Worldwide, I believe most car collectors recognize California as the birthplace of custom car culture, and the ultimate source for rust free vintage cars and parts. That said, I wonder if folks realize its all hanging by a thread? California isn’t famous for preservation of automotive history, I call it the Cash for Clunkers mentality its a big push to erase California’s car culture from the face of the earth.
Around mid-January, I received a letter from the city I live in with a list of violations someone in my neighborhood accused me of committing. Unfortunately when one gets turned in to the city by one of their neighbors they don’t have the right to know who their accuser is. The passive aggressive sort can remain anonymous, there’s no way to determine if the complaint came from a legitimate neighboring home owner, or a real estate agent intent on squeezing a few more bucks out of a nearby listing. A fellow car collector in the neighborhood told me the latest scam is for people trying buy a car from someone that doesn’t want to sell, is to report the car as a nuisance to the city, and then wait until the owner gets forced to sell, or scrap.
Cutting through paragraphs of boilerplate the city’s bottom line is the only place I can work on a car project or store it is inside my garage. The bright side to all of this is shortly after the letter from the city arrived I was in an MPMC media trade meeting with Colby Martin. Colby is SEMA’s director for the SEMA Action Network. I’ve written about it before, SEMA already has a model in place to deal with unfair inoperable vehicle laws. The task is going to be how to get the model enacted into California law. This is going to be an ongoing subject, and its one that applies to anyone that lives in the United States. Updates next week.
If that’s not the corniest title ever — It’s the Cameo Carriers I want to spotlight here, but the entire Tri-five series, 1955-59 Chevy trucks were out in full force at the 2013 Scottsdale Barrett Jackson auction. Not only were they there, some were bringing pretty good money in comparison to the prices they’re currently bringing on the street. A Tri-five Chevy in the So Cal area selling in the $25-35,000 range brought as much as $71,500. A look at Barrett-Jackson’s results page revealed prices were all over the map. A good example was lot 951. If I were writing a feature about this truck for Classic Trucks or Custom Classic Trucks I would title it “Heinz ’57.” What else would you call a truck listed as a ’57 GMC, with a ’55 Chevy hood, and a ’57 Chevy grille? What struck me the most about the truck was it’s small-window cab with shaved drip rails. I say this because small-window cabs are in the least demand, and shaving the drip rails is the easiest way to save a rusted-out roof.
Bringing the focus back to the Cameo Carrier, was it a styling exercise done to indicate market demand? The fiberglass bed sides GM used to wrap its standard steel stepside bed pre-dated the ’57 Ford Styleside by two years. A year and a half after Ford the all-steel Chevrolet Fleetside bed wasn’t introduced until mid-year 1958.
This is a 1957 Chevy Cameo Carrier. Note in’57 Cameo bedsides gained extra trim that lent well to two-toning.
Note 3124 in the side emblems: From 1955-1957 instead of the 3100 used to designate a ½-ton shortbed, or 3200 a ½-ton longbed, 3124 denoted a Cameo Carrier.
This is a 1958 Cameo Carrier that sold at auction at Scottsdale 2013. Note the 3124 emblem was replaced with Apache 31. The Apache model was introduced in 1958 and available throughout the ½-ton lineup.
The rarest Cameo ever? Research for another day it would be interesting to know if this 1958 NAPCO Cameo Carrier is real, or just a really neat exercise in recreating something that never was. I found several vehicles at Scottsdale 2013 that were upgraded after the fact with factory options… In other words, cars that never were. A fully-loaded 1963 Studebaker Champ pickup that was built up from a base model with only one original option comes to mind.
When late-model bed swaps go bad: Got a $25,000 truck you’d like to get $8,000 for? I found this ’57 Chevy in the auction area at Hot August Nights in 2007.
Art and object driven, sounds cool whatever it means. I hadn’t planned on going to the Scottsdale auctions until the day before when my friend Henry at Newport Classic Cars called and said he’d like me to be there to help him size up some vehicles. My first choice for transportation is always to drive. A dumb idea, I told Henry as long as I was driving out I might as well drag along my tandem car trailer. I drove all day across the desert just to get to the desert. Let’s just call it performance art. Sure the square art world doesn’t recognize anything associated with Custom Culture as art, but that’s okay because we all know that’s because they’re square. So if I want to call hauling Bruce Willis’ former ’55 Chevy Nomad back to Newport Beach performance art, I can do that.
The first thing I did in Scottsdale was to drop off my tandem at Russo & Steele’s trailer lot. It would have cost $50.00, but the lot attendant said there was only a couple of days left, so I parked for free. Everyone working at Russo & Steele was first class.
I didn’t get a parking sticker like the other trailers, so I was a little nervous about leaving it.
Newport Classic Cars hauled five vehicles out to Russo & Steele. This ’61 Chevy Impala SS was the first one I got to see cross the block. Although the people running it are really nice, Russo doesn’t spend as much time describing the vehicles, and it wasn’t mentioned this ’61 was a real, and very rare SS, and it didn’t come even close to hitting the reserve.
Held at West World I think it would be safe to say due to the immensity of it all the Scottsdale Barrett Jackson auction is the granddaddy of all car auctions. Outside there was a giant vendor area inside and outside of tents. This inflatable spray booth captured my imagination.
Available in custom painted pink the Mercedes-Benz Unimog is the ultimate urban survival vehicle.
The best gathering of great automotive artists I’ve ever seen, I wish I’d shot better coverage of the automotive art gallery assembled at Barrett Jackson. I did take a snap of Eric Hermann next to his booth. I met Eric last December in Ventura, California while we were both exhibiting at the David Mann Chopper Fest art exhibit.
Here they are at Scottsdale: Another great automotive artist I met Al DiMauro and his wife at the Syracuse Nationals in Syracuse New York. Originally from Upstate New York, Al and his wife live in Arizona.
How’s this for confusion: With GM Classics Rule! emblazoned down each side of the trailer the tow truck pulling it was a brand-new matching red Ford pickup.
I took this photo of the Nomad before I loaded it just in case I ripped the sides off driving the ’55 onto the trailer… hey, there’s always that risk.
Point it straight, and veer tight left trying to keep driver side trailer fender in sight.
Perfect! balance the car on the trailer with the tongue angle right, and tie it down. Four straps is the legal minimum.
The first rest stop west of Phoenix. Check the tie-downs, talk with tourists digging the ’55 and then keep driving.
The second rest stop west of Phoenix. A Utah tourist remembered Tim Allen’s Nomad on Tool Time… she didn’t know who Bruce Willis was, weird huh? Check the tie-downs, and cheack there’s still four tires on the trailer. Donate used Coffee to the porcelain shrine.
Gas is a half buck less in Arizona than California. Pulled into Quartzite, but the gas lines were too long. Opted for a Subway tuna barge with extra onions. Bought a Subway cookie, but it was too stale to eat, it made a good wheel chock.
The only place my truck and trailer would fit in Quartzite was in the no-parking area behind the Subway. I asked a guy working there if my rig would be okay, and he said “no problem.” Nice folks in that town!
The official Chevrolet name for the ’55 Nomad’s light blue color is Skyline Blue… Where do you think they got that name from?
Photo by Bob Ryder editor, Drive! magazine: That’s me next to it. I’d always dreamt of finding an old Peterbilt, and turning it into a big ol’ hot rod truck for the open road when on Ocotber 2, 2010 the dream came true. I was checking out a Chevy pickup to shoot for Custom Classic Trucks in Atwater, California when I was given this ’77 Peterbilt 289. It was the neatest thing ever, the owner saw how much I liked the truck, and said it yours if you want it. As you can see by the photos the truck didn’t have one dent, but was missing its Cat engine.
Here’s a Polaroid of the Pete when she was in her prime.
It came to a sad end. The Pete was always on my mind, but I never came up with an affordable way to get it hauled some 300 miles to my house. Eventually the owner got tired of waiting for me and sent the truck to the scrapper. I’m guessing it got melted down and turned into hubcaps for 4,323 Honda cars.