Shop SeenOn a recent trip to Indianapolis we stopped by to see upholstery whiz Dave Martinez and metal master Gary Brown over at Brown's Metal Mods. As always, there were interesting projects going on in both shops, but we particularly liked a couple in-progress customs at Brown's place.
The '50 Chevy fleetline belongs to Californian Lou Mendoza, and Gary says he basically started over on what had been an in-progress project. The car now has a chopped top with the B-pillars eliminated, and the sleek roofline flows into a boat tail-style decklid. Handmade taillights and flush-fit fender skirts complete the rear, while a metal-shaped bodyline tapers back from the front wheel opening. Word has it a '59 Imperial grille will be installed below the frenched headlights, and a small-block V-8/700-R4 combo will reside in the Camaro subframe under the car.
Pennsylvania's George Burke owns the '53 Studebaker project, which has been treated to a mildly wedge-cut top chop, laid-back windshield, and suicide-style doors with wedge-cut tops to keep the bodyline flowing smoothly. The front end will remain stock except for frenched headlights, while the rear is getting custom taillights in slightly extended and laid-back quarter-panels, with a custom-built pan under the bumper. The owner-built chassis will have a narrowed Jaguar rearend and a 406ci small-block with a trio of Barry Grant carbs.
Both cars are due to be completed later this year, so keep your eyes peeled for 'em. In the meantime, you can reach Brown's Metal Mods at (317) 626-2151.
Von Dutch On The BlockSo-called "kustom kulture" art may be deemed "lowbrow," but it was anything but low dollar when the Brucker Collection of Von Dutch art and memorabilia was auctioned off at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles May 13-14.
The Brucker family began renting cars to Hollywood studios in the '50s, and eventually started a museum to show off their collection. In 1970, Jim Brucker and his son Jimmy opened MovieWorld: Cars of the Stars and Planes of Fame Museum in Buena Park. They hired Ed "Big Daddy" Roth to design and build sets, and to paint signs. Roth turned the Bruckers on to the work of artist Robert Williams, who had worked at the Roth Studios in the '60s. Soon, Von Dutch was working at MovieWorld too. The museum closed in 1979, but the Bruckers kept their collection of cars, as well as the largest private collection of artwork by Von Dutch, Roth, Williams, Ed "Newt" Newton, Dave Mann, and other originators of what is now termed "kustom kulture."
That's what was being auctioned at the Petersen Museum. Most of the 500 lots were Von Dutch-oriented, and included original art, signs, tools, personal items, and assorted oddball stuff. It was like the world's coolest museum had become the world's coolest store, and all you had to do to get something was place the highest bid.
That was no small feat. The first item on the block was a small Snap-On screwdriver once owned by Von Dutch. The sale bill estimate was between $150 and $250, but bidding shot up to $800 in a heartbeat. That's pretty much how the whole auction went. We kept our debit cards in our wallets and considered our prize to be the priceless experience of looking at all the great stuff on display before it disappeared into private collections.
Even so, the question that wouldn't go away was: What would Von Dutch think about all of this? Would he be ticked off by the outrageous sums being paid for artwork for which he was paid next to nothing? Or would he have laughed out loud at fat cat collectors forking out crazy money for old hammers and screwdrivers and paint guns they'll never use? Or would he be happy to know that all these people are his fans, that his legend lives on, and that his talent is arguably as influential today as it was during his greatest days? Who knows?