IF YOU HAVEN'T BUILT-UP A PRIVATE LIBRARY OF YOUR OWN YET, YOU'D BETTER GET STARTED !
One of the easiest ways to reference information, documentation, statistics, pictures, step-by-step build-ups, historical facts & figures, and almost anything you want, is to have, and update, a personal library.
I'VE COLLECTED & SAVED books an,d magazines since I was a kid back in the 50's, and it's always helpful and fun to lookup info on the builders, owners, designers, and, artists, that were involved in some of the neatest Rods & Customs ever put on this Planet.
That's the very first car mag I ever bought pictured above: the October, 1953 Issue of HONK ! with DON FERRARA's '49 Ford Custom on the cover, and awhile back I was trying to figure out some info on Buster Litton's '49 Ford because the January, 2010 Issue of Rod & Custom had a car done by Dave York of British Columbia, Canada, with a similar build.
AND THERE IT WAS ! In my December, 1953, Car Craft in "living black & white" !
Now, again, for Historians, this is the Issue that changed "HONK !" magazine into "CAR CRAFT"...it is the very first Issue of Car Craft. The story on Buster's Shoebox began on Page 28, and I was able to reference the Stude-Style front fenders & '51 Oldsmobile rear fenders on Buster's car to the great job done on the one in the January, 2010 R & C story.
WITH ALL OF THAT IN MIND, I thought it was necessary to dedicate a Special Page here on the Hall Of Fame Legends WebSite to give you an idea about some of the truly fantastic books on the Rod & Custom Industry and its' Legends that are available today. PLUS, Videos, DVD's / Blu-ray's, and other related material that's important. And, yes, I read & view each and every item I list, giving you my honest opinion of why I've selected them, and my assessment as to their importance.
SO, take your time, scroll down the Page, read the Reviews, and, I know you'll definitely find a few of these you'll need for YOUR Library!
________________________________________________________________________________________ "PRESTON TUCKER and HIS BATTLE to BUILD the CAR of TOMORROW", By Steve Lehto. Foreword by, Jay Leno. Chicago Review Press, Pub.
I RECENTLY RE-WATCHED ONE OF MY Favorite Classic Films: the Original Version of "King Kong" from 1933. I'm sure you've seen that "King Kong", or, one of the other versions of it. In it, Robert Armstrong plays "Carl Denham", a movie maker/producer that let's nothing stand in his way of making the picture he wants. He's able to convince almost anyone that he needs their help, and that they will benefit from doing what he asks. He always has the "vision" of what he wants to accomplish...but sometimes keeps part of that to himself, and, only divulges his "secrets" to a chosen few, and only when he feels it's time to do so.
That's exactly what Denham does in "King Kong": he rents the vessel to carry him and his crew, but doesn't give the Captain the info on where they're going until the ship is underway. And, doesn't tell his lead actress Fay Wray as "Ann Darrow" what she'll be up against until they reach their secret destination: "Skull Island". Of course we all know what happens after that...and Denham, always the visionary, then decides to bring Kong back to the U.S.A., figures he'll make millions of dollars billing Kong as his creation of "The 8th Wonder of the World". So he spares no-expense, spends money he really doesn't have and leases a theatre on Broadway in New York to exhibit Kong. We know how that turned out too. NOW, you're saying "So, what's that got to do with Preston Tucker ?". PLENTY !
PRESTON TUCKER LEAD AN extraordinary life, and Steve Letho's book works in chronological order to show how the man & his car are both important to our American history. To quote in-part from the book: "After World War II, the American automobile industry was reeling...having spent years building tanks and airplanes for the Army...the companies would need year's to retool to meet the demands of the American public...for they had not made cars since 1942." Well, they hadn't counted on Preston Tucker !
Tucker had been involved with cars since he was a kid. As he got older, this tall, handsome, always well-dressed with suit, tie, and, hat, salesman/promoter was, like Carl Denham, a dreamer; a visionary ! He'd been involved with racing cars at Indy, designed prototypes for the military, and, put together a team of designers, engineers, and, helpers, that he'd hired to launch a brand-new American automobile like none-seen before the "Tucker 48". Tucker, like Denham, wanted the best, and, again, many times, overpaid with money he didn't fully have, to get what he wanted.
THE LIST OF "STANDARD EQUIPMENT" ALONE, will show you how "far ahead" this wildly-creative new car was, based on Tucker's credo that it be built to be as safe as possible for its owner: a pop-out windshield in case of a head-on collision, disc brakes for safer stopping, a padded dash board, an automatic transmission, rear-engine with rear wheel drive, an independent suspension system...and, a "crash chamber" that a front seat passenger could dive-under and be safe in the event that they saw an accident was about to happen !
The book then details, the problems Tucker had with his financing/stock offer situation, the Government, the Securities & Exchange Commission, Detroit, and, later, the Dealers & Shareholders that had invested in his company...and how that all lead to Bankruptcy, Civil Suits, the demise of the company, and ultimately to Tucker himself.
I HAVE ALWAYS LOVED TUCKERS ! I saw a picture of one as a young boy, and my Dad, having worked as a machinist for the Wagner Electric Corporation here in St. Louis, Missouri, (one of the countries largest producers of brakes, brake fluid, brake parts, auto lights, seals, grommets, et al) for 36 years, told me that Tucker was stopped from producing this beautiful, space-ship styled automobile by the Big Three: General Motors, Ford, and, Chrysler. In other words...Detroit had killed the Tucker.
To me, the Tucker 48, was in the same category as two of my personal "Dream Cars": The Buick XP-300, and, the '39 Phantom Corsair. If someone would make me a loan, I'd love to have all three !
A few year's back, I was able to obtain a rare copy of Mechanix Illustrated from December, 1948, with Tom McCahill's front-page story "We Drive And Test The New Tucker Car". That's a scan of my personal copy shown here, and Tom's three-page story runs from Page 80-82. He shows the factory assembly line, the cars waiting to be built, finished Tuckers, and the one he drove, and says that it's one of the finest & safest new cars he's ever driven. Coming from "Uncle Tom" that's all any potential buyer would need to know ! But by then the "powers that be" had already made-up their minds...the Tucker 48 would not reach the masses that would buy it.
DUE TO HEAVY SMOKING ALL OF his life, Tucker was diagnosed with lung cancer. He decided that he would fight this battle as he had all the others, and began experimental treatments with a doctor from Michigan who later moved to Brazil. Tucker then began flying to Brazil in 1955 for his treatments, and decided to announce a new car that he had phenomenal designs for and would build. The South American-flavor of this new car would be evident in its name "The Carioca". It was as futuristic & beautiful as anything you'd ever see, and it ended-up on the December, 1955, Car Life magazine cover you see here.
Again, like Carl Denham when he went back to find the "Son of Kong", thinking he could, once more, have a great new feature to spellbind an audience...Tucker always had a dream & a vision about a new project for the future, and "The Carioca" was it. Sadly, the car would never be built, as Tucker passed-away from his illness on December 26, 1956, at the age of only 53, but he'd lived his life to the fullest...from start-to-finish.
IN "KING KONG", when he hears the comment from a policeman about Kong's death say "It was the planes that got him", Carl Denham states: "No. It was Beauty who Killed the Beast". To paraphrase Denham's words in regards to the "Tucker": "It wasn't Tucker's dream, and, lack of money that killed the "Tucker 48 ", it was the Government, the S.E.C., and, ultimately, the industry leaders in Detroit, that killed it." Just like my Dad told me all those years ago.
"Preston Tucker and His Battle to Build the Car of Tomorrow", by Steve Lehto, belongs in your Library. It is a thoroughly-written. documented, annotated, 284 Page book, with 24 Pages of rare photographs, many never seen before. Lehto also documents the whereabouts, ownership, condition, and/or what happened to, all of the 51 Tuckers that were built, and the "Tin Goose" itself. The book is simply fascinating. It's an "easy read" as the Chapters are compact but thorough, and, no matter if you're into Rods & Customs, or, love Classics, make sure you get your copy while they're still available ! (And remember: "Kong" may be watching !)
THE BEST NEWS IS that this book has a cool Foreword by Multi-Car Owner/Collector Jay Leno, and is published right here in the U.S.A. ! You can get it directly from the publisher Chicago Review Press at: http://www.chicagoreviewpress.com/ ,or, at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/
"GENE WINFIELD'S TV&MOVIE CARS, COMMERCIALS AND SPECIAL PROJECTS", By Nicholas K. Whitlow. Foreword by, Chip Foose. Winfield, Publishing Co. (2014)
GENE WINFIELD HAS BEEN building cars, racing cars, customizing cars, painting cars, designing cars, and, creating "one-off" show cars for over 70 years ! But, no matter how familiar you are with his name and legendary status in the Rod & Custom Industry, chances are you don't know about the many, many TV & Movie cars he's created, and the TV/Print Commercials/Ads he's been responsible for, or, the Special Projects he's been involved in. Well, this great book written by Nicholas K. Whitlow, finally sets the record straight !
Since 2006, Gene & I have been getting together on a regular basis when we're at the KKOA Leadsled, in Salina, Kansas, to do Interviews. Through the years we've covered stories on his first shop, his great customs, the Jade Idol, his racing history, his work with AMT and the Ford Custom Car Caravan, and many, many other parts of his long-standing R&C years. But, with the publishing of this unique book, you'll find out how this special TV & Movie part of his career began.
THE BOOK IS COMPRISED of seven chapters, and contains over 500 pictures...almost all from Gene's vast Archive & Collection. The story that details how he got his first job with the TV Studios by showing them his "Reactor" is a classic story all its own ! But it lead him to connections that contracted him to build "Star Trek's" "Galileo" (shown here), have the "Reactor" in "Star Trek", and, featured in an entire Episode (#93) of "Bewitched", and to working with Warner Brothers Pictures, futurist/designer Syd Mead, and, Director Ridley Scott, on what would become one of the most iconic, legendary, ground-breaking Sci-Fi films of all-time: "BLADE RUNNER"!
GENE'S BEHIND-THE-SCENES story and Info on building the Twenty-Five vehicles that were used in "Blade Runner", the schedules that had to be met, the problems that came up, the changes that were made after the vehicles were either finished, or, being built, the budget that he had to work with, the people he had to hire to work with him, the round-the-clock schedule that pushed he - and his staff - to almost the "breaking point", are all detailed here. Just this Section itself is worth buying this book for !
BUT, each-and-every chapter that's in this volume brings about a new respect for Gene, his craftsmanship, his remarkable attention to detail, and, his razor-sharp memories of every project he's ever been involved in ! You'll learn about Gene's work on TV's "Get Smart", The Man From U.N.C.L.E. & The Girl From U.N.C.L.E., and, "Batman". Movies that included "The Mechanic", "Sleeper", "Robocop", and, "Back To The Future II". Commercials & Special Projects that required unique, special vehicles, such as the "Cut-in-Half" '67 Chevy Impala, The AnyCar Vehicle, The Flying '57 Chevy, The AMT Piranha, The Sunoco Gasoline "Trailer-Towing Cougar", The Shelby Indy Turbine Cars. PLUS, Camaro Custom Accessories Parts, The STP Corporation Indy Racer, and, Models & Model Kits of the cars that Gene has built. Let's just say that this book is jam-packed with pix & info on Gene's projects during this very special part of his life !
IN ADDITION, Nicholas has a section devoted to where many of Gene's cars/projects were at the time the book was published in 2014...which is cool in-and-of itself.
"Gene Winfield's TV & Movie Cars, Commercials and Special Projects", By Nicholas K. Whitlow, with a Foreword by Chip Foose, is a 244 Page, Hard Cover Book, with over 500 Color, and, Black & White Photos. It's available directly from Gene Winfield, 8201 Sierra Hwy., Mojave, CA 93501...and it definitely belongs in your Library ! Think of Gene the next time you watch "Blade Runner" !!
SPECIAL NOTE: TO HEAR OUR July 27th, 2014, Interview, with Gene's personal stories about this remarkable book on building his "TV & Movie Cars", in his own words, just CLICK-ON-THIS-LINK and it will take you right there !
HERE'S A PIECE OF Trivia that you can astound your friends with: Due to its phenomenal popularity in the Video Rental Market from the time it was released on VHS Tapes, the Original 1982 "Blade Runner" movie was one of the very first films that was released in the, then-new, DVD Format in 1997 !
AND, with the 2017 release of "Blade Runner: 2049" in theaters, and, on Blu-ray + DVD + Digital, in 2018, the franchise has been re-booted, and the Original 1982 & Final Cut Versions (also available on Blu-ray + DVD + Digital) are more popular than ever...especially because some either didn't see the Original, or, want it back all-over again ! JK
("Galileo" photo courtesy of the Gene Winfield Collection; Original 1982 "Blade Runner" Poster, by John Alvin...with sincere thanks.)
"THE AMERICAN DINER", By Michael Karl Witzel. Crestline, Pub. (2006-2012)
YOU'VE BEEN WORKING HARD. You're very hungry. Well, you walk outside the building you work in, and there's a Food Truck just ready to serve you a fresh sandwich, maybe some veggies, fruits, and a bottle of pop ! Ahhh, now that's real service...and, at a reasonable price. The price was .05 Cents (FIVE CENTS).
NO, now this was not Connecticut, or Texas, or L.A. in 2017. It was Providence, Rhode Island, in 1872, and the man who began this once-again-popular-today "rolling eatery" was Walter Scott.
MICHAEL KARL WITZEL'S name should be familiar to all of you who visit the "Hot Off The Press" Page frequently. I've Reviewed a number of his books through the years. He's devoted his professional life to America's "Road Side" Culture, and this book is truly amazing in its scope & historical content.
The months & years that Witzel put into researching & documenting the information in this volume show on every page. As a young boy, he learned from his parents, Gabriele & Karl Witzel, the back-routes, the city establishments, the on-the-road trips...that all lead to a lifelong love of various eateries in any state he was in. AND, the evolution of the Diner is one that is easily-viewed by Witzel's photos, postcards, advertisement, menus, and many other forms that are attached to every page in the book !
Yes, some of the early-versions were horse-drawn carts as was the first-of-its kind created by Walter Scott. Later, the carts became attached to street corners, and other properties, on a semi-permanent basis...by that I mean the carts still had wheels, and if the owner decided to move his cart to another location, he'd be able to get it there easily. Then, many full-time diners were built out of wood (later, brick), and set-up shop that way.
ALONG THE WAY, someone learned that an old rail car, or dining car, from an out-of-service/taken-off-the-line car from a railroad company could be bought from the RR owner at a reasonable price and set-up on a property by an enterprising vendor as his own Diner. Of course, it was only a matter of time when various companies came into the market place building "Diner-Ready", name your equipment needed, fully-equipped and ready-to-set-up- on-your-property, Dining Cars...all you had to do was to be able to afford 'em !
MY FIRST TRIP TO California was in 1962...a year before I moved there. I was staying at the Hollywood Plaza Hotel on Vine St. and checked with a few locals about some places to eat. They said two "must visit" Diner's were "Barney's Beanery" on Santa Monica, and, "Ben Frank's" (shown in this photo) at 8585 Sunset Blvd. I visited "Barney's" first and it was a real mind-blower...having been in business since 1920, and showcasing much memorabilia all over the place !
Then, closer to my hotel, a couple of friends steered me to "Ben's Frank's"...a great "after hours" Diner where you could see some of Hollywood's coolest stars late at night...and into the morning hours ! BTW: "Ben Frank's" is now "Mel's Diner"... and is still going strong ! (When I moved into Hollywood in 1964, "Ben's" would be a place frequented regularly by yours truly !!)
SO, next time you're Crusin' and "on the road", forego an easily made turn into McDonald's, KFC, or, Applebee's. Take the "road less traveled" and find a place called "Jim & Bill's Diner", "The Riverhead Grill", or maybe, "Carney's Express Limited"...you'll not only love the atmosphere, but their mouth-watering list of delights on the menu will make you glad you took my advice ! Oh, and the next time you see one of those Food Truck's...remember it was all started by Walter Scott. Almost a hundred & fifty year's ago.
"THE AMERICAN DINER", by Michael Karl Witzel which was originally published in 2006, and was important enough to re-publish in 2012, has over 250 great images, photos, postcards, menus, et al, contained in its 160 Pages in a Hard Cover format. Lose the dust jacket ? Well, that's no problem as the DJ images are on the 2012 Crestline Published Hard Cover itself ! This is a volume that you need to add to your Library, and you can get your copy from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/
NOTE: The photo of "Ben Frank's" in 1962, courtesy of Charles Phoenix at https://www.charlesphoenix.com/...with thank's !
"KING OF THE KUSTOMIZERS: THE ART OF GEORGE BARRIS", By Brett Barris and Douglas Nason. Last Gasp, Pub. (2015)GEORGE BARRIS WAS ONE OF THE most-unique, and, creative innovators that ever entered into the field of Rods & Kustoms !
For over 70 years, George (and, in the early, formative year's, his beloved brother, Sam Barris), was a prolific designer & builder of some of the best-remembered kustoms in the history of the Industry, with names like: The Matranga Merc, The Golden Sahara, The Hirohata Merc, The Ala Kart, The Emperor, The XPAK 400, The El Capitola, The Aztec, The Munster Koach & Drag-U-La, The Little Deuce Coupe, The Larry Ernst Chopped '51 Chevy Bel Air, The Kopper Kart...and, of course, Sam's Chopped '49 Merc, and, The Batmobile.
I WAS STILL IN GRADE SCHOOL when I first became aware of the Barris Brothers. It was in the August, 1953, issue of Rod & Custom that featured Bob Hirohata's Merc Story: "Kross Kuntry In A Kustom". That car mesmerized me ! One of the most beautiful cars this kid had ever seen ! And, it was built by George & Sam Barris of California ! From that day on, I HAD to see each-and-every kustom that had the name "Barris" attached to it ! As I said in my "Tribute To George Barris" : "As a kid George Barris was one of my Heroes; as an adult, he became one of my friends."
FROM 2006 to 2014, every Sunday Morning at the Kustom Kemps Of America "Lead Sled Spectacular" Event, in Salina, Kansas, George, Hall of Famer John D'Agostino, and, myself, had a standing appointment for an Interview Session before we all left for home. George & John knew I was documenting, preserving, and archiving the Oral / Personal Histories of the Legends & Pioneers of the Rod & Custom Industry, so that their stories, in their own voices, could be heard World Wide...not just for "today", but for all-time through this HOF Legends Web Site, and they gave me 100% input & co-operation from the very beginning. In the process, we all became friends...and it was more like "three guys sitting around, talking cars, and having fun on a Sunday Morning", and NEVER like a cold, read-the-questions-from-your notes, "what's your favorite color to paint a car", "how many cars have you built", etc., Interview Session !
So, it was at our July 31st, 2011, Sunday Morning Session at the 31st Annual KKOA Event, that George first told me about this book that Brett was working on. Said that he had been ultra-busy scanning old photos & articles, and adding great stories, and that this would be a "major work": a look at the lives of George, Sam, and, their families, from the very "roots" of where they had begun.
Every year after that, I'd ask George how the book was coming, and he'd give me an update. Finally, at our last SMS at the KKOA in 2014, he told me that the book was almost finished, and that he'd see to it that I got a copy when it was published so that I could Review it here on the HOF Legends Web Site as I had his other books. Sadly, a little over a year later, George would pass away, but I did obtain a copy of the book...and, it is everything that George said it would be...and, more !
BRETT BARRIS, ALONG WITH Doug Nason, has published a truly magnificent Tribute to his dad, and his family, with this massive work. It's a Hard Cover volume, with all most 500 Glossy Pages, 11.5" W X 3" D X 9" H, and, weighs a hefty FIVE Pounds ! It is, literally, crammed with photos, articles, stories by many Industry notables, tons of information, and, even has an Afterword by the legendary Robert Williams. BTW: At Five Pounds, if you order this book by mail, you'll almost need a forklift truck to get it off of your porch and into your house !!
You will find this to be the most comprehensive look into George's home-life, his career, and his designer talents, as well as the wonderful Ambassador for Kustoms World-Wide, that he became during his lifetime. George always told me he looked upon all in the R&C Industry as "family"...all striving for the same thing: building beautiful cars, and, treating each other with respect & kindness. Those thoughts echo through every page of this book, and knowing George as I did, it was fantastic to find out some things that I hadn't known before...and, also cool to find some "expanded" info on many things I had known, but would have asked George to explain further in one of our later Interviews if he had still been with us.
GEORGE'S DEATH AFFECTED me personally. I loved the man and his work. He always treated me as an equal, and continually gave me compliments & encouragement on what I was doing here on the Web Site. I still miss him, and still hear his voice & his sense-of-humour in listening to all of his stories that are archived here on the Site. BUT, with this wonderful book that Brett has worked year's to produce and finally get published, George "comes to life" in another way: through the photos, stories, and, info, Brett's lovingly researched and put into print for all to enjoy. All who read this book will understand, without a doubt, that GEORGE BARRIS was THE "King Of The Kustomizers". Period . Thank you, Brett & Doug !
"King Of The Kustomizers: The Art Of George Barris" is available directly from Barris Kustom Industries at this Link on their Web Site: barris.com/shop/books.php , or, on Amazon at www.amazon.com .
SPECIAL NOTE: TO HEAR George's July 26th, 2009 Interview - along with John D'Agostino, and, myself - telling many great stories and adding much rare info about the legendary, iconic, "GOLDEN SAHARA", simply CLICK-ON-THIS-LINK...Listen, Learn, and, ENJOY ! JK
"CREATIVE INDUSTRIES OF DETROIT: DETROIT'S SECRET CONCEPT CAR BUILDER", By Leon Dixon. CarTech Books, Pub.
THIS WILL TRULY BE one of the most unusual Review's I've ever written ! Yes, it IS the story of Creative Industries Of Detroit, and some of the most-beautiful Concept Cars ever created. BUT, the actual story of the company itself, reads almost like a "spy novel"...ripe for being turned-into a Hollywood Movie Script, or, a TV Series (perhaps to run on the BBC)... with touches of Ian Fleming, Tom Clancy, or, John le Carre' !
In fact, after reading this twice, I almost feel guilty about giving you some of this information. It's as if, after I learned these secrets, I was bound under the auspices of the "James Bond-ian" rules of the MI6, the CIA, the FBI, or, the BSA (Boy Scouts of America), and I would suffer severe penalties if I were to divulge them !
Well, no matter what the risk, I will proceed...but, if a few lines down, you notice the writing has stopped, you'll know that I've been taken to task by my superiors, penalized, and, taken offline !
"CREATIVE INDUSTRIES OF DETROIT", as stated on the book's Back Cover, "...is Author Leon Dixon's comprehensive account (which) chronicles the greatest automotive achievements constructed at CIOD." I'll add, it's more than that, it's the story of two former Chrysler employees, one a mechanical genius, and, inventor; the other a marketing whiz, and, promotional expert. They blended their careers, and the fates of more companies, employees, and, products, than you could imagine, and turned them into a company that's impact on the world around us exists to this very day.
It's always a matter of being "at the right place, at the right time", and the company's Founder, Fred Johnson, and his successor, Rex Terry, were the men who epitomized that axiom. Johnson built his Progressive Welder Company in 1935...it grew into a Five-Acre complex called Industrial City that involved eleven different companies, all producing different products...many of which were later assembled into ONE special product ! BUT, those working at ANY of those companies, might not know the person working right next to them, and, that person, secretly, would not let anyone know whom he/she actually worked for while working on that one special product ! See what I mean about the "espionage" factor ?
AROUND 1950, Johnson knew it was time to expand the company, and that's when he had his old friend, Rex Terry, join the company. Then, what proceeded was a series of clandestine meetings, and even a Secret Club (the "Room 634") within a Club, where the executives from Ford, Chrysler, G.M., Packard, Studebaker, Hudson, et al, would meet and cement big deals. Those meetings and get-togethers would also happen elsewhere, but, that was just "the tip of the iceberg" ! Their "reach", connections, and the deals that they were involved in, extended World Wide with companies in Canada, Europe, Japan, and many other Foreign locations, all contributing to CIOD's stellar reputation & success.
THE REASON, THEN, was very simple: Creative Industries of Detroit was a "one stop shop" ! Their expertise included Styling & Design; Graphic Illustration; Engineering & Tool Design; Templates for Wood & Clay Modeling; Plastic Molding & Fabrication; and, Sheet Metal Forming & Prototyping. SO, some of the "big deals" that their innate know-how & imagination produced were the Mercury XM-800, the Ford Atmos-FX, the Plymouth Superbird, the Waldorf-Astoria Corvette Wagon, the Packard Balboa, the Delorean, and, many, many others !
Here's just a bit of what you'll learn when you read this book: Those beautiful '56 Mercury station wagons were built by Ford's Lincoln-Mercury Division, right ? G.M.'s rare, stainless-steel-roofed, '57-'58 Eldorado Brougham was produced by Cadillac, right ? And, the futuristic 1954 Kaiser Darrin sports car, complete with sliding doors, was built at Kaiser Motors, huge, Main Plant in Willow Run, Michigan, right ? WRONG ! ALL were built at the Creative Industries Complex itself, or, at one of their partnered-facilities !
Once you read this book - and you should - you will understand the intricate world of the "Culture Of Detroit" that existed within the Industry during that time-period. Creative Industries was in their "Golden Age" from 1950 to 1995. Of course, parts of their history, and the products & processes, as I mentioned, still exist within other companies today. BUT the intrigue, the back-stabbing, the many secrets that went to the graves with previous employee's & executive's that died year's ago, plus the mind-set that permeated the entire Automotive Industry at that time...is truly worthy of a Hollywood Screenplay ! This book comes complete with Heroes, Villains, and a supporting Cast of Characters, that just beg for their stories to be told !!
AS I SAID at the outset, Leon Dixon has certainly done his job with this volume ! Like myself, his life has always been centered around cars, music, and the histories of both. So, Mr. Dixon, if you happen to read this Review, I'm available to partner with you in putting together a script that would do you proud ! In fact, if you don't want to pursue it, I may just go ahead and write it on my own...of course, giving you full credit for the superb, fantastic, ground-work you laid with all of your year's of caring and friendship with so many that worked and "lived" at "Creative Industries Of Detroit", enabling you to tell "The Untold Story Of Detroit's Secret Concept Car Builder" .
IF YOU'RE CAREFUL, maybe even wear a disguise if you want, you can purchase your own copy (without having to show an I.D., or, flash your MI6, CIA, FBI Badge, or, your Special, Hard-Earned, BSA Explorer Scout's Badge) at a Book Store near you. OR, you can get it directly, no questions asked, from CarTech Books, the Publisher (I know they'll trust you IF you mention that you read about it here on the HOF Legends Site in the "Hot Off The Press" Section). They're at www.cartechbooks.com , or, check-out their Lists on Amazon: www.amazon.com . It's a book that definitely belongs in your Library !
"THE REACTOR: GENE WINFIELD'S FUTURISTIC CUSTOM CREATION", By Nicholas K. Whitlow. Classic Reproductions Publishing Co., Pub. (2017)
MY FIRST INTRODUCTION TO GENE WINFIELD was in 1959 when I was going to high school here in St. Louis and saw his beautifully-crafted, stunning, "Jade Idol" on the cover of almost any of the R&C Mags you'd see ! Of course, that car, and all of those that followed it, became a part of his legendary career that had begun back in the 40's.
In the intervening years I moved to California, attended the Pasadena Playhouse perfecting my talents as an actor, also moved into Hollywood for awhile, then came back to St. Louis in the Fall of 1964, and in the Spring of 1965 was once again astonished by the talents of Gene when I saw the May, 1965, issue of Rod & Custom Magazine which featured two photos of a wildly futuristic car dubbed: "The Autorama Special"!
Well, as it turns out I wasn't the only one fixated on "The Autorama Special"...later to be called "The Reactor". While I was reading about it in St. Louis, a young boy in a town in Illinois, not too far from me, was in high school, and just as I had done when I was in high school, he saw Gene's car on the cover of R&C...and became a lifetime fan of, not only the car, but of Gene Winfield ! The boy's name was Nicholas K. Whitlow.
Nicholas' first collaboration with Gene produced the very cool "TV & Movie Cars" book, which I Reviewed further down on this Page, when Gene & I did an Interview about it in 2014. But Nick wanted to do a complete book on the one car that has always stood-out in his mind: "The Reactor". So what he's accomplished is an amazing look at what could be Gene's most-fantastic custom of all-time ! This book's 100 Pages are chock-full of Info and some of the rarest photos of this spectacular creation you'll ever see ! Gene's documentation of each phase of the car is spot-on-perfect, and the early concept illustrations by Gene's long-time friend, Ben Delphia, are just beautiful.
More than that, Gene's personal story about the build, then owning the car, selling the car, the long quest trying to find it to buy it back, then, not only finding it, but restoring it and showing it at Events all-over again, is truly "...the stuff that dreams are made of."
"THE REACTOR" is one of those books you'll look at time and time again. The Foreword by Ben Delphia, and Nicholas' own Introduction to the book are priceless...they could be made into books themselves. The 100 Pages this slick, hard cover book contains, are filled with documented information and rare, never-before-seen photos from Gene's personal collection. AND, Nicholas & Gene made sure that the book was published right here in America. If you've read my Review this far, you know you have to have "The Reactor" in YOUR Library !
HOW DO YOU GET YOUR COPY ? Simple, just eMail Gene at: email@example.com, or, call his Shop at: 661-824-4728, and, you can also get a copy through the author, Nicholas K. Whitlow at: NKW1965@aol.com
TO HEAR GENE'S INTERVIEW On His "Favorite Cars" ("The Reactor" & "The Strip Star")...Just Click-On-This-Link, Listen, and, Enjoy !
SPECIAL NOTE: Reading this book on "The Reactor" brought back a conversation Gene & I had in Salina, Kansas, at the KKOA Lead Sled Spectacular in 2012, after one of our late-night Interview Sessions. We were both hungry and decided to hit one of the close-by 24 Hr. eateries. While we were waiting for our food to be brought out, I asked him something about "The Reactor" as I had seen it again on a re-run of the "Super Car" Episode of "Bewitched". Then Gene said: "Jonnie let me tell you a really interesting story about that car !", and proceeded to tell me about his 9 Year search for it, and finally getting it back and restoring it. Hearing him tell the story one-on-one was just mind-blowing !
I've never forgotten that night, and it once again reinforced the fact as to why Gene Winfield is not only one of the longest-running Legends & Pioneers in the R&C Industry, but one of the nicest people you'll ever meet !
"BUTCH PATRICK'S MUNSTER MEMORIES", By Butch Patrick. TV Classics Press, Pub. (2015)
ON MY YEARLY TRIP to the Kustom Kemps Of America Lead Sled Spectacular event in Salina, Kansas, to Interview the Legends & Pioneers of the Rod & Custom Industry in July of 2017, I was really excited !
In addition to the Industry Legends I Interview for my "Hall Of Fame Legends" Online Series, there are always some great TV & Movie Stars that are featured at the event. If you've been to my HOF Legends Site, you've heard some of the Interviews that I've done with Paul Le Mat (John Milner) in "American Graffiti", or, Candy Clark (Debbie Dunham), also in "American Graffiti". SO, when I found out that Butch Patrick, "Eddie Munster' from "The Munsters" was coming, I knew it was going to be a fun weekend...and it was !
AS IT TURNED OUT, Butch, his finance'-soon-to-be-wife Leila, and, myself, spent most of the weekend together in the Celebrity area of the KKOA event...and it couldn't have been nicer ! Butch is a car guy through-and-through, he even owns custom-built tribute versions of the "Munster Koach" & "Drag-U-La" ! AND, he was "Eddie Munster", and was there for all 70 episodes of this fantastic, ledgendary Cult Classic Comedy TV show...seen by thousands of fans all-over the World !
Butch has had a lifelong career as an actor, doing many shows before "The Munsters" began, BUT "Eddie Munster" is his most-famous role, and he has almost total recall of what went on during the filming of the Series, as well as the other actors that got their start by appearing on the show, as well as the behind-the-scenes Info that only someone "who was there at the time" would know.
SO, armed with all of that knowledge, memorabilia, and, huge fan-base that he's gained during his many appearances through the years at Car Show events, TV & Movie events, Comic Book & Fantasy events, and, with the coming of the 50th Anniversary of "The Munsters" debut on CBS-TV, Butch decided to put all of the Info, rare photos, super-fan memories, Interviews & stories from former cast & crew members, like Pat Priest ("Marilyn"), Makeup Specialist Michael Westmore, "King of the Kustomizer's" George Barris, who built the "Munster Koach" & "Drag-U-La", and, many, many others, into a "Mini Coffin Table Book" called, naturally enough "Butch Patrick's Munster Memories"...that was originally self-published in a Limited Hardcover Edition.
WELL, THAT BOOK WAS actually so successful that fans and friends alike who missed-out on that version, proved to Butch that a reprint of the book in paperback was truly needed...thus, this is the book he had with him at the KKOA event for fans to purchase, and he made sure I had a copy so I could Review it for you !
I HAVE BEEN A COLLECTOR & FAN OF comic books, comic art, and various forms of memorbilia since I was a kid, and in addition to my On-Air work at my Radio Stations, from October 1, 1985 to October 1, 1992, I owned & ran All-American Comics & Collectibles, in the General Grant Shopping Center in St. Louis, and I always carried "The Munsters" Gold Key Comics when I could get back-issues, because I had many requests for them all the time.
And, as I went through Butch's "Munster Memories" cool book, I couldn't help but be reminded of the many "fanzines", self-produced books, and, "special interest" magazines that I also carried in my store during the time I had it. Well, this book would be the "best-of-the-best" if it were in any of those catagories !
The book was certainly a "labor of love" for Butch and his friends to produce ! The caring, the fun, the ultra-rare photos that you'll view in the book, all prove how much hardwork, and, dedication went into it. The great stories, learning about the making of the shows themselves, the super-fans who "live & breathe" "The Munsters" everyday of their lives, the Info that only those who took part in the show (as well as those who've made it a point to research every facet of the show) discuss and document in this very special book, all are to be complimented for their contributions.
I THANK BUTCH FOR the copy that he presented me with, and I'll tell you right now, this is a "keeper" ! I loved every page, every story...especially the Section covered in Pages 68 to 73: "My Life With The Munsters", by Butch, and my, mutual friends the late-George Barris, as well as Tony Wood. George talks about the "Munster Koach" & "Drag-U-La" and the "Hot Rod Herman" Episode of the show, which "car guys" the world over have enjoyed for years.
Another neat section of the book is the area on "Munster Collectibles", Pages 93 to 99...that is a real eye-opener, you have to see it to believe it ! Oh, and "Eddie's" Woof Woof Doll ("Woofy"), who was its image originally patterned after ? Did Fred Gwynne really answer his own fan mail ? Why did Beverly Owen, the original "Marilyn", leave the Series after its first thirteen episodes ? Well, you'll get all of these questions answered when you read the book !
THIS IS A GREAT BOOK ! If you love "The Munsters", wanna have fun reading about "everything Munster", and want to thoroughly enjoy a piece of Classic TV Comedy History...this is for Y-O-U ! PLUS, you can get your own personal copy directly from Butch's Website that's shown here, or, on Amazon at www.amazon.com Believe me, you won't be disappointed, and it would be a great gift to give to a "Munster Fan Friend" !
BE SURE TO CHECK-OUT BUTCH PATRICK'S OFFICIAL "MUNSTERS" SITE ! All kinds of Info is there, and you can buy the "MUNSTER MEMORIES" Mini Coffin Table Book, get autographed photos and other cool stuff that Butch has for sale ! You'll also be able to find out about Butch's coming Personal Appearances, to see where he'll be next ! HERE'S THE DIRECT LINK: http://www.munsters.com/butch_patrick.php
SPECIAL NOTE: TO HEAR THE GEORGE BARRIS & BUTCH PATRICK INTERVIEWS talking about the Legendary "HOT ROD HERMAN" Episode from the "MUNSTERS" TV Show...CLICK-ON-RIGHT-HERE !
"THE CARS OF HARLEY EARL", David W. Temple. CarTech Books, Pub. (2016)
I DON'T THINK I'VE EVER started a Review with these words, but I will this time: You know the name Harley Earl. You know some of the fantastic Concept Cars he created like the Y-Job, and, the LeSabre. You've probably read (and own) David W. Temple's Motorama Books. Then you don't really have to bother reading any further ! Just go out right now and buy "The Cars Of Harley Earl" from CarTech Books...it's that important ! You NEED it in your Library
This is the most comprehensive book on BOTH his life, and, the cars Harley Earl created, and was instrumental in bringing to the public, that you'll ever find. But, it's much more than that, this well-researched, well-documented book also delves into the history & the culture of General Motors itself. From its early beginings, to the days of Billy Durant, to the long-tenure of Alfred P. Sloan who really shaped the philosophy of how GM should be run. Sloan had the foresight to hire Harley Earl, and Earl's 30 year run of being in-charge of designing & creating some of the most beautiful automobiles ever seen, has never been equalled !
This hardcover volume contains 192 Pages within its 12 Chapters, is an easy read, and each page is packed with important info, and many rare never-before-seen photos, of all of the cars that Earl and his Crew produced between his first (the LaSalle) in 1927, to the last he approved in 1958. On the way, you'll read great stories about many of those who were instrumental in creating these "rolling sculpture on wheels" daily drivers, as well as the GM Dream Cars/Concept Cars, like Ed Glowacke, Clare "Mac" MacKichan, Ned Nickles, Carl Renner (see my Review of the book on his art below on this Page), Chuck Jordan, Ken Pickering, and, Bill Mitchell...who'd take over as head of design after Harley Earl retired.
You'll be privy to info on those who helped turn GM into one of the most powerful companies in the world: William "Billy" Durant, The Fisher brothers, Alfred P.Sloan, Jr., Harlow Curtice, and, Charles Chayne. Do you know how "Chevrolet" got it's name ? Or, how the rear section of the one-year-only-body of the '58 Chevy was sculptured & designed ? How did Buick get those "port holes" anyway ? Well, the answer to all of these questions, and almost any others you'd like to ask, can be found in this book !
Harley Earl, was a "larger than life" character. At 6'4" he was an imposing figure, and as Ken Pickering who worked with him at GM stated "He was a ruthless ruler of his kingdom and a fearless leader at GM." His power within the company was legendary, and as one GM associate told Pickering: "If Earl wants to move the Fisher Building across the street by nightfall, it better be done !" He was a complicated man in many ways, but without his vision, talent, and, the ability to hire the-right-people-for-the-right-job...many of the cars we revere, love, drive, and, have made into icons of the automobile's "Golden Age", from the late-40's to the early-60's, may have never been built. We have Harley Earl to thank for that.
MY SINCERE THANKS TO my friend Andrea Lindell at CarTech Books for fast-forwarding me a copy of this important book when I needed it ! As I said in Paragraph 1 of this Review of "The Cars Of Harley Earl": "You NEED it in your Library !!" , and yes, you can get your own copy of "The Cars Of Harley Earl" directly from CarTech's Website at www.cartechbooks.com OR on Amazon at www.amazon.com