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Doin’ Car Stuff On Our Honeymoon

Bradley Brownell June 30, 2015 Hooniverse Goes To... 14 Comments

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My Wife and I, newly wed and all, packed up all of our things into that Rogue and drove back to the Detroit Wayne County airport for a long, long flight west to Los Angeles. I’d been to LA a few times before, but mostly for work and had never really seen the sights. Amanda had never been, and she was pretty excited. Because we’d been together for quite a while, we’ve already done pretty much everything together. We were looking to spice things up a little, and I was able to, just once, convince her to spend the day doing car stuff. I mean, I knew I would enjoy it a lot more than she would, and it would probably just be a pain for her, but there was a chance she might enjoy it and let me do that again. We went to my favorite vintage car sales specialists, European Collectibles, we visited Blake at the Petersen Museum, and stopped in to Singer Vehicle Design. It was only one day of our week long trip, but it was just so freakin’ awesome. Read on for more.

The very first thing we did when we landed at LAX was to go pick up a brand-spankin-new 2015 Porsche Boxster GTS, which Porsche was so gracious to lend, thanks to my work through FLATSIXES.com. You’ll be able to read a full Porsche-centric retelling of this trip over there, as well as a full in-depth review of the Boxster, in the coming weeks. It was a pretty awesome way to start our week, though.

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Monday was pretty much a travel day, capped with picking up the car, checking into our hotel, and going for dinner with some friends down on the Venice boardwalk. Tuesday, however, was where the fun would really begin. I’d planned for a full day of car stuff, and it was going to be epic.

Day two was up and at em quite early. We had to drive down to European Collectibles (clients and friends of mine, whom I had promised to visit) down in Costa Mesa, so we wanted to get a start on the day as early as possible. It was well worth the trip, partly because it was nice to see some guys I talk to on the phone regularly, but have not seen in months, and partly because their inventory is spectacular.

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Most of their inventory is Porsche related, but they do have some other non-P-car Euro inventory, like this VW van, a couple of excellent Ferraris, and the odd BMW. The one that really caught my eye, though, was this spectacular Porsche 904 Carrera GTS with its original Porsche 4-cam engine. This car podiumed at the 12 hours of Sebring back in the 1960s. It’s quite special.

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Everything they work on is beautiful and amazing and immaculate. Every time I go there I feel simultaneously amazed to be in the presence of such beauty, and saddened that I can’t afford to take any of it home. They have a wonderful open house every March to coincide with the LA Porsche and Volkswagen Literature and Toy show. If you have the opportunity to go, you definitely should.

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After Costa Mesa, we drove back north to visit Friend of Hoon, Mr. Blake Z. Rong over at the Petersen museum. As you’ll no doubt know, especially if you listen to the Hooniverse podcast, the Petersen is currently undergoing an extensive restoration, and as such, all of their cars have been relocated to the basement and most of them are under cover from the dust that construction always brings. Thanks to his generosity, we got a private tour of the basement, and Blake spent an hour or so taking covers off of some amazing stuff and then putting the covers back on. Here’s some of the stuff we got to see. (Steel yourself, it’s pretty intense. It was all I could do to keep from crying tears of joy.)

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FORD GT!!???!! Oh, man, this was pretty awesome. As I recall, this one was a street car from when it was brand new. I dig the wire wheels and the oddly proportioned MkIII body. There may have been talk of the Petersen hosting a display eventually with this car, a 2005 Ford GT, and the 2016 Ford GT side by side. That would be pretty awesome.

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Oh, this car? I think someone named Tom used to drive it on a television program. He had a moustache. Oh, you know the one…
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The Barchetta is one of my favorite designs of all time from this marque. The little boat got its name from the flat line running the length of the car at the waistline, some saying it looks like the line of water cresting as a boat floats through it. Regardless of what it’s called, this thing looked legit. I’ve never seen one in black before, so this was a treat. IMG_0179
Oh, goodness, the “Round Door” Rolls. This Rolls Royce was HUGE, and probably one of the most sinisterly designed cars I’ve ever seen. The museum had a custom car cover made for this beast, and it had to have been 42 square miles of fabric. I’m not usually into cars from the “roaring 20s”, but exceptions can always be made. IMG_0180
I didn’t get the backstory behind this car (looks Manx-ish?), and frankly didn’t ask because I was blown away by everything else in the basement. I don’t know why this would have side-pipes if the engine was in the back, but I dig them for some reason.

IMG_0128Is that Greased Lightning? As much as I hate the movie Grease (for obvious reasons), it was still pretty neat to see this weird car that can totally fly for no reason if you sing hard enough. They also had a copy of the Keaton Batmobile, and a recreation of Speed Racer’s Mach Five. NOSTALGIAGASM!

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Hot rods are another thing in car culture that I never really got into. They are super cool, and there was a lot of innovative thinking going on back then, but they never really made me turn my head the way stuff from the sixties and later does. That being said, the museum is in the heart of Hot Rod culture in southern California, and there was just something cool about seing some of these formative early culture rods sitting there dormant. There was stuff from Ed Roth and others that just made me drool. So cool. IMG_0132

Blake’s favorite car in the museum. For obvious reasons.IMG_0135

Oof. Just plain gorgeous.
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Here’s another vaguely Volkswagen-based off-roading machine that I never actually asked Blake about. It looked pretty cool, though. I’d drive one of these every day. IMG_0143
This Mazda Luce was apparently purchased and shipped to SoCal for the Japanese cruise in at the museum last month, as well as the road rally put on by Japanese Nostalgic Car. As far as I’m aware, this is the only one in the states. Pretty cool car, and an odd one at that.
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Mustang II! I love Mustang IIs.
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This is Elvis’ Pantera. You know, the one he unloaded a bunch of bullets into? Though the car had the bodywork taken care of, there was still evidence of the bullets making contact with pieces of the interior, including the steering wheel. IMG_0147
SVX! I have an unhealthy car-crush on these stupid things. Perhaps one day I’ll put a manual in one and throw some turbos at it and do all wheel donuts.

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This is one of the best designed cars of the 50s, and you cannot argue with me. You’d be wrong.

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This was a special treat. You see, my wife and I were both getting our drivers licenses about the same time as “2 Fast 2 Furious” came out in theaters. While a terribly horrible film, it made a big impression on us as 16 year olds with newly garnered driving privileges. Amanda, being a predictable 16 year old highschool cheerleader, fell in love with Devon Aoki’s bright pink be-VeilSided Honda S2000 (This fool’s running a Honda 2000). She was so excited to see this dumb car, so I asked politely if we might be able to sit in it. You know, as a wedding gift. I must admit, it was a pretty cool experience. Thanks, Petersen! You made my wife’s day. And maybe mine a little bit, too.IMG_0151
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The story behind this old racer is pretty cool. Read more on it here.IMG_0160
Another really cool part of the collection was the highly customized Cadillac used by ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons. Dubbed “Cadzilla”, this car is absolutely insane from a design standpoint. It just looks like it might rear up on its hind wheels and terrorize a downtown metropolis before wandering back into the sea. Maybe after a fight with a Mothda Miata or something…
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Seriously, every detail of this thing is just amazing. I have a thing for well-formed vanity plates, and this one is among the best I’ve ever seen. Way to go, Mr. Gibbons. IMG_0163
Why not? Just why not?

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In the 50s, there was some really interesting forward-thinking designs from companies you wouldn’t expect. This concept was a Ghia-designed Chrysler-built luxury sport-ish coupe. Why this wasn’t ever turned into a production car, I’ll never know. It’s gorgeous, and could have spearheaded design at a somewhat bland Chrysler of the period. Oh, what could have been.
IMG_0166Oh, you don’t keep your XK220 parked next to your EB110? Oh, you really should. These amazing feats of 1990s speed wars were so cool I almost had to curl up into a ball and rock for a few minutes.

And thus ends our time at the Petersen. Thanks to Blake and his museum cohorts for letting us loose in the place for a bit. It was a highlight of my week, for sure. What came next, though… Oh man…

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Another of my customers/friends in the greater Los Angeles area happens to work for Singer Vehicle Design. Getting the opportunity to tour their little shop and see the amazingly beautiful creations they turn out was a chance of a lifetime. IMG_0184
Their craftsmanship is second to none. The paint was miles deep, and the leather felt so soft and supple. Just fantastic work, guys. In the words of Ferris Bueller…IMG_0190

Every shop needs a good shop dog.
IMG_0225The Boxster was so cool, and we spent a good chunk of Wednesday driving around in the hills and twisty roads north of Malibu. Seriously, it was a ton of fun. Look for my review coming soon. It’ll be good.

[All other photos ©2015 Hooniverse/Bradley C. Brownell, All Rights Reserved.]

  • dmdukejr

    “I mean, I knew I would enjoy it a lot more than she would, and it would
    probably just be a pain for her, but there was a chance she might enjoy
    it and let me do that again.”

    • Bradley Brownell

      Thinly veiled…

    • “Honeymoon stuff” > car stuff.

  • jim

    The white car in the background of the Ferrari 308 pic is the Fiat Multipla Eden Rock by Pininfarina. I didn’t know it ended up in the US.

    • Bradley Brownell

      It was pretty cool. It had a wood rear deck that apparently mimicked the boat it was kept on.

      Something, something, Monaco.

  • engineerd

    The Petersen is truly an LA treasure. I’d recommend it to any of you car nerds if/when you find yourself in LA with abut 6 hours (or more) to spare.

  • Myron Vernis

    I recognize that Mazda! Some day, I’ll get it to Ohio. Promise.

    As far as the Petersen, I would correct engineerd’s comment to state that it is a national treasure. If you’re in to cars, even in the slightest amount, you need to visit. The variety of the collection is second to none and the people are enthusiasts of the highest order. I love that place!

    • Bradley Brownell

      Yeah, I heard you might have had something to do with it. Knowing some of the other things in your collection, I can’t say I was surprised!

      I’d never been the to Petersen, but I’d been wanting to for years. I was a little disheartened that I couldn’t make it before the renovations started, but this little private tour was well worth the wait. I’ll definitely be making my way back there when the museum reopens.

      I wish I had about a year of free time to dig through all of the paper materials in the archives as well. It looked like there was some really interesting stuff in there.

    • engineerd

      Correction noted and wholeheartedly agreed.

      They are constantly rotating displays and themes, so you can go over and over and always see something new.

  • hwyengr

    No stop at the Nethercutt Collection? Sure, it’s stuck all the way out in the sticks, but it’s the Thinking Man’s Petersen. And free!

    • Bradley Brownell

      You know, I’ve sold parts to the Nethercutt before, but I didn’t make the connection that they were in the area. I’ll have to save that one for next time.

  • Frank T. Cat

    I remember seeing Cadzilla as a kid and being completely blown away by it. It still blows me away. What a thing.

    • Fuhrman16

      Indeed. I’d say it’s probably the most timeless custom car ever.

  • Mark T. Jordan

    @hwyengr: + 1. The Nethercutt is in Simi Valley, an hour NE of L.A., and well worth a visit. Not only are the cars all capable of running, and displayed in a recreation of a 20’s Packard showroom replete with chandeliers and a grand staircase, but the top floor holds a rare, extensive collection of mechanical band boxes – huge contraptions with miniature moving soldiers and dancing figurines that were popular
    at the turn of the 20th century. And of course, they all work perfectly as well. Don’t miss it!