Tuesday, August 5, 2014



You gotta be one seriously deranged throttle jockey to get yourself into this situation with a four banger under the hood. This truck just happens to sport one seriously deranged four banger. Lance Sorchik is definitely one of us.

It started with a letter from a crazed fan (me). The friendship that sprouted from that awkward beginning nearly thirty years ago has only flourished, and continues to bear mutual fruit. I could probably tell Lance's story with some accuracy, but there's no equal to hearing it from the horse's mouth. So in this SGE exclusive, Lance speaks directly to you (after donning his horse costume, of course). Gather at his feet, listen carefully, and be educated, entertained, and inspired.

"Once upon a time, on a farm in the Great White North(-ern New Jersey), there lived a clan known as The Sorchiks. With two parents, five children and a grandmother, they worked hard to make ends meet by raising their own cattle and pigs, harrowing the land, and nurturing what nature had to offer. Life was good, but always busy, on the farm."

"One day, middle child Lance walked into the garage and found his dad taking an old Farmall tractor apart - and I mean APART! It was split in half, nuts and bolts were everywhere, oil and grease were up to his elbows, and there was barely any room to walk around the garage. 'Dad', Lance asked, 'Why are you doing that?' His response was, 'Because it's the only way we can afford a tractor. I have to buy old junk and make it like new again.' As a ten year old, Lance had never heard of such a concept and still wasn't sure why his dad was going to all of this work. But he did notice one thing: His dad had a smile on his face and was genuinely enjoying the process. Lance just shook his head and went back into the house to draw more pictures."

"Over the ensuing months, Lance would peek into the garage and see the progress on the tractor. At first, it seemed like it was still going backward - with more parts missing and each big part being broken down into smaller bits. How in the world would dad remember how to put it all back together? Lance just walked away, puzzled."

"But one day, he noticed that the tractor was starting to go back together and actually looked like a tractor again. Cool! His dad was not home at the time, so he walked in and noticed how neat and clean everything was, and how his dad had organized all of the parts on the workbench to go back onto the tractor. The realization that you could drag home a pile of junk and actually rebuild it to like-new condition finally sank in (I truly believe that day changed my life)."

"Each week, Lance returned to the garage to check on his dad's progress. Then one day, his dad was getting ready to paint the tractor. 'Wow!', thought Lance, 'You can do that, too?!' Now understand, the Sorchiks didn't have any spray equipment. Nope, dad was going to brush paint it. Dad asked Lance if he wanted to help. Of course, the answer was 'YES!' Laying on that red paint and trying to keep all the brush strokes going in the same direction was harder than Lance thought. He didn't want to mess up his dad's work, and dad saw Lance's concern, so he reassured him that he couldn't hurt it, and said to do the best that he could. Lance was ecstatic, and could now say that he helped his dad build the tractor."

"The memory that really stuck in Lance's mind was when his dad rewired the tractor. He needed to run some wires, but wanted some protection for them. Having little extra cash, he took an old hoola hoop, cut it down, and  ran the wires through it. That blew Lance away. The fact that you could use parts and pieces from other things, showed him that creativity was okay! Lance loved the concept. And since he was already a creative type, the blend of mechanical and creativity just naturally morphed into playing with old cars and making them forms of art."

"To this day, I LOVE to play with old junk and make it look like new again. I do the best I can with what I have, and I can honestly say that I genuinely enjoy the creative process, and usually have a smile on my face while doing it. Heck, I'm even planning on brush painting my latest project! If there's a circle to life, I'd call this one a FULL circle."

ABOVE: A sample of Sorchik's Where I Draw The Line series, which ran in Rodders Digest magazine for a good twenty years. When the magazine folded, Sorchik continued his mechanical art experiments unsanctioned, blazing a trail for herds of copycats to follow. Sorchik acknowledges them thus:"Everyone is inspired by someone out there, just as I was. I'm the lucky one, to have so many people want to mimic my style. I must have done something right!" BELOW: What all the fuss is about. Note refinements in style and technique over time. Take notes. Bonus: Every vehicle depicted here belongs to a friend, with the emotional connection hardwired directly into each piece.

Bonus: Sorchik builds what he draws, lending a JB Weld-like credibility to his bond with viewers. The above '33 Willys is now a planter, but the following Sorchikmobiles are all still mobile as hell!

I'm honored to have been invited into a lot of cool garages over the years. When I spot one of the above posters from Sorchik's Jumpstart Graphics in someone's shop, I know I'm among kindred spirits. Is your garage flying these mono-colors? Or are you one of those anti-wallpaper safety nuts?

Sorchik enjoys a fan base unique to the field. His fervent followers have demanded personal appearances at events as disparate as the French Street Rod Nationals, a single-family gathering around a campfire in Hungary, and plenty in between. He's just that personable. Below is a Swedish fan's tribute, based on a photocopied commercial image and crafted from tin left over from his personal full scale '33 roadster project.

Once exposed to the true artful beauty of hot rodding, even the hardest ass in the county can soften up and realize a better quality of life. Good work, Lance! Making the world a better place, one burnout at a time. (Photos and images courtesy of Lance Sorchik)



Jim Lindsay made good use of pal Aaron McClinton's shop and skills last week, slapping a coat of hot rod black on the T body intended to shake rattle and roll on the salt, come August 9th. 

Meanwhile, Sid Campbell was blessing the '46 Ford engine. A/GS Willys tamer Dave Owens (not shown) handled wiring, plumbing, final engine assembly, and general completion of the car. Tube and tin bender Marty Strode claims, "Dave did a masterful job, stepping in just two short weeks ago and saving the day for Jim."

And the blown fuel flathead was finally coaxed to life, late last week. That's Dennis Murray on the carb, with Larry Shane and Al Rossback supervising. Lindsay started packing for Speed Week immediately after these photographs were taken.

Bonneville's immense pit area (literally miles long) isn't exactly pedestrian friendly. One must be mobile, or suffer the wrath of the salt gods. Tom Strode's Shetland pit bike is now finished. Marty Strode is all grins after this in-shop test drive. But will the pristine paint and plating really be subjected to the corrosive elements???  (Photos courtesy of Marty Strode)


Seen at last Sunday morning's Stray Cats club gathering, en route to Dr. Lockjaw's Custom Metal shop.

Vaughn Jones' '55 is a Custom Metal regular. It's in for some tweaking to assist with Vaughn's quest to limbo under the 11 second barrier. He's currently carding 12.06 times at 112 MPH, so the elevens are taunting him something awful. But low twelves don't suck too bad for a gasoline smallblock in a 3,500 pound street car. Alas, Jones' aero program recently took a hit when his son crashed his minibike into the right quarter panel.

Most of my week was spent chasing parts. When I finally got around to tearing down the Project SGE rearend on my custom jig, I got as far as axle nut removal and no further. The drums won't budge. Three thousand miles away on a parallel latitude, Motormouth Ray was simultaneously encountering the exact same dilemma. We're both scrambling to concoct hub pullers from found objects. Who will successfully de-brake first? Place your bets now. I did manage to find a right-side wishbone to replace the wrong-side one I had. We cut it to length, then had to move on. But the pieces are now in place to mock up the chassis (hopefully next week). I'm stoked. It's been a long time since this thing looked anything like a car. 

Initial mock-up. Just starting to take shape in my home/garage. 1996. The project went on hold until the spring of 2014, when Dr. Lockjaw came to the rescue. (Scotty shots)

As envisioned by Lance Sorchik in 1997 (Middle image)



Keeping our art show ambiance intact, we present the Art Center College of Design graduating class of 2014, entering a very competitive job market. Don't worry, little guys. You'll be fine if you stay true to yourselves and walk your own path. The suits, we're not so sure about.

Not as artsy as some, yet universal as any: Hardcore street/stripper Race Trevino built his first engine at age 14. His favorite aspect of the build was receiving the PAW sticker in a box of mail order parts, so he could slap it on his toolbox. It's the little things that make life such a big deal. (Photo courtesy of Race Trevino)


A quick peek at some of the customer work that keeps the oil on Lance Sorchik's table. You know, for salads and stuff.