Paul Le Mat:

Paul Le Mat:





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, 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 assessement 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!   

Jonnie King


"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


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: genewindfield@ymail.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 Grafitti", or, Candy Clark (Debbie Dunham), also in "American Grafitti".  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



    "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 (Reviewed  below on this Page).  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


   "BARN FIND ROAD TRIP", By Tom Cotter & Michael Alan Ross. Motorbooks, Pub. (2015)

I KNOW I'VE MENTIONED THIS many times before, but for more year's than I can remember I've wanted to take the time to take a Road Trip.  I've been thinking about it since I got my '53 Buick Special 2-Door Coupe back in 1995.  But my schedules' have never co-operated, and I haven't been able to do it.  However this book documents the RT taken by Tom Cotter, Michael Alan Ross, and, Brian Barr, and it reinforced my original thoughts: I really need to do it !

You've seen Tom Cotter's name on this Page before...he's a prolific writer; Michael Alan Ross' fantastic photos have appeared in numerous mags, as well as ads...both in the U.S.A. & Europe; Brian Barr is a Hot Rodder, Car Collector, and, has hands-on mechanical abilities that proved a needed element on this trip...helping to keep Tom's '39 Ford Woodie on-the-road

Tom's "Barn Find" books are well-known, but this one actually was put-together with a different concept, there was a Time Limit: Fourteen days from start-to-finish to see if Tom, Michael, and, Brian, could find at least 100 cars in that time period.  They ended-up finding over 1,000 !  Yep, Fords, Dodges, Packards, Chevys, Studebakers, Pontiacs, MGs, Ramblers, Porsches, Checkers...well, you get the idea !  And, to cover those 14 Days and end-up where Cotter wanted to - the 2014 Hershey Swap Meet- the focus was narrowed to Four States: Virginia, West Virgina, Maryland, and, Pennsylvania. 

This is a fun read !  It's a large hardcover book, 192 pages (9"w/11"h/1"d), in full-colour, comprised of 14 Chapters: One for everyday they were on-the-road.  It's really a "fast read" as many of the pix take up most of  some pages.  BUT, the neatest thing about it is the "Car Count List" Cotter provides that has a reading of  how many cars were at a particular location, and whether they were for sale or not (Yes/No/Maybe).  With the proviso that the  RT was taken over two years ago, some may - or, may not- still be available.

BEFORE YOU ASK, Y-E-S,  I DO have some favorites that I'd love to have in my own garage: The '49 Plymouth Special DeLuxe Coupe on Page 42. It's like the one my Dad had when I was growing up.  Dad, Mom, and, myself, had a lot of good Road Trips in that car, before the word "Road Trip" was actually invented ! Love the Continental Mark II on Page 76, the '37 , Super-Charged, Cord Beverley Sedan, Page 78, the '56  T-Bird, Page 79. Then there's a '58 Edsel & '55 Nash back-to-back, Page 93. '39 Chevy Coupe on Page 95. '39 Mercury 2-dr Sedan, Page 105. '51 Merc 2dr, Page 168. And, a neat little '51-'52 Dodge 2dr Station Wagon, Page 178.

I'd be remiss if I didn't point-out that most of the "finds" in the book came by way of Info given to Tom & his friends by "locals" they met in towns/cafes they were in.  Also, on day 12 of their RT, they make it to Hummelstown, PA. to visit the Rod & Custom Shop of my old friend, Ken "Posie" Fenical. Pages 169 to 171 covers that.  Ken's shop is state-of-the-art, and cranks-out some of the most fantastic, award winning cars you'll ever see...if you're ever in that area it's a "must stop" destination !

GIVING CREDIT where credit is due, in his "Acknowledgements" Section in the front of the book, Tom gives thanks to Nichole Shiele, Motorbooks Senior Marketing Manager...and rightfully so !  Nichole is a consumate professional, and has helped & supported our Hall Of Fame Legends "Hot Off The Press" Section since its inception, and gets my thanks also !

BTW: There is one error in the book that, if you're into Buicks you'll spot instantly: the '53 Buick shown on Page 115 is mistakenly described as a "red & white, '53 Buick Special two-door hardtop."  Actually, it's a red & black, '53 Buick Super hardtop.  You can tell it's a Super by the chrome strip on the left rear-quarter, and especially by the hubcaps with the "V-8" designation on them.  IF IT WAS a "Special" - like my powder blue & white '53 two-door coupe was - it would have no chrome on the rear-quarter, and have a Straight Eight under the hood.   But, hey, that's not a "deal breaker" !   You need to have this book in your Library, if only because of the massive amounts of "Fun Factor" you'll have going through Chapter-After-Chapter with these three Fun Guys' !!

YOU CAN GET your own copy of "Barn Find Road Trip", by Tom Cotter & Michael Alan Ross, directly from the publisher, Motorbooks, at www.motorbooks.com , OR, from Amazon www.amazon.com

SPECIAL NOTE: To hear Ken "Posie" Fenical's Interview Story about building the Art Deco-Based ,  Award-Winning,"Extremeliner",  simply CLICK-ON-RIGHT HERE !   JK


 "HOW TO REBUILD & MODIFY FORD FLATHEAD V-8 ENGINES", By Mike Bishop & Vern Tardel. Motorbooks, Pub. (2015)

NO MATTER IF YOU'RE DRIVING a '32 Deuce Coupe, a '49 Ford COE Truck, or, a '53 Mercury Monterey Hardtop, it's original motovation was the long-running, very cool-looking,  flathead V-8 nestled under the hood.  But, chances are, if it's the original engine, if you haven't alread;y done it, it needs a rebuild...for both modern-day reliability & a tad more extra horsepower.  And, that's where Bishop & Tardel's book comes in.

As Tom Vogele, Editor of StreetScene Magazine (An old friend, and a true Hot Rodder himself !), states on the cover: "The Motorbooks Workshop Series gives readers a wealth of knowledge on a variety of very specific subjects, and it's always on the shelf for reference in years to come."...and, if your running one of these engines, this well-documented volume certainly belongs in your Library, and, on your shelf !

First the authors, Bishop & Tardel, have decades of experience between them: Bishop as an author/writer whose name has graced this page before; Tardel is one of the most-respected engine & hot rod builders in the Industry. Together they have combined forces to put-together this 208 Page, Full-Colour, easy-to-hold and use, Soft Cover volume. Secondly, as all good research & reference books do, it's Introduction starts at the beginning - when Henry first installed a Flathead V-8 in his '32's -  and follows all its various iterations straight through to the latter-day French blocks.

In between the pages of this book is a wealth of knowledge you can learn from, even if you don't have this engine in your ride !  Page, after page of photos explaining how to plan your build, prep the block, take the engine apart, cleaning & inspecting the block and all of its internals, machine shop work, porting, assembly, carbs, intake manifolds, et al...and finally, making all of your hard work pay off by getting your V-8 tuned, tested, and, set for years of driving pleasure.

I can truly say this book impressed me from the minute I opened it up. It is a superb addition to Motorbooks Workshop Series, yes, but more than anything, once you get into this book, you'll appreciate the hours-and-hours worth of work that went into it.  PLUS, Bishop & Tardel were so thorough that they've added Appendix A, which contains the Torque Specs you'll need, AND, Appendix B, that gives you a comprehensive list of suppliers & shops that  you can contact for parts and help with your rebuild.

SO, IF YOU want to upgrade your flathead for Classic Car use, if you're building a Tradtional Hot Rod to cruise in, or, if you want to hit the Drag Strip or head out for Bonneville,  "How To Rebuild & Modify Ford Flathead V-8 Engines", by Mike Bishop & Vern Tardel needs to be in your Library !  It's available directly from the publisher, Motorbooks, at www.motorbooks.com, or, on Amazon, www.amazon.com  Believe me, you won't be disappointed...you'll love it !


 "CARS OF THE SIZZLING '60s: A DECADE OF GREAT RIDES AND GOOD VIBRATIONS", By The Auto Editors Of Consumer Guide.  Publications International, Ltd., Pub.  (2001)

THE 1950's WAS TRULY the age of creative designs in the shape, and forms, of the automobile, accomplished by some of the most wonderful automotive sylists that ever sat behind a drawing board !  Concept Cars, Dream Cars, so many to see and appreciate...and, many ideas from those specially-built & created "sculptures in steel" were incorporated into the cars we "mere mortals" drove everyday.  But,  the 1960's were a time of change, and that's where "Cars Of The Sizzling '60's" comes in.

The early 60's, as this book validates, was a shift in styles for both what we wore, what we listened to on the radio, and, the new cars we bought & drove. The soaring Fins of the "Forward Look" of Chrysler, and, GM's flagship iconic Cadillac, were trimmed down and would be altogether gone soon.  The Lincoln Continental was one of the first major brands to be down-sized and created with a lower body, shorter wheelbase, and, a return to a full line of four-door-only models for the 1961 calendar year. And, oh, yes, the rear doors on that Lincoln were a  return to "suicide doors" ! 

This great volume, within its massive 416 Pages, contains over 3,000 Photos & Images, weighs over 4 Pounds, and its dimensions are 12" h X  9"w X 1" d, and there's not an inch of wasted space anywhere in this book !  

It's correctly done in chronilogical order from 1960-1969, each section begins with a written re-cap of each year's highlights, covers every brand of American-made car for that year...and even has an  "Etc." section added to each year to let you know what was going on in other countries.  Mercedes, Jaguar, Ferrari, BMW, Datsun, MG, Aston Martin, plus sidebars about the  Indy 500, Shelby Cobra, and, even Woodstork, are contained in the "Etc." portion of every year.  Needless to say, this ALL makes for so much interesting reading that you may not put this book down  for, literally, hours !

If you now own, or ever have owned a 60's car of any make you will probably see it here !   I've owned a '63 Ford Galaxie 500 HdTp, a '68  Mercury Cougar XR-7 (my first new car), and, currently own the '61 Buick Invicta that you see on the upper left-hand side of this Page.  I saw versions of all of them in this book.  More than that, if you're thinking about owning an AMC Rambler Ambassador  like my Dad did in 1966, well those are in there too.  But, many cars that eventually became "orphans" still look really good when you see them: Studebakers, Edsels, DeSotos...well, you get the picture.  It's a shame many of those that were deep-sixed didn't have a better chance.

But, the 60's were a time of growth within the Industry.  By that I mean the Concept Cars & Dream Cars of the 50's had to make way for the Muscle Cars, the "Horsepower Wars", the Direct-From-Detroit "Street Racers" that the companies built.  They had taken a page from our Rods & Customs that were cruising the streets, reshaped the metal on those cars that they produced with more flare, style, and, custom touches they had learned from Barris, Starbird, Winfield, Hines, Dick Dean, Dean Jefferies, and the rest, then added the horsepower that Edelbrock, Clay Smith, Dean Moon, Alex Xydias, and others had mastered...and turned out Super Cars with a "Made In Detroit" tattoo emblazend on 'em !

Then we come to the other cars that were created: the Buick Riviera, Pontiac Grand Prix, Chevy Monte Carlo, the four-door Thunderbird Sedans, and, a number of others, that took a form of luxury to the masses.  Smooth riding, plush interiors, every power device you can imagine...this was Detroit's answer to some of the great customs, and, custom interiors, that had been seen on show circuits all-around the  country.  The difference was, your local Buick, Pontiac, Chevy, or, Ford dealer, gave you an "Option List"so that you could "factory order" what ever you wanted to be added to your soon-to-be-delivered new car.  In effect, it was customized exactly for you...the way y-o-u wanted it.  And in Detroit they filled those orders as fast as the dealers could send 'em in !

TO SAY THIS BOOK IS a "keeper" would be putting it mildly. In reality, it's a companion book to "CARS OF THE FABULOUS '50's" that I've Reviewed in the Lower Section of this Page (scroll down to see that Review). So, yes, this is a  book  I go through everytime I need some research on a car I'm thinking about buying, or, maybe one I've seen at a car cruise and want more Info on.  Also, sometimes I just sit down, relax, and time-travel  back to "another time, another place", looking at the cars, the ads, the world that used to be...and the cars that got us from "there-to-here".  Each one of the cars within the pages of this book was important to somebody...maybe, you.

"CARS OF THE SIZZLING '60's: A Decade of Great Rides and Good Vibrations" can be found on Amazon at www.amazon.com  ,or, on EBAY www.ebay.com 


  "HOT ROD MILESTONES" (Paperback Edition), By Ken Gross & Robert Genat. CarTech, Pub. (2015)

TO CHOOSE 25 OF THE MOST-DEFINING hot rods ever built would be a Herculean task...to say the least.  But, Ken Gross, and, Robert Genat, both have credentials that make them a well-balanced duo to accomplish that objective.  And, in case you missed it when it was first published in 2005, CarTech has brought it back in this handy, afforable, paperback edition.

I was impressed at the quality of, not only the wordsmith-like descriptions of Ken Gross, but the vivid photography of Robert Genat, that bring the history & current status of each of these beautiful hot rods to life on the printed page.  As it's stated on the Back Cover "You know these cars and you've seen them before, but never like this."  And, that's all true !  Through the year's, all of these cars have made it into "Hot Rod", "Hop Up", "Car Craft", and, almost any R&C mag you can mention.  Their histories date from the 40's to the 60's.

To list all 25 of these ground-breaking hot rods here would take up my entire Review, so let me just highlight a few that you'll find inside: "Chili" Catallo's "Little Deuce Coupe" built by the Alexander Brothers, and reworked masterfully by George Barris; Ed Iskenderian's '24 T Roadster; Bill Couch's '34 Coupe; Ed "Big Daddy" Roth's "Outlaw" T; Blackie Gejeian's  '26 T Roadster; Doane Spencer's  '32 Roadster; Dick Flint's  '29 Roadster; The Pierson Brothers '34 Coupe, and, Frank Mack's '27 T Roadster, are just a taste of what awaits you within the covers of this superb book which chronicles the early history of our R & C Culture.

The important thing about this book is the research that was done by Gross & Genat to update the Info on all of these historic cars.  Many of the original owners were still with us then, and,  sadly, since the book was first published many owners/builder's,  and,  those who were interviewed and/or added info,  have passed away.  Mike & Larry Alexander, George Barris, Dean Jefferies, Bob Larivee, Jr. Tom Medley, and others, are all gone now...but their contributions will stand the test of time.

THIS BOOK BELONGS IN YOUR LIBRARY...it is what I call a "keeper".  It's 192 Pages contain 370 Photos, in an easy to read & hold 9" X  9" softcover format.  Ken Gross & Robert Genat each have many books to their credit, and this one surely belongs high on the list of any Bio they send out !  In fact, no matter what the Season, buy one for yourself, and an "extra" to give to one of your Hot Rod friends !!   You can get your copy directly from the CarTech the Publisher at www.cartechbooks.com/milestones , or,  on Amazon www.amazon.com

SPECIAL NOTE:  I knew the late-Blackie Gejeian for a long time, and a few year's ago for an Interview here on the HOF Legends Site he told me the history of his early year's of hot rodding & racing.  Here's the Link where you can hear it for yourself !  JUST CLICK-ON-HERE !!

ALSO, the late-Mike Alexander and I had a great Interview Session in which he explained the origin & build of "Chili" Catallo's "Little Deuce Coupe".  This is truly an historic oral history story from one of the Industries most-honored legends, and you can listen to it byCLICKING-ON-THIS-LINK .


  "INSIDE HOT RODDING: THE TEX SMITH AUTOBIOGRAPHY", By LeRoi Tex Smith. Graffiti, Pub. (2015)

FROM HIS HUMBLE BEGINNINGS in Oklahoma, to a career that brought him National & International fame, to his living most of his final years in Australia, Tex Smith, has seen-it-all, done-it-all,  and, has lived a life  that most could only dream about.  Only Tex didn't just "dream" about  it...he DID it !

Tex's start in hot rodding began when he was a teen.  Learned body, paint, and, repair work from his dad.  Did track racing; built his own cars; became an Air Force pilot; traveled and was stationed around the world.  In California, when the hot rod movement was in its early stages, he was hired at Hot Rod Magazine...that's when things took off  for Tex: the NHRA, the NSRA, HRM, the L.A. Roadsters, The Great Race, were all in-the-mix.  Plus, Rod & Custom, Street Rodder, Hot Rod Mechanix, Old Cars Weekly, Rod Action, and almost any other magazine, event, or, assoctiation you'd care to mention...some of those he actually created !

In the process, Tex was constantly moving: Oklahoma, Idaho, Montana, Wisconsin, California, Germany,  Florida, Illinois...well, you get the picture !  And, the names of those who were his friends, and cohorts reads like a "who's who" of the R&C Industry: Pete Petersen, Wally Parks, Tom Medley, Brian Brennan, Ray Brock, Alex Xydias, Eric Rickmann, Craig Breedlove, Tom Mc Mullen, George Barris, Lyn Wineland, Steve Stanford, Dick Dean, Gene Winfield, and, Norm Grabowski...just to name a few.  And, Tex has owned cars that many would give almost anything to have...including the Legendary  "XR-6", one of the most fantastic, beautiful, mind-blowing hot rods ever built !

If I were to list all of Tex Smith's accomplishments through the years, this Review wouldn't be finished for a few years !  Let's just say that, in his 80th year, Tex decided to finally put down on paper his life, his career (s), his likes & dislikes of BOTH the publishing industry, and, some of the "ne're-do-well's" he came across in all of those years. He also discusses at length many of the trials & tribulations of working in the publishing industry when the hot rodders' who originally ran the business were displaced by the corporate "bean counters" who took over. BUT, he is equally giving and honest about acknowleging those that he truly cares for and admires.

This is a large format, 256 page volume, in a hardcover format, with, at least, 300 colour and black & white photos...all from Tex's personal collection.  Its 51 chapters are short, easy-to-read, and keep you interested from page-to-page.  Tex's writing style is one that - if you've follwed him through the years'- is at once "folksy", honest, colourful, and sometimes just plain blunt !  Writer, editor, photographer, publisher, event organizer, hot rod builder, carpenter, jet pilot, musician, expert fisherman...there was, seemingly, nothing that Tex Smith couldn't do, and do well !!

One of my favorite chapter's is #44 "The Claim" in which he fully explains his situation with the Estate of Tom McMullen after McMullen's death, because he was owed 20% of TRM Publishing...McMullen's company.  McMullen, and his then-wife, Deanna, were killed when the plane McMullen was piloting crashed.  I have a long, and, noteworthy legal background, am familiar with court proceedures & terminology, and so this story of Tex's was of great interest to me.  Tex explains how the lawsuit, the depositions, the legal proceedings, the day-to-day courtroom business, was a whole new world for both himself and his wife, Pegge.  He does it in terms that any layman can understand...and that's why Tex Smith is one of the best of all-time.

IF YOU WANT TO READ the autobiography of one of the greatest, most-influencial hot-rodders the Industry has ever known, with a career that spanned over six decades...buy this book. If you want to read how one man, everyday of his life for over 80 years, lived his life to the fullest, and gained the love, trust, and, friendship of all of those his life has touched...buy this book. 

(NOTE:  Sadly, Tex passed-away June 11, 2015...he will be missed by all whose life he touched, personally, and, professionally.)

"Inside Hot Rodding: The Tex Smith Autobiography" is available directly from the Motor Books Website at www.motorbooks.com , and, at www.amazon.com 


    "FIFTIES FLASHBACK: THE AMERICAN CAR", By Dennis Adler. Crestline, Pub. (1996/2012)

AS YOU WELL KNOW, EVERY BOOK HAS A STORY IN IT. But, this is "A Story About A Book"...this book.  I bought m;y first copy of Dennis Adler's "Fifties Flashback: The American Car" two days after Christmas in 1996, shortly after it was published by Motorbooks.  I loved it !  Very well done.  Adler's photography and historic input on the Post-WW II Scene, and how the American Iron of Detroit took designs & technology and steered us into the decade of the 50's was spot-on perfect.  But, here's where my story changes.

  A FEW YEAR'S LATER one of my car buddies came for a visit, wanted to take a close look at my 53 Buick Special 2-Door Sedan (Model 48D) that you see here,  which I owned at the time.  He spotted Adler's book while in my living room, wanted the info on it so that he could get a copy, and a couple of weeks later called me to say he couldn't find it anywhere.  So, nice guy and all-around good person that I am, when his birthday came-up that year I gave him my copy of the book for a present.  He was elated !  Couldn't believe I'd  do that...but, hey, what are friends for ?

Fast Forward  to 2012:  I learned that "Fifties Flashback: The American Car" had been re-published by Crestline, Pub., got another copy for myself...and this one stays with me !

The work that Dennis Adler did on this volume decades ago still holds-up.  Within it's hardcover 160 Pages, are packed over 125 colour & 30 historical black & white photos,  all linked together in Eight Chapters...each a self-contained time capsule on its own. All of the important research that he did on the time period, from just after WW II leading up to the 50's, along with the interesting facts and memorable happenings of that by-gone generation, then blending in the 50's with so much cool info & details that it will blow your mind...it brings it all back to life for those of us who were there, and documents it historically for those who weren't.

As a photographer, Adler is one of the BEST !  His magnificent colour photos sometimes need two pages to be shown-in-full, and the rarity of many of these cars is amazing !  When was the last time you saw a '53 Hudson Hornet Hollywood Hardtop, a '58 Buick Century Caballero Estate Wagon, or, a 1950 Muntz Jet ?  Well, you'll see 'em here...plus many others that were from the  "Big Three", as well as the  "Independents" like Kaiser, Studebaker, Packard, Nash, and , Hudson.  BUT, it doesn't stop there.

Many books of this nature completely by-pass, or, overlook our Rod & Custom Heritage...Adler doesn't.  Chapter Eight covers some of those cool rides from Barris, Bailon, Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, Tony Nancy, and others.  It's just enough to "wet the appetite" of a novice,  and to satisfy us lifelong Gearheads ...knowing that our R&C History was recognized & included as a part of this book's All-American Car contents.

Before you ask, let me give you a few of my favorites shown in the book: the '54 Dodge Firearrow & the '57 Chrysler Diablo (Page 16),  the '48 Tucker (Page 26),  the 1st Gen '53 Corvette (Page 119), the '55 Thunderbird (Pages 124-125), 1950 Chrysler Town & Country Newport (Pages 60-61), '57 Buick Century (Pages 84-85), the '56 Packard 400 (Page 113), the '50 Muntz Jet (Pages 142-143), and, of course, the 1958 Thunderbird...after all, my first car was a '58 T-Bird Hardtop almost identical to the one shown on Page 131 !

THE BEST NEWS IS THAT, unlike the problem my friend had when he couldn't find a copy of this book years ago, you won't have that problem today !  "Fifies Flashback: The American Car", by Dennis Adler, is available directly from the Motorbooks website www.motorbooks.com  , or, on Amazon www.amazon.com  the price is a steal, and here's a cool "Bonus" for you:  If you lose the dust jacket that's no problem 'cause the DJ photos are printed directly on the cover itself !


 "MOTORAMA: GM'S LEGENDARY SHOW AND CONCEPT CARS", By David W. Temple.  Foreword by, Ed Welburn.  CarTech Books, Pub. (2015)

WHEN YOU SEE THE TITLE OF THIS BOOK "MOTORAMA", and you read the author's name David W. Temple, you might think your experienceing deja' vu, or, in this case deja' vue.  Well, you'd only be partly right: Yes, Temple did write a book entitled "Motorama" that was published in 2006, but that's as far as it  goes. This current volume is a whole new look at those GM shows with new photos, new, recently uncovered information, and, an expanded  look at how important a marketing tool the Motorama's were for General Motors. It also corrects any errors/information that may have occured in the previous book due to the fact that that's all the info there was at the time.

Many of you have, for years, heard, and maybe used, the terms "dream car", "concept car", and, "motorama"...but where did they all begin, and, why ?  Well, to quote from the copy on the back of the book's beautiful dust jacket:  "Lavish one-of-a-kind displays showcased the bold new concept cars, prototypes, and GM production cars.  From 1949 to 1961, this iconic show unveiled these exciting models that defined an era, design styles, and a vision of the future. Nothing like it existed before or since...and never-before-published photos provide a fresh, new perspective."

The prime mover in getting the Motorama's underway was GM's head of styling Harley Earl.  Earl conceived what is considered the first "concept car" back in 1937 with the Y-Job...a custom bodied, custom engined, beautiful "rolling laboratory" that still exists today.  He knew that the public would react well to these well-produced, high-output shows, and that the goodwill and craving for new, exciting post-war autos, would turn into extra traffic at dealerships all-over the country, and in Canada.  And, he was right !   During the 1950's GM commanded fifty-percent of the auto sales here in the U.S.A. !  

ALSO, you have to factor-in this info:  In the late-40's and early-50's, most people got their automotive info from the daily newspaper, magazines, and, their radios.   There was no Internet to browse, no FaceBook to share info with friends, no Google to check-out specs & prices.  SO, "Joe Citizen" waited for, sometimes, hours to get into the GM Motorama to see what the future would hold for him in the guise of his new car...and Harley Earl and his team supplied the "visions of that future" with the Dream Cars at the show that would, literally, knock-Joe's-socks-off !

Those Dream Cars that Joe saw are all in this book, and well-documented:  The Le Sabre, the Buick XP-300, Pontiac's Club de Mer, the Cadillac Cyclone, Chevy's first Corvette, Oldsmobile's Golden Rocket , GM's Firebird 1 Turbine, Buick's Wildcat...and every other dream car/concept that GM has produced up to the current printing of this book including the Cadillac Elmiraj, the Chevrolet Corvette Z06, the Opel Monza, and my personal favorite, the Cadillac Sixteen.

Fascinating stories of where, and how, some of these cars were found are in the book.  Some of the best tales are from one of the country's ultimate car collector's, preservationist's, historians, JOE BORTZ.  Joe's finding and restoration of the Chevrolet Biscayne, and, the La Salle II Roadster & La Salle II Sedan ( which were all supposed to be crushed & destroyed ! ), are truly the stuff that dreams and legends are made of. Plus, there are great bios on GM's two legendary designers' Harley Earl, and his immediate successor, Bill Mitchell.

"Motorama: GM's Legendary Show and Concept Cars" is a hardcover book, with 208 Pages, and over a hundred photos in colour and black & white..many seen here for the first time.  It consists of Eight Chapters, Plus an Appendix that gives the number built and current status of the Motorama Show Cars, and an Appendix that covers all of the dates & locations that each Motorama Show occured. The information within the pages of this book is invaluable to all car buffs like myself, and to those of you reading this review.  I have read my copy three times now, and everytime I find something I missed the previous time !  OH !  One more thing: Lose your dust jacket on this cool book ?  No problem !  Car Tech has printed both the front and back covers with the dust jacket photos...very classy, indeed !!

I REVIEWED DAVID TEMPLE'S previous Motorama book awhile back and you can find that review if you scan down this page, BUT, you need this book as a companion to that one !  They're a "matched set", each important in  its own right.  So, don't wait any longer !  Get your copy of  "Motorama:  GM's Legendary Show and Concept Cars" directly from the publisher Car Tech Books at www.cartechbooks.com, , OR, on Amazon at www.amazon.com 

SPECIAL NOTE:  When GEORGE BARRIS created the fantastic "GOLDEN SAHARA", one of the Top 10 Customs of all-time, it was truly in the style of a bonafide Detroit "Dream Car"/"Concept Car" !  To hear the Interview that George, John D'Agostino, and, I did on the building of "The Golden Sahara", simply CLICK-ON-RIGHT-HERE ...and listen to an amazing story by "The King Of The Customizers" !


  "SHOW ROD MODEL KITS", By Scotty Gosson. CarTech Books, Pub. (2015)

IT'S BEEN GOING ON FOR MANY YEARS.  It varies from when you first got the idea that a) You really liked cars, to, b)  You were too young to own one so you built a model from a kit instead.  In an Interview I did with the legendary Joe "Candy Apple Red" Bailon, he told me the story about when he was a boy and couldn't get the money to buy a toy car that he'd seen in a store in the town where he grew up.  So, in true "car guy" fashion, the future Hall Of Famer built his own model...and turned the lids off of 4 tuna fish cans into wheels for the car.  He always kept that car displayed in his office.

Many of us were lucky enough to scrape-up enough to buy some models kits for ourselves, and that was our entry into the world of Rods &: Customs in our own "hands on" way.  If you've followed the story this far, you'll know what a real treat it is for me to give you the Info on Scotty Gosson's very cool, well researched, fantastic new book "Show Rod Model Kits"!   This volume is, to coin a phrase, "jam packed" with probably every important R&C genre' model kit that's ever been produced...and if he missed any in his research, it's not because he didn't try !

If you're a dyed-in-the-wool builder with shelves full of your own versions of those kits featured in the book, well you'll find out much more info on almost every kit that was produced, who designed it, who did a "real life" version (if there was one), OR, in many cases how the "real one" was later turned into kit form.  Conversely, if you're just getting started in the hobby, you couldn't find a better book on the subject to study and learn how this special style of model kits began...and how to this day they're among the most sought-after, most popular model kits of all-time.  In addition, this 144 page, full-color volume has pix of not only the models featured here, but when available the ads, packaging, and/or box the model came in is also shown...and if a full-scale, real-life, 1:1 version, you'll see that one too

A few of the kits you'll check-out are "The Red Baron", "The Fire Truck", "The Lincoln Futura", "The Invader", "The Predicta", "The Mysterion", "The Ala Kart", "The Car Craft Dream Rod", and,  "The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Car".  All-in-all there are seven chapters, plus other sections that add to the the enjoyment of this fun-to-read, and informative volume.  And, Gosson was lucky enough to get interviews and some stories from many who were involved with the design or production of the kits.  Darryl Starbird, Chuck Miller, Gene Winfield, George Barris, Carl Casper...all custom car builders who worked with companies to create & produce model kits.  Then there are the model company execs/designers that are added to the mix: Tom Daniel, Roger Harney, Ed Newton, John Bogosian, Sam Bushula, and others, all helped.

Through the many years of interviews I've done here for the HOF Legends Series, Darryl Starbird, Gene Winfield, Chuck Miller, and, Mike Alexander, have all told me stories about their involvement with the various companies that they worked with designing & building both kits and full-blown, driveable versions of what was created.  They all enjoyed the experience and it helped cement their importance as custom car builders...taking it to another level so that modelers of all ages could build, display, and, enjoy their creativity and passion for having a Show Rod they could call their own !

This book is a companion piece to Scotty Gosson's "America's Greatest Show Rods of the 1960's & 1970's".  You can see my Review of that book further down on this page, but whether you have that volume or not, if you're currently a modeler, or, just want to take a look at some of the kits you might have built in your younger days, this book needs to be in your collection !  (BTW: Some of the "scratch-built" cars that are featured are among the coolest you'll ever see !  Personally, I'd love to have a real-life version of Tom Kolankiewicz's '53 Vette shown on Page 132 !!)

"Show Rod Model Kits", is available directly from the publisher, Car Tech Books, at www.cartechbooks.com , OR, on Amazon at www.amazon.com

SPECIAL NOTE: TO HEAR MY INTERVIEWS with Darryl Starbird (Monogram), Gene Winfield (AMT), and, Chuck Miller (MPC & Monogram), featuring their personal stories on working with these model car companies, building cars & designing kits, simply Click-On each of their names, separately, below and you'll hear the truly fantastic history of how they all became involved and added their talents & creativity to this remarkable art form of model making !




 "HOT ROD GALLERY", By Pat Ganahl.  CarTech Books, Pub. (2014)

AS STATED ON THE BOOK'S COVER, this is "A Nostalgic Look at Hot Rodding's Golden Years: 1930-1960", and it is also a look into Pat Ganahl's personal archive of photographs he's stored away over the years.  More than that, the stories behind how he acquired all of those photos is worth the price of admission itself !

This is a fascinating look into the "World of Hot Rodding" that brings those early Golden Years to life for those of us who never had the privilege of being there...by many who were perceptive enough to bring a camera along and document that experience.   I always say "You don't know you're making history until it's over with." and this book sure proves that !

It's broken-down into nine chapters that flow chronologically from the Black & White, sometimes grainy, years of the 1930's through to the Full Color, clear-as-a-bell pix of the 60's.  You'll notice that through many of the decades some names contiually pop-up: Bailon, Barris, Winfield, the Ayala Brothers, the Alexander Brothers, Spence Murray, Neil Emory & Clay Jensen, Bill Hines, George Cerny, Doane Spencer, Darryl Starbird, Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, Von Dutch, Dean Jefferies, Larry Watson, to just name a few.  They are some of those who helped build the foundation of Hot Rodding...and continued it in every decade that they could.

A few of the photos on these pages I've seen before since my involvement in the R&C culture began in 1953, but most I have not.  It is fantastic to see how we've progressed from the early "home grown Hot Rod", "shade tree mechanic", "use any part you can  find that will fit", style of building, to the "Let's call 1-800-Build-A-Rod" tendencies of some current rodders'.  Street Rods, Customs, Built-For-Lakes-Running Dragsters, Funny Cars, Show Cars...they're all there.  Garage pix, Lakes pix, Show pix. Drive-In pix, Rod Run pix...yep, you'll see 'em !  ( Oh !  And if I'd been there at the time, I would have loved to meet those beautiful real-girl models on Pages 48, 65, 78, 94, 120, 159, 175, and, the cute girl playing the ukelele on Page 191 ! Winners...ALL ! ) 

To say this is a book that you will refer to time-and-time-again for research, history, fun, love-of-the-early art of Hot Rodding, would be easy for me to do.  But let me take it up a notch further:  you will enjoy this fact-filled, well-formatted volume as a way to connect-the-dots of how we got "from there to here", and you will do as I did:  study picture-after-picture many, many times and marvel at the creativity of not only the "name" builders of those eras, but the "guy next door" who just wanted to build a Hot Rod...and did it perfectly in his own way.

Pat Ganahl must never get much sleep !  He just has to spend almost all of his waking hours trying to figure out which book he'll write next.   His output is prolific to say the least, and this near-perfect volume adds to that list and should be a part of your Library.

In closing, let me say this is a very classy-looking volume.  A sleek, 192 Page Hardcover book that has "quality" stamped all-over it, example: lose the dust jacket ?  No problem !  The exact same Front & Back covers are imprinted on the Hardcover itself...now that's pure class.  At one time books on Hot Rods & Customs were almost looked at as minor publications and were relegated to being either low-grade Hardcovers, or,  just plain Paperbacks.  Not so with most of the output I've received from CarTech....they publish these with the respect that these subjects are truly worthy of.  A respect I admire and thank them for.

"HOT ROD GALLERY", by Pat Ganahl, is available online directly from the CarTech Books Website  www.cartechbooks.com  , or, at Amazon www.amazon.com

SPECIAL NOTES: The man who started me into the Rod & Custom Culture I've been in, loved, and, enjoyed since 1953 is DON FERRARA.  You'll see a picture of my friend Don and his home-built customized '49 Ford on Page 119 of "Hot Rod Gallery". To read my Tribute to Don please simply Click-On-Here .

ANOTHER TRUE LEGEND mentioned in this book is JOE BAILON.  Joe not only created "Candy Apple Red" paint, but was there from the beginning.  To listen to our Interview and hear his stories about his early years, justClick-On-Right-Here !    JK


 "AMERICAN AUTO LEGENDS: CLASSICS OF STYLE AND DESIGN", By Michael Furman. Text by Tracy Powell. Chartwell Books, Inc., Pub.  (2013)

MAYBE YOU NEVER REALLY THOUGHT ABOUT THIS, BUT before you can actually find a car or a truck to turn into a  Rod, or, Custom - no matter what the year- it first has to have been built at one time by its original manufacturer.  The body, frame, wheels, bumpers, instrument panel, seats, hood, trunk lid...well, you get the picture: Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, Nash, Studebaker, Packard, Hudson, Willys, Kaiser-Frazer...all of their cars started out on an assembly line somewhere.  And, that's what this book is all about.

This is an important book, with eye-popping photographs, that will at times blow-you-away !   These photos were not taken with the treasured 1941 Kodak Brownie "box camera" that my Mom & Dad owned,  nor my 1965 Kodak Instamatic.  No, Michael Furman's equipment is a lot more "state of the art" than that, and the method he's perfected reflects that same influence.  How ?  Well,  most photographs you see featured in books of this nature are done "on location" and you see outside locations, or, in-garage style backgrounds.  BUT, Michael Furman has become an expert at that rare form of "in studio" photo shoots...which are among the most difficult to accomplish.

Can you imagine the logistics of driving, trailering, or, hauling a 1903 Cadillac, a 1930 Franklin, a 1940 LaSalle, or, a '58 Chrysler 300-D, into an enclosed-environment studio to be photographed under, sometimes, the strongest lighting possible - but perfectly balanced to eliminate harshness & shadows - and then spending hours to get that "perfect shot" in every area needed to showcase one of these remarkable machines ?  Well, Michael Furman has long-ago accomplished that, and that's why he's become one of the Industries most-sought after, award-winning photographers, with many other books to his credit.

This book is a visual delight, traces the origins of these beautiful machines from their early beginnings, and  then proceeds to amaze you with Furman's superb model-by-model photos...some of which are so stunning that you can almost stare at their symmetry, balance, and, style, for hours !  All of the above makes that I've mentioned are in the book, but the neat thing is seeing many that you've never seen before, or, have little knowledge of:  the 1903 Stevens-Duryea, 1926 Kissel,  Harley Earl's legendary 1927 LaSalle, a 1929 Dupont Speedster, 1931 Pierce-Arrow Club Sedan,  1935 Auburn Speedster...all magnificent in their own way.

Of course, the book works in an historic earliest-to-newest format, so, yes, the beautiful '39 Lincoln Zephyr Coupe, the ultra-rare 1947 Chrysler Town & Country Convertible, iconic (and one of my personal all-time favorites !) 1948 Cadillac Series 62 Club Coupe, 1953 Studebaker Commander Starliner Coupe, '53 Corvette, '55 Thunderbird, '63 Buick Riviera,  et al, are covered.  All-in-all, this large-format, 288 page hardcover book will be a volume that you - and your friends if you leave it out for them to see - will check-out over-and-over.  It covers models from 1903 to 2008 and was first published in the U.K.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the text & information added to this well-researched book by Tracy Powell.  His introduction, glossary of terms & styles, and, directory of museum & collections, all give a finer definition to the mix.  There is also a section on the names behind the legends that we drive...however, there are two glaring errors in that section: although Louis Chevrolet, Walter P. Chrysler, Henry Ford, Ransom E. Olds, and most others who created the auto industry in its earliest days are documented, sadly, David Dunbar Buick, and the Dodge brothers, John & Horace, are not.  And, on Page 24 a Plymouth Barracuda Convertible is mistakenly listed as a Tempest LeMans/GTO.  But these don't detract from the beauty of the books overall content.

FINALLY, I have to thank my dear cousin, Carrie, for sending me my copy for my birthday !  She knows my love of "American Iron" all too well, and hit the mark with this book for sure !  "American Auto Legends: Classics Of Style And Design" with lush, superb photography by Michael Furman, and text & info by Tracy Powell, would be a great addition to your library...and if your cousin doesn't send you a copy for your birthday, don't panic, you can still get a copy from the Motorbooks Website  www.motorbooks.com  , or, at Amazon www.amazon.com


 "THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO HOT RODS & STREET RODS", By John Carroll & Garry Stuart. Chartwell Books, Inc., Pub. (2013)

A BOOK OF THIS KIND, AND STYLE, WAS A MASSIVE UNDERTAKING, but John Carroll & Garry Stuart were more than up to the task. Since both authors are from the U.K., it was first published in Britain in 2006, came to its U.S. publisher in 2012, and was so well received that it needed to be reprinted in 2013...which shows what a great job its authors' did !  Its strength lies in the research and history of our American Iron that was done at the outset.

The book flows from the earliest days of Henry's Model T, all the way through to some of the neatest rides on the planet that were showcased in the New Millienium at the Petersen Museum.  In between, the contents of its eleven chapters cover: the Teens, Twenties, Thirties, Forties, Fifties, Sixties, Seventies, Eighties, Nineties & Beyond.  With a Special Chapter on "Hot Rod People" and a Glossary for those that are new to the Hobby/Industry and want to brush-up on some ot the terms we use.

When I said that this book was a "massive undertaking" I wasn't kidding !  The book measures 11"X 8.5", has 448 Pages, is loaded with over a bazillion color pictures, many early B&W photos in the Early Years Section, and weighs-in at almost FIVE POUNDS !  (In fact, I may contact the publisher and ask why they don't just sell it by the pound...they might make more profit that way !!)  Put this book on your  coffee table and it almost becomes your coffee table...visitors, whether they're into cars or not, will be forced to pick this book up and look through it.  AND. as its owner you will not want to put it down !  There is so much to see and read about within its covers, and so many fantastic hot rods, rat rods, and, customs to look at, that it will hold you spellbound for hours at a time...plus, holding it for any length-of-time will actually increase your muscle strength.

I said at the outset that John Carroll & Garry Stuart were both Brits and that's a good thing because they also cover some of the action/events in the U.K....where so many dearly love our All-American Iron. In addition , they both are not only into cars but bikes as well, are good friends and have collaborated on many other books.  It shows in the stellar work done on this volume.  Of course, there are a few mislabled photos/cars in the book, but considering the amount of  work included here, I was able to by-pass that...and so should you.

Some of you will really be drawn to the "Hot Rod People" chapter where Alex Xydias, Pete Chapouris, Troy Ladd, the Kennedy Brothers, Chip Foose, the late-Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, and many others are profiled.  Since the original work on the book was done before it ever went to Press, the late-Boyd Coddington is also covered, and it's a pleasure to read his section which was done prior to his death.

Among my favorite rides shown in the book are the beautiful black '32 Ford Roadster on Page 63, the way-out Ford F-100 UPS Panel Truck on Page25 & the '51 Ford Pick-Up page 179, the wild, Hemi-Driven Checker Cab, Pages 260-263,  the perfectly-built black '55 Olds on Page 411, the pink '50  Chevy Panel Truck with Grandma driving, and Daughter &  Grandkids aboard, on Page 189, Robert Williams spot-on-perfect, black Deuce Coupe, Pages 282-285, his wife, Suzanne's, equally super, satin-grey primered '34 Ford Tudor Sedan, Pages 286-289, and, the cool, red '51 Ford Woodie shown on Page 367.

   IN ADDITION, I fell totally in-love with that big, luxurious, 1931 Chrysler Imperial Custom Convertible Coupe, shown on Page 8...as well as the beautiful girl attached to it. Yes, it's a stocker, but if I were alive at that point in time, both would be welcome to become permanent residents of my home & garage.  (Take a close look at the car & the girl in the photo to see the monstrous size of that magnificent Chrysler !  It almost "dwarfs" that lovely lady !  The wheelbase is 145", it weighs 4,500 lbs., and features Chrysler's first 8 Cylinder Engine that has 385 cid.  BTW: Chrysler only made TEN (10) of this particular model...making it ultra-rare.)

"The Ultimate Guide To Hot Rods & Street Rods", by John Carroll & Garry Stuart, would be a good addition to any Library or Collection, and a good gift to give one of your favorite gearhead friends...at anytime of the year.  You can order it, and see all of the other fantastic titles they have available online, directly at the Motorbooks Website: www.motorbooks.com 


 "VON DUTCH: THE ART, THE MYTH, THE LEGEND", By Pat Ganahl. Foreword by Ed "Big Daddy" Roth.  CarTech, Pub. (2005 / 2014)

SAY THE NAME "VON DUTCH" TO ANY Hot Rodder or Custom Car Guy and his eyes will light-up, many, and varied, visions will start whirling around inside his head, he will see pinstipes, flames, weird drawings, custom-made motorcycles, guns & knives...and end-up focusing on someone he's, maybe, heard about all of his life, but never really knew anything about.

In the meantime, to many others, Von Dutch has become a brand name: like Pepsi, Buick, Levi's, or, Apple.  You can buy Von Dutch T-Shirts, jackets, hats, watches, etc., all with Von Dutch's classic signature, and many of those that purchase these items haven't a clue as to who he was, or, how important he was to the R&C Industry !  BUT, as Pat Ganahl proves to us all with this book...there really WAS a person named Kenneth Howard who became "Von Dutch" !  However, both of those personas carry with them the stigma of an enigma as to who either Howard or Von Dutch really was.

Ganahl says it best by setting the tone of the book on Page 14 when he states: "As I have said, and will repeat throughout this book, separating fact and fiction in the life and legend of Von Dutch can, at many times, be impossible."  How right he is !  But he has certainly done his homework.  Hours of research, years of trying to trackdown those who knew Von Dutch, interviewing them, recording their varied stories, checking and cross-checking his facts, going through copy-after-copy of magazines featuring Dutch and the cars & bikes he worked on.  Then spending countless hours pouring over photos, negatives, and any visuals that could be tied to Von Dutch.  Yes, Ganahl has put a Herculean effort into getting the facts & information in this book right...and it still leaves you wondering as to (going back to my original statement) who Kenneth Howard, alias, Von Dutch really was !!

I'm reminded of a TV quiz show that aired back in the 60's.  It was called "To Tell The Truth".  There was a panel of four celebrities who quizzed the three contestants standing in front of them.  Here was the premise:  One of these three contestants was famous or important for something, BUT all three claimed to be the "famous' one.  What I didn't tell you yet is that all three didn't just "claim" to be the important one:  THEY ALL USED THE SAME NAME !   For instance, they all three would say their name was "Joe Doakes"...and the panel would then have to figure out, by questioning each one, who the REAL Joe Doakes was !  To make it honest, the real Joe Doakes  could only answer the questions truthfully...the other two could make up any answer they wanted, but Joe had to be honest.  Which leads me to this: the same situation exists within the pages of  this book.  There are so many different versions, and conflicting versions, of who Kenneth Howard/Von Dutch was, AND, what he did, and when and where he did it (or, if he actually did it) that came from the varied responses of those interviewed, that perhaps those questions will never be resolved.

IN ANOTHER TIME PERIOD, Howard/Von Dutch, would have been tagged a Bohemian, in the 50's & early-60's, a Beatnik, by the 70's a Hippie...his lifestyle was so eccentric, avantgarde', that he could not, would not, conform to "the norm".  And, why should he ?   In my humble opinion, Von Dutch was a brilliant, uber-talented, off-the-grid, genius of a sort that rarely comes our way.  Check-out the depth and vision of his superb paintings on Pages 110-113, view the intricate precision & craftsmanship of the workings of his knives & guns, view the not-to-be-missed envelopes & mail he sent to his friend, the late-Ed "Big Daddy" Roth...and you will come away from this experience the same as I did: knowing the almost-limitless talent & creativity of this truly remarkable artist...no matter what his name was.

This book was originally published in hardcover in 2005, but CarTech wisely chose to reprint it in 2014 in a softcover version.  I had missed it the first time, and so I contacted my friend at CarTech, Andrea Lindell, to see if I could have a copy to share with those who join us here at the HOF Legends Site. She was kind enough to ship me one post-haste, and I can't tell you how much I appreciated that !  I've seen Dutch's work since I was a kid...but this book is truly mind-blowing when you get to see all of the fantastic work that came out of his talent & imagination !  It's 192 Pages are packed with rare, most-never-before-seen photos of everything from Von Dutch's stripes, flames, guns, knives...and anything else he could build or decorate ! 

(AND, if you read this, Pat, I had some copies of DIG Magazine as a teen !  My favorite issue, that I saved for years, had a feature on Elvis, and that same issue had a beautiful girl from Canada in there whose name was Vicky Pelky.  She wanted a "pen pal" so I wrote her.  Imagine my Mom's surprise when her-newly-turned-teen, here in St. Louis, got a letter from a cute, 5'2",  brown-haired, hazel-eyed girl named Vicky in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada !  Oh, before you ask: Yes, I still have the letter...looking at it right now.  Like I said, she was so-cute !!)

Let me finish up this Review with the words of Pat Ganahl: "Ultimately, I have presented the best approximation I could of who and what Von Dutch was-the art, the myth, and the legend-given the resources available today (at the time of his writing this & the books publication. JK) and the parameters of this book.  Believe what you want to believe."  Amen. 

BUY THE BOOK !  You'll enjoy it, and you'll learn from it !  You can order "Von Dutch: The Art, The Myth, The Legend" directly from CarTech Books at their Website: www.cartechbooks.com , OR, through Amazon; www.amazon.com


 "THE ROUTE 66 ENCYCLOPEDIA", By Jim Hinckley. Voyageur Press,  Pub. (Quarto Pub. Group USA Inc.) (2012)

TO SAY PUTTING THIS BOOK TOGETHER WAS a massive-undertaking would be putting it mildly !  When I contacted Nichole Schiele at Motorbooks Publishers, she was kind enough to forward me a copy of this after I saw it listed on their huge-all-encompassing website.  (Note: If you love rods, customs, classic cars, bikes, trains,  planes, busses, tractors, or, just about anything else that uses a motor, you must check-out their Site !  I have the Link listed at the end of this Review.)

If JIM HINCKLEY'S name sounds familiar it should, he's done other books on the subject of Route 66. But, this is one of the most-comprehensive ways to learn about the Route, its origins, the places along this storied Highway, those who've pioneered the preservation of the Mother Road, and, the history of all of the towns, states, and people, connected to the Route...and that's just scratching the surface.  This volume is much, much more intricate than that.

I know you're saying "Jonnie, didn't you cover Route 66 in the book listed further down on this Page entitled "Greetings From Route 66...The Ultimate Road Trip" ?  Well, yes I did. However, this is a true encyclopedia:  Its subject matter is taken section-to-section from "A to Z", just like the name "encyclopedia" implies, and once you start reading it, it's very hard to put down !  From the first entry "A": Abbylee Motel, to the last "Z": Zuzax, the information contained within this Hardcover book's 288 Pages - with over a 1,000 various images, including 361 Colour & 225 B/W Photos, and a fantastic, memorabila-loaded, full-colour fold-out-map in the front of the book - is almost spellbinding ! 

Through the year's, as I've mentioned before, I have traveled Route 66 a number of times, before it became the Landmark that it is.  The first time was back in the 50's with my folks on vacation, and later,  in the 60's,  I traveled it going back & forth from St. Louis to California when I was attending school there.  No, it wasn't "historic" then...it was how I got from Point A to Point B.  It was the Main Road you took to get from Chicago-to-Santa Monica, or anywhere in-between.  Period.  And, many of the places which are mentioned in this book, are very familiar to me because I stayed there, ate there, visited there, in those earlier days.  (I also travel parts of it right here in my hometown, St. Louis, almost everyday.  And, parts of "Old 66" in Oklahoma going to, and coming from, Darryl Starbird's National Rod & Custom Car Hall of Fame Museum in Afton, Oklahoma almost every year.)

BUT, the information I learned here in Jim's book filled me in, and added to the depth of my knowledge about a lot of those people & places connected with the Mother Road that I didn't know at the time  For instance, I've heard about Jack Rittenhouse but wasn't aware of the importance of his early, self-published, 1946, "A Guide Book,to Highway 66", also, while living in Pasadena, California as a student in 1963-1964 I saw the Howard Motor Company Building on East Colorado Blvd. quite often but didn't know about its history and special style of architecture at the time, and, my late-Aunt Bea who lived in Fontana took me to visit the Wigwam Village Motel Number Seven in neighboring Rialto, California. Seeing the inside of those iconic concrete teepee's was just really too-cool...but all these year's later, reading about how they originally began in Kentucky and were later framchised, made the memories of that visit, and my Aunt, more important than ever. Can't tell you how much you'll truly learn on each page of this wonderful book !

Although Jim Hinckley put this book together,  he relied on help from other Route 66 specialtist's, historian's & author's such as Michael Wallis, and my old St. Louis friend Joe Sonderman, for a lot of the info, memorabilia, and, photos. that he used.  And, he gives credit where credit is due to each and everyone that helped.  The painstaking amount of time and meticulous research done on this volume shows on every page from cover-to-cover.  

 ALL-IN-ALL, I couldn't give this book any higher recommendation than to tell you it's a book that you will come back often to read, use as a reference book, and, just plain enjoy as "Time Travel" entertainment, time-and-time again !  It's really that good...and in my Library it's a definite "keeper" !

NOTE: As an added feature, check-out the bottom of the Back Cover of the book for information on how to obtain real-time updates for many of the sites & attractions on Route 66 that are mentioned in the book from Jim Hinckley's website.

"THE ROUTE 66 ENCYCLOPEDIA", by Jim Hinckley, is available directly from Motorbooks at: http://www.motorbooks.com/  OR, at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/


 "GENE WINFIELD'S TV & MOVIE CARS, COMMERCIALS AND SPECIAL PROJECTS" By Nicholas K. Whitlow. Foreword by Chip Foose.  Winfield Publishing Co., Pub. (2014)

GENE WINFIELD IS A WORLD-FAMOUS, WORLD-CLASS Rod & Custom Builder...he's been at it for almost 70 year's and has created some to-die-for cars like "The Jade Idol" & "The Pacifica".  But, what you might not know, is the fact that for many year's Gene was one of the go-to guy's in Hollywood, and within the Advertising Industry, creating many phenominal vehicles that you've seen on TV, in Movie's, and, in Commercial's !  So, yes, Gene Winfield, is truly one of the rarest of the breed: a multi-dimensional cratsman of the highest quality !

I've known Gene for year's and. because of that associatiion, I can tell you that the book's writer, Nicholas K. Whitlow, has truly captured Gene's honesty, his warmth, his sense-of-humour, and his amazing memory of almost every car he's ever hammered-on, chopped, painted, or, worked-on in any way !  SO, yes, Mr.Whitlow...ya done good !!

Gene's work on "Star Trek", "Blade Runner", "Bewitched", "The Cut-In-Half '67 Chevorlet", "The Man From U.N.C.L.E.", Goodyear Tires, The AMT "Piranha", "Robocop",  "The Flying '57 Chevy", "Get Smart", are all chronicled here...plus so many more !   They're all contained within the 244 Pages. of this beautifully-formatted Hardcover Book featureing 500 Photos (Both B&W and Color).  Each photo is documented & explained, and most come from Gene's Personal Collection.

LOOK AT IT THIS WAY:  If you think you know Gene Winfield because of the fantastic Rods & Customs he's created over the year's...once you read this book, you'll come away with a whole new understanding of both the man himself AND the depth & talent that lies within the heart and soul of this creative, truly remarkable super-pro !


  GENE WANTED TO MAKE SURE that the book was printed & published right here in the U.S.A...AND IT IS !

ALSO, the book is only available directly through Gene.   Here's the address & info to contact Gene to purchase your  personal copy of this fantastic book:

Gene Winfield's Rod & Custom Shop, 8201 Sierra Hwy., Mojave, CA 93560.   eMail: genewinfield@ymail.com,  Phone: 661.824.4728

SPECIAL NOTE:  I WANTED TO FIND OUT HOW this part of his career got started, so we did a GREAT Interview that covers it all !  TO HEAR MY INTERVIEW with Gene talking about the book, the cars & projects in the book, how it all began, and much more personal info, just Click-On-This Link !


 "THE AMERICAN DRIVE-IN MOVIE THEATRE", By Don and Susan Sanders. Crestline Publishers. (2013)

IF YOU WERE GROWING-UP at anytime during the 50's, 60's, or, 70's, Summertime sometimes meant all-day picnics, pool parties, beach parties (if you lived near one), a trip to the zoo, and, crusing with your friends whenever you could.  It also meant that when the sun went down you and those friends (or your best girl) would often head for the nearest Drive-In Movie Theatre for a night of fun & flicks !  And in this super-cool book Don & Susan Sanders have truly done justice to their subject which is the books title.

It's not easy to amass the amount of research, chronological history, photos, and, info that they've put together.  Years and years of preparation have to be put into the project, and I can tell you it shows on every page, and in every chapter of this wonderful "Time Machine" they've created concerning Drive-In Movie Theatres across the U.S...and even their partial-spread into Europe.

Growing up in St. Louis in the 50's & 60's there were plenty of Drive-In Theatres everywhere you looked !  But, prior to that, my Mom & Dad had told me about the early Air Dome outside theatres that they had attended back in the 20's & 30's...and when we went into those neighborhoods they showed me where they had been located.  So, my, personal history of the "outside theatre" was pretty well honed  before I read the Sanders' book.

This volume starts with the aforementioned history of  the "air dome's", continues to the first documented Drive-In Movie Theatre in New Jersey, and follows the progression through the boom of the post-war years, the sci-fi 50's, the "Beach Party" 60's, the downward slide of the 70's, and, the renewed interest from the mid-80's to today.  In fact, you may be in a car club, or, group that reserves Special Night's out at a Drive-In Theatre in your area on frequent occassions during the Summer.

As I stated earlier, in the 50's & 60's I frequented the Drive-In Movie Theatre's in my area of St. Louis, which was in St. Louis County. TWO Drive-In's were located just down the street from me, about a half-mile away: The St. Ann  4 Screen, and, the Airway Drive-In...and these were only a couple of  blocks from each other !  (Note: In the book it lists the Airway as being in St. Charles, Missouri.  That's an error. I still pass it almost everyday. It's actually in St. Ann, Missouri.)

"THE AMERICAN DRIVE-IN MOVIE THEATRE" is a remakable book.  Contained within the 160 pages wrapped in this hardcover edition, you'll find about a bazillion color & b&w photos, histories of the men responsible for the birth and expansion of those Drive-In's, rare architectual drawings, how food, drinks, car speakers, car heaters, intermissions, and flea markets, made their way into the mix, and, why the names "ozoner' & "passion pit" have been used through the year's to describe a night out at the Drive-In. 

AGAIN, having lived not only in Missouri, but in Calfornia, and, Arkansas, I attended Drive-In's in those states too: the Razorback Twin in Little Rock, and, the Pico & Olympic in L.A. So it's cool to see photos of those in the book...and, no matter where in the U.S.A. you live, I bet there was a Drive-In Movie Theatre somewhere nearby.  If there was you'll probably find a photo or some information about it in this fantastic book...buy it and find out !  Memories are brought back on every phenominal page of this great work and it should be in your Library !!

COPIES OF "The American Drive-In Movie Theatre" are available directly from the Motorbooks Website http://www.motorbooks.com/index.php  or, at Amazon www.amazon.com   

PS: Here's a neat thing about this hardcover book: If you happen to lose or ruin the dust jacket, no problem. The same classic/retro images are printed directly on the hardcover itself...and it's just beautiful !!


"ROAD HOGS": Detriot's Big, Beautiful Luxury Performance Cars of the 1960's and 1970's", By Eric Peters. Motorbooks, Pub.

"THERE IS A SPECIES OF American land shark that once prowled the highways and byways of the United States in great fleets, but which have become extinct as Megalodon...the 60-foot ancestor of today's Great White's..." is the way ERIC PETERS begins his story on Page 100, but it rings-true on every page of this all-too-true volume !

Peters chronicles the history, and demise, of those 9 miles-per-gallon, two-and-a-half ton, 350 horsepower, nineteen-feet long, solid steel & chrome behemoths that us "real" car guys all loved...then, and, now.  And he does it as if he were almost "channeling" my own personal thoughts, words, and, sense-of-humour.   Trust me, if I were writing "Road Hogs",  I would have probably described each-and-everyone just as he did...only he did it better, and for that I thank him.  It was a book that needed to be written to remind those of us who "were there" of what we went through, and what we miss.  And, for future generations of Automotive Historians to use as a textbook for learning about what they really missed: a time when "Made In America" was a given for the cars we drove, and Detroit was "The Motor City".

"Road Hogs" is a full-color, 160 page, hardcover book that is hard to put down once you start reading it.  Cadillacs, Buicks, Lincolns, Chryslers, Oldsmobiles, Fords, Chevys, AMCs, Pontiacs...are all there and accounted for.  If you ever owned a Catalina, an Electra 225, a Coupe deVille, a Galaxie 500, a Continental, an Impala, or, an Ambassador 990, you're covered.  The "...Things To Know" sidebar in every section also lists some special info on the models you just read about..and that's cool.  Yes, there are a few typos and wrong-images/right info mistakes, but that happens in many volumes of this size. (One of the most glaring errors is on Page 48.  It's supposed to be a photo & info concerning a Buick Electra 225 Convertible. Though the info is correct, the pic is of a '58 Chevy Impala Convertible.)

The history behind each-and-every marque and the models that it produced is fascinating.  For example, a few years ago I was at the KKOA Lead Sled Spectacular in Salina, Kansas, doing Interviews (as usual) with many of the R&C greats that were there, when one of my long-time  pals & I decided to take another walk around the grounds to see some cars that had just shown up.  One was a beautiful, mild custom Buick Electra 225...rarely customized, but cool when done.   Just for fun I asked him if he knew what the "225" designation meant...he didn't.  So, I told him that was Buick's code-name for the actual length of that huge Electra !  He was floored, and said: "How simple was that ?! Thanks for the info !"  So, yes, I already knew that , but how many reading this story did ?  WELL, Eric Peters, enumerates that information and almost anything else you'd want to know about every car he covers in this book.

FINALLY, I'LL JUST SAY: This is a  well thought out book, written in an easy-to-read, tongue-in-cheek manner, that's honest & true.  It brings back a time and place in American History that will never be again.  A time when those huge battering-ram-solid 4-wheeled conveyances, with bumpers that weighed more than a new Toyota, were seen everywhere and carried the passengers within them safely, swiftly, powerfully, and cushioned them in the comfort of seats that were comparable to their own living room couches...a time that many of us would go back to in a heartbeat. 

If you're a died-in-the-wool car guy, gearhead, or, car buff of any stripe, you definetely need ROAD HOGS as an additon to your Library.  You'll use it for reference many times, and, if you decide there's one you'd like to have in your garage, like a Vista Cruiser, a Safari, or, an Estate Wagon, Eric Peters also has info on how to accomplish that in his "Afterword" Section beginning on Page 158 ! 

ROAD HOGS, by Eric Peters is available from the Publisher at www.motorbooks.com  , or, at www.amazon.com 


 "HERB MARTINEZ'S GUIDE TO PINSTRIPING", By Herb Martinez. Krause Publications, Pub. (2006)

TO SAY HERB MARTINEZ IS A GREAT PINSTRIPER, would be putting it mildly !  He's known as one of the ultimate-best WorldWide...and once you read this book you'll know why !

At Darryl Starbird's 50th Anniversary Tulsa Rod & Custom Show, Herb was Inducted into the National Rod & Custom Car Hall Of Fame and I was privileged to be there and to spend some quality-time with him.  I can tell you he's not only a superb striper, but a fun guy to spend time with, and a truly dedicated Pro.  We did a Sunday Morning Interview before we both had to hit-the-road, and you'll be hearing some of Herb's great stories here on the HOF Legends Site.

BUT, BACK TO THE BOOK !   If you've ever wanted to learn about, and know how the Pro's do it, this book on pinstriping pretty much covers it all.  From the very beginning of the art - and yes it is an Art Form unto itself - back in the days of the caveman, to its renewed popularity over the last few decades, and its being practiced daily even as I write this, Herb has it included in this colourful volume.

Herb's known as "The Line Dr.", has over 50 years of experience, and he shares his knowledge and insight in these pages. Within the books 9 Chapters and 176 fully-illustrated Pages, you'll find info on the brushes, paints, and various tools that you'll need to ply your trade (or, hobby), how to lay down a line with & without a brush, how to create designs, do flames, gold-leaf striping, graphics, antique striping, and, how to "fix it" if you make a mistake...and, yes,  that sometimes happens.

Herb also acknowledeges the early R&C masters of the trade like Tommy "The Greek", Von Dutch, Larry Watson, Don "The Egyptian" Boeke, and many others.  He also includes a reference list of websites, videos, schools, workshops, et al, where you can learn more about this amazing part of our culture.

HERB MARTINEZ travels the world doing workshops, classes, seminars, and anything else he can do to teach & show others "how-to-do-it" the right way !  You can also find him at R&C Shows all-over the country...especially at the GNRS where he sets-up every year, and is also in their Hall Of Fame.  When you see him, be sure to stop by and say "hello"...you'll see him lay down some cool lines in the process, and find how nice he is too !

An autographed copy of "Herb Martinez's Guide To Pinstriping" is available at Herb's Website:  http://www.herbmartinez.com/index.php  and, he usually has copies with him at his personal apperances. So, even if you don't want to do it yourself, but just find out how it's done right...I heartily suggest you buy this book !


              (2010) / (2012)

       "LOST HOT RODS" & "LOST HOT RODS II", By Pat Ganahl. CarTech Books, Pub

THE SEARCH FOR LONG-LOST TREASURE has become a part of our culture and its history.  Example: Since the 1870's the search for the legendary "Lost Dutchman Gold Mine" and its fabled riches has led many to look for it in Colorado, California, and, most-especially, Arizona, where it's actually supposed to be located.

Many mythical maps have surfaced through the years, claiming they could lead you to the mine...one of them was known as the "Peralta Map", so named for Miguel Peralta who mined in California, not Arizona.  But, as of this writing, no one has ever found that elusive mine, or, its treasure.

What does all this have to do with Rods & Customs ?  Plenty !  For many years, gearheads & car buffs, have searched for some rare, formerly famous, or, at least well-known, missing hot rods...but sometimes in the wrong place.  That's where PAT GANAHL comes in.

Ganahl's career in the Rod & Custom Industry has spanned about five decades.  As a writer, editor, photographer, author, he's been associated with Street Rodder, Hot Rod, Rod & Custom, The Rodder's Journal, et al...plus he's had a long list of books that have been published. 

WHICH BRINGS ME TO tying-in all of the above with these two featured volumes: "Lost Hot Rods" (2010) & "Lost Hot Rods II" (2012):  Ganahl, like myself, loves to do research, and then document his findings, ultimately sharing it with his readers...and that's exactly what he does in these two volumes.

These books are a "matched set".  If you need one, you need 'em both.  That's why I wanted to review them together, because once you start reading about how, when, and, where these "lost hot rods" were found, you'll also find out who found them...and where they are today.  Each story unearths another layer of the History of Rods & Customs, and each & every story has a certain fascination all its own.

Some of these cars are in private collections, some in museums, some still with the original owners, some are with "unknown" owners but still exist.  Other's are with new owners and are being well-taken care of, or not.  Some have vanished again.  But, Ganahl did his sleuthing and uncovered  their whereabouts...and that's what makes all of the stories so very interesting.  Both books contain 191 Pages, and they are jam-packed with as many color and/or black & white photos that Ganahl could fit in there.

A few of the "lost" rods - and, customs - include Bill Cushenberry's "El Matador";  Joe Perez' '51 Ford;  the Barris-built, ultra-rare, "Bearcat"; Joe Bailon's "Candy Bird", "Mystery Ford",  and, his Jimmy Doyle '52 Merc;  Tex Smith's 1963 "Hot Rod Magazine" Project  the "XR-6" Roadster (with skins by Dick Dean & Jsck Sutton); Steve Gonzale's 1950 Merc; and, Rob Reisner's "Invader"...and if those don't wet your appetite nuthin' will !

PAT & I MET AT A KKOA Lead Sled Spectacular in Salina a few years ago, and I can tell you his knowledge of the R&C Industry is always on-target. These books prove that, and, they also prove that you, too, may do some research of your own and see if you can find a car that has been "lost".   After all, Pat Ganahl found some in his own neighborhood...and, maybe there's one hidden in a garage right down the street from you !

  OH, AND PAT, IF YOU EVER DO "LOST HOT RODS III", let me know !  I'll tell you the story about how I found my personal "dream car"...the late-Manuel Arteche's 1961 Buick custom: "THE INVICTA" !

"Lost Hot Rods" & "Lost Hot Rods II" are available directly from the CarTech Books Website http://www.cartechbooks.com/  , or, www.amazon.com .  (Many thanks to Andrea & Nancy at CarTech Books for their help !)

SPECIAL NOTE: YOU CAN HEAR SOME OF THE ORIGINAL STORIES on some of these "Lost Hot Rods" right here on the HOF Legends Site !  Here are a few examples:

*The Legendary SPENCE MURRAY's story of the tragic wreck, selling, and, later finding "The Rod & Custom Dream Truck" can be heard by Clicking-On-This Link.  

*Hall of Famer HAROLD MURPHY's story about finding & restoring Bill Cushenberry's "El Matador" begins when you Simply Go To This Link:  gpage156.html

*AND, you can listen to my friend MARK MORIARITY'S story of  finding & preserving Paul Savelesky's '55 Chevy BelAir when you Click-On-Right-Here !



THE HUDSON MOTOR CAR COMPANY, based in Detroit, Michigan, began producing cars in 1909.  Nash, run by Charles W. Nash, produced their first cars in 1916 from Kenosha, Wisconsin.  As Independents, both Nash & Hudson had survived the great depression, did war work during WW II, and the post-war boom also helped 'em stay in business. 

But, by the early 50's the handwriting was on the wall. The Big Three - GM, Ford, Chrysler - were putting pressure on the Independents: Packard, Studebaker, Kaiser, Crosley, Willys were all on-the-ropes after the post-war surge, and Nash and Hudson weren't much better.  It wasn't because their cars weren't good...it was that their coffers couldn't support much needed new designs, engines, factories, equipment...and their dealer networks kept dwindling.

Personally, I liked a lot of the Nash line, especially the 1952 Nash-Healy Roadster & Coupe, and the 1953 Nash Ambassador Country Club Hardtop.  In Hudson's, the 1954 Hudson Italia Sport Coupe, and, the 1954 Hudson Hornet Hollywood Hardtop would still look good in anyone's driveway.  In addition, my Uncle Steve's 1950 Nash Ambassador 4 Door Sedan was a car my Cousin Diane and I traveled in many times, and in 1966 my Dad purchased an AMC Ambassador 4 Door Sedan that he kept for 5 years.

NOW, in his book "American Motors Corporation: The Rise And Fall Of America's Last Independent Automaker", Patrick R. Foster, completely analyzes the reasons for the needed merger between Nash & Hudson...and how it succeeded, faltered, gained momentum again, and finally, ended up with the company being purchased by Chrysler.  Foster has been a champion of  the "independent" car companies of the U.S.A. for over two decades, is a respected, well-known author, and, I'm very familiar with his monthly column in Hemmings Classic Car Magazine.

This is a large, 280 page hard cover, with 241 Color Photos & 108 Black & White Pix.  But the important thing is: if you want to know almost anything about AMC from the merger that took place in 1954, to its final days in 1987, and everything in-between, I guarantee you'll find it in this book !  Mr. Foster's inside-info from many who were there at the time was an invaluable asset, and the facts, figures, yearly output totals, rare prototype photos, and, shifts and changes in management, design, and, company policies are fully detailed.

Also, Foster details how George Romney, and his truly dynamic vision of what AMC could, and should, accomplish, was on-target...building the company into a strong competitor, but later derailed when Roy Abernathy took over. 

All-in-all, I honestly recommend this book as a definitive look at AMC.  It was America's last independent automaker...trying to be the best and give more to their customers than could be had by the Big Three, with better prices and better mileage.  And, yes, I do have some favorite AMC-built rides that I wouldn't mind owning:  1956-1957 Rambler Custom 4 Door Sedan, 4 Door Hardtop, and, Wagon, are all so very cool !   The 1965 Rambler 770 Classic Hardtop...I almost got one of those a couple of years ago, but it was gone when I got there.  Finally, the '67-'68 AMC Ambassador DPL Hardtop (shown at the top of Page 96) would become a real Cruiser with very little work...and, I guarantee you'd probably be the only one there with this rare machine at your local "rod run" cruise night !

MY ADVICE: Buy this book, keep in your library for reference & research, and send a note to Patrick Foster to thank him for all his hard work !  It's available directly from the Publisher www.motorbooks.com  , OR,  at www.amazon.com 

NOTE:  MY FRIEND, legendary Detroit custom builder, Ridler Award Winner, CHUCK MILLER, was responsible for the prototypes of the original Hurst"Rambler Scrambler's".  

AND, the iconic artist/illustrator, pal-o-mine,  STEVE STANFORD, set the world of Rods & Customs on fire a few years back with his take on "THE NEW AMC !"  Listen to this great Interview, and take a peek at some of the fantastic designs & cars that Steve came up with !   Just Click-On-This-Link to hear the Interview and see Steve's awesome AMC prototypes !!


 "AMERICA'S WILDEST SHOW RODS OF THE 1960'S & 1970'S", By Scotty Gosson.  CarTech Books, Pub. (2013)

FINDING NAMES LIKE STARBIRD, WINFIELD, BARRIS, BAILON, ROTH, CASPER, FARHNER, and many, many others, all featured in one specialized book, is enough to wet your appetite, but if some of those in the book are your friends...then it takes on a whole new meaning !

This book really lives up to its title, and Scotty Gosson - a lifelong car nut like the rest of us - has certainly done his homework, and what it verifies is that the shifting, changing culture in America was moving in new directions when these cars were built...and so were the builders. 

The almost-innocent post-WWII era of music, movies, and, TV, of the 1950's, was jarred into a whole new form of style & substance beginning in the 60's...and that included the new, strange, sometimes retina-searing, "Super Rods" that some of the long-running R&C Pioneers were hammering together in their shops to be shown at car shows around the country.  Plus, a whole new breed of builders were adding to the mix.

The research, interviews, rare personal photos, comments, and, composition of these 160 pages, complete with mostly full-color pix, is outstanding.  And the co-operation Gosson got from the owners/builders featured herein, cements their place in R&C History for the outstanding vision they had to shift & change when they wanted to and/or needed to.

Some of the cars you'll see when you pick-up this book and start to thumb through it are:  Ed Roth's "Beatnik Bandit"; Barris' "XPAK 400"; Darryl Starbird's "Futurista"; Dave Shuten's "Mysterion" Clone; Mark Moriarity's "Futurian"; Carl Casper's "Ghost"; Chuck Miller's "Wood Burner"; Ray Farhner's "X-Ray"; Fritz Schenck's "Roswell Rod"; Aaron Grote's "Atomic Punk"...and the hits just keep on comin' !   The seven chapters take you through the stories in chronological order, and as if that weren't enough, there are three (count 'em !) Forewords, one each, from Industry legends Ed Newton, Bob Larivee, Sr., and, Dan Woods.

GOING BACK TO MY OPENING PARAGRAPH of this Review, of those featured and/or mentioned in this book, Darryl Starbird, Gene Winfield, George Barris, Joe Bailon, Mike Alexander, Blackie  Gejeian, Chuck Miller, Steve Stanford, Mark Moriarity, and, Fritz Schenck, are all friends who I've spent time with and who have Interviews & Stories right here on the HOF Legends Site...and I am so pleased to see their work showcased so well in this very cool volume !   I saw some of these myself, like Starbird's "Scorpion", and Ray Farhner's "Boothill Express", at shows I attended in the 60's & 70's !

In all honesty, if you've read this so far, you'll understand that I highly recommend that you add "America's Wildest Show Rods of the 1960's & 1970's", by Scotty Gosson, to your personal library of R&C books...and do it before they run out of copies !!  You can get your copy by going to either the CarTech Books Website http://www.cartechbooks.com/  , or, www.amazon.com 

NOTE:  TO HEAR DARRYL STARBIRD'S great story about building "THE PREDICTA"  just Click-On-Here  !  AND, MARK MORIARITY'S story about his fabulous "FUTURIAN" can be heard if you simply Click-On-This-Link    ENJOY !    JK


  "CARL RENNER, 1950's GM DREAM CAR CREATOR", By Frederic A. Sharf.  Foreword By Sheldon Steele. Frederic A. Sharf, Pub. (2011)

YOU MIGHT NOT AUTOMATICALLY KNOW CARL RENNER'S NAME, but after you read this book, read his story, see his designs, you'll remember him for a long, long time.  He was one of GM's top designer's during the "Dream Car" Era, and although Harley Earl is mostly-associated with GM design, Carl Renner was an invaluable source of penning many of GM's finest Concepts/Dream Cars.

The author, Frederic A. Sharf, is a collector, scholar, and author, specializing in buying archives of design drawings which are placed in public exhibitions.  This special book was produced to accompany an exhibition entitled "Dream-Obsession-Expression: Art of the Automobile" at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, Massachusetts in 2011. The originial art of Carl Renner's which was assembled here, was from the collection of Mr. Renner's wife & daughter.

As with all of these special books from Mr. Sharf, it is a thin, handsome volume with a treasure trove of original art work that you will probably see nowhere else.  Its sixty-four, full color, pages are a visual treat for "Dream Car" lovers everywhere !   Carl Renner's designs & concepts that you'll see in this superb showcase of his work, zoom you into the post-WW II future and are simply amazing !

CARL RENNER was from Detroit, but at one time had moved to California and worked as a cartoonist for Walt Disney.  He then traveled back home to Detroit, and ironically, his Disney cartoon work ended up getting him a job at GM, and Chevrolet, where he stayed for 7 years.

 One of his great Chevy Concept Designs is one of my favorites shown here, the Vera Cruz done in 1950.  In 1953, GM's design chief, the legendary Harley Earl, asked Renner to develop a station wagon that would be placed on a Corvette platform for the 1954 GM Motorama at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in NYC. The result, if you've followed me this far, was the "Waldorf Nomad" or the "Corvette Nomad" that just blew everyone away and which showcased Renner as GM's newest superstar.  It also impressed Harley Earl enough that he made sure Chevy added a Nomad to their 1955 models !

Carl then worked on the design of the '57 Vette, some of his sketched features also made it into the '58 Vettes, and Earl was so impressed with his work that he created a one-man studio for Carl !  Carl then created the Corvette Impala (XP-101) Concept, did work for Oldsmobile & Pontiac, and before Earl retired, designed the Cadillac Cyclone (XP-74) Dream Car for his boss.

All-in-all, this is a beautifully mounted book with so many, many drawings & designs that you will be glad to add it to your Library.  Some of  Mr. Renner's design's that are my personal favorites include the above shown "Vera Cruz", the Chevrolet Two-Door Fastback Coupe (1950) on Page 25, the Chevrolet Two-Door Hardtop Coupe: Design Proposal (1953) Page 37, and my ultimate favorite: the Chevrolet Convertible Concept Car from January 9, 1952 on Page 29 (also shown on the cover),

Look closely at the Chevrolet Two-Door Hardtop Coupe (1953) on Page 33, and you will see on  top of the front fender's "scoops" similar to those used on the '55-'56 Pontiacs, and the taillights are very close to those used later on the '56 Chryslers !  Plus, you'll notice that some of the styling done on Page 34, showing the Chevrolet Two-Door Hardtop Coupe: Bel Air (1953), made it onto the '57 Chevy models.

"Carl Renner, 1950's GM Dream Car Creator", by Frederic A. Sharf, is available at some finer museums where his design exhibit has been displayed, and at www.amazon.com

(NOTE:  STEVE STANFORD for almost four decades has been one of the R&C Industries most respected  artists & illustrators.  A few years ago I asked him about his favorites, the ones he admired and gave him the inspiration to follow his passion for art.  To hear Steve's comments just CLICK-ON-HERE , listen and learn !  )


  "CADILLAC: THE TAILFIN YEARS", By Robert J. Headrick Jr.  Iconographix, Pub. (2008)

"American's Most Distinquished Motor Car", "The World's Most DIstinquished Motor Car", and, of course, the iconic "The Standard Of The World"...when you heard, or read those descriptions, if you were a car buff growing up in the 50's & 60's you automatically knew only one word could be attached to them.  And that one word was CADILLAC !

Maybe the folks in the advertising agencies had worked overtime to come up with those phrases, but during the "Tailfin Years" General Motors Cadillac Division certainly worked hard trying to live up to them !   Cadillac quality at that time, in most instances, did its owner's - as well as its designer's & builder's - proud.  When you saw one ot fhose finned beauties coming down the street, or encountered one on the highways of America, it was one of the most regal looking automobiles you'd ever see: that egg-crate/checkered grille, those massive front and rear bumpers, the flowing lines from the headlights all the way to the taillights, and, from 1948 to 1964, those beautiful, graceful, tailfins that gave it a character & presence like no other.

Cadillac had been founded in 1902 by Henry Leland, and named after the 17th Century French explorer who, in turn, had founded Detroit.  Later, when it was folded into the GM Corporation,  Cadillac had designs that came from Harley Earl and his studio.  The "fin idea" was hatched after closely looking at the famous Lockheed WWII P-38 Fighter Plane.  It's tailfin design was first adapted to the 1948 Cadillac models...and set the post-war automotive field into a fever pitch !

SO, in this well-crafted volume by ROBERT J. HEADRICK JR., we see the shifts, changes, escalation, and, finally, down-sizing of these legendary "fins" from GM's most-prestigious division.  It's an 11"h X 8 3/4w, 128 page book, in full-color, that gives a year-by-year look at the changes made from 1948 to 1964...lovingly known as the "tailfin years".

Headrick uses the actual Dealer Brochures, and the advertising copywriter's Info, to describe each model and year.  This is a great service to those who, like myself, are died-in-the-wool car buff's and collect these dealer brochures to put in our own collections/libraries.  Do you have any idea how much it would cost you to buy each of these rare documents, in "mint condition" ?  Well, probably about three or four times the price of this book...so consider it a bargain, and a piece of Cadillac History, all in one plaee !

It also includes the rare, seldom-seen today, Cadillac "jeweled" advertisments from that 1948-1964 time period...one from each year.  These were tie-in's with famous jeweler's such as Harry Winston, Cartier, and, Van Cleef & Arpels.  (As a side-bar, as a kid in high school, one of my favorite Cadillac "jeweled ad's" was a parody done by Kelly Freas in Mad Magazine !  Freas was such a superb artist, that his comic-versions of any product were just spot-on and oh-so-funny...and mirrored the original so well that you almost believed the "parody" was real ! )

MY PERSONAL FAVORITES from the "Tailfin Years" ?  Simple.  The first Cadillac OHV V-8...the 1949 Sixty-Two Club Coupe (Sedanette); the 1953 Hardtop/Coupe DeVille; the 1956 Hardtop/Coupe DeVille; and, the 1957 Eldorado Seville.

"Cadillac: The Tailfin Years", by Robert J. Headrick Jr. is available directly from the Motorbooks Publishers Website www.motorbooks.com and, at Amazon www.amazon.com

NOTE:   A number of year's ago my friend, Hall of Famer, John D'Agostino, found and customized a beautiful '57 Cadillac Eldorado Seville that had belonged to the legendary "Singing Cowboy" Radio/Movie/TV Star GENE AUTRY !  To hear my Interview with John about this amazing find, just Click-On-Here and you'll be able to listen to the whole story...AND hear Gene sing "Back In The Saddle Again" !


  "FILL 'ER UP ! THE GREAT AMERICAN GAS STATION", By Tim Russell.  Crestline, Pub.

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU pulled into a filling station and an attendant rushed out to ask what you needed, filled your tank, checked your oil, checked your tire pressure, cleaned off your windshield, collected the money, then brought back your change, smiled, thanked you, and told you to "come back soon" ?  Hmmmm?  If you said sometime about, maybe, 40 years ago, you'd probably be right, and in the process, you'd be turning the clock back to a much simpler, and sometimes better, time period in our collective History.

But that full service gas station concept began in the early part of the 20th Century, and the words "full service" really meant something at that time.  So in this book, Tim Russell has brought us the "how, what, where, and, why" the American Gas Station was created, flourished, and, changed from its earliest beginnings to what it is today. Tim, who is actually British and resides in London (but he also attended college here in the U.S.) has been a collector of Petroliana since he was a boy, so he also chronocles the European oil industry and how it sometimes mirrored it's American counterpart.

If there's almost anything you want to know about the oil companies, their stations, who designed those stations, who built the pumps, how the stations became a part of the communities they served,  how "giveaways" and "savings stamps" became a part of the mix, how the campaigns for cleanliness and better quality products, along with the sale of tires, batteries, oil changes and lube jobs, all helped the growth of stations across America, and Europe, you will probably find the answer in this magnificent volume !

This is a 208 page, hardcover book, with colour & b&w photos, ads, maps, and related visuals on every page...many from Russell's personal collection.  The info & pix from the European oil companies are rare & unusual, and I doubt you'll find them in this great a number anywhere else.   From its humble beginnings in 1913 until today, the book chronicles the Oil Industry and how it, and the automobile, shaped and changed the world we live in.  Being a historian, and an archivist/collector myself, of course I'm drawn to the early info and photos from the teens to the 50's, but have lived through all of later eras...sometimes wishing we could go back to the "Golden Age" and really appreciate it this time.

No matter what you drive today, a rod, a custom, a classic, or, just a daily-driver stocker, you will enjoy not only the history involved here, but you'll appreciate Tim Russell's love of the subject, and the massive amount of research that it took to put this book together.  He's spent year's in acquiring the knowledge he share's with us here, and I fully recognize the work that's gone into it.

What would I have liked to see in the book that I didn't ?  Well, I'm a fan of Phillips 66, as well as Texaco, and Mobil...and though Mobil & Texaco are given good coverage, I would like to have seen much more on Phillips 66.  But, that didn't deter me from enjoying every Chapter of this very well-done volume...and, if you add it to your Library, I'm sure you won't be disappointed !   "Fill 'er Up !" is available directly from the Motorbooks Publishers Website www.motorbooks.com and, at Amazon www.amazon.com

(SPEAKING OF THE "GOLDEN AGE" !  If you want to hear some great stories from one of the R&C Industries longest-running Legends "The King Of The Kustomizers", GEORGE BARRIS,  listen to this story of George's early years  from "Street Racing and Bullet Holes, to Movies & TV" !  All you do is Click-On-This Link , listen & enjoy ! )


   "SOUPING THE STOCK ENGINE", By Roger Huntington.  California Bill's Automotive Handbooks, Pub.

When was the last time you heard somebody say,  "Man ! That hot rod runs like a scalded cat !  That ride's really souped-up !" ?  It probably was a l-o-n-g time ago !  Well, that's when this book was first published...a long time ago: 1950.  It was in that post-war era when hot rods were being built by a lot of the G.I.'s that returned home, had a pent-up need for speed, and, had a car that they loved...but just wasn't fast enough.

Enter the iconic racing pioneer/publisher Floyd Clymer, and, legendary automotive journalist/S.A.E. member, Roger Huntington, and you have a look back at the "Golden Age" of Hot Rodding in the form of this rare look into the past with, "Souping The Stock Engine", reprinted from their original 1950 version.  And, as I read this, I was truly transported back in time to those dusty, hot summer days, or, those cold, snowy winter nights, when I would read my copies of Honk!, Car Craft, Rod & Custom, Motor Trend, and the rest, seeing the by-line of  "Roger Huntington, S.A.E" time-after-time.

Roger was a self-taught writer whose impact on the automotive industry was felt in every corner of the Universe, and in this volume whether you wanted to get more horsepower out of your Ford Flat Head, Chevy OHV 6,  Hudson 6  or 8, Cadillac OHV, or, Willys 4-Banger...Roger figured out how you could do it !   No matter if you owned a DeSoto, Studebaker, Offy Midget, Mercury, Model A, or, almost any other All-American car in that era, this book could have gotten you to the track-and-back with the fastest ET's you could imagine.

Huntington's most accomplished gift as a writer, was putting his engineering knowledge into "layman's terms" so that anyone with a garage and the proper tools could get the job of more horsepower, more grunt-pounding torque, and more trophies in his case, done and finished if he applied the principles and info as set-out here.

This book is filled with b&w photos, graphs, charts, and, cutaway diagrams.  Legendary equipment names like Ardun, Weiand, Spalding, Vertex, Edmunds, Kong, and many others, are used and discussed in getting you "up to speed".  Magnetos, camshafts, pistons, carbs, reworking stock heads, power & performance curves, power & torque ratios, and, blowers/superchargers, all are given a look...as to what could work for you. 

REMEMBER: This information is from 1950 and many methods have changed, or, the equipment/manufacturers aren't readily available or, are non-existant today, so don't expect to find it at NAPA, Car Quest, or your local automotive retailer's.

On a personal note, I was particularly interested in the info in Chapter 10 "Supercharging" as my '97 Olds LSS, which I purchased new, has a Roots-style Supercharger on its 3.8 Liter V-6.  That's one of the main reasons I custom-chose that car...always wanted a Supercharger, and a street-legal unit like this one works perfectly !   And, when you're on the highway, if you punch-it, it will "run like a scalded cat" !   So, yes, I'm living proof that "what worked in 1950" can still work today...thank you, Roger, and, the Roots brothers of Connorsville, Indiana !

This is a great look back at the "roots" of  Hot Rodding, and you'll probably want it for the info as well as the nostalgia for that simpler time it evokes: No cell phones, no computers, no computer chips to add to your "black box", no downloads, no 1-800-Dial-A-Rod numbers to call...just plain old All-American ingenuity, or, should I say "engine-uity" .

ALSO, what most reader's of Roger Huntington's articles never knew is that he was a paraplegic who was wheelchair-bound from a swiming accident he suffered in 1941.  Roger was definitely one of the BEST automotive journalist's of all-time.  He passed away in 1989 at the age of 63.

Floyd Clymer (1895-1970) was also a living legend in the automotive Industry, and shared his love of "crossing the finish line first" with his racing contributions, and, his published books on that subject.  This one is a prime example, and belongs in your library.

"Souping The Stock Engine" is in its original compact-style format (5.5"x 8.5"), with 192 pages, and is available directly from Motorbooks, Pub. at http://www.motorbooks.com/ , or, on Amazon www.amazon.com

NOTE: One of hot rodding's coolest pioneers was Hall Of Famer NORM GRABOWSKI who put together the iconic Kookie Kar !  To hear a great, and very funny, story from Norm about his early days, and his first car, a Packard with no roof, simply Click-On-This Link:


  "ADS THAT PUT AMERICA ON WHEELS", By Eric Dregni & Karl Hagstrom Miller. Motorbooks International, Pub. (1996)

THIS IS TRULY ONE OF THE NEATEST BOOKS that you'll ever own !  I know that, because I pull out my copy about once a month and just marvel at some of the most beautiful cars ever created to travel the highways of America...or anywhere there's a road and four wheels can hit the ground.

No, this in not a new book.  It was published in October of 1996, and I bought my copy during the Holiday Season of that year as a present for myself.  The authors' Eric Dregni & Karl Hagstrom Miller, certainly did their homework on both the history of the automobile, and, the creation of the "Ad Man" to promote not only the car itself, but the "image"...that rare mental picture that was created to let the buyer fantasize about his/her life, and how much better it would be if they bought a certain model.

Growing up during the 50's, every Fall Season I would patiently await my Dad's coming home from work at the Wagner Electric Company here in St. Louis, one of the World's largest supplier's of  electronic parts, light bulbs, brake parts, brake fluid, and many other car-related items.  Every night he would bring home the daily newspapers, and, of course, Fall was when the new car models hit the dealers showrooms...and those daily newspapers always had ads in them for the newest Detroit had to offer. Well, this book is like a microcosm of all the years that I looked at those new car ads...they're almost all in there !

Whatever you're looking for "brand wise" you'll probably find it here: Tucker, Marmon, Nash, Packard, Graham, Hudson, Willys, and, of course, all of what Ford, GM, and, Chrysler produced.  Like I said, ads for almost any model can be found in this volume.  Most are in beautiful full color, as well as some early models in black & white,  and they go from the turn-of-the-twentieth-century to seventies...with the bulk of the coverage being in the "Fabulous Fifties", and the "Super Sixties". 

The book's 128 pages are packed with not just ad photos, but with information by the author's showing how we got from "there-to-here" by being led by the artists/designers, copywriters, and, ad salesmen, of that marvelous time when Detroit "iron" ruled the roads.  Plus, they also are honest in their assessment of  Detroit's stubborness to not upset the status quo...and not changing with the times as they should have when immenent competition from foreign automakers was "knocking on the door" and smaller, safer, more fuel efficient cars needed to be built.

ONE OF MY FAVOURITE ADS is on Page 109.  It is a warm, beautiful painting of a father and daughter in the new 1933 Dodge 8.  Evidently it's in that Fall/Winter Season when this new Dodge was unveiled, and the life-like vividness of the two seated in the front seat of that Dodge, with the daughter behind the wheel, is just perfect.  He's handsome, middle-aged, wearing a  camel-colored overcoat with a scarf, bowtie, and, black hat.  She's smiling, beautiful, early-30's, with a gray, high-necked coat, black gloves and hat. The whole scene is just perfect, and a great advertisement for both Dodge, and the fact that women loved cars just as much as their male counterparts...driving them and owning them.  I don't know who the artist was that created this truly beautiful scene, but I thank him everytime I look at it...for in a way, the lovely woman in that Dodge reminds me a little of photos I have of my Mother from that time period.

"Ads That Put America On Wheels" belongs in every car lover's Library.  If you're a Rod & Custom guy, like me, you'll see what some of these rides looked like when they were first introduced.  If you're into Classic American Iron...well, again, you'll see the ads and read the Info that goes along with 'em: showing, and telling, how they got from the place where they were built to the inside of your garage !

Since this isn't a new book, you probably won't find it at your neighborhood bookstore. But, there are always a few copies offered on either Amazon or eBay.  Do yourself a favor...check those Sites for a good copy and snap it up fast !   I guarantee you'll thank me !!

NOTE: To see some great classic auto Ads, plus a bazillion Rods & Customs, and hear some of the greatest car Commercials ever produced, simply Click-On-Here and check-out our Video Gallery...you'll see Rods, Customs, and, some of coolest cars ever assembled, PLUS, you'll even hear Dinah Shore sing "See The U.S.A. In Your Chevrolet" !  Once you get to the Gallery, just push the "Start" button (big button in the center) on the lower section of the TV Frame to access the photos !



HARRY BENTLEY BRADLEY, has been one of the most revered custom car stylists for almost 50 years.  If you ever seen his landmark personal custom '51 Chevy Hardtop, the "La Jolla",  then you know what I mean.  If you ever seen the Alexander Brothers-built, Harry Bradley-designed, '65 Dodge A100 COE Truck, the "Deora", then you know what I mean...and you get the picture: HBB was always spot-on with whatever he designed.  In fact, a number of year's ago, another of the R&C Industry's top designer's, STEVE STANFORD, told me that Harry was one of his personal favorites...and higher praise than that is hard to come by !

But although the art & designs came easy for him from a very early age, Mr. Bradley did not have an "ideal" life.   In 1949, the young teenager contracted Polio, was admitted to the Polio Isolation Ward of  the Boston Children's Hospital, and was found to be permanently paralyzed from the waist down.  So, when you read the stories within this book, you'll discover how Harry truly turned tragedy into triumph...and how his career, and the body of work he produced, has affected almost everyone reading this Review.

Harry had been born and raised in Boston, but after he got out of the BCH his parents opted for a warmer climate for him and moved to Southern Califonia's costal area of La Jolla (pronounced "La Hoya") in 1950...an area which I've been to and personally love. It was in that "sun & surf" atmosphere that young Harry got some of his first glimpses of real hot rods, custom cars, cool limos, and, daily-driver European sports cars.  But, due to his father's unemployment situation they moved back East to Ridgewood, New Jersey, where his father was soon-hired at a major accounting firm.

Again, as Harry got older, his art and designs got better, and after school ended for him, he eventually landed a job with GM contributing to  Chevs, Pontiac, and, Cadillacs. He was also hired by Mattel and created the first sixteen models of their then-new project: Hot Wheels...among them was the "A-Brothers" Dodge DEORA !

This is a slim, 64 page volume, that is literally filled with some of Harry's greatest works !  The cars, the colors, the designs that are shown within are superb.  You will especially love his cartoon concept's showing the birth of both Hot Wheels, and, the Deora !  If you love HBB's custom car designs, his remake of the "Oscar Mayer Weenermobile", or, anything in-between, this book is a must for your collection...and you can find your copy on www.amazon.com 

BTW: TO HEAR MIKE ALEXANDER'S STORY about the Riddler Award Winning, Harry Bentley Bradley designed, DEORA and turning it into one of the "ORIGINAL 16" Hot Wheels cars Just Click-On-Right-Here !

(Frederic A. Sharf is a well-known collector & preservationist of designer's archives, and this book was published in conjunction with an exhibiton of  Harry Bentley Bradley's works, and was compiled by Mr. Sharf & Harry.  The exhibit was on display at the Children's Hospital Boston in 2008 to 2009. )


 "ROCKIN' GARAGES", By Tom Cotter And Ken Gross.  Photography By Michael Alan Ross. Foreword By Billy F Gibbons. Motorbooks, Pub.  (2012)

AS SOON AS I GOT THE INFO that "Rockin' Garages" had been released, I contacted my friend, Nichole Shiele, the Senior Marketing Manager for Motorbooks, and she forwarded me a copy a couple of days later.   Nichole, has helped me consistantly with this "Hot Off The Press" Section of the HOF Legends Site ever since I created it a number of years ago, and I couldn't thank her enough for her help & support.  And, this book proved to be personally important to us both. 

If you've read my Bio Section (About Jonnie King) you know that the two "hardest driving" factors in my life have always been cars & music/music & cars.  In addition, Nichole also worked in Broadcasting before she began her career at Motorbooks.  So, this book actually impacts both of us.

Reading the names of those profiled in this spectacular volume is pure deja vu to me !  How many times since I took to the Airwaves in 1967 have I said:  "That was a great track from Aerosmith !  Before that you heard from the Doobie Brothers, Billy Joel, and, Fleetwood Mac.  On the way...music from Hall & Oates, the J.Geils Band, Arlo Guthrie, and, I may squeeze in some AC/DC and Pink Floyd if we have time !" ? 

Yep.  Most of those listed here have been with me for decades.  I've followed their careers.  Our careers, many times, paralleled each other's.  Their music is part of the "soundtrack of my life", and this book further cements our relationship.  Music, cars, bikes, racing, cool garages, and, a lifestyle that only those that truly "get it" will fully understand.

TOM COTTER & KEN GROSS are names that are familiar to those of you reading this Page.  They are "pros"...from start to finish.  MICHAEL ALAN ROSS's photography is as good as it gets...and captures the images & mood of those featured with every click of the shutter.

Okay, now let me give you a better look at some of the "A" Lister's you'll find in "Rockin' Garages":  Keith Urban (with a '56 Lincoln Mark II to die for !), Sammy Hagar, Billy Joel, Pat Simmons (Doobie Brothers), Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Mick Fleetwood (Fleetwood Mac), Nick Mason (Pink Floyd), Jimmie Vaughan (with Rods & Customs galore !), Brad Whitford (Aerosmith), George Frayne (Commander Cody), Arlo Guthrie, John Oates (Hall & Oates), J.Geils (J.Geils Band), Michael Anthony (Van Halen/Chickenfoot), Brian Johnson (AC/DC), and many others.

Cotter, and Gross, capture the words and the "souls" of these music masters in their descriptions of each one.  Ross's pictorials give them the balance and visual impact they deserve.  All is done with a respect for the individuals involved, as well as their involvement with the cars, bikes, racing, guitars, and, memorabilia, that are a part of their lives.

OF THOSE LISTED & PROFILED in the book, I've had dinner with Sammy Hagar a number of years ago, did a Doobies Concert with Pat Simmons, and, have some great Interviews here on the HOF Legends Site with Jimmie Vaughan...as well as Gary Howard, who's built most of Jimmie's customs.  All are real "Gearheads" in the pure essence of the word. 

If you want a book that sheds new light on some of the singers & musicians that you've probably listened to more times than you could count, "ROCKIN' GARAGES" is a book you need in your library !  And, thanks again, Nichole !  

SPECIAL NOTE: To hear JIMMIE VAUGHAN'S story about his super-cool '61 "Hot Rod Caddy", Plus, see a couple of pix of Jimmie and myself with my INVICTA at Darryl Starbird's National Rod & Custom Car Hall Of Fame Museum Simply Click-On Here !


  "BATMOBILE: THE COMPLETE HISTORY", By Mark Cotta Vaz. Foreword By Paul Levitz & Nathan Crowley. Insight Editions, Pub. (2012)

IN PUTTING THIS SPECIAL BOOK TOGETHER , Mark Cotta Vaz has really done his homework !   In fact, through the years he's done a lot of homework: he's had over 25 books published...and this would have to be one of the "Crown Jewels" of his career !

As it should,  Mark's story on the most legendary, and iconic, fantasy car of all-time unfolds from its humble beginnings in the Spring, 1941 issue of DC Comics "Batman #5 ", all the way through to the 2012 version known as "TUMBLER".  And, the Q & A at the opening of the book that pairs long-running DC Comics Vet, PAUL LEVITZ, with NATHAN CROWLEY an Academy Award-Nominated Production Designer for the Christopher Nolan "Dark Knight Trilogy", is a superb add !  Their inside info brings depth to the excellent research that MCZ has imbued in this volume.

The book is a visual delight for all Batfans and contains 148 pages within its hardcover, with page-after-page of both color and b&w photos, sketches, blueprints, info on the Bat-Builds, Batman & Detective comic book pages & info, a fold-out page featuring the TUMBLER, quotes from the producers, builders, artists, designers, Batmobile-Drivers, execs, et al...hey, what can I say ?!  This is one very cool add to your Library...and, if you're smart, you'll buy two and give one as a present to one of your special Bat-Friend's !

I should tell you that I was first-alerted to "Batmobile: The Complete History" by my friend "The King of the Kustomizers" GEORGE BARRIS.  It was during an Interview Session we did in July, 2012, and to hear that Interview Check-Out the Link at the bottom of this Review.   George, of course, is quoted in Mark's book about his build of the fantastic 1966 TV Batmobile, which was based on the Lincoln Futura concept car from the Ford Motor Company.  But, this is only one of the stories you'll read on the various Bat-Builds in your journey through the pages of this superbly documented volume.

 I HAVE BEEN A BATFAN since I was a kid, and one of my favorite comic covers of all-time is Dick Sprang's instant-classic done for "Batman #20" which shows the Batmobile tearing through the cover !  That's it on the left, and it's one of the most powerful images you could ever imagine.  In this Batbook, you can see the penciled/inked cover art on Page 26.  It's amazing with or without color !

To sum it up, "Batmobile: The Complete History" is a "keeper" !  And, if you'd like a copy  for your Bat-Collection you can go to the Insight Editions Publisher's website with this Link: http://www.insighteditions.com/Batmobile-Complete-Mark-Cotta-Vaz/dp/1608871037

SPECIAL NOTE: To hear my Interview with GEORGE BARRIS on both "The Little Deuce Coupe", the FIVE Batmobiles', the Bat-Documentary, and , "Batmobile: The Complete History", simply Click-On This Link:  http://www.legends.thewwbc.net/gpage177.html

PLUS: IF YOU HAVEN'T HEARD IT YET, you've GOT to listen to George Barris's story of his build of the legendary 1966 Batmobile !  You'll hear Batman, you'll see the Lincoln Futura concept car that became the Batmobile, lots of other cool pix, model kits, and info.   And, you'll see yours truly in the St. Louis Batcave in 1966 !  Here's the Link to that Special Page: http://www.legends.thewwbc.net/gpage23.html


   "RICK NELSON,  ROCK 'N' ROLL PIONEER",  By Sheree Homer. Foreword by Bruce Berenson. McFarland & Company, Inc., Pub.

IF YOU'VE READ MY BIO SECTION (ABOUT JONNIE KING) you know that my "Broadcasting Roots" were honed & polished by the "Roots of Rock 'N' Roll".  And, in October of 1981, I was privileged to Interview one of R&R's true Legends: Rick Nelson.

I have a Tribute Page to Rick that includes my Interviews (see the Link below), and, along with hearing Rick's stories, you can read my info and memories of that memorable,  and way too brief, time I spent talking to Rick.  These Interview stories with Rick are always among the most popular Sections of the Site, and I'm proud that I was able to record his History for all who come here to enjoy...and to learn from.  He was a consumate professional, and a true gentleman in every sense of the word.  I have done literally hundreds of Interviews in my career since 1967...and my Interview with Rick is one of my personal favorites of all-time.  Period.

One day I got an eMail from SHEREE HOMER telling me she had listened to the Interviews, truly enjoyed them, and stated that she had written a book about Rick entitled "Rick Nelson, Rock 'N' Roll Pioneer".   Well, I instantly replied back to her, thanked her for her kind words, and asked for a copy of the book so that I could Review it and give all of you, kind readers, a chance to get a copy for your collection.

If you grew up, as I did, watching "The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet" on TV every week (or, hearing their long-running Radio show in the 40's & 50's), you know how important Rick Nelson was to the early Rock 'n' Roll/Rockabilly movement, and Sheree's book let's you re-live it all over again.  BUT, if you're younger and didn't have that opportunity, the book so well-defines all of Rick's "time periods" that you'll feel as if you were there anyway !

Sheree is an accomplished writer, has run her own "Rockabilly Revue" magazine, and has contributed numerous articles that have been published Nationally.  And, in doing this special book on Rick Nelson, shows a true love of the subject, his life, his history, and, his long and varied career.

Rick, as I stated to him in my Interview, and as Sheree notes in her book, was at one time Elvis' closest rival !  He was the 5th most popular recording artist of the 1950's, and Sheree's research, Interviews with his family, friends, fellow-musicians, and, producers, shed a candid look into Rick's background that is both professional & honest.  It shows the many sides of Rick that made up  the man and the musician.

I met Rick's long-running, most-influential producer, Jimmie Haskell, at an ABC/Dunhill Convention in 1971, and told him how I had admired his work through the years.  He thanked me, and said that I was the only one there who had taken the time to tell him that.  Again, a class-act, and a true production Wizard, so you'll enjoy Jimmie's comments in this book.

Guitarist James Burton is another whose work I have loved through the years.  From the opening strains of Dale Hawkins' "Susie-Q", to seeing him in Concert with Elvis on April 17, 1972, when I was Music Director & Air Personality at KAAY in Little Rock, he's always been one of the best...and, universally admired by his peers, as well as his fans.  His stories about recording and traveling with Rick are among the most important in the book.  James Burton was a key to getting some personal background stories on Rick, and I compliment Sheree with the in-depth way she handled it.

Plus, Sheree's support, along with stories & photos, from Rick's family, was vital to the information included in the book...and, it was perfect on  all accounts. The book contains a filmography, a discography, and in addition, lists all of the Nelson's Radio & TV shows in order, from 1944-1966, in its 206 pages, and has 47 photos...many never seen before.

All-in-all, I cannot tell you what a wonderful addition this would be to your personal library.  Rick Nelson was a "car guy" as well as a true R&R Pioneer.  Music & Cars have gone together since the first radio was installed in one of those classic rides of the 1930's...and, Rick's "Greatest Hits" CD is played almost-monthly in my "Daily Driver" !   Oh !  My personal Rick Nelson favorites ?   I've been asked that many times, so here are my Top 5 RN Favorites:  "Poor Little Fool"; "There'll Never Be Anyone Else But You"; "Lonesome Town; "Teenage Idol"/"Believe What You Say" (tie); "Garden Party".  There now !   Are you happy ?!

If you love Rock & Roll History, if you ever watched "The Adventures Of Ozzie & Harriet", if you've ever wanted to learn about one of the biggest and best true Superstar's of All-Time...you have to own "Rick Nelson, Rock 'N' Roll Pioneer" by Sheree Homer !

NOTE:  Copies of "Rick Nelson, Rock 'N' Roll Pioneer" are available at  www.mcfarlandpub.com  Call 800-253-2187 to order your copy.  AND, to access my Tribute Page to Rick, and listen to PART 1 of our Interview, simply Click-On Here,  listen, and, ENJOY !


 "HOT RODZ, HOT BODZ, AND BO HUFF", BY Lynn M Carlson. Lynn M Carlson, Pub.

THIS BOOK IS DEFINITELY hard to categorize.  The opening statement on Page 1 pretty much says it all:  "Lynn M Carlson And Bo Huff Join Forces To Rule The World...In Style !"

The photos for the book were taken & compiled by Lynn who was a lifelong friend of Bo's.  The pix, cars, bikes, and, models were all photographed at Bo's Museum and property in Utah.  Bo's cars & bikes, as well as some belonging to Lynn were used in the shoot. The models were all gorgeous...to say the least !  (And if the model on Pages 8, 9, and, 33 would like to get in touch with me, Bo has my number !!)

To describe this book correctly, you have to have lived back in the 60's.  Think: 1967, "The Summer Of Love"; Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco; Woodstock, 1969; Peter Max; Jimi Hendrix; the Beatles "Yellow Submarine"; "Easy Rider"...the entire Psychedelic Culture that permeated that Time Period is manifested within the structure of this rare, low-volume, small press-run book.  This is a "concept"-styled book, extremely unique, and visually stunning.

When I first saw it, it literally blew my mind !  It was like I had traveled back to those beautiful, artistic, free-form days that I loved so much as my career in Radio formed and shaped itself.  In fact, I was talking to a few of my old Radio buddies recently and we agreed that we'd love to go "back there" again and re-live some of the fun & excitement that was a part of our lives, and our profession, at that time.

Bo's Museum is a sight to behold anyway.  The walls are covered with memorabilia, hubcaps, license plates, advertising signs, juke boxes,...you name it Bo's got it !  There are also cases chocked-full of  rare memorabilia. And the cars are all just remarkable:  Rods, Customs, and, some cool stockers.   Bo's compound is truly a "Rockabilly Kat's Paradise"...and one of these days I'm going to take him up on his offer to come and visit !

One of my favorite photos is on Page 15.  The strength, and dynamics of that photo are so powerful !  This strong, beautiful, woman, posed behind the trunk of a '66 AMC Ambassador Sedan (just like my Dad owned in 1966) is truly a sight to behold.  The composition of that shot makes it one of the best in the book.  And if you study it closely, you'll imagine that that strong, sexy model would not only be able to drive that car, but could probably lift it up with her bare hands while you changed the flat tire for her...if she had one !  What a powerful shot !  (And yes indeed, before you ask, if she is available, Bo can give her my number also !!)

In addition, Page 13 is so remarkably rendered that it is a "work of art" on its own merits...and, should really be turned into a Poster.  It would look fantastic hanging on a wall in your home or garage !

All-in-all, I could not recommend this book more highly.  It's a super coffee table-type book to have in your collection.  It's a hard-cover volume, in full, sometimes-psychedilic color, and is a large 12"x 12".  The Pages are excellent quality, thick stock.  Simply beautiful.  Beware though: This book is not very big - just 40 Pages - and, outside of the First Page, there are no words or explanations of the pictures.  But you really don't need any !  It goes back to the old quotation: "One picture is worth a thousand words."  AND with "Hot Rodz, Hot Bodz, and Bo Huff" the pictures really say it all !!

BTW: TO HEAR BO'S STORY about how the book came to be done to begin with, plus his comments on his Induction into the KKOA Hall of Fame in 2012, just click-on right here !

(SPECIAL NOTE:  Our friend, Bo Huff, passed-away on August 4, 2015, after a long struggle with cancer, and this book is a great, very cool look into an earlier, relaxed, fun part of his life.  It's available only through Bo's Website.  There are not many copies left, so if you want yours, you better hurry !  Here's the Link that you'll need:  http://shopbohuffcustoms.com/ )


  "KINGS OF KUSTOMS DVD #1: GENE WINFIELD", Gateway Media, Executive Producers, In Association With Longboard Pictures

When it comes to GENE WINFIELD, well, he's one of my favourite subjects of all-time.  I've known Gene for many years, and I never cease to be amazed at his drive, his stamina, and, his kindness to all he comes in contact with.   This DVD is an excellent "primer" if you've never met Gene, and a very honest look at his career & lifestyle if you have.

For over 65 years Gene has worked at his craft - his artform - almost daily, and his body-of-work includes fantastic custom cars, hot rods, TV cars, Movie cars, Bonneville racers, and many other vehicles that have received publicity & magazine features WorldWide.  Plus, his trademarked "Blended/Fadeaway" paint jobs are sought after by custom car builders around the World.

Spending time with Gene is an adventure in and of itself !   He is almost in constant motion, almost never sits down, and, has the constitution of a man half his age.  His memories of the builds he has done, the stories that he recalls from the "early days", and the people that he's met during the course of his career, add to Gene's legend.   You'll find all of those topics and many, many more in this remarkable DVD.

It showcases not only Gene, but many of his fellow pioneers & friends: George Barris, Steve Stanford, Spence Murray, Sid Mead, Junior Conway, Alex Gambino, some of his old Hot Rod Buddies, and many others.

The way the DVD is edited and put together, the music used, and the quality of the video equipment used is superb !   Every section showcases a part of Gene's life, his shop, his first shop, his running at Bonneville,  et al.   And, Gene's interview portions are spot-on, honest, and, just as if you were spending time with him...which I have, and he's that way in "real" life, just like he is in "reel" life !

If you're looking for a "keeper" DVD about one of the Rod & Custom Industries longest-running, legendary Pro's, then you must add "Kings Of Kustoms DVD #1: Gene Winfield" to your collection.   I have a better idea:  buy TWO !   One for yourself and one for your favourite Crusin' Buddy...he will be forever in your debt !!

[TO HEAR GENE'S STORY about his favourite cars just click-on here,  listen, and, enjoy ! ]

NOTE: To order your copy, plus a look at "Kings Of Kustoms" apparel & gifts, go to their WebSite:  www.kingsofkustoms.com  



"THEODORE W. PIETSCH II AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF AUTOMOBILE DESIGN IN THE GOLDEN AGE", By Theodore W. Pietsch III.  Foreword By Frederic A. Sharf. Pietsch/Sharf, Pub.

WHEN IT COMES TO WELL-KNOWN DESIGNERS of the American automobile, I'm sure you're familiar with the names of Harley Earl, Bill Mitchell, Raymond Lowey, and, Virgil Exner.  But one that you really should become familiar with is THEODORE W. PIETSCH II.

It's always a pure pleasure to read about some of these formerly "unsung" designers of some of the most beautiful automobiles from the earliest days of the Golden Age of our automotive culture.  And when a book of this quality is written by the subject's son, in this case a respected author/professor in another field altogether, it's an even greater pleasure.

Theodore W. Pietsch II, had a long and illustrious career that began in 1934 and continued until his retierment in 1992.  Through those years he worked for Chrysler, Hudson, Briggs-Packard, Ford, Chrysler (with Virgil Exner), Raymond Lowey-Studebaker, Studebaker-Packard, Chrysler (for the 3rd time), and, American Motors.  If that's not a superb resume'...then none exist !

Mr. Pietsch was not a trained designer, his talent, his art, was innate.  He was mostly self-taught, and his talent and creativity showed through in all of his work.

This book is part of a Series, and the Foreword by Frederic A. Sharf,  a collector of some of the most unique and sought-after archives of automotive designers, such as Theodore W. Pietsch II, explains much.   The volumes in Mr. Sharf's Series, include books on Harry Bentley Bradley, Carl Renner, and, Richard H. Arbib, and all were produced as part of the special exhibits of the rare archival art work of these respected designers.  (Note:  All of the aforementioned books will be Reviewed here at a later date.)

If I were to have some favourite's of these concepts that came from Ted's fantastic imagination, they can be found on these Pages: 23, 31, 38, 58, 62, and, 64.  And some, like the "Meteor" proposal for Ford in 1955 (P.31), and the Cover Car, that 1941 Chrysler (P.64), would make any true Custom Car Builder/Buff - like myself - salivate at the possiblity of seeing one of these actually built and driven on the street !  (And, you can't tell me that some of the ideas that Ted forecast in the "Meteor" didn't end up in some of Ford's factory-built concepts, as well as the futuristic 1957 Mercury/Turnpike Cruiser styling.)

Mr. Pietsch was also involved in aircraft design and you will see some of his remarkable work, including his Curtis SB2C Helldiver blueprint perspective drawing, in that field here too.

All-in-all, I couldn't recommend this book more highly.  You will not find these rare archived designs, family photos, a look at how the industry worked at that time, and, personal information on this excellent contributor to the true Golden Age of Design, anywhere else.  His son, Theodore W. Pietsch III, has given us a loving, yet professionally crafted & written, glimpse into the life of a true automotive artist.  Plus, the "back story" of their Germanic Heritage adds a quality and flavor that propels the book's information forward with insight and a look into the world in which Ted II grew up.

NOTE:  Since this is a Special Series/Format  Book, it will not be available in many localities.  Accordingly, I advise you to go to www.amazon.com  where you'll find copies available from sellers there.


 "CLASSIC CUSTOMS AND LEAD SLEDS", By Bo Bertilsson. Foreword By Ken Gross. Motorbooks, Pub.

OKAY, YOU MIGHT BE SAYING TO YOURSELF: "I think I've seen that book before."...and, you'd probably be right, as it was originally published in 2001.  But, do you have it in your collection ?   Well, if you don't you should !

BO BERTILSSON, was born and raised in Stockholm, Sweden, and, eventually, as a young man interested in Rods & Customs, moved to Southern California.  In the process he became a photographer and a writer,  photographing & writing about some of those cool customs he had admired for so long.  In this book, which chronicles and focuses on some of the legendary builders/owners of these magnificent customs, Bo has given us a great look into these individuals who we've read about for so many years.

Gene Winfield, Larry Watson, John D'Agostino, Richard Zocchi, Rick Dore, Jimmie Vaughan, and the works of many, many others are showcased here in Bo's expert photos & info. And with an Foreword by KEN GROSS, you can't go wrong.

The book is an easy-to-handle paperback format, and contains 128 pages, almost all in color, of some of the finest cars from the collections of all those above...and more.  You'll see early shots of Gene Winfield's "Maybelline" '61 Caddy; John D'Agostino's '57 Lincoln "Royal Emperor"; Rick Dore's "Majestic" '49 Caddy; Richard Zocchi's '56 Chrysler; Jimmie Vaughan's '63 Riviera; Billy J Gibbons Steve Stanford-inspired '50 Ford "Kopperhed"...and lots more.  I've had my copy since 2002,  and I've thumbed through it so many times the cover's getting worn...why don't you get yours while they're still available ? 

(NOTE: To hear Jimmie Vaughan's story about builder GARY HOWARD, and, his beautiful '61 Caddy Hot Rod Custom, just click-on here ! )


 "HOT ROD ROOTS...A TRIBUTE TO THE PIONEERS", Edited by, Dain Gingerelli.  Foreword by Alex Xydias. Motorbooks, Pub.

Hot Rods aren't anything new.  Almost as soon as the automobile was invented, whomever built one, or owned one, probably tried to see how fast this new-fangled piece of machinery would go.   And, if he ran into someone else who was driving one, you can bet they both might have wanted to find out whose was fastest !

Eventually, after the initial "shakedown cruise" of his purchase, said owner may have wanted to find out how he could make his go faster...especially if that other driver he raced had bested him. Thus was born the first "hot rod"...and the earliest of the "pioneers of hot rodding".

This book, "HOT ROD ROOTS...A TRIBUTE TO THE PIONEERS", was put together by the American Hot Rod Foundation which, like our Hall Of Fame Legends Series Site, is dedicated to preserving the history and the stories of our industries pioneers.  It focuses on those who built & raced those early hot rods, as well as those who created the equipment to make those GOW jobs run as fast as they could, the magazines & books that were created to "feed the beast" of information and get it to the masses, the places they raced, and, what they raced.

Dain Gingerelli, one of the industries most-respected writers/editors/authors, edited this compilation.  Included in book are chapters by Robert Genat, Pat Ganahl, Greg Sharp, Ken Gross, A.B. Shuman, and, Dain.  With a Foreword by the legendary Alex Xydias, and, an Introduction by Steve Memishian, the Founder of the AHRF.

Each chapter is loaded with rare, mostly never-seen-before photos, and encompasses every facet of hot rodding from Pre-WW II to Today.  I'm especially pleased to see the rare pix from my earliest R&C Hero, DON FERRARA, that are used.   Many are featured in Mark Morton's "Hot Rod Heritage" story in Chapter 7.  

Don Ferrara built one of the most-famous Model A Roadsters to ever hit the street, strip,and, the lakes.  Plus, a spectacular '49 Ford custom.  If he hadn't built that Ford you might not be reading my words today !  To see why that statement it true, and my Tribute To Don Ferrara simply click-on this link: 

All-in-all, "Hot Rod Roots" is a worthy effort that succeeds on all counts.  And, if you want to better understand why we do what we do today, this look into our cultural history of hot rodding will definitely help fill-in the blanks.  

(NOTE:  You can access much information from the American Hot Rod Foundation's website:  www.ahrf.com  )


  "GREETINGS FROM ROUTE 66...THE ULTIMATE ROAD TRIP", Edited by Michael Dregni. Voyageur Press (MBI Publishing Co.)

LIVING IN ST. LOUIS I use portions of Route 66 almost weekly. And, I drove "The Mother Road" myself from St. Louis to California many years ago when I moved to there to study at the Pasadena Playhouse. Drove it back to St. Louis when I returned home later.  I did it both ways in my '57 Dodge Royal mild custom, and it was something I'll never forget.

But, no matter when, or what era, you traveled Route 66, this excellent book "Greetings From Route 66: The Ultimate Road Trip..." will reaffirm your love for the Mother Road. AND, if you NEVER experienced the journey, the book will transport you back there to a much simpler, unique, time-period in our culture when America was a little younger...and so were we.

When Dinah Shore sang "See The U.S.A. In Your Chevrolet" she could have been pointing you directly toward Route 66 !

All of those connected with this beautiful volume are to be complimented ! The b&w, as well as colour photos, the information, the fun-facts, the superb layout & design of the book, the chapter-by-chapter chronology of the Road, and everything about this homage to Route 66 is quality workmanship from start to finish.  It's a large, 240 page edition that you'll use for info & reference time-after-time.

Material, Photos, and, Stories from Michael Karl Witzel, Kathy Weiser, Jim Hinckley, and,  Russell A. Olsen, are among those that flow easily through this book.  And, their eye-popping visuals are wonderfully placed and make the "look" of this magnificent volume stand-out on each & every page !  And, to top it off, the chronological order of the format let's you follow the "Route" the way you should...from the beginning !

If, like me, you're a car buff of the highest ranking, I know that you either have -or want to - drive that Special Ride of yours along the remains of "66" and re-create what the drive would have been like when that car was new !  And, if you just want to take the "modern day" family sedan on the trip...well, that's okay too, I'm sure you'll enjoy every mile of it, and this volume will help make the experience better in either case.

But, if you're an Armchair Adventurer and just want to curl-up, relax, and be transported back to that time and those places...well, this special "Greetings From Route 66" book will definitely serve the purpose !   Buy it, read it, travel and enjoy every exciting, colorful, stretch of that legendary highway through the vision of those that created this wonderful book. Once you do that, you'll feel like you've ACTUALLY been there...without even having to fasten your seatbelt !!

NOTE: To see some great classic auto Ads, plus a bazillion Rods & Customs, and hear some of the greatest car Commercials ever produced, simply Click-On-Here and check-out our Video Gallery...you'll see Rods, Customs, and, some of coolest cars ever assembled, PLUS, you'll even hear Dinah Shore sing "See The U.S.A. In Your Chevrolet" !  Once you get to the Gallery, just push the "Start" button (big button in the center) on the lower section of the TV Frame to access the photos !


    "BARRIS KUSTOM TECHNIQUES OF THE 50's", By George Barris, Wolfgang Publications,Inc., Pub. (Available from Motorbooks, Pub.)

EVER WISH YOU HAD A TIME MACHINE so that you could zoom-back into History and see how some of the most beautiful kustoms on the Planet were created ?  Have you ??

Okay, here's your chance !   The Legendary "King Of The Kustomizers", GEORGE BARRIS, has gone deep into his Personal Archives of photos & info to assemble these remarkable volumes which are exactly like a trip back-in-time, stepping into the shops where he, and his brother SAM, worked their "kustom magic" on countless numbers of  Award Winning cars.

George was an excellent photographer, so most of the photos shown are the ones he took of the original builds on these beautiful creations.  But, although most of the kustoms shown are "Barris Built", George pays due respect to his peers: Larry Watson, Dean Jefferies, George Cerney, Bob Metz, Bill Hines, and many others.  Also, both books have a number of "memories" shared from those who worked with, and had cars built by, the Barris Shop.

The volume shown ABOVE LEFT focuses on body work: Grilles, Scoops, Fins & Frenching.  The volume shown ABOVE RIGHT hones in on painting: Flames, Scallops, Paneling and Striping....and it also includes a Tribute to the iconic Von Dutch.  BOTH books show many step-by-step photos & info on how these unique rides were put together.

If you're a student of Rods & Kustoms on any level, these are definitely two books that belong in your permanent library.  You'll go back to them time and time again for the info, the photos, and, the atmosphere.   What do I mean by that ?  It's simple:  With these books, George Barris has shown how he, his brother Sam, and all of those who pioneered the creation of the "kustom car", did it...at a time when there were no "how to" books, there was no Internet, no texting, no cell phone pix, no fax machines, no computers.  It was a time when they had to figure it out on their own; a time when they worked day-by-day to create some of the most beautiful masterpieces ever imagined.  

BTW: Be sure to see my Review of George's DVD further down on this Page.  AND, to hear George's story about one of the most-famous kustoms ever built, "THE AZTEC" (pictured on the Cover of the volume shown Above on the Left), simply click-on right here !  You'll find out some very interesting info...especially concerning the paint used on the car !!  


 "THE BOOK OF THE FORD THUNDERBIRD FROM 1954", By Brian Long. Veloce, Pub. (Available from Motorbooks, Pub.)

A BOOK FOR THE AUTOMOTIVE SECTION OF YOUR LIBRARY BY A BRITISH AUTHOR, living in Japan, and writing about an iconic, legendary, American automobile ?   Well, that's exactly what this is...and it works !

BRIAN LONG, details not only the history of the Thunderbird, but gives a touch of importance to the beginnings of the Ford Motor Company in the first part of the book to lay the foundation for the eventual birth of that legendary winged-nameplate.

This book is a large, hardcover volume produced with the full co-operation of Ford, consisting of 224 pages on good quality paper stock, with over 400 illustrations, ads, dealer brochures, Ford studio studies & mock-ups, and, photos in B&W and Color

From the first Thunderbird that rolled off the line on September 9, 1954,  to the last produced in July of 2005, there are year-by-year production figures, statistics, exterior/interior color charts, chassis & body codes, engine & transmission options...look at it this way: If you want to find out about any style of Thunderbird, any year, you'll probably find it here.  I'll tell you outright, this is one of the most comprehensive books on a single-make automobile that you'll ever own !

BTW, have you ever owned a Thunderbird ?  I've owned two: my very first car was a 1958 Thunderbird Hardtop.  A few years ago, I also owned a rare 1966 Q-Code Hardtop with the Landau Roof Option, but configured in the Standard Hardtop Roof style, not the elongated 3/4 c-pillar style .  An extremely rare 'Bird.  And, one of my cousin's currently owns one of the last 2005 'Birds, so you see, T-Birds' have been a part of my life for over 50 years, and this book is one I'd never part with !   Buy the book...you won't be disappointed !


  "CARS OF THE FABULOUS '50s: A DECADE OF HIGH STYLE AND GOOD TIMES", By James M. Flammang. Publications International, Ltd., Pub. (

IF YOU LOVE "THE FABULOUS '50s", and, you love cars, then this is one book that you MUST own !   If you own, or have owned, a Rod or Custom based on a '50s car of any make,  then this is one book that you MUST own !   If you're reading this Review on my WebSite, and have any faith at all in my Reviews and Recommendations, then this is one book that you MUST own !    Get the picture ? 

This book is not just a fantastic look at the cars of the fabulous fifties: It is a Pop Culture lesson in the History of the American Automobile and how it linked to our daily lives in those Jet Age, Post-War, Boomer years of the '50s...giving us the freedom of the open road, the ability to 'Cruise to the newly-built Drive-Ins, and, eventually, drive back home to our recently-developed suburban neighborhoods. 

The author, JAMES M. FLAMMANG, has been writing & editing books about cars for years, and this magnificent volume has over 416 pages with more than 1,600 photos that include great reproductions of 1950's auto ads, plus it also covers the facts, events, and,  personalities of that dynamic time period.  Be careful though: This is a large, coffee table size book that - if you leave it out where anybody can see it - may be swiped by one of  your friends !

Everything in new cars that was the '50s is here for you to see & read about:  Soaring fins, "variable ratio" steering, "Dual Airliner Reclining Seats", "tip toe" braking, "Twin Turbine Dynaflow",  "Torsion-Aire" ride, quad headlights, the "Firedome 8",  the famous "Step-Down" design, the "Weather Eye" heating system, the "Breezeway" sliding rear window, "Teletouch Drive", "Twin H-Power", "Wide-Track" design, Tri-Tone Paint, the new "Flight Deck" / "Interceptor" instrument panel, deep-cushioned, foam rubber seats, the smart "Jet-Scoop" hood...they're all in there !   WoW !   How did we live for so many years without any of that stuff before the '50s ??

Each year is showcased chronologically in individual chapters from 1950 to 1959, and they are all  jam-packed with info on the cars from "The Big Three" - GM, Ford, Chrysler - and all of the independents made in the U.S.A:  Muntz Jet, Edwards, Crosley, Hudson, Studebaker, Packard, Kaiser, Frazier, Nash, Willys, and many other vanished makes that were produced during that time.

In addition, many celebrities of the fifties, as I mentioned above, are pictured including Jayne Mansfield,  Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Hopalong Cassidy, Patti Page, Roy Rogers, Grouch Marx, Debbie Reynolds, and many others.

No, this is not a new book, I purchased (and still have) my original copy in 1995, and it has been re-issued since then.  My cousin gave me a copy of the first re-issue that I've pictured the cover of here, the latest re-issue is a leather-bound volume.  If it's not on sale at any of your local stores it's readily available on Amazon & eBay.  It is one of the Personal all-time favorite volumes in my Library, and I felt that it definitely needed to be featured here and brought to your attention.

This is truly a book that you will return to time-after-time,  just as I do, for research, information, and, just pure fun as you relive each exciting year-by-year look at one of the greatest periods in our history for the design, the art, and the power of the Amercan Automobile. 

The "Fabulous '50s" was a very special time that, like those vanished-makes listed above, will forever live in the hearts of those of us lucky enough to have lived then...and a time to learn from and appreciate if you didn't.

NOTE: James M. Flammang has had a long-time website "Tire Kicking Today" that you'll find very interesting.  Just click-on here: http://www.tirekick.com/tirekickinfo.htm


 "THE LEGENDARY CUSTOM CARS AND HOT RODS OF GENE WINFIELD",  by David Grant, Foreword by Spence Murray. Motorbooks, Pub.

GENE WINFIELD and I have known each other for many years.  My Invicta was built by Manuel Arteche', and Gene did the later-Candy Gold paint job on Manuel's '41 Ford.  In fact, when I started doing the Interviews for this HOF Legends WebSite, Gene Winfield was the first one that got together with me for an Interview back in July, 2006, at the KKOA Lead Sled in Salina.   So, I was really glad to see this book hit the stands chronicling his History.

Gene Winfield has done it ALL !  He's built rods, customs, race cars, Bonneville-worthy machines, raced his own cars, worked in the corporate world, created models, built TV & Movie cars...there is almost no facet of the Automotive World that Gene hasn't been a part of.   He is a true Industry legend, and one of the early pioneers. And he's still working today !

DAVID GRANT, did an excellent job on the book and assembling the photos, AND, old friend, SPENCE MURRAY, contributed the Foreword...'nuff said ? 

If you've enjoyed some of the great stories that you've heard Gene and I talk about here on the WebSite, you will definitely love reading this book !   Gene is a Master Craftsman, is still building cars today, and, the pictures and info in this book are "top rate".   I hope there's a second volume to follow !! 

(TO HEAR Gene's story about his early days and first shop, just click-on here:  Gene Winfield  )


  "TV" TOMMY IVO: DRAG RACING'S MASTER SHOWMAN, By Tom Cotter.  Foreword by Don "The Snake" Purdhomme. Motorbooks, Pub.

MOTORBOOKS, PUBLISHERS IS CELEBRATING ITS 45th ANNIVERSARY...and its pulled out all the stops in its releasing of some its most fantastic books to help in the Celebration.   This new TOM COTTER biography of the Legendary "TV" Tommy Ivo is a great example of what I'm talking about.

If Cotter's name seems familiar to you it should:  He's responsible for Motorbooks best-selling "...In The Barn" Series, and the excellent biography of  Rod & Custom Legend Dean Jefferies also reviewed on this Page.  In creating this particular volume, he spent many days and hours in personal Interviews with Tommy at Tommy's home in California, and put together a superb look into the life & times of the man himself.  In addition, within its Hardcover 240 Pages, it contains 151 Color & 109 B&W Photos, most of which came from Tommy's personal collection.

Accordingly, since it is a biography, the book works in chronological order...from Tommy's early years as a 6 or 7 year old performer, and follows his progression through the years working in Radio, Stage, Films, and, TV.   And, after about twenty years in that form of show business, Tommy segued into another form he helped create using his TV stardom as a perfect "recognition factor" with fans all-over the Country: The Ultra Showbiz Phenomenon of "Drag Racing Showmanship"...burning up the quarter mile with more style, charisma, and, dynamite machinery than had EVER been seen before !

I was exceptionally impressed with the fact that Tommy Ivo who was, in reality, short of stature and had a slight build,  actually built all of his cars in his humble garage at his house in California !   Also, I was blown away by his taking his first car - a beautiful, brand new,  '52 Buick Super Hardtop purchased when he was 16 years old - tearing it apart, repainting it (this story you have to read !), turning it into a custom car, and drag racing it !

Later stories of Don Purdhomme (who worked for years with Tommy), Don Garlits, Shirley Muldowney, and others, are fascinating.  Devastating, life-threating crashes, a broken back, and, a penchant for practical jokes (which sometimes backfired !) were all a part of Tommy's long career as a drag racer.  Twin-engine dragsters ?  Tommy  Ivo said "Why not a FOUR-ENGINE dragster ?!"  In addition, the reason he turned his back on Hollywood to move into racing fulltime to begin with is explained here.

The writing of the book is honest and straight-forward.  It includes documentation & photos of all of the 31 cars, in order, that Tommy built,  plus the trailers that were put together to transport some of these exotic rarities.  And, once you read this book - especially if you're not familiar with everything Tommy accomplished - you'll come away with a new-found admiration for this ground-breaking Pioneer...the man who showed others, and a worldwide audience of fans, how the flash & flare of what he did on the dragstrip every time he lined-up to run, paved the way for others to follow.   To put it mildy: this is truly a worthy addition to your library !


 " '40 FORD: EVOLUTION . DESIGN . RACING . HOT RODDING", By  Joseph P. Cabadas, In Cooperation With The Henry Ford. Motorbooks, Pub.

DON'T LET THE TITLE FOOL YOU this book isn't just about 1940 Fords, it's about the Company itself:  Henry Ford,  Edsel Ford, their personal & business problems, the Unions involved,  the Ford managers, and the progression of how the Ford Designers, and the Design Team, did their magic during the years to eventually create that iconic '40 Ford.  It also covers the evolution of the entire Ford Product Line:  Ford, Ford Trucks, Mercury, Lincoln, and, their Foreign counterparts.  PLUS, it covers Ford's Racing & Hot Rodding History.

" '40 Ford" takes you through the year-by-year, day-to-day struggles that went on inside the Company, how Henry Ford handled the business, how Edsel was forced to endure many conflicts with his father and his father's allies...even though Edsel was an artistic & talented creator on his own.  It covers Henry's stubborn ideas as to the mechanics & components of his cars, and his iron-willed approach to keeping his cars from being changed, even though his competitors' were gaining on him.

Accordingly, it also covers Edsel's early death at only 49 years of age, an 80 year old Henry Ford taking over again as head of the Company after Edsel died , and Henry Ford II being discharged from the Service in WWII so that he could succeed his grandfather and put Ford back-on-track.  SO, as you can see, this well-researched volume isn't just about the cars...it's about the entire atmosphere that they were created in, and their creators'.

Many experts were interviewed in the course of putting this book together, among those were the legendary Gene Winfield,  along with Larry Erickson, Greg Sharp, Tom Tjaarda, Peter Vincent, Keith Crain, Herb Branham, and a host of others.  And, in getting his reference & research material, JOSEPH P. CABADAS had full access to the archives & research center at The Henry Ford itself.  

This volume is literally loaded with photos, advertisements, and information that could have only been obtained with the permission of the Ford Motor Company, and The Henry Ford (Museum)...and though it is not licensed by the Ford Motor Company, it pays a fitting tribute to the Company and all of those who worked in all phases of that organization at the time.  In addition,  it's a testament to the men & women who labored in the factories everyday to bring to life these beautiful automobiles that we still hold in the highest regard...decades after they were originally built.

I cannot give you any higher recommendation than to say this 160 Page Hardcover, that contains 163 Black & White Photos & 26 Color Photos, is one that you'll consider a "keeper" ! 

SPECIAL NOTE:  My thanks to my friend NICHOLE SCHIELE at Motorbooks, Pub., for sending me a Preview Copy of this book  before it hit the racks.  She said she "...knew it was one that I'd really want for my library." And, "...one that was right on-target for the Hall Of Fame Legends WebSite."  Nichole, you were right on BOTH counts !   Thanks again !!  JK


 "GM's MOTORAMA: THE GLAMOUROUS SHOW CARS OF A CULTURAL PHENOMENON", By David W. Temple.  Foreword by Chuck Jordan. Introduction by David E. Davis, Jr.  Motorbooks, Pub.

I could begin and end this Review by simply saying: "BUY THIS BOOK !"  However, that would be the easy way out, because once you pick it up, hold it in your hands, and browse through its pages, you won't want to put it down.  So what I'll just try to do here is put it all in perspective: this will be one of the most important books you'll EVER have in your collection.

From the days of horse-drawn carriages there were always those that wanted "special" bodies built for their own individual purposes.  Harley Jefferson Earl knew this well as he'd been the chief designer for his father's California coach-work firm and after he was hired by GM in 1926, he created and was made head of GM's Art & Colour Section.  Consequently, by 1938 Earl wanted a very special car that would be his "rolling laboratory" of future ideas & designs that could eventually show up on the cars GM produced.  That car was code-named the  "Y-Job"...a Buick like none ever seen before.

The Y-Job became so famous that in late-1946, with that car aging, Earl, along with Buick's Chief Engineer Charles Chayne, launched the idea for two new projects to be produced simultainiously: The LeSabre, and the XP-300.  And, to give not only Buick but also the other GM Divisions a national showcase of bringing future designs and ideas to the public, the GM Motorama was conceived and begun in 1949: a traveling caravan of Dream Cars touring around the country.   It would continue, in varying degrees, until 1961.

These were the "Dream Cars" of the future !  They showed the public many ideas that would eventually make their way into the GM lineup: wraparound windshields, hooded headlights, bucket seats, swivel seats, full-length  consoles, cars with rocket/jet plane styling, tailpipes exiting through rear bumpers, cars made of fibreglass, 4-door hardtop sedans, the world's first back-up camera with an in-dash monitor...the lists were endless, and YES, some of these modifications would make it to the new cars available at the GM Dealer of your choice: Chevrolet, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Buick, and, Cadillac.

No matter what your favorite is, it's in this book:  Wildcat, Corvette, Bonneville Special, Strato-Star, Eldorado Brougham, Firebird, Biscayne, Orleans, LaSalle II, Golden Rocket, Parisienne, F-88...they are all in there !  My favorites ?   If I could have only two they would be the XP-300 (a car I have loved since I first saw it while in grade school), and the Cadillac "Sixteen"...one Classic, one New Wave.  There are others, like the Buick Wildcat Hardtop on Page 165, and Harley Earl's personal 1954 F-88 Mk.II on Page 168, but let's not be greedy !

DAVID W. TEMPLE has done an admirable job of condensing all of the Motorama History into one book; CHUCK JORDAN -one of GM's chief designers- was there at the time and presents a Historical Forward;  DAVID E. DAVIS, Jr., well-known writer, editor, publisher, gives his perspective in the Introduction.  PLUS, the book gives a complete rundown of all the cars created by each GM line, and the ending chapters deal with what happened to the cars, the pure tragedy of many that were destroyed, cars that were found, and the "new wave" of  GM Concepts as of the timeline in the writing of the  book.

This is a 192 Page, hard cover volume that you must have in your collection.  Re-read the first paragraph of this review, the part where it says: "BUY THIS BOOK" !

[SPECIAL NOTE:  GM's Chuck Jordan passed away December 9, 2010 at the age of 83.  Among just some of the designs that had his imprint on them were the 1955 Chevy Cameo truck & 1956 Buick Centurion Dream Cars,  and two everlasting Super Classics: the 1959 Cadillac, and, the 1963 Buick Riviera. His talents were among the ultimate best to ever create the truly remarkable styles that eminated from Detroit.]


Build Book Collection "BUILD BOOK: FROM CONCEPT TO REALITY", Published byTeam Killeen

SCOTT KILLEEN is unquestionably one of the best Automotive Photographers in the business.   I always enjoyed his work, seeing it in Hot Rod, Car Craft, American Rodder, Street Rod Builder, and many other publications through the years.  We finally met in 2004 at Darryl Starbird's Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies at the Museum in Oklahoma, and I was able to compliment him in person.  That same year, Scott and his wife, BJ - herself a respected automotive journalist - formed Team Killeen and began publication of a new "serialized format" dedicated to Rods & Customs entitled "Build Book: From Concept To Reality". 

Book #1 was published in 2005 and featured the build of  comedian/tv personality Joe Rogan's 1970 'Cuda "Sick Fish", designed by Chip Foose and built by Rad Rods By Troy.  Successive volumes have included builds by Posies, the late-Boyd Coddington, Pro Rides, and, Ring Brothers. 

 As you can tell from the list of builders involved, these are precision-built cars that are not only beautiful by the time they hit the streets, but are fully-driveable machines of the highest caliber.  And, as the title says, these spectacular machines are followed from when the "initial thought of the build" takes place, to the time when the last polishing rag leaves the surface:  the importance of the shop owners, fabricators, body men, wiring experts, painters, upholsterers, car owners, and, parts manufacturers, are all focused on in each book of the series.

There are five books currently available, and a sixth on the way. With, from hundreds, to over a thousand pictures shown in every book, these are visually stunning volumes.  And, any advertisements seen in the books are DIRECTLY tied-in to the build itself and used with the featured car.  The Build Books are large format paperbacks, in full color, reasonably priced, and are definitely a GREAT addition to any library !  

THE BUILD BOOK SERIES is available directly from Team Killeen on their Websitehttp://www.buildbookusa.com/

(TO LISTEN TO  POSIES Interview Covering "The Aeroliner" (Build Book #2), and, Scott Killeen Just click-on here ! )


  "THE LINCOLN HIGHWAY: THE GREAT AMERICAN ROAD TRIP", By Michael Wallis & Michael S. Williamson. W.W. Norton, Pub.

If the names MICHAEL WALLIS, and, MICHAEL S. WILLIAMSON seem familiar to you they should.  Michael Wallis is the best-selling author of "Route 66: The Mother Road", and also hosted and was featured in "Route 66" documentaries, Plus: if you've seen the great & very funny movie "CARS", you've heard Michael's voice as the Sheriff Of Radiator Springs !  Michael S. Williamson is a Pulitzer Prize Winning photographer for the Washington Post.  Together they have assembled & documented the sometimes long-forgotten history of our Nation's first coast-to-coast highway.

The Lincoln Highway was begun in 1913, at a time when both cars & drivers were in the early stages of exploring the "open road".   For comparison, imagine the difference of driving from New York to California in your enclosed 2010 Ford Fusion with  air, ps, pb, pw & Bluetooth equipped,  as opposed to taking that same journey in a 1910 Ford  Open Air Model T traversing all of the elements: dust, heat, cold, rain, snow, etc., while having to wear caps, goggles & dusters for protection, and making sure you had extra spare tires, or at least some inner tubes & inner tube patches with you...along with a well-equipped tool kit.  Well, that's how our early-road pioneers had to make the trip.

Exploring America opened up a whole new vista for the owners of those "new fangled" horseless carriages.  They had just come into this new Century after decades of tramping through the wilderness by foot,  fighting off Indian raids, gunfights in the streets of dusty towns, riding in wagons and on horseback to get to their destination, or boarding busses or trains to get to where they wanted to go.  The automobile then, was freedom to travel "at will" with a capitol "F" !

The brainchild of Carl Fischer, founder of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and, joined in by Henry B. Joy, President of Packard, the highway covered thirteen states that started in New York and extended to California.  However, by tthe mid-1920's the newness had worn off, and problems for this unique icon manifested themselves.  All of the info you need to know about this special destination is contained in this beautiful, 294 page,  hardcover volume which explores the culture , the historical icons & the road that's still available to travel on to this very day.

Mike Wallis' text is superb and spot-on every step of the way, and Mike Williamson's photos, combined with archived pix, are the perfect compliment to this addition to your library.  In fact, a beautiful, longtime friend sent me this book as a gift, and after I read it I was ready to packup the car,  pick her up, and head out for our own personal Road Trip of the Lincoln Highway !  

"The Lincoln Highway" is available from the publisher W. W. Norton, Pub. Website: http://books.wwnorton.com/books/index.aspx  or, at Amazon www.amazon.com


 "IDEA BOOK: CUSTOM CARS, COUPES, SEDANS, PICKUPS", by Alan Mayes. Motorbooks, Pub.

ALAN MAYES must never sleep very much.  I've known him for many years and he's almost always on his way to a R&C event, working on CKD/OSR mags & projects, or contemplating another new book to work on.  His latest is a great "idea" book...the kind that used to be published back in the 50's & 60's. 

Alan, like myself and most of you reading this, has been an authentic Card Carrying Car Buff since he was about as tall as a hubcap, and when you go through the photos & info in  this book you'll understand how that's helped him put this package together.

"Custom Cars" are the focus of this 160 page paperback volume in full color, and it's a part of the Motorbooks "Idea Book" Series.  And, no matter if you're looking for the best type of grille, taillights, interior, paint, engine, wheels, or, almost anything else you'd need an idea for to build your custom...you'll probably find it here.   Buicks, Oldsmobiles, Fords, Cads, Pontiacs, Chevs, and any other makes he could point his lense at were all fair game for Alan, and he's got so many ideas packed into this book that you won't be able to use 'em all on one car...you'll have to  archive some for the future !

Great ideas, great pix, cool info... all in one book that you're sure to use for reference time and time again !

(TO HEAR ALAN'S CLASSIC STORY about the Legendary CKD Buck Owens/Gene Pitney "Death Issue" just click-on here !   )


 THE KUSTOM PHOTOGRAPHY OF GEORGE BARRIS" DVD, Mad Fabricators Society & Barris Kustom, Producers.

THERE ARE TIMES WHEN I THINK GEORGE BARRIS cloned himself many years ago, or, was replaced by a life-like Automaton !  The reason is that as long as I've known him I've never seen George stand still for more than a few minutes at a time...he is ALWAYS in motion, seeming to be everywhere at once !   But then, for over 6 decades he's been so multi-talented that he obtained the title "The King Of The Kustomizers", and once you view this special  2 DVD Set you'll see the proof of that.

George not only built & promoted  - along with his extremely talented brother, SAM BARRIS -  some of the most iconic Kustoms of all-time, but he became a self-taught photographer documenting the builds from start-to-finish.  He worked with Petersen Publishing having many features & how-to articles published, and even those special Trend Books turned-out in the  50's & 60's.  (Incidentally, I still have my collection of those safely packed away ! See my "Trend Books" Review below.)

Which brings us to this Special DVD:  George's son, Brett Barris, Creative Director for Barris Kustom City, was going through George's personal archives of material a few years ago and saw the "treasure trove" of photos & photographic layouts that had been done decades earlier...a true photographic history of the early days of Rods & Kustoms that needed to be seen and shared with car buffs the World over.   It was then that Brett assembled the project and enlisted the very able help of PIERO DeLUCA of Mad Fabricators to solidify the production. The results are a stunning trip back in time with George Barris, himself, as your host.

George travels to his old haunts & locations, riding along with Brad Masterson in Brad's chopped Chevy.  Adding to the mix, a last look at the late, legendary, LARRY WATSON, as he and George go over some of the photos together. (This alone may be a great reason to own this DVD...it's a touching tribute to Larry in its own way.)  Also featured are Greg Sharp, Jay Mason, and, the aforementioned Brad Masterson...who now resides in Barris' old shop.  And, of course, there's a soundtrack by the Dynotones to keep the whole thing moving along.  Also, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the hours-and-hours worth of work that Piero DeLuca put into the editing, compostion, and, photographing of the material for this DVD.  Just a FANTASTIC job !

THIS IS THE FIRST TIME we've featured a DVD on the HOF Legends Site, but I felt that it was an important part of our R&C History & Culture that needed to be included.  I've talked with both George & Brett about it, and Brett was kind enough to forward a copy to me for this Review.  I have to admit I was amazed at the amount of work that went into it...and, love.  Once you experience the passion that George has always had for this Industry, you respect him that much more.  And, with Brett behind the project you can see & feel the love he has for both his father & his father's talent, and keeping that alive for all to see.

GEORGE BARRIS was one of the VERY first to encourage me when I explained what the concept of this WebSite was all about, and readily agreed to be one of the first that I Interviewed  when I put the HOF Legends Series OnLine.  I will always remember his kindness and availability whenever I want to update & record more of his history to be featured here.   So, if you're looking for the perfect gift for someone for ANY occasion - "The Kustom Photography Of George Barris" DVD  is a 2 DVD Set, and would be a sure winner !  I guarantee it will be one of the most treasured items in any collection.

TO ORDER YOUR COPY Simply Go To: www.barris.com      PS: Be sure to mention that you heard about here on the Hall Of Fame Legends Site.

(WANNA HEAR BRAD MASTERSON'S story about moving into George's old shop in  Lynwood ?  Justclick-on here and listen !)


 "HOT ROD MAGAZINE: ALL THE COVERS", by Drew Hardin & The Editors Of Hot Rod.  Foreword by David Freiburger.  Motorbooks, Pub.

CAR MAGAZINES HAVE BEEN PUBLISHED ALMOST since the birth of the automobile itself.  But, it was THROTTLE that was the first to feature lakes & track racers for about a year, prior to WWII.  However, in the post-War years when hot rodding was "back on track", it was Robert E. Petersen and Wally Parks who put a magazine together called, simply: HOT ROD...a title that has been in existence monthly since 1948.  If you've come to this Site and are reading these words, I really don't need to tell you much more about Hot Rod, so I'll focus on the importance of this book.

The objective was to showcase & feature EVERY COVER of Hot Rod from January, 1948 through December, 2009...a celebration of  over 60 years of  the longest-running magazine of its kind in history.  Believe me, this "objective" was reached !  It's a hardcover format with 256 Pages, and if you've ever picked up a copy off the newstand or had a subscription to it, you can re-live those copies all over again.  Conversely, if you missed some copies or only bought it occasionally, you can see what you missed !

DREW HARDIN has had a 30 year + career as an automotive journalist, was Editor of HR from 1994-1996,  and has had the full co-operation of  his previous/past colleagues' in bringing this spectacular volume to Hot Rod followers the world over.  For personal reasons, my two favorite covers are August, 1951, which features DON FERRARA's  '29 Model A (See the Tribute PageTo "The Pioneer Who Changed My Life" ), and July, 1989, with ZZ TOPS's "Cadzzilla" (The one that brought me back...more on that later.) AND, the April, 1959 & March, 1960 Issues that featured DARRYL STARBIRD's craftsmanship.

This volume had to be a massive undertaking to produce, and I genuinely respect all of the hard work that went into it.  Black-and-White, Full-Colour Covers are used on a year-by-year basis, and if you take off the books dust-jacket, you'll see as many covers as they could fit imprinted in full-colour on the hard cover itself !   A stroke of genius !

If you're looking for a gift for yourself or for a friend, be it birthday, Holiday, any occasion, get this book !   You won't go wrong !!   


 "WATSON'S CUSTOM CAR CONFESSIONS...WITH COOL CHICKS AND JOHN LAW", by Thom Taylor & Larry Watson. Foreword by Pete Santini. Pub. By Thom Taylor.

THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST UNUSUAL & IMPORTANT BOOKS on the vibrant, pulsating, Custom Car Scene that went on in Southern California in the 50's, & 60's, that you'll EVER have a chance to read.  It was a time when soon-to-be Legendary Builders & Owners were laying a foundation for the History that we revere today  That's what makes it "important".  What makes it "unusual" is the way it is written.  Why ?  Well, it's just like you were having a  face-to-face, one-on-one conversation with LARRY WATSON & THOM TAYLOR...and it doesn't get any better than that !

I grew up following the work of Watson and his contemporaries, and was always amazed at how much effort he put into each and every car that he did.  But, what I didn't know was that Larry remembered almost everything about all the cars he worked on...and (he must have learned this from his good friend ,George Barris) he photographed almost all of his jobs too.  If he didn't, then James Potter & George would do the honors, because, as Thom Taylor wrote me, Larry had literally thousands of pics filed away !   The cars featured in this volume are Larry's personal rides...and, yes, each one is documented thoroughly from start-to-finish.

From his humble beginnings in Bellflower, California, to superstardom in the R&C field, Watson held his own.  He created the art form of "panel painting", he did scallops, flames, striping,  cobwebbing, and anything else you could accomplish with brushes, paint, spray guns, and, tape.   He was self-taught, and he learned to do it all almost better than anybody.  Period.   And, after he'd phased out that part of his career, he began a new one:  Acting in Movies & TV.   For Larry, being Hollywood-based, the move was a smooth one.

As you can glean from the title of the book, you'll also find within its pages, pix of many of those "cool chicks"...and I DO mean COOL !  You'll also learn in-depth about how Larry was hounded by various members of the police in those days; days when a radically lowered "custom car" was sometimes an invitation to be followed by a vehicle which had flashing red lights attached its roof.

Watson speaks through this book, I heard him as if he were sitting next to me in an Interview session.  And, I'm so sorry that I never got to California to record him myself.  When Larry's voice ends, Thom Taylor fills in the rest...and doesn't miss a beat.  I've always respected Thom's art & his writing and, thank God, Larry had him as a friend, for everything that Thom has done by being involved in this project has been with honesty, feeling, compassion, and, respect to bring Larry's life, his work, and his art, together in the fitting showcase for him that this book really is.   

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the foreword by another close friend of Larry's:  PETE SANTINI.  It's a professional, heartfelt entrance to this look into Larry Watson's life, his cars and his career...and Pete nails it with dignity & grace. 

ALL-IN-ALL,  the fact that he died the night Thom finished this book, it's as if Larry was closing his life by looking back on his legendary career one final time.  His aura permeates the book... as I found out when I held it in my hands to read.  And, I'm sure it will have the same effect on you, but I wouldn't wait.  Only 1,000 copies of the book were printed, I doubt it will be reprinted, and I sincerely thank Thom for sending me a copy so that we could feature it here. 

NOTE: Since I originally posted this Review, the book - limited to 1,000 copies - as I forcasted, SOLD OUT !  BUT you may still find a rare copy on eBay, or, www.amazon.com  sometime...so don't give up searching !  It will be well worth your time !

(I'VE SET-UP A very Special Tribute Page for Larry Watson.  To view it, and hear comments from GEORGE BARRIS & JOHN D'AGOSTINO about their friend Larry,  simply click-on this link:  http://www.legends.thewwbc.net/gpage142.html  )


  "STYLINE CUSTOMS...CHUCK MILLER", by Tony Swan.  Foreword by Bob Larivee. Chuck Miller Studio, Pub.

CHUCK MILLER IS ONE OF THE MOST talented & creative persons I have ever met !  For over five-decades he's been building some of the coolest - sometimes, most outrageous - cars on the Planet.  Chuck is a Ridler Award Winner, a Hall Of Fame Member (Starbird's Rod & Custom Hall Of Fame/K.K.O.A. Hall Of Fame), and one of the most respected individuals in the R&C Industry.   With all of these credentials in place, he added to the list in 2010 when he was named the Detroit Autorama " 2010 Builder Of The Year" !

So it was only fitting that the time was right for putting his personal & professional history together in a book that would encompass Chuck's life from the early years, to his model building phase, to building his first custom, to his starting Styline Customs, to his winning the 1968 Ridler Award for the ground-breaking "Fire Truck", to his...well, you get the idea.  AND,  there are SO many ideas !   It's like Chuck was never without a new idea !  

The book covers Chuck's early designs, drawings & models,  customs he built for customers, goes into his Award Winning & Specialty Cars like the Red Baron, the Zingers, Corvette "Hot Hauler" conversions, the Hurst Olds, Rambler Scramblers,  Chrysler RTS & Sonic Cuda, and many others,  including the work he's done for Jack Walker by refreshing the "Hirohata Merc" clone...which is a project you'd only give to a Super-Pro !

One of my favorite parts of the book is a look at the Retro Village that Chuck has hand-built on the property at his Michigan home.  It is just a visual delight, highlighted by a dazzling display of  neon and fond memories of a simpler time that a lot of us grew up in.

Along with Chuck's personal pictures, memorablia, and input, TONY SWAN (Car & Driver Senior Editor) has done a fantastic job of putting it altogether...including sidebars that pay tribute to some of Chuck's friends & helpers through the years and their thoughts on Chuck .  The Foreword by his friend the Legendary BOB LARIVEE, is a fitting honor to the craftsman that Chuck has always been.

This is a beautiful hardcover volume, filled with great color photographs, containing 135 Pages, and,  I can't think of anything better to read, or to give for a present,  than the book I'm holding right now: "STYLINE CUSTOMS...CHUCK MILLER"...and this book was proudly made & printed right here in the U.S.A.  !  

The book is available at this time directly from Chuck.  TO ORDER GO TO CHUCK'S WEBSITE:


(CHUCK & I  DID A GREAT INTERVIEW about the book, and in it Chuck talks about one of the main features he's proud of in getting the book published .  You can hear the complete story RIGHT NOW !  Just follow this link:  gpage141.html )


    "BARRIS CARS OF THE STARS" by George Barris and David Fetherston. Motorbooks, Pub.

YOU'VE PROBABLY HEARD GEORGE BARRIS' STORIES about many of the cars he's built right here on the HOF Legends WebSite.  George was one of the VERY first to graciously join in the Interviews with me when I began this Site.  I've always admired his work, and George, along with his late brother, SAM BARRIS, set the world of Kustomizing (with a "K") in motion all the way back in the 1940's.  By the 50's they were one of the premiere shops that turned out some of the most memorable Rods & Customs of that decade.  Along the way, they also were called upon to turn out many cars for various Movies & TV Shows.

The Barris' Lynwood, California location was the scene of their early triumphs in the "Hollywood Scene" BUT, in 1961, when George moved the shop to North Hollywood to be closer to the Industry, that's when things REALLY began to happen !   Because, by then, the word of the terrific cars produced at the Barris Shop spread to not just Movie & TV Production companies, but to the Stars that were in those "on screen" productions...and,  in addition, to those in the Recording Industry.

What you have here in the "Barris Cars Of The Stars" volume is a definitive look at not only the importance of  George's work, but of the vast scope and range of the different types of cars his shop produced.

The list of Stars is a veritible "who's who" of the Entertainment Industry !   Elvis, the late-Farah Fawcett, Sonny & Cher, The "Rat Pack" Crew (Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr.), Neil Diamond, The Beach Boys, Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, Ann-Margaret, James Brown, Dick Clark, to name just a few. And, yes, even Racing Legend ROGER PENSKE ! Plus, there's a Foreword by George's friend, the ever-beautiful BO DEREK...who was, and still is, a "10".

Do yourself, or a good friend, a favor...get this book while it's still available.  Get it before they run out of copies everywhere in the Universe !  You NEED this book in your Library !

(TO HEAR GEORGE'S STORY about how the legendary "Batmobile" was created just click-on here: SPECIAL: "THE BATMOBILE" ! )


 "BILLY F GIBBONS: ROCK + ROLL GEARHEAD", by Billy F Gibbons with Tom Vickers. Motorbooks, Pub.

WAIT A MINUTE !   I know what you're saying: "Hey, that book's been out for awhile. Think I've seen it before."  Okay, BUT do you actually have the book in your collection ? Did you put it in your library...OR, did you say: "Yes, one of these days I've gotta get it !", and just put it off ?  

Well, let me tell you from personal experience:  I've been in Radio since 1967, as many of you know, and I've played ZZ TOP's Chart Toppers since they began.  And, when the Reverend Billy started cranking out some "chart topping" Rods & Customs, I was with those from the beginning too.

This book is a combination of ALL of the above:  Music, Cars, and, Guitars.  Billy covers the entire History:  his, the groups, the cars, the guitars, and, even takes time to give  out the recipe for his "Killadilla Renegade Guacamole' " !   What more could you ask for in a book ??   In addition, the Photography by David Perry is superb.  Pick-up a copy as soon as you can...before they're gone forever  !   

(BILLY'S "KOPPERHED" IS FEATURED in this book.  The Original Design came from STEVE STANFORD, and you can hear Steve's story about it in our Interview !  Just Click-On-Here, listen and enjoy !)


 "KUSTOMLAND: THE CUSTOM CAR PHOTOGRAPHY OF JAMES POTTER, 1955-1959", by Thom Taylor.  Motorbooks, Pub.

MY OLD PAL, Jerry Weesner, alerted me to this book back at the beginning of 2009.  Told me I needed to get it...if it was just to look at the pix !  Needless to say, I was on my that afternoon to find my copy, AND it is everything Jerry said, and more !

JAMES POTTER was a freelance photographer of the car scene in L.A. and the surrounding area during the 50's.   Most of the work that is in the book came from Larry Watson's shop. Also featured are cars from  the Renegades car club, and all of the material was culled from Potter's private archives.  The photography is SPECTACULAR !   Many, if not all, of the cars pictured were not only Award Winner's, but also Cover Cars & Feature Cars throughout their history.  

THOM TAYLOR, in case you just landed from Mars, is a long-time Artist that has designed many, many fantastic Rods & Customs during his career.  SO, if Thom puts his "seal of approval" and hard work into a volume of this nature, you know it's one that belongs in your collection !   

The title alone says it all: the place was called "KUSTOMLAND"...and you can travel back in time to get there with this book !  It's avaiable directly from Motorbooks Publications, or, at www.amazon.com  .

(SPECIAL NOTE:  JERRY WEESNER was, at one time,  editor of Custom Rodder Magazine, and, also was with Street Rodder Magazine for many, many years.  He's got some great tips on getting your car into a magazine, and you can hear them in this Interview we did by CLICKING-ON-THIS-LINK  !) 


 " DEAN JEFFRIES: 50 FABULOUS YEARS IN HOT RODS, RACING & FILM", by Tom Cotter, Foreward by Bruce Meyer. Motorbooks, Pub.

DEAN JEFFRIES, like many of the true Legends of the Rod & Custom Industry, was there almost from the beginning.  Some of his early work was with Von Dutch, and George Barris, but Dean's pretty much self-sustaining so he's been a "solo act" for most of the time.  The  "Mantaray", "Monkeemobile",  Green Hornet's "Black Beauty", The "Ala Kart", and many others had Dean's craftsmanship in them.

I met Dean in 2001 when I drove the Invicta down to Darryl Starbird's Annual Induction Ceremonies in Oklahoma.  Dean was being inducted that year.  It was a few years after his terrible accident in his shop...and he was truly lucky to be alive.   But you can read about the accident, his dedication to his beloved wife, Row, and his entire career in this book. It's done in chronological order and covers not only his cars,  but his Indy 500 connection, his movie & film career, and many facets of his life you've never known before.

This is fitting tribute to a man who might not have gotten a lot of public recognition for his work before, but was always respected by his peers. 

Dean Jefferies passed away May 5, 2013, at the age of 80.  But, with this book, all will learn of his importance to the History of the Rod & Custom Industry.  It's a book you really should own, and you'll probably find a copy of this Motorbooks Publication at www.amazon.com 



ALAN MAYES AND I SEE EACH OTHER about once a year, and I'm always amazed at how much energy, talent, and, hard work he puts into all of his projects.  He's the Managing Editor of Old Skool Rodz & Car Kulture DeLuxe, but always finds time to crank out some very cool books on his own.  This one is what's known as a "keeper" ! 

It encompasses 13 Custom Car Builders...old & new.  Darryl Starbird, Gene Winfield, Bill Hines, Bo Huff, Tom Culbertson, Gary "Chopit" Fioto, Brad Masterson, Gary Brown, and 5 others, each have a Chapter devoted to them. 

The photos, the information, the quality of the book itself, are all of the highest standards. This is one book you'll go back to revisit over and over again...unearthing something you missed everytime.  

SPECIAL NOTE: HEAR ALAN and BO HUFF, talk about how the book was put together by ordering the Special "Bo Huff Tribute" CD.  It contains Bo's "8 Great Interview Sessions" as listed on Bo's Tribute Page (PLUS, this Interview about Alan's book which is ONLY available on Bo's CD) on our Website which can be seen by CLICKING-ON-HERE. Sales of this Special CD help keep the Hall Of Fame Legends Series on-line for all to listen to, and benefit from, hearing the Legends & Pioneers telling their stories & history.


 'ROY BRIZIO STREET RODS: MODERN HOT RODS DEFINED", by Bo Bertilsson. Motorbooks, Pub.

A NUMBER OF YEARS BACK I was privileged to meet Andy Brizio a couple of times at Darryl Starbird's National Rod & Custom Hall Of Fame Museum.  Andy was Inducted to the HOF and he, and a great group of Street Rodders, drove their Rods from California to Oklahoma.   Andy is a veritable font of knowledge on R&C's and he passed on that wisdom to his son, Roy.

ROY BRIZIO, learned much from his Dad, working with Jim "Jake" Jacobs as a youngster, and from his Dad's friends in L.A.  Over 30 years ago Roy opened his own shop and never looked back.

He's had AMBR Winners, built cars for Rocker's Eric Clapton, Neil Young, and Jeff Beck, restored legendary cars like "The Ala Kart", and Sam Barris' Merc...well, you get the picture.  AND, the one thing that ALL cars that leave Roy Brizio's Shop are capable of is BEING DRIVEN !   Always have been, always will be: DRIVERS .  

Bo Bertillson, the writer/photographer of the book has been around a long time, and treats his subjects with respect.  He's done well by Roy Brizio for sure. Buy the book. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

(IN ONE OF MY INTERVIEWS WITH the legendary pioneer-builder GEORGE BARRIS I asked him about, both, his brother Sam building the very first chopped '49 Merc, AND, his opinion of  the restoration done by Roy Brizio's Shop.  To hear the Interview on this truly Historic build, and George's thoughts on his wonderful brother, Sam Barris,simply Click-On-This-Link  ! )


  "MERCHANTS OF SPEED: The Men Who Built America's Performance Industry", By Paul D. Smith. Foreword by Barney Navarro. Motorbooks,Pub.

THEY WERE FROM CALIFORNIA,  young, loved cars, and drove fast.  But, they wanted to drive faster...and herein lies the tale.

Their names are legendary and would make the average street rod builder of the 40's, and, 50's, salivate at the mere thought of wrenching the equipment they created onto his ride: Navarro, Edlebrock, Spalding, Weber, Weiand, Offenhauser, Iskenderian, Potvin. Thickston...well, you get the picture. You know what - and who- I mean.

In his first published book, Canadian PAUL D. SMITH,  "gets it right"  from the Introduction by the late Barney Navarro, to the very last page.  His chronicles of men who built the SoCal Speed & Racing Industry, which took off like a rocket after WWII and wrote history at the same  time, could not have been better accomplished.  ALL of the stories, and all of the men who achieved dreams & goals that would become known worldwide, are honored tastefully and honestly.

Two of my personal favorites concern men who rose from what could have been insurmountable odds to crowning achievments:  CHET HERBERT, and, PHIL WEIAND. Both were destined by fate to live out most of their lives by being confined to wheel chairs. But it NEVER stopped them from building their careers or their companies.

If you REALLY want to know the story of where all that fantastic equipment you've heard about for decades came from, this is a book you've got to have.  And, if you're using some of that same equipment from these legends that's still being produced today, you definitely need the book to find out where those "roots" began !    JK


  "THE VINCENT IN THE BARN:  GREAT STORIES OF MOTORCYCLE ARCHEOLOGY", By Tom Cotter, Foreword by David Edwards. Motorbooks, Pub.

I'LL ADMIT RIGHT AT THE OUTSET THAT I've pretty much been a "lifelong collector".   My Mother used to say that I had the inability to throw anything away. Cars, antiques, comic character memorabila & toys, golden age radio shows & premiums, antique toys, Art Deco items, petroliana, R&C books & mags...well, you get the picture.   Always "on the search" for something rare,  different, and that I previously had on a "want list". 

Well, many times those sought-after items finally came into my possession by rummaging through musty old antique shops, going to flea markets, and going to old houses where someone said: "I just may have something you're looking for.  It's...."  And, suddenly, you were on your way to the Treasure Hunt....sometimes coming back with "gold", other times "striking out" altogether.

In his "...In The Barn" Series, TOM COTTER again scores one-hundred-percent,  this time with Bike lovers everywhere in "The Vincent In The Barn" !   Name your bike: Indian, Ducati, Harley-Davidson, Crocker, Brough, Ariel, BMW,  BSA, Triumph, et al, and, of course, the legendary Vincent, and someone has searched high-and-low to find one to put in their collection, swap, or, sell.  And, you guessed it: sometimes coming back with a prize, other times empty-handed.

  BUT, the "finding" is only part of the story, the REAL story is in "how" it was found. And, in this book Cotter's contributor's have plenty of stories to tell !  A couple of my favorites are by Ken Gross, first on Page153, and later on Page 188.  To put it midly, all of the stories contained in this volume are interesting, special, unique, and, at times, mind-blowing to say the least.   So if you're into bikes, bobbers, choppers, road racers, factory one-offs, in any way, this is one you have to put in your collection.  If you're not, buy it anyway !  It's a great read and you'll learn something of the culture it represents.

(HALL OF FAME ARTIST, M.K. JOHN, has been life-long friends with JOHN PARHAM of J&P Cycles.  John Parham is featured in a story that begins on PAGE 26 of Tom Cotter's book, and to hear M.K.'s story about his love of Cycles, and, his friendship with John just click-on here !  )


 "THE ART OF THE HOT ROD", By Ken Gross with Photography By Peter Harholdt, Foreword by Alex Xydias.  Motorbooks, Pub.

"THE ART OF THE HOT ROD" was an Award Winner from the time it first hit book stores.  It is one of the most physically-imposing volumes you'll ever add to your library.  It is large (10.5" x  12"), 240 pages, hardbound, and weighs a few pounds.   Be Warned: when you put it out where others can see it, make sure they've used a shop rag or towel before they handle it.  This is one book you don't want to get fingerprints on !

You may be familiar with KEN GROSS' work: he was Executive Director of the Petersen Automotive Museum in L.A., has written for The Rodders Journal, Road & Track, and others, and has been a car buff-owner for decades.  PETER HARHOLDT also has "oil" in his veins as proven by his cars, racing ability, and, photography.  He raises the bar every time he points the lense at anything with four wheels.

Twenty Master Builders are profiled in this massive work.  Among them are a few I've been privileged to spend some time with like Ken "Posies" Fenical, Steve Moal, Steve Frisbie, and, Rick Dore.  Some of the other sixteen builders include: Troy Trepanier, Barry Lobeck, Zane Cullen, Alan Johnson, Bobby Alloway, and, Dave Simard.  Each  one a "sculpter in steel" of the highest quality.

The Foreword by the Legendary ALEX XYDIAS introduces you to a book you'll come back to view time & time again.  Ken Gross' text sets the pace,  the impact of Peter Harholdt's photography jars the senses making you see - if you haven't already done so - the "automobile" as done by these twenty builders as a true "art form" all on its own.

( "THE EXTREMELINER" built by my old friend, KEN "POSIES" FENICAL,  is featured in "The Art Of The Hot Rod".  In our Interview, Ken told me how it all came together...you can hear the whole story right now by just clicking-on here:   "POSIES" EXTREMELINER STORY !  )


 "HOT ROD GARAGES', by Peter Vincent. Motorbooks, Pub.

THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST SPECTACULAR, VISUALLY STUNNING BOOKS on Rod & Custom Builders that you will ever see.  It chronicles the garages of 18 of the best builders in the Industry.  Many are well known to you, others will be after you read this book.  The stunning works of "Rolling Sculpture" that they produce have to start somewhere...and, their garages are where it all begins. This is an "inside look" into the places where these superb machines that you see in mags, and at shows, are built.

PETER VINCENT is no stranger to the R&C world, and he was given access to the workspaces of these fantastic builders.  Vern & Keith Tardel,  Pete Eastwood, Terry Hegman, Roy Brizio, Cole & Pat Foster are all in there.  Special sections are devoted to Steve Moal (who I had the pleasure of meeting at his Induction into Darryl Starbird's National R&C Hall Of Fame), and, The Rolling Bones (Ken Schmidt & Keith Cornell).  Then, you can't forget Dick Page, Cal Tanaka, Bob Lick, Gary Harms, and the rest that make up the 18 covered in this book.

The die-cut cover of the book is unique in and of itself, and shows you  that the book  your holding is VERY special.  Vincent's photography is "state of the art"...in fact it IS art !   The warm, full-bodied color pix, the subtle black & white shots, the photographic composition, all add up to make the viewing of this book truly an iconic look at the Rod & Custom Culture.   Almost any of the photos in here could be framed and exhibited on their own.  But, don't you dare tear-out any of the pages !

All-in-all,  Peter Vincent's "Hot Rod Garages" is definetly a "keeper", and should be in your personal R&C library.  Period.


 "SO-CAL SPEED SHOP", by Mark Christensen, Foreword by Alex Xydias, Epilogue by Tony Thacker. Motorbooks, Pub. (2005)

Living in Southern California in the early-60's I truly enjoyed the sun, the surf, the palm trees, the cool drive-ins where I could cruise in my '57 Dodge, and the entire experience of just BEING THERE !  But, I often wondered how it was many years earlier, before the real estate began to get gobbled up...and when the R & C Industry was in its formative stages. The book "SO-CAL SPEED SHOP" not only answers any questions you might have about that era but, with page-after-page of rare photos,  and personal information from those "who were there", graphically illustrates how "early" So-Cal looked every step of the way.

ALEX XYDIAS, was an ex-army airman, son of a Greek immigrant and a beautiful girl from Mississippi, who helped change the face of the world of auto racing in the post-WWII years. He, and his team of racers,  set records, produced equipment still sought after today, helped bring professionalism to a once-feared-by-laymen term "Hot Rodder", and explored building machines that to this day are revered by all who fasten a seatbelt, and don a helmet.

MARK CHRISTENSEN'S work on this book is nothing short of phenominal.  He nails-it on every page.  He vividly reminds me of the questions I asked myself all those many years ago, and answers each and every one with a clarity that can't be matched.    The Legendary ALEX XYDIAS' insight & info on both his personal life and the company he founded are priceless.   TONY THACKER'S take on the re-born So-Cal Speed Shop, headed by another Industry Legend, PETE CHAPOURIS, infuses a current-day look at a company that is just as important in this Century as it was when Alex founded it on March 3, 1946.


 "ROD & CUSTOM IN THE 1950'S", by The Editors Of R&C (Tim Bernsau & Damon Lee). Motorbooks, Pub.

If you've read my introduction to this page, you'll understand that my personal collection of "the  little pages" books is pretty comprehensive.  That's because I was there to buy 'em to begin  with !   However, there are many, many issues from those halcyon days of the  50's that I missed.  Well, "ROD & CUSTOM IN THE 1950'S" has pretty much solved that problem for me...AND, for Y-O-U !

TIM BERNSAU (still with R&C), and, DAMON LEE (now with Speedway Motors), have assembled key issues of R&C that cover that era perfectly:  Look for a young Gene Winfield on the cover of the June, 1953 issue; Bob Hirohata's personal story of going cross country in his Barris' built-Merc is one I've waited for decades to read in its entireity and it's there; the August, 1957 issue has Darryl Starbird's first feature...it's on his personal '47 Caddy custom; Dean Moon does a story on his '34 Ford in R&C's November, 1955 copy, with the gorgeous actress/beauty queen, Ruth Hampton, perched on a fender on Page 115 in one of the most iconic R&C "mild cheesecake" photos ever.  (Please don't drool on that page !)

Plus there's the first coverage of Sam Barris' Chopped '50 Buick; Spence Murray's  R & C Dream Truck, and its accident pictures; Honest Charley's ads (wonder if I could still get a set of duals & mufflers from him for $23.95 to fit my '57 Dodge ?); cool taillight ideas for your '56 Chevy (instead of a set of '56 Packard lenses, Page 240 will show you how neat a set of  '56 Chryler units look.),  Well, you get the picture...and, if you REALLY want to know "how it was back in the day" this is the book that will let you find out.  I'm glad I was able to get my copy...you need one for your library too !

NOTE: TO HEAR SPENCE MURRAY'S  STORY about how his legendary career began just Click-On-This-Link   !   Spence is a great story teller...and his personal story is one you should hear !


  " COLE FOSTER AND THE SALINAS BOYS",  by Cole Foster with Mike LaVella. Motorbooks, Pub.

 COLE FOSTER is among the very best of the new breed of builders that have surfaced in the last two decades.  I've always liked Cole's work and, a few years ago when I was putting this WebSite together,  I eMailed the info to Cole and he sent me back a note saying he'd be glad to help in anyway he could.  So when this book arrived I was really glad that his craftsmanship could be seen by the masses.

Cole's cars have been magazine features, show winners, and, been "daily drivers" to some who own 'em.  His work is impeccable, his attention to the smallest detail echoes "perfection", and, seen in person, his cars will flat-out blow you away !   They are truly "state-of-the-art" .

Cole learned from one of the best: his dad, the late Pat Foster, and he not only builds dynamite cars...he puts together some super cool bikes as well. But, I'm getting ahead of the story !   Check-it out for yourself, you will be amazed at some of the pics...many from Cole's personal collection !! 


  "HOW TO  BUILD A TRADITONAL FORD HOT ROD", By Mike Bishop & Vern Tardel. Motorbooks, Pub.

SO YOU'VE BEEN TELLING YOURSELF FOR YEARS: "One of these days, I gotta put together a REAL Ford "Hot Rod !"  But, you don't want to commit to just "any" type of Rod...you want an in-your-face, drive-down-the-road kind of machine you saw (and, see) in all of those black & white,  or, sepia-toned, pix from the "Golden Age" of Hot Rodding.

Well, friends, step right up and listen closely: "How To Build A Traditional Ford Hot Rod", written by MIKE BISHOP, and, constructed along the way by VERN TARDEL, IS the answer to your prayers !   It will not only show you how to accomplish your dream but, in addition, will guide you step-by-step through the ENTIRE process...explaining how to do it THE RIGHT WAY !

I would have recommended this book to begin with but, more importantly, the book's writer, Mike Bishop (a California native) and I have a bond/connection neither one of us was aware of until now:  Mike was inspired to build an Model A-based rod  when he was about 12 years old, after seeing a beautiful version of that car built by DON FERRARA !  WELL, if you read my "Tribute Page To Don Ferrara" on this WebSite,  or my Info on the top of this Page, you know that, growing up in St. Louis, at the age of 13, my interest in Customs began by seeing Don's '49 Ford on the cover of "HONK!" !   So though we were miles apart, both Mike & I were influenced in our choices by one man: Don Ferrara !

Throughout this book you will learn that Mike's "Bluey" Hot Rod Ford was based on Don's Model A.  You will also learn that, when it comes to building & re-building Ford Flathead's, Vern Tardel is an expert in all phases of working with that motor.   And, on Page 149, you'll even see "the man" himself, Don Ferrara, behind the wheel of Mike's "A", giving the final approval to the build of a car he inspired so many years earlier.   It truly doesn't get any better than that.    

(TO  READ MY TRIBUTE to Don Ferrara , just click-on here ...and thanks in advance.   Don was one of the "real" Pioneers who could do it all, and do it well, in BOTH Rods & Customs.)


 "ED 'BIG DADDY' ROTH: HIS LIFE, TIMES, CARS, AND ART", by Pat Ganahl, Foreword by Robert Williams.  Contact: Motorbooks, Pub.

AFTER MANY YEARS OF FOLLOWING HIS WORK in Rod & Custom, Custom Rodder, Street Rodder, etc., I finally met PAT GANAHL at the 29th Annual KKOA Lead Sled Spectacular in Salina, Kansas.  Pat's been a recognized figure in the Rod & Custom Industry for decades and has written many books during that time.  Being based in California, he's also met most of the great, and near-great, in his various capacities as editor, writer,  photographer.

One of those most-memorable characters that Pat met and knew was the "one-and-only" Ed "Big Daddy" Roth.  He's put together an inside-look at Ed's life in this unique book that involved the help of Ed's family,  friends,  former co-workers, et al.   Nothing is left out, everything is covered.  The amount of rare, personal photos,  and information, PLUS, a complete chronology of Ed's cars, restored cars,personal rides, and his art itself,  is worth the price of admission alone.

No, this book isn't new, but that's not the point. It's a hardcover volume, slickly produced, and if you want to know almost ANYTHING about Ed Roth...you'll probably find it between these pages.

SPECIAL NOTE:  A fascinating tale of Ed's "ROTAR" starts on PAGE 74 of the book.  Old friend, MARK MORIARITY  helped with info & pix on Roth, and to hear Mark's story about meeting Ed and restoring that infamous machine, just click-on here: Restoring Ed Roth's "Rotar" !    This is one you MUST hear !!


  "VIRGIL EXNER: VISIONEER", by Peter Grist. Veloce Books, Dist. By Motorbooks, Pub.

This is the official biography of one of the Automotive Industries most creative Designers.  Ever own a 50's-60's MoPar ?  I have: a '57 Royal 2-Door Hardtop, a '57 Coronet D500 2-Door Hardtop, and, a rare 1959 Plymouth Suburban Station Wagon.  This is the man who created  those and the rest of  "The Forward Look". 

But many forget that Exner spent time at Studebaker, and GM, before he ever got to Chrysler.  In fact, check-out pages 15 & 17 of this book for some of my favorite Studebaker illustrations by "Ex",  as he liked to be called.   He worked on the '36 Buicks, and the '35-'36 Ponitiacs for GM. He also worked on the designs for the late-30's Studes, my Dad owned a new '39 Champion...Ex was in on those.  In addition, he created the landmark, post-war designed 1947 Studebaker.  And, yes, years later, his Chrysler 300 Series would be one of the most legendary of all !  However, don't blame Exner for the 1962 MoPars that hit the streets...someone else was responsible for shrinking his original, really beautiful designs.

Most remember his as "The Fin Man" , BUT, VIRGIL EXNER, did much more than design "fins".  He really envisioned where not only cars, but boats too could be taken into the future. And, if you've ever thought of moving to Detroit and seeking a job as a designer, you need to read Exner's story on Pages 88 & 89.   It's truly an eye-opener. I learned much that I never would have without his professional input on the subject of "Corporate Designing In Detroit".

This is one of the most comprehensive books of its kind you'll ever find, and it also covers the career of Exner's son: Virgil Exner, Jr.  His story alone could be the subject of a book on its own.  The many never-before-seen pictures, artwork, designs, and family pictures that are in this book, plus, the meticulous research done to put this book on your shelf, are all A+, so don't hesitate to get it for yourself, OR, give it as a gift.


  "HOT ROD KINGS: TOP TRADITIONAL ROD AND CUSTOM BUILDERS", by David Perry & Kevin Thompson, Foreword by Billy F Gibbons.  Motorbooks, Pub.

If you've read my above review for Alan Mayes' "Old School Customs" book, then you'll understand it when I say that you need to pick-up this volume also. "HOT ROD KINGS" covers 11 truly gifted builders:  KeithTardel, Sean Johnston, Mike Smith, Rudy Rodriguez,  Mercury Charlie, and six others including Cole Foster, and my old friend Gary Howard.

KEVIN THOMPSON'S writing chronicles each of these superb craftsmen, and DAVID PERRY'S  photography is simply awesome.   You not only get a history of each of these artists, but a look at their shops, garages, finished, and, unfinished projects.  There are cool stories about Joe & Jason (the Kennedy Brothers), Jimmy White (Circle City Hot Rods), and,  Scott Mugford (Blue Collar Customs).  All-in-all, I can't say enough good things about this book !  

"HOT ROD KINGS" is a MUST for your library-collection of Rod & Custom books.  David Perry's inspired, on-location pix are justification enough to bring this one home as soon as possible ! (In case his name sounds familiar, David Perry also did the magnificent photography in Billy Gibbons'  book...a review on that book is on this page too.)

(HEAR GARY HOWARD's story about building JIMMY VAUGHAN's  '61 "Hot Rod" Caddy !  Simply Click-On-This Link to listen. )


 "GO THE GREYHOUND WAY: THE ROMANCE OF THE ROAD", By Robert Gabrick.  Dist. by Motorbooks, Pub.

SINCE THE WHEEL WAS INVENTED, we've always tried to figure out how to move groups of people to their destinations.  On land,  frst there were carts, then wagons, coaches,  buck boards, and, stage coahes.   Later, trains did the job.  But trains couldn't always traverse "inland" areas, so in the early part of the 20th Century - continuing motorized transportation after the birth of the automobile - busses were invented.   And, with its humble beginnings in 1914, The Greyhound Bus Company, eventually became the countries largest bus-oriented "people mover".

You might think it's funny to have a review of  book about a bus company on an R&C car Site, BUT how many of you,  at one time or another, HAVE ridden on a Greyhound ?  I know I sure have !   Many years ago, when I was still in High School, I went with a buddy of mine to visit a former classmate of his...in Monterey, Mexico !!   Yep, we took a bus from St. Louis, Missouri  to Monterey, Mexico, and back.   And it was an adventure I'll never forget.  (Remind me to tell you some stories from that trip one of these days ! )

Well, that's what ROBERTY GABRICK has created with this book:  a look back at the "romance of the road", the excitement of sharing a road trip with a group of people...some who may become friends after your journey, no matter how long.

Great pictures, a fantastic chronology of  EACH AND EVERY BUS BUILT for and used by Greyhound, and, superb coverage of the ads that were placed in magazines for many decades by the company.   All aluding to the company's later-trademark phrase:  "Go Greyhound, and leave the driving to us ! "    This is a book well worth your time, with reams of information about a time period that existed when America, and Greyhound, both ran at a simpler pace.


  "DARRYL STARBIRD: THE BUBBLE TOP KING ", by Darryl Starbird and Brice Bledsoe

 DARRYL STARBIRD is one of the longest-running Legends & Builders in the Rod & Custom Industry.  Darryl's been a friend for many years, BUT this book speaks for itself...I'd recommend it even if I'd never met the man !  It covers his ENTIRE life & career, never-before-seen family pictures, early cars of his and his clients, ALL of his personally-built creations, the National Rod & Custom Hall Of Fame Museum, and much, much more.

This beautifully hard-bound volume contains over 1,000 photos, has over 240 color pages, and is so big that it should probably be sold by the pound !  It was written with the help of Darryl's grandson, Brice Bledsoe, AND YOU CAN HEAR DARRYL EXPLAIN how it all came together by clicking-on this link: Darryl Starbird

To find out how you can get your personal copy of "THE BUBBLE TOP KING", go to Darryl's WebSite: www.darrylstarbird.com/giftshop.htm


ITEMS ARE ALWAYS ADDED TO THE LIST AS I GET A CHANCE TO GO OVER THEM,  but if you don't have these they're a GREAT start !   I've gone over all of  'em all, they're in my library, and they need to be in yours !!    JK


Many thanks to NICHOLE SCHIELE at MOTORBOOKS for her help and support !

THE MOTORBOOKS WEBSITE ! To get more info & see more of any of the books listed here, simply click-on here: http://www.motorbooks.com/

OR, Call Them At:  1- 800-458-0454