Ride of the Week: Manny Javier’s Prismatic 1966 CHEVY CORVAIR MONZA!

As with most weeks here, I cover amazing rides owned by our fellow compadres and built to perfection. I’ve been doing this for over six years in The Malibu Surfside News, and I’ve seen some amazing rides.

But today’s Ride of the Week goes to a new friend who came to Wheels and Waves this past month. He’s a passionate enthusiast with a very unique ride that’s been done up in a very unique way. Having been in this industry for over 40 years now, I’ve gotten a chance to see finished results in quite a variety of forms. But this 1966 Chevy Corvair Monza owned by Manny Javier is a one-of-a-kind piece of art.

Javier has been a shutter installer and window cover consultant for around 20 years and his Corvair has a stock engine riding on 16-inch Dayton wheels and Vogue tires.

“I have no need for speed,” he said. “So I’m planning on leaving it as is. It runs slow to show the amazing lines and it picks up when it’s needed. I found this car back in early 1994 in an AutoTrader Magazine in the San Bernandino Riverside section. The guy was asking $3,995 [or best offer], and was in Corona.

“I had no car and asked my girlfriend then (wife now) to take me out to a place I previously never thought existed, and about two hours from home. I ended up paying $3,500 and the rest is history.”

Well, a good deal is a good deal when it comes to what you love.

But Javier’s story isn’t over yet. The ’80s TV show “CHiPs” was a big part of him and he always wanted  a late-model Corvair, he explained. They always ended up crashing them in the show on the freeways, he recalled.

“Ever since I seen one on that show, I was hooked on Corvairs,” he said.

And this is where it gets interesting.

“My car was sitting in my garage for a good 18 years, but just last April, I decided to get it out on the road again and the first thing I noticed was that paint job was shot dead with no hope of bringing it back,” he said. “So I started to sand it down myself and as I worked at it, was surprised on how many times the car had been painted. Same color but different tones. After about eight months of sanding to get it right, I am proud to say that this paint treatment is the best part of my car.”

Did you hear that, folks? Javier sanded this puppy for eight months! And it seriously shows. Hints of steel, aqua, primer reds, marigold and more peek through. You could literally stare at this car all day and still discover new things.

Javier doesn’t call this ’66 his daily driver as it’s had many repairs. But he’ll take any chance to take it for a spin.

“I brought it back to life to be driven … and to show my creative side,” he said.

And Javier’s final story brings it all full circle.

“I was in the Santa Monica Fourth of July Parade,” he tells me. “Having so many young kids looking at my car and giving me thumb’s up while moving along the Boulevard … took me back to the ’80s show where I’d seen my first Corvair.”

But driving in Malibu is a whole different experience, explains Javier. That journey involves getting the car all cleaned up the day before, packing up the ice chest, and hitting the 101 South to the Las Virgenes exit. Once Javier is on PCH, he is able to switch into vacation mode, with his windows down and his favorite tunes on the radio.

The sole reason people come to Malibu is to experience joy.  And there’s no better way than to cruise something cool into town and see all the smiling faces. According to Javier, he can’t wait for the next time he and his wife are out here in the ’66. Be sure to look up his Corvair on Instagram (@JAVIARTS) and see some of the amazing transformation photos.

Thanks Manny for sharing your incredible art with the world. If all of us followed our dreams, the world would be a beautiful place. But for now, Malibu will have to do.

Want to be featured in Ride of the Week? Send Fireball an email at askfireball@fireballtim.com.

Ride of the Week: A Mid-Century Modern Tour in a ’61 LINCOLN…

Sometimes, I can’t believe my life.

It seems like it just gets cooler and cooler every day and this experience I recently had would be a difficult one to better. But, as I live here in the ’Bu and anything is possible, I’m sure things will grow.

But the other day, I joined my friends Paul Grisanti (a Realtor here in Malibu) and David Neel from the Murphy Auto Museum in Oxnard to cruise through Malibu in this 1961 Lincoln Continental. Why? Well, I’m glad you asked. As we all love homes and architecture, Neel proposed that we go look at some cool mid-century modern homes in a mid-century classic. The look on the other Realtors’ faces were priceless.

All of them wanted the car to stay put and/or figure out a way for the home to be sold and include the vehicle. But, alas, we were only there to Vlog, look at the houses and get some really great shots of the car in the driveway. As we were driving though, I began to think about what life must have been like back then for a family who lived in one of those homes, and drove this car new. And if they could see us now, what might they think, I wondered.

Further, that made me wonder what people in 2069 might be driving and if they might be doing the same thing. Or would they be driving at all?

What exactly would a 2019 home look like to them? What would be considered cool?

As Grisanti cruised us through the neighborhoods, the countless thumbs up, stares and smiles peppered the experience with joy for me. We even had Neel’s little boy Max, who seemed to have a permanent perpetual smile on board. It was ridiculous how much fun we were having.

1961 was an interesting year. But having been born in ’65, I didn’t really get to experience it. I knew the Lincoln was never built to drive fast, but to cruise smoothly. I only wish we’d driven it more.

But, considering that the Murphy Museum has over 130 cars, we’ll be cruising many more times. If you see us, be sure to wave.

There are many ways to get around this town, but most people miss the opportunity to make the journey itself worthwhile. Sure, you leave your home with the intention to get somewhere, but as many of us leave late or anticipate traffic, we rush and can miss all the beauty this town has to offer.

So, my suggestion is and has always been to leave a bit early and fill your senses with automotive joy as you pass the azure sky, deep, big blue and lush green hills of Malibu.

Take a breather from the life journey, get out and soak up the sun. Convertibles work well, but so does just getting out of the car for 30 seconds and being present. Thanks to Grisanti and Neel, we all got to do exactly that in a ’61 Continental.

What will be next? I’m not sure, but it’ll be cool.

Want to be featured in Ride of the Week? Send Fireball an email at askfireball@fireballtim.com.

Ride of the Week… Rolling through Malibu in a CORVETTE GRAND SPORT

Originally posted in THE MALIBU SURFSIDE NEWS… Papers available in Malibu

I’m pretty sure I’ve created a monster. Yep, a Godzilla-sized monster. But, with a pleasant and huge smile.

My car show, Wheels and Waves, is quickly becoming a Malibu icon — not because of what I’m doing, but because of you. And you, and you … and don’t forget you. It’s you guys who are driving this thing forward and I’m grateful just to be along for the ride.

And speaking of rides, today’s Ride of the Week lands at the feet of Doug and Marissa Campbell.

As public relations, media and sales professionals for Hillbank Motor Sports, Superformance and Shelby Legendary Cars, these two not only have gas for blood, but have managed to acquire a Malibu level of enjoyment out of them.

I met these guys at the last show and I knew the car they were driving thanks to Jay Leno. But, let’s let Doug introduce us, shall we?

“Today, my wife, Marissa, and I are in a GM Corvette Grand Sport by Superformance,” he begins to explain. “The car was originally built for the Lingenfelter Booth at SEMA in 2016 and is one of our demonstrator cars. It is a continuation of the five original 1963 Corvette Grand Sport race cars.”

So, this means it’s fast. Like, Lingenfelter fast.

“These cars are built new from the ground up to 1963 Corvette Grand Sport Specs,” Doug continues. “The front suspension is modified a bit from 1963 to provide for better driveability, and the cars come with Wilwood power disc brakes.

“You can order the car with a number of options and this one has a lot – power steering, power windows, central locking, touring interior, and air conditioning.

Power is supplied by a GM Performance LS3 with Borla 8 Stack Electronic Fuel Injection as well as some Lingenfelter modifications putting out 525HP through a Tremec T56 six-speed transmission.

This particular car with all the power options and the touring interior weighs in at 2,900 pounds.”

OK, hold on. Did I just die, go to heaven and drive a brand new 1963 Corvette back to Malibu?

But then, Doug hits me again.

“We built the car in 2016 for the SEMA show,” he said. “It is manufactured by Superformance, which is headquartered in Irvine, California, where we have a showroom with about 70 cars including all varieties of Cobras, Daytona Coupes, GT40s, and of course Corvette Grand Sports.

This particular car serves as one of our demonstrator/press cars.”

Wait, press car? Doug tells us why.

“It’s so iconic, and different from any other Corvette you will see on the road,” he said. “Also, the fact that it is licensed by GM and the body is off the original mold from 1963 is very cool.

It gives you the real feel of a 1963 Grand Sport with great build quality and a much better driving experience than the original car. For me, it is the perfect marriage of old and new.”

According to these guys, the best part of this car is the sound. And trust me, I’ve heard it.

“The LS3 pumps out some incredible noises through the side pipes,” Doug said. “I have been driving this car for over two years now and the sound it makes will never, ever get old. Second to that is the view over the hood.

On a Grand Sport, it’s very unique to the five race cars and is a constant reminder that you are driving something very rare and special.

“I am lucky enough to get to drive it to shows on the weekend, which was the case last Sunday when my wife Marissa and I got to drive it up from our home in Newport Beach to Malibu for the Wheels and Waves at The Mart show.”

Hey, wait, pretty sure I’ve been to that show and it’s awesome.

Doug said he loves taking it to shows as he’ll typically run into two types of people: those who know the car well, and those who don’t

“One of my favorite things to do is share what I know about the cars with people and keep that incredible history alive,” he said.

But, of course, Ride of the Week is famous for its best story. And for these guys, it’s a doozie.

Recently, they shot an episode of ‘Jay Leno’s Garage’ for his YouTube channel.

“It was the first time I really had an opportunity to spend time with Jay and it was really cool to see how impressed he was with the car,” Doug said. “The one thing he mentioned over and over again was his disbelief that we were able to get GM to license the car.

“After he did a drive in the car with the owner of Superformance, Lance Stander, we had to take the car back into the studio to shoot some interior shots and video. This was at the end of the day and most people had left.

I was ready to drive the car back out and realized I was essentially alone in Jay’s garage, surrounded by some of the most incredible automobiles and motorcycles I had ever seen.

I hopped in the Grand Sport and drove out the entire length of the garage and all I could think was, ‘I’m driving the Grand Sport that Jay just drove through Jay Leno’s garage. Don’t do a burnout!’”

Well, as cool as Jay’s Garage is (I’ve been there), it’s nothing like mine. I have hundreds of cars. Of course, they are 1/64th scale and still in the package, but I can take them out any time.

Anyway, what do Doug and Marissa see in Malibu? He told me, and now I’m going to tell you.

“PCH through Malibu is some of the most beautiful coastline there is and such a great place to drive,” Doug said. “One of my other passions is surfing, so I love the fact that driving through Malibu combines my passions for both cars and surfing.

You see everything on the road from vintage trucks to the latest supercars, and while all that is going on … you can see people enjoying some pretty awesome waves. For me, it doesn’t get much better than that!”

Want to be featured in Ride of the Week? Send Fireball an email at askfireball@fireballtim.com.

Ride of the Week: Surfin’ Nostalgia aboard the Ray ’66 VW BUS…

It’s very hard to explain passion, excitement and positivity to someone who’s in a negative frame of mind.

You’ve all been there. No matter what you say, show them or reveal to them, they just focus on what’s bad. But this is where car culture comes in to save the day.

You can put a 10-year-old with a Hot Wheels, a 30-year-old with an MSeries BMW, a 55-year-old with a ’57 Chevy and an 85-year-old with a Model into the same room, and they cheer each other on. Why? How do cars generate and keep people happy? Well, it’s because positivity exists in the present. And the present is where love, creativity and flow exists. So, let’s get into it with this week’s Ride of the Week.

Enter Dan Ray, a retired food service guru, who drives a 1966 Sundial Camper VW Bus.

With a 1776 CC Motor and Dual Weber Carbs, the Buster has a freeway flyer IRS transaxle. All rebuilt brand new. According to Ray, it’s safe and cruises up to about 75 mph on the freeway.

Ray and his wife, Connie, bought the bus five years ago.

“We immediately started the restoration process, which took approximately two years,” Ray explains. “This bus was in OK shape with some body work done and was painted on a rotisserie inside and out.”

For Ray, the car provides a trip down memory lane, as he had a ’63 VW bus in his high school and college years, when he was a traveling surfer dude.

“I used to go down to Mexico and actually went up to Haight-Ashbury in 1969 after graduating from high school to check it out,” Ray said. “Amazing memories and such a great time. I got this car because it brings back those memories.”

And that it does. A rolling museum piece that exudes cool.

But the best part of the car for Ray? 

“I’m into woodworking and so I believe the best part of the car is the wood interior using more [than] seven different types of woods,” he said. “It reminds me of how they used to build surfboards back in the day. The license plate says ‘LBZRULE,’ which means longboards rule and would be the general overall theme for the van.”

Now, for those of you non-surf-dudes, a longboard is for those who want a soft-carving cruise on the wave instead of the hyper shorties that splash, spray and twist your back into a pretzel. The bottom line is, longboards do rule.

“We love going to car shows like Wheels and Waves in Malibu and hanging out at the beach,” Ray said. 

And you got an extra Hot Wheels coming to ya because you plugged my show. Good on ya, mate.

But as far as stories go, Ray tells a surf diddy.

“This bus was chosen to ride in the 2016 Huntington Beach Fourth of July parade,” he recalls. “I had Australian surfer Peter Townend riding shotgun with me (first world champion of surfing) which was a lot of fun and a great honor.”

Pretty sure that’s the slowest best driving story I’ve gotten yet. And if you know Peter Townend, it’s also a doozie.

And what do Ray and the fam love about driving in Malibu? In his own words: “Malibu is the most classic surf town ever. I can’t help but dream about what it must have been like to surf there in the ’50s and ’60s. Nothing more fun than driving down coast highway and eating at one of the many restaurants in town.”

And although I personally wasn’t here in the ’60s, my wife was. And she said it was spectacular, but so is today.

And that’s a true statement of being present and appreciating what you have. Back in the day was grand, but someone will say the same thing about today in another 50 years.

Thanks for being my Ride of the Week, Dan!

Want to be featured in Ride of the Week? Send Fireball an email at askfireball@fireballtim.com.

Ride of the Week: Amladi’s Little Red 50th Anniversary CORVETTE…

The article first came out in the Malibu Surfside News.

The absolute best part about Ride of the Week is the amazing people hidden in the tiny corners of paradise right here in Malibu.

And these days, I realize that there are more than meet the eye, as Malibu is concretely a car town.

So there I was, minding my own business and blending up a juice when I got an email from entrepreneur and retired banker Shyam Amladi. A frequent reader of this here article, Amladi is a proud owner of a 50th anniversary 2003 limited edition Corvette convertible.

And as an owner of a LA-based IT infrastructure company, and also part of an advisory group that helps raise capital for mid-size companies in the US and Asia, it’s essential that Shyam get around to meetings in something cool. With a 5.7 L, 8-cylinder engine with torque of 360 ft-lbs and 350 hp, that’s pretty easy.

“I bought it for my wife, Kalyani, in 2003 for her birthday,” Amladi began. “We believe it’s an American icon and have always admired two GM products: Cadillac and Corvette. When Corvette crossed the 50th mark, we thought it was time to grab one.

“It has a rich history and heritage and after several fruitless efforts to bring a true sports car to the American market (including a massive crash of the first prototype at GM’s Milford proving grounds in 1952), GM’s tireless and brilliant engineer Ed Cole redoubled his efforts and finally succeeded in combining elements of the venerable ‘Stovebolt Six,’ GM’s truck motor and Jaguar XK120, raising the hp from 115 to 150 and launching the first Corvette in January 1953.”

Yeah, this guy knows his ’Vettes.

“Emotionally, it stands for all things positive about America — resilience, vigor and [a] ‘be there first’ attitude,” Amladi explains. “Mechanically, Corvette is a delight to drive. Over the years, Corvette has continued to improve its performance and complexity.”

Further, Amladi said Corvette and GM are very conscious of EPA considerations and also work to ensure the car doesn’t guzzle gas.

“We also like the fact that the anniversary edition came with a specially designed 50th anniversary red, and its fiber-glass body has stood the test of time over the 15 years we have owned it,” he adds.

The Amladis primarily use the car for leisure, pleasure and, at times, for work.

“One of the priceless pleasures in owning a Corvette and living in SoCal is that most of the days you can put the top down and drive it along the beach and up the mountains — I mean low-grade mountains,” he said.

But he’s also got two short stories that I think you guys will enjoy.

“Prior to moving to Malibu in 2007, we were longtime residents of Chicago and still love its rich tapestry and people and its sparkling clean lake, except when old man winter takes over the city for five months of the year,”  Amladi said.

“But for the four years we lived in Chicago after we bought the Corvette, it was less of a car and more of an artifact in the garage. When do you a drive a convertible in a city like Chicago? When it’s not buried in snow, it’s raining or threatening to rain, or the wind will practically blow you away.”

As a result, they put less than 3,000 miles on her.

And the second story is more of an ongoing one. Because of the car’s low seats, it’s a chore to get in and out of the car, Amladi said. So it now also doubles as a daily exercise routine! 

And what about Malibu, our lil’ corner of paradiso?

“What’s not to love?” Amladi quips. “Spectacular scenery … clear, cloudless skies (once the marine layer lifts) and open roads. Once you get past the urban part of PCH, that is.”

Big thanks for your time, guys. It’s always a joy to see people taking pleasure in driving — serving as an inspiration to us all in connecting the beautiful dots of our town and sharing the experience.

Want to be featured in Ride of the Week? Send Fireball an email at askfireball@fireballtim.com.

Ride of the Week: Charting new territory in a vehicle made to EXPLORE…

Very recently, a couple uprooted and moved away from their home in Montreal, Canada, to start a new life here in Malibu.

Eric Dick and Celleste Dumouchel were eager to make their dreams come true through music and being around people who inspire them to greatness.

Now, Celleste’s career as a singer in Canada was booming, but California is where dreams truly expand. And having the ultimate car in which to plant roots in Malibu was a singular choice. Eric decided on a 2017 Jeep Wrangler Sport.

As a music producer/songwriter and director of Celleste’s career, it was important to have a car that could not only punish the hills of Malibu into submission, but take them to the Academy Awards when the time came..

So, a 2017 four-door Jeep in Desert Tan was it. And knowing that Jeep mods are aplenty from the factory, Eric settled on adding some knobby tires, American racing rims, front bumper with fog lights, rear bumper with reverse lights, fenders, light bar, tail light covers, door/side decals and more.

“I’ve had it now for seven months,” explained Eric. “Bought it in Thousand Oaks at Shaver Jeep, had the mods done down the street at Fantazy Motor Sports and worked with Zach, who was super. I love Jeeps and always have. I love the rugged factor, sitting high, lots of headroom, tons of cargo space for gear, and knowing I can drive it almost anywhere.”

Well, that’s an understatement. I’ve seen Jeeps do mind-boggling things.

But Eric goes on.

“I love the customization … been designing it in my head for a while, and it came out just as I pictured,” he said. “Also love that it’s manual … I’ve tried the automatics and they just don’t feel like a Jeep to me. But the best part of my Jeep is … that it’s a Jeep!”

But what does Eric really use it for primarily?

“Living now in Malibu and working from home, it’s definitely mostly used for exploring and ‘scenic appreciation,’” he said. “And with these surroundings, I find any excuse I can just to go grocery shopping!”

But, as you guys now know, no Ride of the Week is complete without the best short story. So here’s Eric’s: “It’s still early on for a best short story, but I would have to say that just being able to acquire it was a feat. There were no more Gobi-colored Jeeps in California, and very few manual ones even available in the US.

But Jimmy at Shaver Jeep bent over backwards for me and managed to get one of the last available from Arizona. It had to be Gobi and manual! Thanks, Jimmy!”

Well, some short stories are simply the fact that success and joy are inseparable — forever linked in the expectation that coolness and enlightenment are one and the same. Good job, Eric!

And finally, having moved to Malibu, Eric and Celleste are now suffering from a severe case of CSS (Constant Smile Syndrome).  “I love that beyond the incredible beauty, there are so many different areas — each with a VERY different feel,” Eric said. “Heading south (or east!), within 15 minutes, you can drive the coast for a taste of Italy, then head down luxurious Broad Beach, next get a farm feel in Malibu Park, take in breathtaking cliffs at Point Dume, head up Malibu Canyon for the most incredible mountains, and then ride through the banana tree jungles of Serra Retreat … and you’re only at central Malibu.”

Big thanks to Eric for taking the time to cruise in the Jeep and talk. Celleste will be my celebrity guest for the Father’s Day Wheels and Waves here in Malibu on June 17 at the Malibu Country Mart. Come join us.

Want to be featured in Ride of the Week? Send Fireball an email at askfireball@fireballtim.com.

Ride of the Week: Architect Steve Jones and his Jeep Lifestyle

It’s always interesting to interview designers. But nowadays, it seems that everyone’s a designer and that sentiment is actually true.

Human beings are creators. It’s what we do. But what sets us apart is our mindset and how we do what we do in our own unique way. Case in point: Stephen Francis Jones from SFJones Architects.

Jones has been an architect here in LA for many years and specializes in social spaces, basically extending your living room at home out among the world. It’s a place where you can gather with friends, eat, talk and swap stories for a time. Warm and inviting spaces that inspire creativity among friends, family and new acquaintances are Jones’s domain.

He’s created spaces for several places here in Malibu (Bui Sushi, for one), as well as for the likes of Wolfgang Puck and many others.

But when it came time for this successful architect to snag a cool car, he wasn’t interested in the likes of what many Malibuites clamor for. Instead, he pined for a bit of a grittier and textural option: the 2018 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara.

“Although, it’s a lease,” Jones explained, as we drove north on PCH. “We didn’t upgrade other than the lighting package, the sound system upgrade and the safety feature package.”

As the new Jeep is filled with thousands of Original Equipment Manufacturer options, modifying them isn’t all that necessary anymore and a lease makes sense.

But Jones goes on.

“I’ve only had it for two months, but we got it after we visited the LA Auto Show in January,” he said. “We were told that they were taking custom orders, so I went to Scott Robinson Jeep in Torrance with my daughter and we picked out the options we wanted. I especially liked the new safety features and light upgrade since my daughter just got her learner’s permit.”

But why this car for Jones instead of so many other SUVs?

“I have been a Jeep owner since I moved to LA in 1988 for grad school at UCLA,” he said. “It was a 1975 CJ-5 and was the only thing I could afford that was still cool.”

Ah, and here we have it. The car makes Jones feel a certain way.

“After I got married and had my first child, my wife made me sell the CJ-5 and get a more practical car. I did this with the caveat that one day I would get a new one. That day was after the recession when I had to downgrade from my Land Rover to something more affordable. My daughter talked me into looking at the Jeep … and after I drove it … [I] fell in love again.” 

“I love the fact that I can basically have a car that I can drive to a business meeting or take the top off and have an open air vehicle and scoot around my home near the beach,” Jones added.

Primarily, Jones uses his Jeep to commute to work and to meetings.

Occasionally he goes camping or on road trips to Palm Springs, Mammoth, or somewhere where he can load his bikes in the back and have a weekend excursion. And that, my friends, is what separates the Jeep from most.

The outdoor mindset of a Jeep owner says “I want to be in nature, any way I can.” And this, in many ways, also seems to inspire Jones’ designs.

“Since it is a hard top, taking the top off by myself isn’t all that easy,” Jones said. “So I devised a way to lift it off using a series of pulleys and ropes mounted to the ceiling of my garage. I can back it in and hook it up to lift it so I can drive out by myself.”

Of course, knowing Jones, the lift probably looks very cool, too. 

An avid cyclist, Jones mentioned that he always loved riding on PCH or through the Santa Monica Mountains.

“I love the ocean and mountain views and can decide if I want to ride my bike to the bottom of a hill and loop around or can just cruise down PCH,” he said.

It’s a good feeling to live in a town where people come to enjoy what we have. And we have a lot.

Cars can, if you allow them to, provide far more than transportation. They take us on a journey, but in the mind and in the body. And through that journey, our spirit is lifted into a kind of peace that at times defies description — like the moment when you catch a wave and everything goes into slo-mo. This is why surfers chase that high.

But the high doesn’t have to put your life at risk. It can quietly sneak in and bring you the present moment. And this is also why I like the Jeep so much, and it seems to be why Jones likes it, too.

Thanks Steve-o for hanging with me on the Vlog! Be sure to check out his awesome stuff at www.sfjones.com

Want to be featured in Ride of the Week? Send Fireball an email at askfireball@fireballtim.com.

Ride of the Week: Remembering Ken Freeland and his beloved AVATAR TRIKE

A few weeks back, my wife, Kathie, and I were doing our thing at Ralph’s here in Malibu.

As we came down an aisle, I spotted a very cute service dog. I love dogs, and seeing one at the store is always a treat.

As we approached and started to pet the pooch, the owner revealed herself to be Pauline Freeland, and she lived here in town. I introduced myself and she immediately recognized me from this paper and began to tell me the story of her ex-husband, Ken Freeland.

Ken lived in Sylmar and rode a trike with paintings from James Cameron’s “Avatar” movie. He belonged to a motorcycle club and many of their rides were through Malibu.

“He would ride to some of the special rides out of state with his [black cocker spaniel] Tucker in a dog carrier,” began Pauline. “It seemed he had a pretty special motorcycle prior, but he had to give up two-wheelers according to some of his motorcycle mates due to his age.”

But, as Pauline continued, I could see that the story was going to end sadly. 

“He was on vacation last September with a friend from the club who also rode a trike,” she said. “They had ridden to Canada and were on their way back in Oregon when he wanted to stop and see a lighthouse.”

According to the friend he was riding with, he may have turned too quickly, had the sun in his eyes, or didn’t give the trike enough gas, but he hit an embankment and fell off the bike, which went over a small cliff, Pauline shared.

“He was airlifted to a trauma hospital in Eugene, Oregon … where he passed away 11 days after the accident,” she said. “His best friend Dave and I were with him at that time. Our son and several friends had been there with him the week before.” 

Surprisingly, the bike survived fairly well and the person with him on the ride eventually bought the bike. It next appeared at Ken’s memorial, given by his bike club in Simi Valley recently. He was 80 years old.

“Kenny won many trophies for this trike, which I believe Dave or the club still have,” Pauline said. “It was also mentioned in a motorcycle magazine that Kenny showed me one time which he was very proud of.”

Now, in a case like this, the least important thing is what kind of trike it was. No one cares. What they do care about was that Ken passed away doing what he loved. And I’m pretty sure that is the dream of most people.

Many of us strive to give ourselves permission to enjoy our lives. Society has created two days out of the week and two weeks out of the year for vacation. But, eventually, you wake up and realize that life is meant to be lived. And you begin to shift the focus of getting things done to pay bills and just start living.

Every Sunday, I pepper my calendar for the week with things that I think will make me smile. Sure, there are things I need to do and responsibilities, but, somehow, they seem less burdensome when I get to look forward to some coolness.

Let’s let Ken be the inspiration for this week. Go out and do something today that you truly love — something that puts joy in your heart, a smile on your face and brings you peace. It’s what Ken did, and he had thousands of wonderful experiences. It’s time we did, too.

Want to be featured in Ride of the Week? Send Fireball an email at askfireball@fireballtim.com.

Ride of the Week! Nissan crafts MILLENIUM FALCON-inspired Rogue

I have always felt that cars are significant characters in a film.

After all, they have an active part in moving the story along.

These days, many films are automotively-inspired and have epic chase scenes, but for the first time in a Star Wars film, there seems to be a sequence that’s as automotive as you’ll get in a Galaxy far, far away.

It’s a Landspeeder chase scene from the upcoming film “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” and it looks to be just as good or better than any Furious film. But as we cannot ride in actual Landspeeders, Nissan took it upon themselves (as a Star Wars sponsor) to create this Millenium Falcon-inspired Rogue to help create excitement for the film.

Now, they’ve done a few Star Wars cars
for the last couple films and they were interesting, but this one is a bit more fun.

It’s always a challenge to create a themed vehicle for film, and I’ve done hundreds over the years. But making a car look like a spaceship is tough, since spaceships fly and cars don’t. But this Rogue is fun for a couple extra reasons.

First, it harkens back to B-films of the ’80s when they didn’t have all that much budget to build a car and resorted to tacking things on (think Metalstorm). Although, on the Rogue, it’s a bit more refined in that the paint scheme works to hide the imperfections.

Dirty, yes. They’ve added a laser-cannon turret, windshield mask and lots of cool Star Warsian details.

But the bottom line is that it’s fun. Even the interior is full of bells and whistles like the Mask car I did years ago. You definitely want to hit some switches and see what it does, which I guarantee will get you arrested.

Themed design for film is an exciting thing. But themed design can translate into many variances. Restaurants, homes, clubs, toys and many other things. Design is design, but I learned a lot when I worked at Imagineering for Disney back in the ’80s.

Themed design tells a story, and takes the viewer on a journey. It opens the door to a world undiscovered and piques the imagination, inspiring us to head forth in the anticipation of coolness. This is what hopefully Solo will bring when it opens on May 25.

I am attending the premiere on May 21, so I’ll get an early scoop for you guys. The chase scene and all. And although the Rogue will not actually be in the film, it would be pretty cool to have it at my Wheels and Waves car show here in the ’Bu. Disney, are you listening? The people wanna go Rogue.

Want to be featured in Ride of the Week? Send Fireball an email at askfireball@fireballtim.com.

Ride of the Week! HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS at The Mullin Museum

The other day, I had an amazing opportunity to head north out of Malibu to Oxnard for the launch of an all-new French coachbuilt exhibit at the Mullin Automotive Museum. (Watch the Vlog!)

Head honcho Peter Mullin and his wife, Merle were on hand to introduce us to the new featured cars.

About 50 cars were on display, ranging from the late 1800s through the ’20s and ’30s art deco period. Now, I’ve been to the Mullin before and seen their Citroen exhibit, but this new one capped it by Peter and Merle displaying incredible examples of rolling sculpture from coachbuilders like Voisin, Bugatti, Chapron, Bertoni and others.

Overall, hundreds of millions in incredible art.

Also featured was painted art from artist Keith Collins, who revealed two new massive pieces for the museum. I spent the first hour with professional docent Tessa Crane as she took me through the site and spoke in detail about each vehicle’s history and its ultimate landing there. My favorite story was that of the 1939 Delahaye that sat in a barn in Fresno for kids to play in for years.

I am super grateful for the team at the Mullin and Kahn Media for inviting me up, but the best part was hanging with Peter and hearing the story of his favorite car, pictured here. It was a teardrop Talbot Lago that captured his heart and set him on the French car journey.

There are very few car museums that really hyper-focus their lots like the Mullin Museum does with French cars. And what is on display is, it seems, a small part of Peter’s collection.

We had an incredible lunch and perused the collection for several hours. If you’re so inclined to experience a wonderful and historical account of French automotive history, then head to Oxnard’s Mullin Museum for a rich meander through design, art and coachbuilt execution. You’ll be glad you did.

And this brings me to my final thought.

Peter and Merle have been known as generous philanthropists for many years. And as people do different things with their collections, the Mullins have created a space that educates, entertains and sends the viewer through a historical account that would otherwise be lost.

A stunning display, much like the Louvre, the Mullin Automotive Museum gives an incredible presentation where one can get lost in the moment. This has become a personal journey for them, steeped in love, art and passion.

Peter’s desire to share and give his connection to the French sculpts heightens the awareness of visitors.

Again, I’m truly grateful to them for their invitation and eloquent service to the automotive enthusiast.

For an inside look, watch Episode 717 of my show Fireball Malibu Vlog online or on The Auto Channel. If you’re up in the air about making the drive, you won’t be for too long. It was worth every mile.

Want to be featured in Ride of the Week? Send Fireball an email at askfireball@fireballtim.com.