The Great 1950′s T-Bucket Hot Rod Rivalry | Kookie Kar vs. The “Outhouse on Wheels”

  

 

Norm Grabowski Tony Ivo T-Bucket

Tommyy Ivo (top) and Norm Grabowski in his famous Kookie Kar square-off at the National Hot Rod Associations drag racing meet held at the old Santa Ana Drag Strip.

 

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The T-Bucket Hot Rod craze started back in the 1950s, and is still alive and screamin’ today.  Norm Grabowski is the undisputed Granddaddy of the 4-wheeled art form, with his original Kookie Kar being an inspiration to the legion of copycat and followers that became a national craze.  It all started back in 1952, when Grabowski, newly discharged from the service and now a fledgling actor in California, got his hands on an old 1922 Model T Touring front half and dropped a shortened model A pickup bed on the rear.  It wasn’t nearly as simple as it sounds– Grabowski painstakingly cut and recut the frame, laboring long and hard to get just the right aesthetic and stance he was looking for.  The power was supplied by a ’52 Cadillac engine with a 3-71 GMC blower, and later evolved to a ’56 Dodge engine with a Horne intake sporting a quartet of Stromberg double-barrel carbs. The steering for the beast was supplied by a Ross box from an old milk truck.  Grabowski installed it at home, then discovered that the T-Bucket steered backwards.  He hopped in the dyslexic Hot Rod and nonchalantly drove her from Sunland, CA to Valley Custom in Burbank for a fix– having to steer in the opposite direction the entire way.  Why not?

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Norm Grabowski Kookie Kar

Norm Grabowski behind the “wheel” of his famous Kookie Kar– a signature feature being the Bell three-spoke steering wheel mounted on the column which was in near upright position.

 

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Norm Grabowski working under his Kookie Kar with a homemade hoist-- around '57 - '59 in Sunland, CA.

Norm Grabowski working under his Kookie Kar with a homemade hoist– around ’57 – ’59 in Sunland, CA.

 

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Grabowski working at home on the Kookie Kar-- with baby riding shotgun.

Norm Grabowski working at home on the Kookie Kar– with baby riding shotgun. Check out the bloodied plaster skull shifter.

 

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Norm Kookie Kar

Norm Grabowski and baby at home in Sunland working on the Kookie Kar.

 

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Kookie Kar

OK baby, try ‘er now… Norm Grabowski turning the wrench on his Kookie Kar for the LIFE photog’s Kamera.

 

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Norm Grabowsky-- what you'd call a hands-on kinda guy.

Norm Grabowski– what you’d call a hands-on kinda guy.

 

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Somebody's gotta get under there...

Somebody’s gotta get under there… Norm Grabowski under his Kookie Kar.

 

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Kookie Kar

Norm Brabowski ready for race day at the Santa Ana Drag Strip.

 

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The Legendary Norm Grabowski Kookie Kar.  Paint by Valley Custom with flame job and pinstriping by Dean Jeffries.  Tony Nancy stitched up the rolled and pleated red interior.

The Legendary Norm Grabowski Kookie Kar — Identical clone by Franco ‘Von Franco’ Costanza. Norm’s original was painted by Valley Custom with flame job and pinstriping by Dean Jeffries. Tony Nancy stitched up the rolled and pleated red interior.

 

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Grabowski’s T-Bucket was so hot on the scene, it soon spawned a movement.  Arriving home one day, he was more than a little surprised to find another actor/racer/builder, Tommy “TV” Ivo, in his garage measuring up the Kookie Kar so that he could make his own T-Bucket Hot Rod. Ivo later recounted– “I asked him (Grabowski) if he would let me take some measurements off of his car,” recalls Ivo, “but he wouldn’t let me.” So when that failed, Ivo took matters into his own hands and snuck into Grabowski’s garage one day when he wasn’t home and took all the critical measurements and visual data needed to go off and create his own.

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Tony Ivo Drag racing his "outhouse on wheels" with it's signature white ragtop down for speed.

Tommy Ivo Drag racing his “outhouse on wheels” with it’s signature white ragtop down for speed.

 

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With trusty T-Bucket measurements in hand, Tommy Ivo set out to on the first order of business — finding an old Model T body.  Scouring the dry California desert, Tommy finally found a suitable match– a 1925 Ford Phaeton front end.  Only problem was the desert had claimed the Phaeton for itself.  A Yucca tree had  grown straight straight through the middle of the cab, rooting the old ford in place.  Undeterred, Ivo claimed victory by chopping the Yucca down and hauling the old Ford back home.  With a little help from Randy Chaddock & Max Balchowsky, Ivo made short work of the project– equipping his new T-Bucket with a 322 Buick Nailhead bored out to 402 cubic inches, and setup to use one of three induction systems: a dual-quad manifold, the quintessential six-pack of Stromberg 97s, and the Hilborn fuel injection that has become the car’s trademark over the years.

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Tony Ivo's T-Bucket Hot Rod was unmatched in it's class back in the day.

Tommy Ivo’s T-Bucket Hot Rod was unmatched in it’s class back in the day.

 

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Despite its reputation at the strip, on the street, and the silver screen — Ivo’s T-Bucket is most remembered by enthusiasts as simply one of the top hot rods to evolve from the Southern California area. Perhaps its first claim to national fame was prompted by its appearance on the August 1957 cover of Hot Rod magazine. The Buick motor was shown wearing its Hilborn livery, and the car was featured inside the magazine on a two-page black-and-white photo spread by Bob D’Olivo.  –Street Rodder

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Tony Ivo's T'Bucket Hot Rod went on to be as big, if not a bigger star than actor/racer himself.

Tommy Ivo’s T’Bucket Hot Rod went on to be as big a star, if not a bigger, than the actor/racer himself.

 

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Tommy Ivo learned a lot about building hi-performance engines under Balchowsky. “He was my mentor in motors,” Ivo recalled. Ivo put his lethal motor skills into practice and started cleaning-up at the drag strip.  Most times he drove home with a trophy, or at least bragging rights to a trophy. “Sometimes I used to sell my trophies back to the track promoter,” recalls Ivo. “I’d take the money and buy more tires.” His passion was purely for the car and the thrill, not the glory. He adds, “All I wanted to do was race. I didn’t care about trophies back then.”  Ivo’s hot T-Bucket and racing skill landed him several Top Eliminator awards at the San Fernando Drags and later at Lions when it opened in 1960. The car was a consistent for 11-second elapsed times and a top speed of 119 mph.

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Tony Ivo's dark red T-Bucket was accented with custom white pinstripes by none other than the legendary Kenneth Howard-- AKA Von Dutch.

Tommy Ivo’s dark red T-Bucket was accented with a custom white pinstripe job by none other than the legendary Kenneth Howard– AKA Von Dutch. His signature is visible at the far right end of the dash.

 

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Tommy Ivo relates an interesting story about the radiator ornament. He had spotted it in his neighborhood on a decommissioned car that was owned by an older gentleman. Ivo asked if he’d sell the cap, but the stubborn gent said no way. Taking matter into his own hands, as he also did with spying Grabowski’s T, Ivo paid the old car a visit late one night. “I took it,” confesses Ivo 45 years later, “but I left a $50 bill stuffed in its place.”

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Tony Ivo and the Road Kings crew at the Santa Ana Drag Strip--  sometime from '57 to '59.

Tommy Ivo and the Road Kings crew wait their turn to tear it up at the Santa Ana Drag Strip– sometime from ’57 to ’59.

 

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The Road Kings, with Tommy Ivo standing at far left, seem ready for another pass at the Santa Ana Drags. The car appears much as it does today, with Hilborn fuel injection, race slicks, Mercury hubcaps, and full top.

The Road Kings, with Tommy Ivo standing at far left, seem ready for another pass at the Santa Ana Drags. The car appears much as it does today, with Hilborn fuel injection, race slicks, Mercury hubcaps, and full top.

 

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Tony Ivo Road Kings Santa ana Drag Strip

The Road Kings take advantage of the view atop Tommy Ivo’s T-Bucket tires– Santa Ana Drag Strip.

 

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...As Tony Ivo explained, the Hot Rod, with top up looked "like an outhouse on wheels." And so came the crescent moon cut-out window came to be.

…As Tommy Ivo explained, the Hot Rod, with top up looked “like an outhouse on wheels.” And so came the crescent moon cut-out window came to be.

 

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Santa Ana Drag Strip Road Kings

There’s another clear benefit to no fenders.

 

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Tony Ivo and the Road Kings crew at the Santa Ana Drag Strip

Tommy Ivo and the Road Kings crew at the Santa Ana Drag Strip

 

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Tony Ivo victorious at Santa Ana in more ways than one.

To the victor go the spoils! After winning Top Eliminator at the San Fernando Drags, Tommy Ivo and the trophy queen make a victory pass.

 

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Tony Ivo and his T-Bucket were featured in the Hollywood production "Dragstrip Girl". Ironically, Ivo played the heavy in the movie, and the script called for him to steal his own car.

Tommy Ivo and his T-Bucket were featured in the Hollywood production “Dragstrip Girl”. Ironically, Ivo played the heavy in the movie, and the script called for him to steal his own car.

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Janis Martin was indeed, “The Female Elvis”, a fellow RCA recording artist with the expressed permission of Colonel Tom Parker to use the title publicly! When you really consider what that meant in 1956, it is astounding. But in truth, Janis Martin was much, much more than a female knock-off of that year’s top performer. She was no less than a founding member of the rockabilly style. And before I tell you more about that, you need to know that when she got the call from RCA in 1956, she was only 15 years old!


Janis Martin, The Female Elvis

You’ll know her rich jazzy trumpet of a voice from three songs in particular: “Will You, Willyum” was her biggest hit, with her own “Drugstore Rock and Roll” on the flip side. And her performance of “My Boy Elvis” for Dave Garroway on the Today Show won her a spot in the Grand Ole Opry.

A PRISONER OF THE STAGE – Janis showed early skill as a performer. Her childhood was spent on stage, singing and playing the guitar from age four. The guitar was too big for her, so she started up holding it like a double bass, straight up and down on the floor. Now that’s cute! By age six she was playing chords and singing along. At eight, she began winning talent contests. She was her mother’s little gold mine, groomed for stardom, hard at work when other children were playing outside.

But she became an outstanding guitarist and studied the songs of blues artists, which she performed on radio “barn dance” shows in her native Virginia. In her first Nashville recording session for RCA, she met Chet Atkins, who told her she was “right on track” with the newly emerging rockabilly style. RCA put her with other top session musicians for recording sessions in New York and Nashville. Her work earned her the “Most Promising Female Vocalist” of 1956.

UH OH! – Meanwhile, payback time was brewing. Remember how Janis’ mother made her work all through her childhood? Unknown to anyone, Janis, at age 15, had secretly married her boyfriend just before her first session at RCA! Fortunately, he shipped out to Germany with the US Army. I say “fortunately” because we might never have heard this wonderful artist had they set up housekeeping right away!

During that first session in Nashville, Chet Atkins ironically picked a song for her called “Let’s Elope.” Imagine the suppressed glee Janis must have felt at that! A year later, Janis was on tour in Europe, still secretly married. While she was there, she visited her boyfriend (husband!) at his station in Germany. Shortly afterward, Janis realized she was pregnant. Her secret had to come out.

Eight months pregnant at her last recording session, her manager, Steve Sholes, was reportedly bawling his eyes out! He had believed she could have been a huge star, truly the equivalent of her namesake. All Janis wanted to do was settle down and have her baby and a real life.

YEARS LATER, AN EPIPHANY – In the early 1970s, Janis kids were teenagers and she was a single mom. She convened a new band and tried performing once again. Her own words: “I realized it wasn’t momma pushing me any longer. I hadn’t realized how much I missed it and loved it.”

By 1979, offers for tour dates were flooding in from all over the world. At 42 years old, The incredulous Janis had no choice but to follow the call, receiving the adoration of retro-dressed fans of rockabilly all over England, Europe, and Australia.

Janis still makes appearances today, but is most content with her “real” life. She is retired in Danville, Virginia, about 16 miles from the place where the talented Ms. Martin was born and raised to rock’n’roll!

SEPTEMBER 6, 2007 – It is with sadness that today we mourn the passing of Janis Martin at the age of 67, far too soon. Our condolences to her children and to all who love this brilliant singer and songwriter. We do too.


Greaseralley friends please take the time to check out our good friends blog over at Sad Man’s Tongue Rockabilly Bar & Bistro – Prague  it has been six months since they started and they are two to three weeks away from one million vistors.

This site has something for everyone pin ups, fashion, music, History,pin ups, tattos, pin ups, culture, nudes, pyschobilly, did I mention pin-ups? Head over there and show some love …………..You will not regret it!


An option for the 1954 Mercury passenger car was a roadlamp or fog light kit.  These lights mounted in the front bumperettes.  What makes them of interest to me is that they later became a rare option for the 1955 and 1956 Ford Thunderbird. 

 Shown below is an NOS kit used in these cars.  The switch is a sought after item as not many have survived.  The switch allowed the headlamps to be operated in conjunction with the roadlamps, as required in some states.  The lamps could either be clear or amber.

 

Model: Vanessa Lake


Social Distortion – Ball And  Chain

 

Social Distortion is an American punk rock band formed in 1978 in Fullerton, California.The band currently consists of Mike Ness (vocals, guitars), Jonny Wickersham (guitars), Brent Harding (bass), and David Hidalgo, Jr. (drums).

Social Distortion temporarily disbanded in 1985 due to frontman Ness’ drug addiction and troubles with the law which resulted in extended stints in various rehabilitation centers that lasted for two years. However, the band reformed around 1986 and have continued being active today, even after the death of longtime guitarist Dennis Danell, who succumbed to a brain aneurysm in 2000. Since its inception, the band lineup has been a virtual revolving-door of talent with many members coming and going – Ness has been the only constant member.

To date, Social Distortion has released seven full-length studio albums, two compilations, one live album, and two DVDs. The band released its debut album, Mommy’s Little Monster, in 1983. Social Distortion did not release their second album, Prison Bound, until 1988 which attracted the attention of Epic Records who signed the band in 1989.

In 1990, Social Distortion released its highly successful self-titled third album which peaked at #128 on the US Billboard 200 and featured their well-known hit singles, “Ball and Chain”, “Story of My Life”, and the cover of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.” The next three albums, Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell, White Light, White Heat, White Trash, and Sex, Love and Rock ‘n’ Roll as well as the Greatest Hits compilation album which spawned the previously unreleased hit, “Far Behind”), were also well-received.

Social Distortion’s most recent studio album is 2011’s Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes which entered the Billboard 200 at #4 marking the group’s highest entry on that chart. According to Ness, an eighth studio album is currently in the works which will likely be released in 2013.

Ghost Car

Posted: March 15, 2012 in Art, History
Tags: ,

This is one that has been around a few times on the internet. I have been sitting on it for a bit, so I thought I would post it for you guys:

World’s only remaining ‘Ghost Car’ heads for auction. Incredible images of the Plexiglas Pontiac expected to fetch almost $500,000.

Photograph by AARON SUMMERFIELD for RM AUCTIONS

Unveiled at the General Motors Highways and Horizons pavilion at the 1939-40 World’s Fair in New York, the Pontiac ‘Ghost Car’ was buit on the chassis of a 1939 Pontiac Deluxe Six. In collaboration with Rohm & Haas, a chemical company that had recently developed Plexiglass, the concept for a transparent car was conceived and it was the first one ever built in America.

This one-of-a-kind vehicle will be put up for auction on July 30, 2011 by RM Auctions in Plymouth, Michigan. The car is estimated to fetch between $275,000 – $475,000. Additional information and photographs of this beautiful vehicle below, enjoy!

Photograph by AARON SUMMERFIELD for RM AUCTIONS

Photograph by AARON SUMMERFIELD for RM AUCTIONS

Photograph by AARON SUMMERFIELD for RM AUCTIONS

Photograph by AARON SUMMERFIELD for RM AUCTIONS

Photograph by AARON SUMMERFIELD for RM AUCTIONS

Photograph by AARON SUMMERFIELD for RM AUCTIONS

Photograph by AARON SUMMERFIELD for RM AUCTIONS

Photograph by AARON SUMMERFIELD for RM AUCTIONS

Photograph by AARON SUMMERFIELD for RM AUCTIONS

THE 1939 PONTIAC PLEXIGLASS ‘GHOST CAR’

– The highlight of the 1939-40 World’s Fair in New York and the first transparent car ever built in America – Series 26. 85 bhp, 222.7 cu. in. L-head six-cylinder engine, three-speed manual transmission, coil spring independent front suspension, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. – The structural metal underneath was given a copper wash, and all hardware, including the dashboard, was chrome plated. Rubber moldings were made in white, as were the car’s tires – Cost a reported $25,000 to build (using Consumer Price Index to estimate inflation, it is approx. $388,000 in 2010 US dollars) – Car still rides on its original white tires with odometer reading of 86 miles (138 km) – Does not have a conventional vehicle identification number

Photograph by AARON SUMMERFIELD for RM AUCTIONS

Photograph by AARON SUMMERFIELD for RM AUCTIONS

Photograph by AARON SUMMERFIELD for RM AUCTIONS

Photograph by AARON SUMMERFIELD for RM AUCTIONS

Photograph by AARON SUMMERFIELD for RM AUCTIONS

Photograph by AARON SUMMERFIELD for RM AUCTIONS

Photograph by AARON SUMMERFIELD for RM AUCTIONS

Photograph by AARON SUMMERFIELD for RM AUCTIONS

Photograph by AARON SUMMERFIELD for RM AUCTIONS

Photograph by AARON SUMMERFIELD for RM AUCTIONS

Photograph by AARON SUMMERFIELD for RM AUCTIONS


Reckless Ones – Nothin’

Genre
Modern Rockabilly
Members
Kevin O’Leary (25) – Lead guitar/Lead vocals
Dylan Patterson (25) – Stand-up drums/Vocals
Adam Boatright (26) – Upright Bass/Vocals
Hometown
Minneapolis,MN
About
T-SHIRTS + CD’S + PATCHES http://recklessones.bigcartel.com/
Description
Minneapolis Rockabilly band challenges the world.
Biography
Vintage Style-Modern SoundReckless Ones are rock ‘n’ roll, plain and simple. Not concerned with the electronic sounds of the modern day but an honest statement in this phony world. A sound from the heart that doesn’t apologize for anything.

Reckless Ones are a three-man gang, pitting themselves against the world, doing it all alone. You won’t see a band this hard-working outside of the movies. …Giving it their all to deliver dynamic sets for each unsuspecting crowd, proudly quashing the hippest of hipsters’ notions, setting everyone’s feet flying, and by the end of the night, everyone’s feeling reckless.

Before their first gig in 2009 they were in the studio recording their debut album “Make Your Move.” Before the record was out they were shooting a music video. Before the records had time to cool from the presses they’d booked back-to-back U.S. and U.K. tours. And rather then rest, they got right back in the studio in 2010 to record their newest record “Set the World on Fire,” then did another week abroad playing festivals in Finland, France and Spain. In September the album was released, and the touring continued; one more US tour and constant regional shows. In August 2011 they were just getting back from their third European tour covering France, Finland, and Belgium; playing three festivals and numerous club dates.

All this touring taught them that there are no language barriers in rock ‘n’ roll; these boys won ’em over. And they just won’t sit still. They’re packing up and shipping out, as we speak…..

Reckless Ones are:
Kevin O’Leary – Vocals, Guitar
Adam Boatright – Vocals, Upright Bass
Dylan Patterson – Vocals, Stand up Drums

Contact:
recklessones@gmail.com
www.recklessones.com See More

Current Location
Minneapolis,MN
General Manager
recklessones@gmail.com
Website
Press Contact
recklessones@gmail.com
Booking Agent
recklessones@gmail.com(General) ,musica-diaboli@vox-historiae.com(Europe booking)

Junior Brown “Highway Patrol”

 

Brown was born in Kirksville, Indiana. He first learned to play piano from his father “before I could talk”. His music career began in the 1960s, and he worked through that decade and the next singing and playing pedal steel and guitar for groups such as The Last Mile Ramblers, Dusty Drapes and the Dusters and A sleep at the Wheel while developing his astonishing guitar skills. By the mid-1980s he was teaching guitar at the Hank Thompson School of Country Music at Rogers State University, in Claremore, Oklahoma.

In 1985, Junior invented a double-neck guitar, with some assistance from Michael Stevens. Junior called the instrument his “guit-steel”. When performing, Junior plays the guitar by standing behind it, while it rests on a small podium/music stand. The top neck on the guit-steel is a traditional 6-string guitar, while the lower neck is a full-size lap steel guitar for slide playing. Brown has two guit-steels for recording and live work. The original instrument, dubbed “Old Yeller”, has as its standard 6-string guitar portion the neck and pickups from Brown’s previous stage guitar, a Fender Bullet. The second guit-steel, named “Big Red”, has a neck laser-copied from the Bullet neck, but in addition to electric guitar pickups, both the standard and lap-steel necks use an identical Sho-Bud lap-steel pickup. There is a pocket in the upper bout of the guitar to hold the slide bar when it is not in use.

Brown quickly became a local success in Austin, Texas, as the house band at the Continental Club. His debut album was 1990’s 12 Shades of Brown, released by the British Demon Records; it was re-released in 1993 on Curb Records in the U.S., followed by Guit with It. In 1995, Brown released Semi Crazy, and followed it with 1997’s Long Walk Back.

In 1996, Brown was featured on the Beach Boys’ now out-of-print album Stars and Stripes Vol. 1 performing a cover of their 1962 hit “409”. The song features Brown playing guitar and singing lead with the Beach Boys singing harmonies and backing vocals. Brown also won the CMA Country Music Video of the Year award in 1996 for his video, “My Wife Thinks You’re Dead,” which featured 6-foot-7-inch Gwendolyn Gillingham.

Brown’s music has been showcased on various TV shows and movie soundtracks, including Me, Myself and Irene, SpongeBob SquarePants and the 2005 Dukes of Hazzard remake, in which he also played the narrator.

Although Brown plays traditional country and Hawaiian steel styles, few of his performances will finish without some blues playing and surf-rock instrumentals.


Sometimes it might be best to leave a legacy undisturbed. Take Ric Reed’s idea of resurrecting the storied Studebaker nameplate with a lineup of hybrid cars and trucks with the famed Lark, President and Champ model names.  It all sounds well and good until you see the proposed design concepts. Ouch. Carscoops offers a glimpse of the retina searing, new age Portlandia Studebakers.

The wizard behind this idea is businessman Ric Reed, who runs the Big Kahuna apparel company from Colorado. He bought the rights to the Studebaker name in 2001 and wants to revive the long shuttered automaker with eco-hip  ”21st century hybrids..”  Like Tesla’s Elon Musk, Reed thinks he can cross over to the “knuckle dragging” automobile industry because he is an enlightened outsider with an iPhone and an internet connection.

Then we see Reed’s CGI generated designs ideas. Not only do the renderings have zero correlation to any Studebaker in anyway whatsoever, they are pug ugly even by current Chinese auto industry standards. Check out the images and ask yourself, is there one iota of Studebaker DNA in these renderings? Even the new “S” logo looks like it was ripped from Hyundai. Not good.

This could be a really cool idea if executed correctly. Look no further than the Chrysler 300, Challenger Mustang, Camaro, et al. The idea of selling hybrid clown cars under the ancient Studebaker nameplate to Portlandia people who have no knowledge of this marque (and could care less,) is a non-starter and a question no one asked. At least our beloved Avanti was never mentioned.

Rod Authority