Monday, November 8, 2010

The Times. A Bare Metal Merc. SEMA. Stuff.

It's been pretty exciting around the Studio lately... really.

Let's start with the recent stuff, and then we'll Tarrantino the whole thing, and travel backwards in time, and who knows... either we'll tie it all up neatly, or leave you scratching your head an thinking "what the heck just happened here?". To remain honest here, I'm willing to bet it all just doesn't matter, because we're gonna show you some killer stuff, throw some deals your way, and then set you free to enjoy your day as you see fit.

That settled, let's start with Monday. The mighty Merc project nailed a spot on the NY Times blog:

...which is a nice layer of frosting on the week, indeed. You see, the Merc has been in-progress for some time, being constructed by our good pal Zane and his crew over at Cotati Speed Shop. It was decided to drag the mean machine to SEMA, and we did it in style, bolting on a set of raw-milled HRE wheels, and setting up shop in the Ford display... just because.

The week grew better with the release of the Gold Rush Rally DVD, a pet project of the Merc's owner, and to say that it's outstanding would be an extreme understatement... take a quick peek for yourself:

You can pre-order this amazing cinematic barnstormer here:

Moving along, we had a couple of other rides at SEMA, from the C2ZR1:

... and the Street Rodder Magazine Road Tour Car:

... among other stuff, and, well, here's hoping you checked them out if you were there.

Let's see... Oh... how about this:

Are you a subscriber to our e-Newsletter yet? No? You'll want to be. You see, from now until the 15th of December, we're going to throw some SERIOUS deals out there for you to make Holiday shopping a breeze. Hell, we're even going to give a ton of stuff away. All you need is a subscription to the Newsletter (you can do that in a few easy steps HERE), and the ability to read and click some links. It'll be that easy. Win art, prints, skate decks, books... and get screaming deals on all of the above, too. We're givers.

Poke in soon for the new site, more art, and who the Hell knows what else. More soon...

Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Carbon Bootprint on Your Behind

Our pal Max over at Bio Kustumz posted a video and question about eco-friendly cars today on his Facebook page, inquiring as to just why they're all so damned ugly... This naturally spurred me to dig out an old piece I drew up for a Super Chevy Tri-Five special a couple of years ago. Yeah, it'd be pricey... and certainly not for the non-techie rodders, but a sampling of the technology would blow the roof off of the SEMA Show, and lay waste to those homely hipster movers and Blade Runner refugees that car makers think we want. Hell, work some tuning magic and build a 1-G, 10-second, 30 MPG boulevard bruiser using off-the-shelf parts... NOW!!

Growing up, the first magazine I had a subscription to was Super Chevy, and it fueled many a dream car in my imagination, most notably tri-fives! Obviously, I’m stoked to share my vision of an alternate take on the Projext X theme (which, ironically, is the cover car!) with some very modern and traditional ideas thrown in for some ’56 Chevy stew...

What I have is a take on a Project X-like ride…. After seeing so many G-Machines in the dream Car pages of different magazines, I thought “how about the kind of car that got most of us into this in the first place…. a bad street machine?”

Let’s REALLY play up the “Dream Car” aspect, and use some emerging and existing technology to create a technological wonder. Our fictional 1956 Chevy 2-door sedan will be named “Project W”. It’ll run a 409-based W-block, all aluminum, blown and injected, running E-85. The idea is an environmentally-friendly, rocket-like street machine with killer looks.
The techno-fun kicks in with a CVT (Continuous Variable Transmission), which’ll keep us right in the powerband, in a state of almost constant acceleration. Off the line, we’ll be assisted by a pair of electric wheel hub motors, which’ll provide some extra torque off the line, and re-charge on braking.

Retro touches, certainly… it’s a nod to the Project X, but a very modern, extremely engineered piece… Sitting on a full tube frame, the body is angle-channelled over the rails to exaggerate the rake, and runs full modern suspension. The look here is a drag strip refugee bred with an evil street car from the ’60′s, with pure attitude oozing from every pore. Removing the front bumper, pan and lower grille bar allows extreme lowering, and we’ll even knock out the vertical grille bars, just for kicks.

A light shave eliminates handles, locks and badging, and Carbon fiber doors have lost the vent windows, and a carbon fiber hood and deck lid keep the lightweight theme in check. Bright yellow paint hints at the Project X-like heritage, while the black two-tone shows that this eco-friendly bruiser has a darker side.

Chris Alston’s Chassisworks Varishock system up front, Eliminator 4-Link out back, with one of their Fab-9 housings swinging away. Big brakes are a must, and we’ll powder coat any exposed parts black to keep everything stealthy. behind the Billet Specialties custom-sized wheels. Why different fronts and rears? A nod to the gasser days, grasshopper. We’ll set this thing on some meaty M/T rollers out back, as we’ll need as much traction as we can find.

A full interior is a must, with power NOTHING… hey, this is a street machine first and foremost. Buckets, a floor shifter, and full gauges are all you need. We’ll keep the front windows operational, should any passengers get whiny and need “air”.

The spec sheet:
All-aluminum 409 W-block based, blown and injected, running E-85
Toroidal Continuous Variable Transmission (CVT)
(not only can we launch and stay right in the optimal powerband, but “shifts” would be imperceptible, there’s almost no power loss, and we gain fuel efficiency!)
Chris Alston’s Chassisworks FAB9 rear end
Each rear wheel is fitted with a regenerative braking electric wheel hub motor
(approx output is 100Kw, or about 100 HP per wheel)
Chris Alston’s Chassisworks Eliminator 4-Link
Wilwood 6-piston front calipers and 14″ rotors, rear braking via wheel hub motors
Chris Alston’s Chassisworks VariShock ShockWave’s, 4×2 A-Arm crossmember
Billet Specialties Altered front wheels (19″ one-off’s), and one-off Apex-G’s out back (20″) for a retro gasser look, on Mickey Thompson Sportsman S/R tires.
Shaved emblems, handles and locks,
Front bumper, pan, vertical and lower grille bars removed
Carbon fiber hood, front fenders, doors and deck lid
PPG yellow pearl and black two-tone
Vent windows removed
Lightweight materials replace factory dash and trim,
Full ‘cage,
Corbeau GTA low back buckets
Full Simpson harness system
Fire suppression system
Full AutoMeter gauges

Need more inspiration? Head on over to !

Grand Prix History

Autocourse 60 Years of World Championship Grand Prix Motor Racing
When you take into consideration the stories, technical advances, personalities, drama and everything else that makes Grand Prix and F-1 so incredibly dynamic, sixty years is a TON of history and excitement to pour into one book! And that, my friend, is precisely what this title from Icon Publishing does... and in grand style, pardon the pun.

If you've ever had even the slightest interest in Grand Prix or Formula One racing, this may be the hottest book to cross your path, and is certainly THE book we'd suggest that you buy, even if it's the only one you lay out your hard-earned cash for all year. It is, simply put, PACKED from cover to cover with incredible photography, incredible insight, and history that'll keep you turning pages.

Written by Alan Henry, the internationally respected motor racing correspondent (he has attended more than 500 World Championship races... and is one of the few journalists to have the inside line with some of the sport’s most powerful figures!), his first-hand knowledge and unique perspective combine to bring an unrivalled authority to this magnificent history. Right off of the line, we're treated to a great, perspective-setting forward by Bernie Ecclestone, considered to be THE authority on Formula One racing, and his quick look back on the sport, and his involvement over the past sixty years. He sets the tone, inviting readers to not only learn more about the history, but to take part in the traditions that make it so unique. At this point, you realize that this isn't just a bound collection of pretty photos to be flipped through... No, we're going to settle in and experience it all.

As I sat down to explore this title, I found myself losing hours on end absorbing some rich history... It's as though you're brought into each era and thrust trackside (and occasionally into the cockpit!), and led deeper into not only the races, but the men who braved the early machines, and paved the way for future generations to follow. I decided then and there to not simply spew out some quick look at this remarkable volume, but to start with a brief peek under the hood, and to explore the book over a few installments. Not only will this do a bit more justice to the work, but it'll help to spread out my excitement for this title... Hopefully you'll feel the same, and continue to look in as we dive deeper over the next few entries!

Beyond the superb quality of the book (it's a hefty book indeed, printed on high-quality paper, with a very comfortable text size with great contrast for easy reading), the first thing that strikes the reader is the amount of photography, and the great quality of those photos. Superb, crisp images leap from the book, and capture the essence of vintage motor racing... It was a dirty, dangerous sport in which to be involved, an those early photos capture the glory as it was back then: Filthy, tense, and hard-won. Couple the images with brilliantly composed and chosen sidebars, and you'll learn more about the sport and its founding fathers in a few pages than you ever thought possible. Whenever available, these side tales are told by the men who lived the moment, and their voices seem to linger long after you've flipped the page.

If you're unfamiliar with Autocourse, it began as a quarterly review of motorsport in 1951, turning to an annual format in 1959. It is THE source for race coverage, statistics, facts, figures and insight (the results section has lap charts, time sheets, practice and qualifying data, and chassis log books), and the back issues are highly-prized collector's items (so start trolling yard sales, used book shops and more!). And that kind of attention to detail and immersion in the sport shines through in this historical documentation.

The pre-war section (where it all gets rolling, so to speak) is brief, but truly paints a picture describing the impact of these early racers, and the impact that the war had on everything, including motorsport. Moving on after the war, we're given all-access to the most exciting era, as Ferrari dominates, and British racing teams find their niche. Incredible sidebars featuring Auto Union, Jimmy Clark, Enzo Ferrari and more come together to make the excitement grow page after page.

The book then takes us on a whirlwind tour of the 2.5 Formula years, through Cosworths and turbos and more... It's simply brilliant from cover to cover. It's the ideal, one-stop source book for any motorsport artist, with great staged, action and candid photography, many of these photos are absolutely overstuffed with detail. In fact, I'd venture to say that the book is a must-have for the scale modeler seeking extreme detail... And when you're through looking at the subjects in the photos, spend a few days just getting lost in the backgrounds... it's layer after layer of historical reference material! Again, whenever I find a book that makes great reference material, I like to make it known to my fellow artists... and this is certinly one of those times!

Had enough yet? Hardly... the book just continues to pour it on! At the back of the book are season-by-season tables, compiling car, driver and race-by-race information, from 1951, clear through 2009. Add to that a list of World Champion drivers, an for the trivia buffs, how about a table listing the make and constructor of every World Champion car from 1958-2009? Wait'll you see this list... You'll gain a new appreciation for the term "dominance".

We'll continue this look, as stated earlier, over a few more entries... I hope you'll stick with us, and check it out... and that you'll scoop up your own copy when it hits the shelves. I think you'll be more than pleasantly surprised and entertained.

You can grab a copy of this book, and save some serious cash in our bookstore!


Autocourse 60 Years of World Championship Grand Prix Motor Racing
by Alan Henry
Hardcover, 400 Pages
ISBN: 9781905334568
Publisher: Icon Publishing Ltd.
Illustrations: 500 in color
Availability: October 1st 2010
($37.77 in our bookstore!)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Be the Highlander of Car Ownership

"Who wants to live forever?"

Freddy Mercury asked the question many moons ago, and my car stood up, and stated "by golly, that sounds like a grand idea." Yes, it can be done, using nothing more than simple common sense (which today is rarer than many of the parts I'd need if things kept breaking as the miles added up).

The latest Motorbooks Workshop release, How to Make Your Car Last Forever is the perfect addition to your workshop library if you're a working stiff like me, and a new car is but some fleeting thought each time a douchebag cuts you off, or runs a red in front of you.

I'm a fan of keeping what I have running, and over the years, I've tried it all... from basic maintenance and logic to dark garage voodoo, and all sorts of miracles in between... This book is a collection of simple tips and logical steps to makiing your vehicular investment pay off. After all, even the most die-hard hot rodder has a daily driver that gets them someplace to gather the scratch to make the bills go away, and that every-day car is what makes it all happen for a lot of us.

The book is written by Tom Torbjornsen, who is the creator and host of America's Car Show, which has been on radio airwaves since 1991. With over 35 years in the automotive industry and almost two decades in automotive talk radio, Tom makes learning about cars easy with his personal manner, his expert advice, and his high energy and entertaining style. He has the unique gift of simplifying the complex and demystifying the technical... and the book is a fun read, with some great rhythm and straightforward advice.

The book is certainly not the definitive, "only book your should own" kind of volume, but is certainly a welcome addition and great start for any aspiring driver seeking to make the most of his or her car, and I'd venture to say that it'd be a killer stocking stuffer this year. Couple this with a nice starter tool set, and you'll be loved.

The book comes out of the gate with a steady start, and introduces you to the world of maintenance, covering the basics, and when you should be performing these tasks. As stated above, good, simple advice. Next, we are walked through the basic vehicle systems, including engine, transmission and driveline, steering, wheels, tires, and into more intricate systems like iginition, fuel delivery and electrical. The basic trouble-shooting tips contained are worth the price of admission.

Next, we are walked through the very premise of the book, and taught some simple tips to make your car last "forever". From following maintenance schedules to exterior care and conditioning, you can be assured that your ride will look as good as it runs, and having a reliable car is a great way to start the morning, no doubt! Sure trumps a good cup of coffee.

As an added bonus, there's some GREAT discussion on buying a car, namely in regard to warranties. As a believer in the extended wrranty, I was nodding in agreement with the advice presented. There are so many options, and taking care at this point, and selecting the right warranty can put you thousands of dollars ahead over the next few years. (imagine having a transmission let go in 110-degree heat, while your 8-month pregnant wife is on her way to the doctor... been there, and was in a covered rental car a couple of hours later, with a new transmission a few days later after a small co-pay, versus retail cost plus labor)

The book wraps up neatly with some tips for the absent-minded or automotive sadists, and quickly reviews the ways to kill a car. Sound tips to avoid!

Again, a great field guide for your first-time car buyer/owner/driver, and certainly a great gift idea for the youngster on his or her way to that first set of wheels... Truly a conversation starter (and what's cooler than some bonding time in the garage?), and a great way to inspire your loved ones to take care of their cars, and give them the can-do attitude to head out in the garage, and do it themselves (or for you!).

You can grab a copy of this book, and save about 30% in our bookstore!

How to Make Your Car Last Forever
Avoid Expensive Repairs, Improve Fuel Economy, Understand Your Warranty, Save Money
by Thomas Torbjornsen
Illustrated. 176 pages (225 color photos, 76 drawings)
Motorbooks (Motorbooks Workshop)
($17.99 in our bookstore!)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Legendary Corvettes

Legendary Corvettes: Vettes Made Famous on Track and Screen is the latest title we've been fortunate to receive from the good folks at Motorbooks, and it's LOADED with amazing photos and great cars. Written by Randy Leffingwell, and featuring some absolutely stunning photography by Dave Wendt, this is certainly a must-have for any Corvette enthusiast. Whether you're a hard-core fanatic, a racing junkie, or just love anything Corvette, this volume definitely has something for everyone.

Featuring 130 color (plus 13 black and white) photos contained within the 176 beautifully laid-out (and high quality!) pages. The text is brilliant, the editorial loaded with facts, figures, odd trivia facts, and simply invaluable detail and reference shots...

The book studies eighteen of the most legendary Corvettes, beginning with the 1953 Corvette... and this chapter alone is packed with design trivia, historical notes, testing data, and even Zora Arkus-Duntov's sketches, detailing airflow issues. Moving on, the racing fans will be in 'glass heaven, with in-depth looks at the '56 SR Sebring, the 1957 XP-64 Super Sport, the 1960 Cunningham No. 3, Grand Sports, LeMans legends... It's an incredible collection indeed!

Perhaps your interest in Corvettes began in the '70's with Corvette Summer?

Gotcha covered, as well. And speaking of screen-starring Corvettes, how about a look at the 1960 Tasco Turquoise 'Vette... This chapter continues the information-packed theme, with some truly marvelous insight to the car and the show... Brilliant! It's got the drag racing fans in mind, as well, with Big John's 1967 BM/SP 'Vette... in gorgeous studio shots!

Perhaps you waited a bit longer to become enamored with America's supercar, or were born a bit later... have no fear, my friend. With a great section on the '88 Callaway Sledgehammer, you're going to find all sorts of interesting goodies! I say it often (when warranted), and this book is truly a great complement to any enthusiasts library, and one of those gems that you'll reach for again and again when researching a project, or creating some concept art.

If all of this weren't enough, the slip cover folds out to reveal a poster, as well! It's the 1956 SR Sebring Racer, and the image is striking!

Brilliant in concept, wonderfully executed, this is a volume that will certainly find its way from shelf to wide eyes time and again.

You can grab a copy of this book, and save about 30% in our bookstore!


Legendary Corvettes 'Vettes Made Famous on Track and Screen Randy Leffingwell, photos by Dave Wendt
Illustrated. 176 pp. (130 color, 13 black/white images)
($23.10 in our bookstore!)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Testing the Sick Seconds Camaro!

If you've been following along here, as well as on our official website (and Facebook Fan Page, too!), then you're no doubt familiar with Sick Seconds, the Drag Week project 1969 Camaro built and prepped by the talented folks at ProRides. It's been a long road for the orange machine, but it hit the strip this past weekend for some testing... and things are looking incredible.

On Saturday and Sunday,the crew ran shake down runs on the car and could not be happier (or, as Denny said, "we could be happier with about 3 more weeks to prepare for Hot Rod Drag Week.") Steve Roth said the car is reacting on the track much better than any of our expectations, and is going straight down the track. Granted, the crew still need to scale the chassis to enhance it more, but for straight-out-of-the-garage, it's looking amazing. The motor is on a mild tune, which made 1500+ horsepower at the flywheel at a recent dyno session. The car is limited to 16 lbs. of boost with the current pulley set up, and the plan is to take the engine up to 30 lbs. of boost and more RPM when in full Drag Week mode. The Camro turned a 7.99 1/4 mile ET at only 65% throttle and no tranny brake on the mild tune... which almost sounds frightening! With only 2 weekends left before Drag Week, the remaining goal is to turn up the power and have the car run consistent. Steve, Gary, Kevin, Denny and his father will be doing everything they can to make it happen. Stay tuned for more updates and here's hoping for a successful Hot Rod Drag Week!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Vette Week Begins!

Let's start it off with the grand debut of the C2ZR1 this past weekend at Corvettes at Carlisle. Just about ten months ago, Jeff over at Heartland Customs gave me a shout, and we threw ideas around for a car that we had both almost left for dead. (Rewind to the previous Summer, and there were rumblings afoot for a project that merged then-upcoming ZR1 running gear with a second-generation Vette, and Jeff had a notebook loaded with ideas and visions... and then, as happens with these things, life intervened, and the project fell dormant...) Back to last October... The project was back on, and Jeff was seeking the right client, and I was given the go-light to start drawing. Stoked? Oh heck yeah... With his attention to detail, this would be killer.

A few phone calls and emails later, I had created some artwork:

With literally dozens of subtle (and a few not-so-subtle) mods, the car went from timeless, iconic Chevrolet design statement to nasty, yet eerily-refined evil bruiser in a few short days:

Aside from the obvious technological advancements bein thrown at the car, it just had to have that over-the-top WOW-factor... and speaking of top, it was decided early on that this '64 was going to have a carbon fiber roof, no if's, and's or but's.
It's fiber-licious:

We'll show more on the car very soon... but wanted to throw a sneak peek at the incredible work of Jeff and his crew, and at the same time, give them a huge pat on the back for yet another job so well done, it just kinda makes us all giddy thinking of where they'll be in a few years. I've had the incredible honor of watching them turn out some amazing iron (and 'glass... this being our second 'Vette project together), and when you think about the excitement that their work brings... well... imagine it from my perspective. Front row seats are cool... but getting to add some color commentary? Better still.

Keep looking in this week for not only more on this great car, but for some exciting new Corvette reading material! Yup... we got some new books in, and will serve up some toasty-hot reviews and ordering info, too. Stay up-to-date on our site at