a complete remake it’s a fresh and uniquely beautiful blend of classic influences, and with this film Tarantino practices a new style of war film.

The first scene of the second chapter (early in the film) is a clear callout to the original Dirty Dozen while Tarantino’s love for Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns (especially The Good, the Bad and the Ugly) also clearly has its influence.   The spaghetti western influence was most prominent in the peculiar use of the score and the introduction of the characters.

 inglourios basterds

Another recent and successful remake is 3:10 to Yuma, a remake of the famous western of the same name starring Glenn Ford.  The reasons I feel this is a successful remake are quite different from those of Inglourious Basterds. 

What impressed me most on this remake is the  successful capture of the classic western feel achieved by the remake.  Its creators decided to remain true to the classic genre and stayed honest.  Watching the new film felt very much like watching a good old western.  This strict return to the classic themes and genre stands quite unique among other modern films and is refreshing to young and modern audiences.

 310 Yuma

Possibly one of the greatest remakes ever achieved is You’ve Got Mail, the 1998 remake of Jimmy Stewart’s 1940 The Shop Around the Corner.   The transition from a letter writing to an Internet and e-mail writing culture provided the perfect chance to retell an old story in a completely new light and setting.  The finished product is a charming and witty tale filled with literary reminders of simpler times.  Plus, it’s Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.

 shoparndcorner-9849

I must also mention the new Gone in Sixty Seconds.  This is a great action flick in a time of too few good car movies.  It also helps that it is the remake of a film originally made entirely by stunt drivers.  The original is fun thrill ride for car guys but offers little else for the general audience, as half the film is 45 minutes of some of the greatest driving and chase put on film (and that’s just one of the car chases).  The remake offers most of that driving excitement with the addition of a plot and some acting.  (Although, the new one may have the better car the original has the better car chase.)

 gonein60d

Also, as an honorable mention, I should mention Ocean’s Eleven.  Consider it mentioned.


Hatfield Buick part of Redlands culture

June 11, 2009

When I first heard of the economic troubles some of the major American automotive companies were having my first fear was the possibility of an America without those companies and their cars, each so vital to the American culture.  Now, following the filing of bankruptcy of GM those fears are being realized. 

Newspapers report GM is soon to be government owned, and will be reduced to just four companies (Chevy, Cadillac, Buick and GMC).  Also, dealerships all across the nation will not have their franchise agreements renewed for the next year affecting towns all across the U.S. 

Again one of my first fears concerning GM’s troubles has been realized. The Hatfield Buick dealership of my hometown Redlands, CA will not have its agreement renewed after 100 years of selling cars. It joined Buick in 1913 after Hatfield had been selling cars since 1909.  It’s the oldest Buick dealer in the U.S., probably the world.

1913 Buick

1913 Buick

Currently owned by the original Hatfield’s grandson, the dealership is trying to petition to GM for the renewal of the contract and the continued life of an important center to the city’s heritage and culture. If this fight is lost it will not only mean the loss of a place to buy a car and the cars themselves, but the city of Redlands (with its people) will lose a piece of itself.

1913 Buick

 For more information visit these links and savehatfieldbuick.com (to show your support).

ABC7 News

Redlands Daily Facts


My top black and whites

March 10, 2009

This post is in response to and in praise of Blaze Danielle’s post at http://blazedanielle.wordpress.com.

Here is my list of favorite black and white movies.  It is also meant to provide great films of introduction for those who don’t watch, are indifferent of, or don’t like black and white movies.  Try a few of these.  If you have seen them please comment; if not, watch them then comment.  The top ten counts down to my favorite.

 

Angels with Dirty Faces (1938)

Angels with Dirty Faces (1938)

 This is the gangster movie that made James Cagney.  It’s the story of a couple of friends, one grows up to be a priest and the other a gangster.  The ending is intense.

The Wind (1928)

This excellent silent drama proves the silent era was cut short just as it was reaching its pinnacle.  It’s easily one of the best silent films made and a great showcase for Gish’s tremendous talent.  She plays a young woman moving to Dust-Bowl-Depression-era Texas where she is haunted and being driven mad by a freakish sandstorm,  isolation and a stalker.  If you don’t mind spoilers check out these fantastic closing scenes.

Bringing Up Baby (1938)

Bringing Up Baby (1938)

This fast paced comedy helped define the slapstick genre.  It stars Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant.  The laughs come so fast and constant that during the first view you’ll miss half the jokes from laughing .
All About Eve (1950)

All About Eve (1950)

This is a hilariously witty comedy starring the great Bette Davis. It’s one of Davis’ finest performances, and that’s saying a lot.

Key Largo (1948)

Key Largo (1948)

I love this gangster movie starring Humphrey Bogart, Lauren BaCall and Edward G. Robinson (love them all) where a hurricane turns the tables on some gangsters who are holding a Florida hotel hostage.
The Big Sleep (1946)

The Big Sleep (1946)

Another great Bogart and BaCall.  This one is based on a classic Raymond Chandler LA noir novel.  If you haven’t seen a Bogart and BaCall try this one.  I will warn you the plot gets fairly twisted; but a lot of people like that.
The Philadelphia Story (1940)

The Philadelphia Story (1940)

A comedy of manners starring Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart.   Jimmy Stewart earned his only Oscar with this performance.  That’s enough for me.

The Night of the Hunter (1955)

This is an absolutely gorgeous black and white film which is like watching a child’s nightmare. Robert Mitchum’s a creepy, preacher-clad murderer stalking and hunting two siblings until he meets Lillian Gish’s wonderful character in a false prophet verses true prophet showdown. There are so many beautiful and memorable images in this film which makes excellent use of light and shadow.

Casablanca (1942)

Casablanca (1942)

This is just plain classic.  It’s so well made and acted in every area.  It has a great cast (even the smallest characters) including Peter Lorre, a favorite of mine.  I only wish he had more screen time.
It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

Love it.  It’s Frank Capra and Jimmy Stewart!  See it any time of the year.
Charlie Chaplin's City Lights

Charlie Chaplin's City Lights (1931)

This silent is hilarious and touching and spectacularly smooth flowing.  This is not only my favorite black and white movie by my favorite movie of all. Chaplin was the master.  Also, the final scene is easily one of the best scenes ever fillmed.  Again, see my earlier posts (See These Movies, An Eloquent Silence).

Politics and the Arts Czar

January 22, 2009

Receiving my latest edition of the American String Teachers Association newsletter, a headline read that a cabinet-level post for Arts and Humanities was gaining momentum. It pointed to an article in the Washington Post about the urge for this minister of culture and the potential for it with the ushering of a new president.

If there’s a theme I keep seeing, it’s simply put by Alex Ross’ blog (http://www.therestisnoise.com):

…art and politics have never mixed well on American soil. Anyone who favors a “Secretary of Culture” ought to read up on the political firestorm that consumed the WPA arts projects in the late 1930s. But symbolic gestures — recitals at the White House, attendance at concerts, and so forth — can send a strong signal.

Seeing some parallels? Economy of the ’30s. Economy of the… ’00s (I guess?) We know how well music and the arts did in the former, how will it do today?

I am hopeful of an administration that will support the arts, and advancing culture boosts good society (you’ve played Civilization 3 on PC, right?), all bolstered by the wonderful sight of John Williams’ piece for the inauguration, Air and Simple Gifts ushering in the new administration. The diversity (yikes, the D-word) of the performers was a good statement. This feels like a hopeful beginning to a more watchful eye for this side of culture.

Politics or not, Arts Secretary or not…

What do you see for the distant future?