Ride of the Week: ‘Ruby’ Woodie provides a Smooth Ride down Memory Lane

They say a smile is worth a thousand words.

Well, it seems fitting when you look at the photo accompanying this week’s column. The smile on the driver behind this week’s Ride of the Week says it all.

This is Rick White, aka Ricardo Blanco. White is in the construction industry, operating in sales with Larrabure Framing.

“We frame large multi-family projects,” he begins to explain. “Mostly in DTLA and Irvine, we are a digitizing manufacturer of framing components manufacturing off-site, then assembling and building on site.” 

But in his “non-assembly” time, White has another job: inspiring others with a gangbuster smile while driving his 1950 Ford station wagon woodie named “Ruby.”

White goes on to tell me that “Ruby” was purchased in original condition from her original owner.

“When we rebuilt the engine, we went old school with a flat head, modified with 3/4 cam, aluminum heads, dual carbs, headers and a hot ignition,” he explains. “I bought it about 26 years ago as a family car to raise our two kids, Kyle and Karina, plus dogs Nikki and Buddy.”

Even in 1992, this woodie epitomized coolness.

“This car is a throwback to a friend’s Woodie I used to cruise in Malibu at 14 years old,” White said. “We would come to Malibu with his sticks (surfboards for you non-carvers) and spend the day at the beach.”

For White, the best part of his car is the patina of 26 years of life, cruising to Santa Cruz in the summers, down to Encinitas for the woodie shows in September, and up to Santa Barbara for club meetings and another Woodie show in July.

“‘Ruby’ is a weekend car and a great source of entertainment,” White said.

“One year, my wife, Elaine, the kids and I all headed to Santa Cruz and decided to take Highway 1 through Big Sur. While navigating the curves and the cliffs of Highway 1, I realized that the turning and swaying might be leading towards some car sickness.“But, afraid to say anything, I casually glanced over my shoulder to see the kids happily engaged in their music and videos and not unhappy in the least. That’s when I knew they were totally into the woodie and not the inconveniences of no A/C, stick shift, and a car made from a tree.”

When you hear stories like that, you appreciate the power of the present moment and how a car can add to your life. White gets it and does whatever he can to share the feeling.

“We love the drive through Malibu for the scenery, our Malibu friends and the memories of freedom and summer’s days,” White said. “The woodie lifestyle has kept us together as a family enjoying surfing, the beach, summer nights, and a culture of fresh air and having fun.”

What else could you possibly say to affirm the power of automotive beach life? Big thanks Rick for helping to inspire a culture that embodies so much positivity.

If our society could share that sentiment in this way more often, there’d be a lot less suffering in the world — and a lot more woodies.

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

Ride of the Week… Marc Magid’s 1959 Chevy Impala Wagon

As the writer for Ride of the Week, I get to meet a lot of interesting people and see amazing cars.

And, as you know, the whole point of this column is to share those stories and hopefully inspire you guys to do the same, to get out into the world and create positive change.

Now, you can do this in a very simple fashion, as all it really takes is to share what you love with others. And when someone approaches me with a cool car and story, I’m grateful and appreciate their desire to share.

So this week’s Ride of the Week goes to Marc “Squid” Magid and his 1959 Chevy Impala Wagon.

Magid, a frequent attendee of my Wheels and Waves show here in Malibu every third Sunday, revealed to me the story behind the minty green Impala and what it took to build.

“Ross Peterson took two years to build this,” he begins, noting that Peterson used three different cars to build the one-of-a-kind automobile.

“A ’75 454 was punched out to 468ci,” he said. “An Edelbrock 75 carburetor on the stock four-barrel intake. Chevy aluminum valve covers and a Mooneyes air cleaner, coupled with a chrome water pump, alternator, brackets and A/C compressor make it all fancy.”

Ooh, now we’re talking.

“A new stock 700-R4 transition had a shift kit added before it was attached to the big block,” he continued. “Interior is period stylish with seats adorned with metallic mint to green designs and all gauges have been updated to digital Dakota, filling the stock dash. Scott from Hot Rods & Hobbies out of Signal Hill gave this ‘green machine’ a total makeover and many, many layers of pistachio paint.”

Seriously, you want to walk up to this car and just lick it.

The car ended up in Magid’s hands a little more than four years ago.

“My neighbor saw it at a picnic in the city of Hawthorne and I knew I had to have it,” Magid said. “I grew up delivering newspapers with my dad out of the back of his station wagon and this car brings me back to a much simpler time in life.”

And there it is. A key point in restoring cars always seems to bring us back to a positive time when things were good, thus putting more love in the world.

“The best part about this car, besides it being totally unique, is that I bought a ’46 woodie and brought it home, told my wife that we had to sell the ‘green machine’ now and she refused to let me,” he said. “Can’t beat having a car that the wife loves!”

Yeah, that’s an understatement in a massive way, considering that many of my friends were given the ultimatum of “the car or the wife.”

But Squid’s favorite story was picking up the “green machine” from Hot Rods & Hobbies as they were going with them to Good Guys in Del Mar.

“We knew it was a special car when their guys were taking pic[ture]s of the ‘green machine’ as we drove off,” Magid recalled. “It was a fabulous weekend with them and we won Builder’s Choice Award out of over 3,000 cars! The feeling of driving through the tunnel to accept our award from Charley Hutton was unforgettable.”

Again, the feeling behind having these cars is what keeps car culture alive.

And Squid confirms something else: the love of cruising the coast with car club friends and going to different shows.

“I never was able to play Little League growing up because I was delivering newspapers with my dad and I never got to win a trophy,” Magid said. “And now, since I got the ‘green machine,’ I’ve won several. I feel so lucky and humble.”

You guys getting this? Do what you love, and good things happen. Yep, that’s the ticket. If only more people would understand that what you put into the world is what comes back to you in droves. You have to be conscious.

Squid’s parting thought references our love of this town.

“I love coming to Wheels & Waves in Malibu and cruising the wide open highway with the surfers over our shoulder,” Magid said. “Fireball has made this a monthly tradition to meet up with some good quality people who care about keeping the car culture alive. The laid-back vibes of Malibu reminds me of surfing with my buddies and you can’t beat PCH at 7 a.m. when no one else is on the road!”

As always, thanks for coming out, Squid!

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

Ride of the Week: Living in… and appreciating the Present Moment

What does it mean to live the dream?

Most people who you’d perceive as wanting to live the dream would define it as having lots of stuff, driving cool cars, jet-setting the world and eating the best food. Lots of it is very true, but living the dream for me exists every day in deciding to be happy with my decisions.

I’ve been very fortunate to build a creative life doing what I love and driving some amazing cars.

And although I get to take cars like this 1971 Mustang Mach 1 up and down PCH, I’m grateful to just be in the moment and present to take it all in.

Having a cool car keeps you in the moment, appreciating what you have and not worrying about the past or future. If you were to look at cool cars as tools for abundance, joy and happiness, then that’s what they become.

The Mach 1 was designed to bring you a multitude of things, but what it really did was bring joy into your life for those who wanted horsepower, speed and just a good feeling.

My goal when I was a child was to become a test driver for GM so I could drive all their cars. But my dream came true and was far larger than I expected, as I now do this for 14 car companies on my Vlog.

And I don’t have to drive around a track, but get to cruise all the amazing roads of Malibu and SoCal. It’s clear that I formed a habit in my thoughts about, “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool of I could … ” which led to an obsession.

Back in 1992, my soon-to-be wife called me the “rental car king,” because every time I picked her up, I rented something cool for the day. A Corvette on Tuesday, Mustang on Saturday, whatever.

Ran up a rather large credit card debt on that one, but boy did we have fun.

Cut to 2018, and now we’re driving epic cars and showing you guys who watch the Vlog what they’re all about. Classics, rat rods, customs, new cars, exotics and more.

But above and beyond the cool cars, the true secret I’m trying to show you is in your ability to make a decision to do what you love every day.

You have to make choices today to do things that make you happy, focus on what’s good about something that looks bad, and take action on doing what you love.

Sure, living the dream involves a lot of stuff, but the real dream is about living life now.

And, in my case, in recently driving this Mach 1 from Oxnard’s Murphy Auto Museum. Next week it’s a Corvette Gran Sport, so if you see me, wave and take a look.

In 1971, this Mustang was the height of tech and they were proud of it. There were no cellphones, no Vettes, no drones or lots of other things.

And in 2030, there will be many things that exists that don’t exist now, so appreciate what you’re driving now, go do something fun and be present. That, my friends, is living the dream.

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

Ride of the Week: A Piece on Love, Respect for Cars and each other…

What’s the attraction of Malibu celebrities and their cars? What is it about driving something cool that Hollywood loves?

Well, I guess it’s the same reason we all like driving something fun … or is it? Most would agree that actors and people of fame love attention. And although that may be true, isn’t that what everyone craves? I mean, seriously?

Anyone who tells me they don’t love attention has a screw loose. But what is important is to have the right kind of attention. Being obnoxious and driving like a crazy person on PCH is the wrong kind. Driving something cool, taking the time to answer questions about it and swapping stories is the right kind.

Dick Van Dyke told me he wanted a cool car for the cover of his next album and, if you check out the cover, you’ll see a very happy face.

Tony Dow from “Leave It to Beaver” told me about his high school car being willed back to him after 50 years, which was unexpected and overwhelmingly cool. Now, he takes it to car shows.

Keanu Reeves told me about his motorcycle company, Arch, and that he love Porsches because of the clean design.

Paul Moyer shared his love of his Shelby Mustang and Ferrari 458 Italia, with both bringing him joy in different ways.

Denise Crosby told me about crashing into her husband’s classic Ferrari with her SUV, right over the hood. Her husband rolled his eyes, smiled and said, “That’s my wife!” Then, he kissed her.

Jonathan Banks introduced me to his son and his love of Corvettes — a passion shared by Rodney Allen Rippy and Rick Springfield. Also, Jonathan shared how his first car was a Packard and said it actually helped make him a better actor.

Jay Leno showed me his collection and mentioned that none should be there if they aren’t drivable. That’s a thought shared by Chris Pratt as well.

Caitlyn Jenner shared her Bugeye Sprite with me and told me how it made her feel closer to her father.

Now, you could read this and say “Fireball’s just doing a bunch of name dropping.” But consider this: What’s the commonality between all these stories? The one thing that gives rise to them all?

That would be joy. A product of love — something all car lovers share. And these celebs are no different than any of us. They just love their cars and want to share their stories. So, what’s yours?

Hit me up at askfireball@fireballtim.com if you want to share it. The celebrities read this paper, too, and many of them want to read your story.  Who’s the celebrity now, eh?

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

RIDE OF THE WEEK! James Ritchie and his 1970 OPEL GT…

What goes around, comes around. And that’s this week’s Ride of the Week.

A few days ago, I got an email from an old friend — someone I grew up with.

And although I knew him, I did not know he loved cars as much as I did. After almost 50 years, James Ritchie reached out to me to say that he’s been watching our lives coincide with cars and the car life.

To my surprise, Ritchie was still in my neck of the woods in Newbury Park, and he had a cool car. So off I went to Sports Car Classics, a shop focusing on Jaguars.

As I arrived with another friend via a 1968 Jag E-Type, I was greeted by the smiling face of Ritchie and the reveal of his pride and joy, a 1970 screaming yellow Opel GT.

And thus began the kindred stories…

Among doing a lot of things in his life, Ritchie became a classic car restorer with a specialty in British marques.

And despite being over 6-feet tall, Ritchie found some love in the little yellow rocket parked just outside.

“This Opel GT is powered by 4-cylinder, 2-liter camshaft-in-head engine design, which is an upgrade from the stock 1.9-liter plant,” he explains.

“It’s normally aspirated through a 32/36 Weber carburetor and should, although this engine has never been dynamometer tested, produce somewhere in the 115 horsepower range.”

But it looks like it had to be powered by three really angry squirrels. But let’s move on.

“The mods to this GT put it in the ‘restomod’ classification with upgrades such as a Getrag 5-speed transmission, lower front transverse leaf spring, an exhaust header with a 2-inch exhaust, electronic ignition, polyurethane bushings on all the suspension points and other upgrades.”

Obviously, Ritchie knows what he’s doing, and there’s nothing more exciting than having a unique project car. I mean, when was the last time you saw one of these?

He bought the car in 2005 from its previous owner in Thousand Oaks.

“The plan was to buy the car, fix it up, and have it be for my wife to use,” Ritchie said. “As I started working, I realized that the car was going to need to be brought all the way down and essentially rebuilt.”

The whole family was involved in the restoration and it was completed by 2009.

The 1973 Opel Manta Luxus was Ritchie’s first car as a teenager, and he loved it. But even back then, he knew that eventually he would get the very exotic-looking GT.

“Being able to return to Opel as an adult has been awesome,” he said.

“My family tells me regularly that the car suits me perfectly.”

Ritchie always did have unique taste and, to listen to him talk about it, he epitomizes my philosophy of the importance of doing what you love.

The fact that this whole car, except paint, was torn down and put back together by him is point of pride beyond measure.

“It’s not my daily driver, but I enjoy being able to take drives on the weekends and it’s got terrific sporty handling,” he said.

“You can’t be a passive driver with it.”

His best short story with the car comes from the 2012 Ventura Motorsports show.

“I was being directed onto the lawn and was told to follow the other Ferraris to their show area,” he said. “I needed to point out that I was just a humble Opel GT!”

I guess those guys in Ventura needed a cool car upgrade. Why would you stick something cool like this Opel GT with a bunch of silly Ferraris?

And, finally, Ritchie mentions my favorite town.

“PCH in Malibu is dripping in car culture with extreme examples of freshly birthed hypercars, all the way through pastime classics and antiques,” he said.

“To drive here is to drive the same roads that countless automobile commercials, TV shows and movies have used as a backdrop to show one of the most desirable southern California motoring locations: Malibu!”

I couldn’t have said it better. Be sure to check out Ritchie’s ride at the next Wheels and Waves show at the Malibu Country Mart on Feb. 18!

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

Ride of the Week: Michael Axon’s 1973 Primrose Jaguar

A day as an Englishman is not an easy one. It’s full of proper legalities, crumpets and fine clothes.

Which is why, when the stress level of all that garb hits its peak and you just can’t take anymore, a smart Englishman will hit the road in true British style.

This, of course, leads me to my good friend and confidant, Michael Axon. Now, if you’ve been to my car show in Malibu, chances are that you’ve met Michael and experienced his witty sense of unique English humor, or at least noticed that when he shows up, he’s driving one of 20 different English road rockets.

That being said, this is Ride of the Week and today we’re focusing on Axon and his 1973 Jaguar XKE Roadster in Primrose Yellow. Axon, as the CEO of a fascinating company called LazerCAD, needs to release his workload by grabbing one of his unique cars and heading into the canyons. I’ve done this many times with him, and it’s a type of “fun” that surpasses unique driving.

But before we get to that experience, let’s discuss the car a bit. It’s a V12 Jag with 314 brake horsepower and automatic transmission purchased out of New York four months ago.

“This car is a one-owner from new at only 49,000 miles,” Axon begins to explain excitedly. “The previous owner refurbished the transmission, brakes and exterior. The only thing left to do was the interior letter-work which was aged and dry beyond repair.”

But we’re just getting started.

“Back in the ’70s and growing up in Manchester in England, the E-Type Roadster was the car to have,” he said. “All the movie stars and soccer players had to have one. I remember one Saturday lining up for the Manchester Soccer derby — Manchester United playing Manchester City. … One of the soccer stars drove into the stadium in an exact Primrose Yellow ’73 XKE Roadster and I thought it was the most beautiful car I had ever seen. I decided then and there that I had to own one.”

Forty years later, and in another country, Axon ended up with the same model that he saw in Manchester all those years ago.

“It is amazing to me how the memory of a car from 40 years earlier can stir up so much emotion, desire and passion,” he said.

Well, therein lies the rub, eh, Michael? Like a suggestion that feeds off of your mind for years, captivating, growing and molding itself into reality. Then boom, Bob’s Your uncle.

“Now having had the interior leather trimmed to the original spec, I would say that this car looks and drives as close to it did when it left the Browns Lane Jaguar factory in Coventry over four decades ago,” Axon said.

Wow. Imagine if you can, a 40 year-old car with 40K on the books. 1K a year (more or less). That’s a lot of wasted time.

Axon went on the explain that the 1973 model is the Series 3 with all the changes and refinements incorporated from 10 years of previous models, now sporting a V12 engine, air conditioning and a longer/wider wheelbase for much improved handling.

“Driving through Malibu in ‘Primrose’ has invented a new breed of human being known as ‘the head-turner,’” Axon said. “I actually had to stop last week when a cyclist ran straight into the back of his friends as he was looking at ‘Primrose’ and not where he was going. They all ended up being none the worse for wear, but the resulting 45-minute conversation about the car with him and his friends made me late for dinner with my girlfriend — yet again.”

Oh, the horrors of it all to be an Englishman. 

“But now she knows that if I am out in Primrose, I will always be late due to talking to people that see what I saw all those years ago,” he added.

Alas, we get to the driving experience.

“Driving down PCH and through Malibu in ‘Primrose’ just takes you in a time machine back to the 70s,” Michael says with one eye in another time. “It’s such an amazing feeling, the wind through your hair and the V12 engine seamlessly powering you along the coast with the added bonus that her sheer beauty draws people over to you. I still find it incredible that my classic cars bring people from all walks of life and culture together for a chat or coffee at one of the local coffee shops in Malibu.”

So true and eloquently stated. Makes you want to buy an ascot and dinner jacket, then head out onto the curves. And, knowing Michael, we may just do that.

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