Friday, 30 May 2014

An evening with Gene Winfield

In October 2013 I was invited to a dinner at a local Hotel where Gene Winfield was to be giving a talk, the evening was hosted by Texas Smith long time friend of Gene Winfield.

Both men are legends in their fields, Gene Winfield is as you know one of the greatest custom car builders in the world, Tex has made his contribution to the scene as a Journalist, Editor and Publisher.
I had met Gene once before whilst covering Mooneyes HRCS in Yokohama for a local magazine and was immediately impressed by his character, he makes you feel as if you have known him for years, no pretensions just honesty and humility, Tex is the same affable and easy going, and boy can both men tell a story, they are old school gentlemen, a dying breed.

I had invited a friend Custom Culture Artist Aran de Baron along to the dinner, chiefly because he was doing a banner for the GNRS that was to include one of Genes Cars and he needed to clear up a few points, as we walked into the Hotel I ran into Texas's lovely wife Trish, I introduced Aran then Trish asked where we were sitting, my reply was we've just arrived we have not found seats yet, Trish replied great come and sit with us, man we nearly choked, we got to sit at the same table as Gene Winfield!

I love it when random stuff like that happens and blows your mind, anyway, I would like to thank Gene for giving of his time and his memories, and of course Tex for organising the shindig, It was one of the best nights I have spent in years listening to these two blokes discuss the custom car scene other builders and their experiences, dropping a few bombshells along the way.
Many thanks guy's for allowing me to publish this video, I hope you enjoy watching it as much as we enjoyed the evening. 

This video focused on Gene Winfield, understandably because he was the guest speaker, so most of the discussion was about the cars that Gene built.
I would like to say a little bit more about Tex's car the XR6, as stated in the movie Tex built the chassis and the body fabrication was first done by George Barris then after the Oakland Roadster Show the car was taken to Gene Winfield to have the body re-built in Aluminium.
The one thing that is not mentioned is the fact that this car was the first of the concept cars,
  1. A concept vehicle or show vehicle is a car made to showcase new styling and/or new technology. They are often shown at motor shows to gauge customer reaction to new and radical designs which may or may not be mass-produced. ... thus ushered in a genre of vehicles built by several of the great custom car builders, Winfield, Roth and Barris to name but a few, I think all lovers of custom cars have a spot in their hearts for the outrageous and innovative designs these guys produced.
  2. To me the contribution Tex made with the XR6 is overlooked and overshadowed by those that came after, the XR6 should be remembered as the first of it's kind for the custom world and even though in the movie it sounds as though the awarding of the AMBR Trophy was contrived I believe Al Slonaker and the Judges would have awarded the trophy because of the innovative design of the car.

The XR6 in it's final form

Thanks to Rik Hoving to, for the use of some images from his Archive for the movie.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Chopped Rod and Custom Show 2013, Rats, Customs, Bobbers, Choppers and Bands

Chopped Rod and Custom Show has become one of, if not the best Custom Culture show in Australia, thats my opinion anyhow, and struggle as I might I cannot think of a better show, since it started, oh about 7 years ago i think, it has grown every year to the point where there were something like 10, 000 people through the gates.

Hosted by the Eldorados Car Club of Newstead, in the Australian State of Victoria, Chopped is a No Billet! show for  pre 1964 cars and motorcycles, the strategy was simple it was a weekend show that would combine Rat Rods, Hot Rods, Custom Cars, Bobbers, Low Brow Art and Bands with camping, Beer and good times , Chopped was the first Australian show to pull this format off due mainly to the laid back attitude of the organisers.

From the very start Chopped was about fun, as long as you did not fuck up or do anything to stupid almost anything went. The first three shows were held at the Newstead football ground however the rapidly increasing number of attendees soon meant a larger venue needed to be found, fortunately less than a kilometer away was the virtually unused Newstead trotting track, An area of about 20 Acres with kitchen, toilet and shower facilities which by the way turned out to be inadequate, the local waste removal guy was running backward and forward all weekend emptying the septic tank, the was a never ending line of women waiting to use the loos.

But the Local group in charge of looking after the trotting track complex got moving and by the second year with improvements and some porta loos things improved immensely. The first year at at the new site saw an incredible increase in numbers, and with the extra space came more camping an outside bar area and band stand there was even room for a dirt drag strip, this was the start of something huge, from here Chopped went National!

Each year there are more people, more cars, more bikes, there is music pretty much constantly all weekend and the dirt drag strip runs non stop, a speedway track was added and is a great place for the Aces of Spades Vintage Speedway car Club to strut their stuff, and of course anyone else who cares to have a go, both the strip and the circle track are used by rods, and customs what a sight to see Altered's and Gassers running on dirt the to see low riders taking to the strip, you can't help but love it.

The music I must confess is not all to my liking but I am probably just outside of the upper limit of the demographic the bands are aimed at, having said that I can still get into some of it and after a few beers who cares! there are some great vendor stalls and good but pricy food available. Then there are the people a never ending parade of characters passes you by if you take the time to sit and people watch, one of Chopped strengths is the wide range of people it attracts.

What more can I say if you ever get the opportunity to go to Chopped seize it, you won't be disappointed, immerse yourself in the Festival that is chopped a show like this is a rare treat, tim to let the Images do the talking, Check out the video and slide shows below to get an idea of the evolution of Chopped.

Chopped Rod and Custom  2009

Chopped Rod and Custom 2012

Chopped Rod and Custom 2013


Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Busy as a one armed fiddler, editing movies

At Last

 I can now load up the Miss Camperdown Cruise  2013 Video, I hope you enjoy it.

Lately i've been busy editing movies trying to clear the decks before I leave for a three month trip to Europe and the UK with my wife, Lee has been looking forward to this trip since we we first got married, but you know how it is raising a family and putting a roof over your head takes a long time, but at last the end is in sight. Our son has left home and is making his own way in life and our daughter is studying at University.

Before we go I need to catch up and get all ( he says wishfully) the outstanding jobs done, this weekend I have been working on a movie that I shot for a friend, Miss Ruby Rabbt, who organises Vintage Pin Up Competitions, I shot the video in October last year, it's not that I have just started editing it, I started months ago, however I have to admit that the editing has proved difficult.

Problem is that the lighting was not set up with shooting video in mind, add to that the fact that I had not been involved in the set up so did not know what was happening when or where and you can start to see the problem. two previous attempts had to be dropped and to be honest there were times I felt defeated, the only solution was to lock myself in the office and give it my best shot.

As often happens commitment and a degree of hard work paid off, Ruby's video is done all bar the list of credits, I am waiting on her to send me the list, I don't want to leave anybody out or spell their names wrong, so dear readers with a bit of luck you will be seeing the fruits of my labour in the not to distant future.

I have two others that need doing, one is a video of a local get together, called Chopped Rod and Custom Show, the weekend long get together features Customs, Hot Rods Rats and Bobbers combined with Bands, Dirt Drags a speedway track and Beer for the most part. I will be adding a little surprise to this video, I was lucky enough to be invited to a dinner with Le Roi Texas Smith and Gene Winfield, my wife was working that night so I asked my good friend Aran de Baron to come along, luckily I decided to take my camera as the repartee between these two old friends was a privilege to witness both men are eloquent and entertaining speakers but to see them working off each other was a treat.

As we walk into the bar we meet Tex's wife Trish, I have known Tex and Trish for a few years now so we say G'day, I introduce Aran and Trish asks were are you guy's sitting as we had just walked in we were not sitting anywhere, so Trish says come and sit with us, our jaws simultaneously hit the floor!  Aran and I were invited to sit at their table with Gene and Tex, an absolute honour.

I had met Gene once before at Mooneyes Yokohama in 201, we had only spoken briefly, but I was flattered and amazed that on two occasions later that night Gene had sought me out and joked and talked with me, it was great meeting him again and hearing him speak, I have found Gene and indeed Tex to be absolute gentlemen and with no pretensions, so please keep up with this blog I am sure you will enjoy the video.

At last the Miss Camperdown Cruise 2013 video is done and live on youtube. I hope you enjoy it.
For some reason Google+ will not let me load this movie directly from youtube, so until I sort out why, you will have to use the link, sorry!

                       Glamour Hits Camperdown, 2013 Miss Camperdown Cruise


Friday, 2 May 2014

Flake and Graphics, an Artistic Collaboration

In September 2013 a very good friend and fabulous custom painter Steve May from Lizard Designs felt that the paint job on his 1964 Falcon sedan needed a freshen up.  A year or so earlier Steve had closed up his shop and has been working from home since then, not a real problem when he does custom paint jobs for bikes, he has a small shed for that. Painting a car is another matter, he somehow manages to turn out wicked paint jobs in his back yard quicker than most guy's can do one in a paint shop.

Inspired by a trip Steve and I took to Mooneyes Yokohama in 2011, Steve has gotten into the Larry Watson style of painting his 1968 Cadillac is an example of what he can do even though it was done in the open it is a real head turner, if you doubt it just follow him on a cruise through Melbourne, people in bars get up to watch it drive past it's a scream to see.

Getting back to the original story, the Falcon re-spray. Steve thought the car needed something out of left field, why not combine silver metal flake, panels and candy fades with comic graphics. Steve knew just the Artist, he contacted a mutual friend up and coming Australian Kustom Komic Graphic Artist Aran de Baron for the job  Steve explained his vision to Aran, then let Aran get his designs together, while he set about laying down the silver metal flake for the base.
The first Panels to receive Aran's attention were the C pillars followed by the bonnet and then the boot lid (trunk). I was only able to get to Steve's place for the art work on the bonnet unfortunately. Aran tried out one of the new Sharpie pens for the line work, the finish produced by the pens is incredible, looks just like paint.

My part in all this was to document the collaboration between these two artists, (incidently Steve May is also a portrait painter of considerable talent, exhibiting at exhibitions throughout Australia) which I have done through Photos and of course a short video entitled Falcon Art, Flake and Graphics, an Artistic Collaboration, it was an honour and a pleasure to be invited to take part in this venture, as far as we know this type of paint scheme is a first in Australia, once the graphics were laid down a couple of weeks passed before Steve cleared and polished the flake and graphics, then laid the candy and panels over the car resulting in a stunning work of automotive Art.

Below are some examples of work by Steve May and Aran de Baron, Steve works in Oil on Canvas Aran in pen and ink, if you like what you see give these guy's a call, at least check out their web sites they are doing some truly inspirational stuff.