Tuesday, October 1, 2013


                                          Can you see your garage from here? Google can.


SGE international reporters check in hourly, every day. They cover every crook and nanny of the earth, sniffing out the hot skinny poop for you, the reader. How to thank them? Payment? There's currently no budget in the budget for that, but can you really place a monetary value on worldwide exposure? Exactly. It's priceless. And here at SGE, we honor exposure. So let's voyeur in on some hot spots and see what's cookin'...

Rookie SGE contributor CC (it's a code name) (it stands for Christopher Clark) volunteered for the Euro beat last week and returned with the following...

Here's your cub reporter working like a dog (lifting extremity to fence), just outside of Schwangau, Germany. CC was out Autobahnning in a 2014 VW Phaeton, when he paced a sinister '38 BMW Mille Miglia "Hitting up to 215 KPH, which equals out to around 130 MPH", and tailed it to this remote hideout in a seedy rural neighborhood. If you've ever watched "Justified" on TV, you know exactly what kind of situation we're talking about here - damn dangerous. Swelling with pride at his sleuthing, CC also shows confidence enhanced by the cache of fully automatic weaponry stashed on his person. Armed to the teeth and sporting a snappy bulletproof vest (and a wire) under the innocuous monogrammed jacket, he penetrated the perimeter for a closer look (Note multiple massive padlocks on gate at property's edge. With security this tight, entry would be no cakewalk).

Sure enough, seconds after positioning himself, CC witnessed the vintage Bimmer scampering into the garage. Smelling an SGE exclusive scoop ("I know a blown smallblock when I hear it"), he followed his nose to the front door, then was promptly whisked off the property by a half dozen surly security guards. Once out of sight, these misguided individuals attempted a physical assault on our man CC!  He tells it from there: "I only draw a weapon when absolutely necessary. That was not the case in this situation." Word to nefarious characters of the world: Don't underestimate Boy Scout training. That name again: C... CC.

Back at his secret headquarters deep within the bowels of urban Rothenburg (named for native son Ed "Big Daddy" Roth and wife Whoopie Goldburg), CC took the day off to play tourist (note convincing shopping bag prop - genius!) and unwittingly strolled straight into the biggest automotive story to hit Germany in a year! Upon exiting a Water Closet (that's European for "leaky little place"), CC overheard snippets of conversation at a sidewalk cafe. Two trenchcoated young men were hunched in whispered discussion - in Dutch, of course (Dutch is a completely different country, but many young Germans speak the language, because their parents can't understand it). You don't survive in the hot rod world as long as CC has without learning some tricks: He tipped the waiter to translate and discovered the Frankfurt Auto Show was opening, only a few kilometers away (Kilometers are German measuring devices, developed during WWII. One kilometer is approximately three feet in length, including handle. So, five hundred kilometers laid end-to-end equal one mile. This simple conversion becomes second nature after only a few hours in this region of Germany). CC refueled the Phaeton and set out for Frankfurt (erroneously credited as home of the Frankfurter, Germany's capitol city was in fact named for native son and race car driver/beach comber Frank Lockhart). Depth perception trick: CC appears tiny, compared to this photo caption.

Representing on the global stage, CC did the SGE nation proud. He played the media card and got in for free. Of the grand scope of the international show, CC opines, "The time and planning and work that goes into those display set-ups is incredible. I found myself more in awe of the display than the car." Okay CC, show us.

Ooh, he's right. Those mannequins are so life-like...

The new Batmobiles are out already?

The latest from Dipshitzu. Ten headlights!

The ultimate in American influence - a chrome car. Where do they get those mannequins? Amazing.

Unemployed German actors portray mannequins posed as photographers. Clever. But that backdrop won't fool today's sophisticated show-goers. It's obviously just painted on the wall, and doesn't even continue across the floor. The phone booth at left looks like a Futurama prop. Sorry CC, but these guys aren't even trying. Not impressed. (Photos by CC)

Disappointed with the large turnout of late models ("I didn't even see one Deuce - at a car show that big!"), CC swears he was on his way out anyway, when his phony SGE credentials were confiscated (Hey! That was my library card! - SG) and he was escorted to the sidewalk by security. A blessing in disguise, as he returned home a day early - just in time to celebrate his birthday with an autobahn-inspired blast around Portland in his hot rod VW Beetle.

Due to the aforementioned SGE budget crisis (thanks a lot, CC!), the remainder of our international features have been outsourced and downsized. These are actually teases from Wild About Cars' current No Limits online magazine, which is updated weekly. More at: wildaboutcarsonline.com/  When I say more, I mean it. You think this blog is windy? There's no limit to how much time you can lose in No Limits' vast content - a virtual black hole. You've been warned.

Formula 1 driver David Coulthard and Red Bull team manager Tony Burrows run amok through the streets of Havana in a '55 Pontiac. 

In an obvious attempt to upstage last week's SGE feature on the Hot Rod Hill Climb, promoters of the Prescott Speed Hill Climb in England's Gloucestershire countryside responded with smoke and noise. Note "Demon Drome Wall of Death" in background. You have our attention, gentlemen. 



Old pal Gary Mathis insists on doing everything traditionally. From his house to his toys to the incredible custom bicycles he crafts, this guy is a total throwback. I love him for that (plus he's a fulltime funster). My favorite piece of Gary art is his early T roadster. It's been featured on this blog more than once, for good reason - it's an inspirational reminder of our history and priorities - and an absolute riot to ride around in. Luckily, I got to enjoy many a mile in Gary's hairblower, before it was ultimately transformed into money to finance the big move from southern Oregon to the bright lights of Portlandia. I miss the roadster - a lot. Gary's doing just fine with a comfy '46 tudor now, but I haven't quite forgiven him yet for betraying my love of the T by selling it.

Gary and the T as I remember them. Every mile is a thrill ride in a Winfield-bangered roadster... More proof of the squirrelization of planet Earth. (Scotty shots)

After a brief stint in Arizona, the T ended up at Brooks Cottage in England (whether permanent or just passin' through, I do not know). I know the new owner only as Rory, but the car seems to have the same effect on him as it did to anyone who's seen it - a classic Permagrin.

Fitting right in at a throwback gathering in Snetterton, which I assume to be in England. Just seeing it in these photos triggered a severe case of the grins. Glad it remains unchanged. Savor it, Rory! (Photos courtesy of Rory)




In the mid-1980's I was barely squeaking by in a run down Omaha, Nebraska neighborhood. My daily driver was a slammed Nissan pickup. I befriended a fellow Nissan pilot who lived a couple blocks away. While my interest in the mini truck scene was casual (at the most), my younger neighbor was driven to obsession. We were both low income blue collar worker bees, expending ten times more labor than dollars on our trucks, but the neighbor kid worked endlessly on his. With no garage of my own, I mostly hung at his, where he taught himself upholstery to finance his habit. A year later, my rig remained unchanged, while his had become a nicely finished custom with a decidedly high-end street rod vibe. We still saw each other at car events, but ultimately drifted apart, as happens.

About ten years ago, I started seeing his work pop up in various magazines. Today, Tracy Weaver is upholsterer to the stars. His old Nissan seems a pretty humble beginning now. I remember teasing Tracy about his "Weaver" name being perfect for an upholstery shop, but he topped that when he dubbed his stitchery the Recovery Room.

Tracy and the Recovery Room are still in the Omaha area. We both traded hair and waistlines for chops over the years, and ended up living lives beyond our naive dreams, albeit 2,000 miles apart. This shop is light years from the dark one-car garage in north Omaha.

A recent collaboration with the Mittler Brothers.

Test driving a customer's Edsel.

This tasty Deuce roadster has replaced Tracy's old Nissan. Though cargo capacity has diminished somewhat, I still consider this an upgrade. (Photos courtesy of Recovery Room)

Congratulations, my friend. Savor your success with some rose sniffing, okay? "Steady as she goes", and all that.


On the subject of interior decorating, East Coast correspondent Motormouth Ray was baffled by a current technology mashup trend and snapped a photo for you to ponder.

ipod docks are appearing in many recent builds by the younger set. I can understand Ray's puzzlement at digital technology snaking out of a vintage dash. But it makes sense, considering these builders grew up with electrons and refuse to leave home without them. Like street rodders, insisting on A/C. I get that. In fact, while cross country road tripping with Bob Klessig in his very traditional appearing '51 Chevy custom, I saw more electronic gear in his interior than in most air traffic control towers. When you really drive your car, aesthetics take a back seat, so to speak. Discuss: Right, wrong, or inevitable? (Photo by Motormouth Ray)



From award winning book author (well, my girlfriend says I'm her favorite automotive writer) to over-the-road gear grinder, in the time it takes to downshift from 4th to 2nd. We do what we gotta do. And today's aspiring writers must be willing do it all. For me, that means spending my Fridays literally delivering the goods - those Auto Trader-type advertising thingies - to the car hungry citizens of southern Oregon. My landlord thinks it's the least I can do. Publishers staring at their watches and tapping their toes on deadline day can't comprehend why I would consider such a thing. Maybe they've never spent a winter living in a Honda. The rent must get paid.

My first "selfie"! They say you never forget your first and now I know why. Just loaded my lunch pail into the car and am prepared for launch. Note actual collar on shirt. Maintaining a professional appearance is paramount when doing business in the public eye. Next week: Shower and a shave.

My job is to replace the previous week's issues with fresh meat. The obsolete issues ride around with me until I find a recycling bin. Fascinating, huh? But I'm also getting paid to discover hidden vintage tin and interesting photoshoot locations.

While mostly urban, parts of my delivery route are rural. That's where I found this rogue gang of hitch hikers. They didn't say much - just pointed toward town, so that's where I took them. They were a tight fit in the Honda with all of those magazines, but nobody complained. They must have just been grateful to get off their feet for a while.

Wrapping up the day at the recycling bin. Cycle complete. Then it's back to the bunker for more word juggling. And a new hat. (Scotty shots)


A special celebratory welcome to our 30th SGE member, Modo B!!! Such a milestone is unfathomable to me - thirty people actually read this stuff?! That's doubtful. For all I know, all 30 members could be the same person. But I'm giving Modo B the benefit of the doubt. Congrats on becoming our landmark 30th! Since this number will likely never be topped, I'm going all out on Modo B's membership gifts: Beside the standard secret handshake, custom tailored polyester jacket, and bottle opener, Modo B will also receive a turnkey one-off  NOS steel '32 Ford of his or her choice (3 or 5-window coupe, roadster, cabriolet, phaeton, closed pickup, roadster pickup, or B-400), custom-built-to-order by Steve's Auto Restorations in Portland, Oregon! Modo B will be responsible for tax and licensing costs, shipping costs, insurance costs, miscellaneous costs, and the miscellaneous cost taxes, but will otherwise not pay a single dime for this dream-come-true prize! Can you believe it? I know - me neither! This giveaway is something I've been working on for a long time, and now that it's finally happening - Oh God, I know how it feels to be Oprah! I think I'm getting the vapors... I'm already looking forward to seeing the finished product - and hopefully, a ride around the block!

    Artist rendering of Modo B, thrilled beyond facial features to accept the biggest SGE giveaway prize ever! (Rendering by Artist)


The Squirrel of the Week feature has been discontinued indefinitely (the squirrels have apparently unionized). SGE apologizes for any inconvenience. We hope you'll enjoy our new feature, Toolbox of the Week!

This little guy was discovered sitting next to a dumpster behind a Wal Mart, in the rain, about six years ago (Hey, I wrote that for the squirrel shot, but it works here, too!). When no one claimed it after 48 hours, it was mine. The latch/lock assembly was ripped from the circa 1990 Craftsman 4-drawer, but it was otherwise sound. It served as my race box for a couple seasons, then was demoted to a desk job. It's now parked beside the computer, standing by for action. (Scotty shot)

This blog post written 1 1/2 hours before a book deadline, a magazine feature story deadline, and a magazine tech article deadline. SGE and its affiliates not responsible for factual errors. The SGE blog is produced for entertainment purposes only and should not be used as a reliable source of information.