What’s it like to drive a 1940 FORD WOODIE WAGON? Smooth…

I’ve been in this town for more than 30 years, so when a name pops up like Andy Cohen, you know that cool cars are within reach. 

And knowing that Andy loves cars like I do, it was an easy fit when he said that his 1940 Woodie Wagon should be today’s ride.

Welcome to the world of Andy Cohen – a longtime Malibuite, lover of all things on four wheels and a driven desire to spread Autolove across the globe via his cool business, Beverly Hills Motoring Accessories (www.beverlyhillsmotoring.com). 

BHMA is an online, high-end auto accessory business helping people who love cars make their rides even better – but that’s not where Andy stops. 

He’s dedicated his life to creating ways for car guys and girls to share what they love via his car shows.

If you’ve been to Andy’s car show, you know that the rides are the celebs. But every now and then, complete unknowns like a guy named Jay Leno (who?) shows up with cheapy old cars (you gotta have a mix, right?). But beyond the show, Andy can be spotted cruising through the Bu in his 1940 Ford Deluxe Woodie Wagon. A near stock version, sans the drive-train components and a few minor changes ;-). But let me tell you… this Woodie hauls ass and here’s why…

Last week, Andy invited me up to his Pad for a spin in his ‘family’ wagon. We shot an episode of my Vlog and here’s how it went.

As we jumped into the Woodie and headed back south, Andy brought me up to speed, literally. 

“This Station Wagon has a ‘63 Corvette 327 Motor,” he grinned evilly, and his grin even got wider when he mentioned the independent front suspension, power four-wheel disc brakes, power rack and pinion steering, hidden air conditioning and all original wood. Then he floored it and we were gone. 

“I’ve had it since 1971 and traded it for some old Ford parts. It goes with the Malibu surf vibe, and since surfing got popular in the 50’s, Woodies got popular in Malibu in the 50’s too.”

So what’s the best part of the car? 

“It drives like my Maserati Quattroporte,” he said.

Well that seems to be a stretch, but having scooted around town in that Woodie Wagon, I can attest to it’s awesomeness. Andy went on to tell me that the car has been in the family forever and he actually brought all of his kids home from the hospital in it. But now, he strictly uses it for weekends in the Bu, Car Shows and daily trips in the sun. But then came a cool story.

“I used this car for a delivery vehicle when I started my Beverly Hills Motoring Accessories business in 1976,” he said. “Now, a few hundred thousand miles later and a new ground-up rebuild, I still use it as a promotional vehicle for the same business which I now do with my 19-year-old son Kevin.” 

So, he’s had the car for 45 years minus a short decade of letting someone else “borrow” it (watch Vlog #212 for that story).

And it’s right here folks where cars become the glue for love. To be able to work with your kids in a business that you love and driving what you love is what this is all about. 

Andy is certainly grateful for being a Malibuite. But it’s more than just being grateful. He realizes that gratitude is actually what causes all these wonderful things to happen. I feel blessed to have him and so many friends that both inspire and charge me with positive energy. And Andy’s energy regarding cars and this town is certainly infectious. Not to mention that his favorite movie car is Jimmy Bond’s DB5.

I want to give Andy a big thanks for taking me for a spin. I have a feeling there’s more driving coming.

What’s it like to drive a 1980 MERCEDES UNIMOG 406? Bitchin…’

What’s it like to drive a 1980 MERCEDES UNIMOG 406? Bitchin…’

Every now and then at Malibu Cars & Coffee, this unbelievable truck would show up and leave jaws dropped. But to say it was a rugged off-roader would be an understatement, and you’d also expect that it would be driven by a beer guzzling, pot-bellied, semi-driving, chew spitting kind of guy. Well, you’d be so wrong.

Ari Soffer’s 1980 Mercedes Unimog 406 is what any off-road enthusiast would dream of having. And, of course, living in Malibu, we have one. So, I reached out to Ari and said “I need to see this beast up close and feel what it can do.” 

Ari is a long time Malibuite and manages that by being an incredible Jewelry and leather designer at www.sofferaristore.com. His standards are very high and when he snagged this Unimog, it had the potential that he wanted. 

“I’ve owned it for three or so years and bought it on Ebay with 1,600 original miles,” Ari said. “It came from a guy in Chicago who bought it from the Mercedes dealer there and was never titled because it was used as a snowplow on the dealer lot and was never driven on the street. After they were done, it sat for a while until they decided to sell it at auction. It’s technically a tractor.

We removed the snowplow which weighed 3,500 pounds and recycled the metal in Chicago. The truck arrived here in Malibu on a car carrier and I had it titled as a pick-up truck. Spent the next two years restoring and rebuilding it into what I have now.” 

And it’s as military spec as it gets, with 125 horsepower, 5.7 liter military diesel inline 6 with a “hot rod tune.”  Ari advanced the timing and turned the diesel pump up which brought the power from its stock agriculture tuned 75 horsepower up to 125horsepower. Night and day difference.

He then raised the rev limiter from 2200 rpm to 3100 rpm. This, along with the taller tires, brought the top speed up from 45mph to 58mph. The entire truck has been gone over with a new leather interior and a custom Ipe wood bed on an aluminum frame. 

There’s a custom spare tire carrier, crane mounts for a little military grade crane and hand made parts all over the truck.  

“Blood sweat and tears went into this truck,” he said.

“It’s the most unique and cool looking truck anybody has ever seen,” Ari said. “It’s also the most fun to drive, more than my Turbo Porsche. It’s slow, but the 4 wheel drive and air locking diffs let it climb straight up anything in front of it.

I had always seen them in the mountains in Europe and loved them and they have an almost cult like status. I wanted to take my then-girlfriend to dinner in it.”    

Ari runs to pick up pallets of chicken feed as well as hay and alfalfa bales for his goats and horses. It’s also used for moving his motorcycles to and from the mechanic and any heavy lifting. He built a crane attachment point on the back so it can lift 900 pounds straight up and swing it over and onto the bed. 

“We took the truck to the Rowher Truck Trail near Santa Clarita.” Ari’s said of his best story with the truck. “Along the way, there were other trucks being pulled out from being stuck — small caravans of off-roaders helping pull others out, all heading up parts of the trail that I couldn’t understand why they were unable to navigate without getting stuck.

And we are just idling by them at a steady fast crawl so easily. When we got home at the end of the day, I looked up Rowher Flats in a trail book I had at home. Apparently this trail is rated as an ‘Expert Rated Trail.’ Extremely steep and rutted; a long and relentless climb up one side of a mountain and down the other.

The Unimog barely flexed its muscles getting over the trail. The truck drove up and over this trail barely above idle. It’s so impressive, it turned an extremely difficult trail into a Sunday drive.”   

Ari’s favorite thing about driving in Malibu is all the dirt roads and little hidden areas of off-roading that nobody but a handful of people know about. For me, that would be worth searching for. 

And if he got his hands on a favorite movie car? 

“The Bandit from ‘Smokey and the Bandit,’” he said. “But if you are speaking about trucks, which would be more appropriate for the interview, then we should never forget the 1982 Ford Bronco named Pepe. The Little Mule from ‘Romancing The Stone.’” 

Ah, yes. I’m familiar with that as the writer of that movie actually owned my house before me. That script was written in the office were I’m currently writing this.

What’s it like to drive a 1969 AUSTIN FX4 LONDON CAB? Cool, that’s what…

It boggles the mind when you realize how similar and how different people are. Similar in that we all want the same thing, but we go about it in infinitely different ways. One example is that we all want cars to get around in — most of us — but our tastes are as diverse as you can imagine. 

The other week, I was at my show Wheels and Waves, admiring the cool rides like the muscle cars, exotics and customs. And as much as I appreciate them, it’s always nice to see something unique. And what was it that caught my wandering eyes? 

John DeRoy’s 1969 — maybe 1970 — Austin FX4 London taxi. Yes, a taxi. And a green Taxi, at that. So the question popped into my pea brain, “Why would someone want to collect a London cab?” Now, they are very cool, but that’s a given. So are Ferraris. But John’s kills it.

“As a kid, I went with my family on a European vacation,” John said. “In London, I went nuts over these and when we got home, I badgered my parents to get one. But they nuked that idea pretty quick…” 

“Fast forward several decades to 2012, my wife and I took our 10 year old twin daughters to Europe. We were riding around in London and Edinburgh in the newer version of the taxi, and all of a sudden I was 12 years old again. So when we got back I started poking around and found that I could have my fantasy — aka, mid-life crisis — at considerably less than the cost of a Porsche — and finally bought this 3,500-pound hunk of steel.” 

Ah, this must be AutoTherapy.

In the past, John was a business analyst — “number cruncher” — for a large biotech/pharmaceutical company, but became a licensed marriage and family therapist while attempting to become a social entrepreneur. 

“I realized I wanted to help people parent better, deepen and improve their relationships with their kids, and impart those kids with the kind of emotional intelligence needed to thrive in today’s world.” Part of that is taking them for a ride in a cool car, I always say. Nothing that wind in your face and your tongue hanging out won’t solve. Wait, OK, that’s about my dog, but kid’s love cars too.

But John has had this gem only about a year and bought it from a guy in St. Louis, who ironically had purchased it a few years earlier from a guy in California. Nearly all the mods were done by the two of them. Wait, mods on a taxi? Let’s get into this. 

RHD, 4-cylinder diesel BMC engine, automatic Borg-Warner 3-speed transmission, drum brakes, Lucas (“Prince of Darkness”) wiring, 15’ L x 5.75’ H x 5.75” W. But it’s been modified and now has a Chevy Blazer V6 Vortec with the accompanying automatic transmission, Edelbrock manifold and Holley 4160 4-barrel carb, Proform 67080 distributor, new plugs and wires, Carter GP4594 electric fuel pump, Lokar throttle cable, new radiator, rear end gears of 4.00 to replace the 5.00 ones, rebuilt front end, top-of-the-line radial tires, seat belts, dual exhausts and some “mellow” mufflers. Power brakes and an extra cooling fan sits in front of the condenser. 

John drives around town 3-4 days a week and has the time of my life. “It never fails to get a lot of smiles, waves, thumbs-up and great conversation with total strangers. And I love taking it to car shows and letting people climb in and sit in the back. I say, ‘Touch — have fun — but please be gentle.’”

“I used to drive it to my last job which was on a big corporate campus. To get into the parking structure, you’d have to swipe your badge by a reader for the gate to open. But the reader is on the left side. I solved that by buying a 4’ long grabber, and all I need to do is lean over and shove the end of the grabber with my badge out the window and up against the reader.”

My final question to John was in regards to dark or milk chocolate. He had this to say, “Ah — another trick question. Average dark is like a Ford; good dark is like a Porsche; great dark is like a Maserati or a Lamborghini. Milk is like a Yugo.” 

That would be a pretty awesome answer if I didn’t love milk chocolate so much. And with that notch coming down one, the car is still too cool to ignore. 

What’s it like to drive a 1949 OLDSMOBILE ROCKET HOT ROD? Ask my buddy Chuck…

Over the last decade, I’ve had the pleasure of calling Chuck Schauwecker a friend. A man dedicated to putting smiles on the faces of thousands through his love for cars. 

Or maybe, his love for just one specifically: “RODriguez.”

The year was 2005 when Chuck bought this stunning 1930 Ford Model A Tudor Sedan Kustom directly from Builder Junichi Shimodaira in Nagoya, Japan – phenomenal Japanese builder with a truly unique vision for design and fabrication.

Yes, Japan. 

Retired from a McDonald Douglas Aircraft stint since January of 1995 – the day he turned 55 and after 32 years of service – Chuck celebrated by snagging this one-of-a-kind Hot Rod with a 1949 Oldsmobile Rocket 303 Motor. 

It was around 2007 when I met Chuck and we formed an alliance for the love of this car. Over the next decade, his baby won just about every show across the Western Seaboard. First Place, Best of Show, from corner Car Shows to Concours Hoyty Toyty’s.

There just was no one out there that could beat him. So much so that he had to set aside a room in his house for all the trophies.

 “She’s a true work of art,” Chuck said. “The only one like it in the entire world.” 

And although Chuck uses it for Car Shows and Charity events solely, I’ve had the pleasure of having it at several Major Auto Shows and personally seen the faces of those that get the smile disease.

 “When I bring her to an event,” he said, “and watch all the different people look a her for the first time and see them smile. It doesn’t matter if it’s a small child or an elderly person, it just seems to make them happy and they come up to me, shake my hand and thank me for bringing her to the show.” 

Awesome. The entire point of having a cool car, wrapped up in one single run-on sentence.

RODriguez is simply the coolest built Hot Rod on the planet, and now it’s emblazoned in the Malibu Surfside News for all of you to enjoy. Or, just Google it and you’ll see that Chuck’s got himself a shiney-goldenbrass masterpiece. And as you look at the photos, you’ll see the smile millionaires all around it.

Recently, I had Chuck visit us at our Wheels and Waves Show and although there were many truly outstanding cars, RODriguez’s own attractive powers kicked in right off the bat. If Hot Rods ever reach a million bucks, this one will be the first.

And what does Chuck love about driving in Malibu? The ocean and beautiful homes, or course. Don’t we all? But for car people like he, I… and you… the tryptic to that statement is a cool car in the garage. 

Hot Rod, Muscle Car, Exotic, Rat Rod, Tuner or whatever. It completes me.

What’s it like to drive a 1957 LOTUS ELEVEN? Low, very low

When I first saw John’s apple green ‘57 Lotus Eleven at a car show, I was instantly transported back to the 60’s. Visions of what was on Channel 52 here in Los Angeles flooded my pea-brain in waves of delicious green apple pie. Make sense? No? Well, who cares; this car is awesome.

Met John in the parking lot of the Cross Creek shopping center where we scooted at 6 inches above the ground out towards Pepperdine. I thought we’d take a quick run, but soon forgot about shooting photos altogether and just had to figure out how to wipe the silly grin off my face. We were in the Mach 5, only much cooler. In fact, I’m pretty sure this car was racing against the Mach 5 in every episode with Speed Racer and was always around when Speed crashed somewhere. 

I searched intently for the Oil Slick or Ejector Seat buttons. I wanted to scrape the paint to see if it was made of gold. I wanted to find a hidden panel with a GPS drone inside. But no luck. 

All I found was that this car was full race spec, 5.5 inches wider and 4 inches longer than the original Eleven and less than 40 inches high. It weighed 1800 pounds with a near 50/50 weight ratio. Dyno tested at 120-horsepower at the rear wheels and 180 feet per pound of torque. And the only one ever built in this configuration. It’s got too many mods to list, so let’s just say “Woo Hoo” instead.

John found this little beast in Portland Oregon in 2011.

“Many years back, I came across a picture of a Lotus Eleven and immediately fell in love with the aerodynamic shape,” John said. “After doing some research, I learned how rare and expensive these cars were. They are almost exclusively raced, owing at least partially to their very light but fragile frames. Several years later I came across a Westfield — a British company which makes a replica using an MG Midget or Austin Healey Sprite as a donor car — but ended up not buying it as the price was too high.” 

Jump forward a few more years and an disassembled kit showed up on Ebay. 

“I was outbid. It seemed like it wasn’t meant to be. I subsequently owned several classic cars including a 1972 Austin Mini, a 1962 MGA coupe, a 1950 Cadillac, and a 1931 Ford Model A coupe. I still periodically looked for a Westfield Eleven but they were rarely for sale.” 

Then it happened.

“One day in 2011, a Lotus Eleven tribute popped up on Ebay in Portland, Oregon that was not a Westfield kit. This unique car was listed less than 24 hours earlier, and I immediately emailed the seller who quickly replied back.

He wasn’t sure of the history of the car but had put in an incredible amount of time and money to make it a very fast, high-performance car.  It still needed finishing and quite a bit of work but the price was right.”

Here’s where it gets good. 

“During the purchase of the car, I flew up to Oregon to inspect it in person. The seller offered to pick me up at the airport, I assumed in his ‘daily driver.’ But as I exited out of the terminal, there was the brightest green car I’d ever seen, along with a man leaning casually on the hood and dressed in full period racing gear. The car was also surrounded by a boatload of camera-clicking gawkers.

We hopped into the car, only to feel the passenger seat wobbling beneath me; it was perched precariously on a wood block. He started up the engine, which was so loud the kids surrounding us jumped and squealed.

He proceeded to tear down the highway and then up mountainous roads, all the while tipping his head back wildly and laughing wholeheartedly as I reached for anything to hold on to — no seatbelts and the seat was now shifting back and forth with each curve. When ‘Tony Stewart’ finally parked the car at his house, I was sold.” 

The rest is history.

What does John love about driving his Lotus in Malibu? The scenic coastline, beautiful weather and of course the great driving roads. And there couldn’t possibly be a better car to experience them in.

Part of the joy of writing these pieces is getting to experience someone else’s joy. Sure I’d rather be driving, but the next best thing in a car like this as a passenger is watching the bugs hit my teeth and glasses. Deee…lish! And since John didn’t seem to have a name for this little rocket, I’m officially dubbing it “The Green Meany.”

SUNDAY! SUNDAY! SUNDAY!

What’s it like to drive a 1995 PORSCHE 993? Ask Director Adam Shell…

OK, let me ask you a simple question: What is Happiness? 

Well, if you ponder this for a thousand years, you may come up with an answer, but the truth is that it’s different for all of us and ultimately leads to peace of mind. 

That pursuit has been Adam Shell’s goal for the last several years, resulting in his film “Pursuing Happiness.” And although I’d like to say that all that work landed him back home and behind the wheel of his 1995 Porsche 993, we’d be missing the point.

Being a filmmaker, Shell’s had the chance to experience a lot of things. When we met with the intention of driving his Porsche up Pacific Coast Highway for this photoshoot, it was clear to me that he had already found happiness. 

But the key isn’t to find it, it’s to maintain it. And that’s what this car does really well.

“She has a spring kit and an exhaust system,” Shell said. “Though I really couldn’t tell you what they are since they are not labeled and I bought the car with them on it. To be honest, I think this a car that I would generally keep stock, only because it has low miles and I baby it. So I don’t really want to mess with it too much.” 

Sure, and what dork would mess with something that makes them happy?

Shell bought the ride in 2007 from a dealership in Atlanta, Georgia, and this is how he got into it. 

“[I] flew to Atlanta, the salesman picked me up from the airport, went to the dealership and did the paperwork,” Shell said. “I drove it around for about 2 hours and then gave it back to the dealer to ship to me and flew home. I think I was there for all of about 4 hours.” 

And that came from a man who gets things done.

Shell’s film, made over the course of two years with crowdfunding and social media as the source for both the production budget and the film’s content, follows him across the country where he talks to remarkable people who radiate genuine happiness. 

Every story shows a different struggle and a different triumph as artists, public servants, parents and dreamers show the world what makes them happy, and how that happiness has a remarkable impact on the people and communities that surround them.

But again, since we all find happiness within ourselves and express it in different ways, Shell’s 993 does it for him. 

“My dad always had a Porsche when I was growing up,” Shell said. “I have so many fond memories of riding in the back of those cars as a kid and this is the last model of the air-cooled Porsche, which to me are the real Porsches. The sound of the engine, the handling, the smell of the leather mixed with burning oil from the engine. Makes my wife sick, but I love it.”  

Strictly a weekend driver, when he bought the car, the car had 16,000 miles on her and just turned 29,000. 

“I really want to keep the miles low,” Shell said.  

As we drove up Solstice Canyon to the to, Shell told me his best story. 

“I told my dad that I was looking to buy an older Porsche,” Shell said. “He had not had one since the 80s. As I was looking around showing him the cars I was interested in, I think he got kind of jealous because he said, ‘How about if I go in on it with you and save you some cash?’ Of course I said yes since it was a second car for me the idea of sharing it with my bad brought the whole thing full circle. But the funny thing is that he never drives it. I think it’s just the idea of owning it that makes him happy.” 

And there it is again. Happiness from a different perspective. 

Of all my Rides of the Week, ones like this remind me of what makes me happy: listening to the stories and going on the driving adventure. I’m blessed to be able to do that. 

Shell’s film and his driving experience should remind us all that happiness exists in the moment, within ourselves. It’s our choice to be happy despite what we see with our eyes. Choose coolness, and coolness comes, even if it’s in the guise of a Porsche.

Be sure to check out Adam’s film, “Pursuing Happiness,” at pursuinghappiness.com. 

WATCH THE VLOG WITH ADAM HERE…

What’s it like to drive an ELECTRIC 1974 PORSCHE 914?

think I may have topped myself here on this one, because it’s actually led to a winning Drag Race – at 35mph.

It all started on a sunny mid-morning in northern Malibu at a Vintage Car Show. Flowers were perking, birds were sauntering and I was drinking coffee and checking out cool cars. And to my astonishing shock, Mark Brems drives in with this 1974 ELECTRIC 914 Porsche.

As a DVD/Bluray/iTunes premaster by day, converter of electric vehicles by night, Mark’s Porsche was a thing of beauty. Although at first site, just another sunny yellow example of German Engineering, what hid under the boot, bonnet and interior was something Nikola Tesla would’ve drooled over.

“The 72 HP electric motor matches the output of the original gas engine, but delivers 20 ft-lbs additional torque over the original 102 ft-lbs,” Brems said. “The 36 lithium battery cells give a total of 120 volts at 650 amps. All that for a range of about 70 miles, and a recharge time of three to eight hours at 220 VAC, depending on the pack’s discharge level.” 

Did you get all that? There’ll be a test later for two free tickets to Oxnard’s Canary Farm and Hash Brown Factory.

Mark bought this car as a roller on eBay five years ago, tore it down completely, soda-blasted the body, and then painted and reassembled it for a total ground-up before launching into the electric conversion. 

“The restore took approximately one and a half years of my spare time,” he said. “The EV conversion took another year. The car has been my daily driver for two years, for a total of 22,000 miles.”

But why this car and not a Nash Rambler?

“The Porsche 914 is under-appreciated,” Mark said. “Even by the Porsche community. Simply because it’s not a 911. But to its credit, it has much better weight distribution, a lower center of gravity, and it corners with grip and certainty. Overall, it’s a very fun car to drive.” 

Now, we took this car to Free Zuma for this shoot, snapped a few photos, then spotted a “regular” 914 of the same year parked on the street. That eventually led to a drag race on Pacific Coast Highway, topping out at a whopping 35mph. And of course, we took the win. It was the slowest, most intense drag I’d ever been in. And the most fun for everyone. They didn’t care that they lost, as it was just plain hysterical.

But there’s more, according to Brems.

Concerning the power plant, there is only one moving part: the rotor inside the electric motor case. It’s sealed and requires absolutely no maintenance. Acceleration is smooth, uniform, quiet, odor-free, and generates very little heat. “I haven’t given a dollar to a gas station in two years,” Mark said. “It’s a pure joy. This car is my daily driver as well as my calling card. I attend as many car events as possible to open the public’s mind to the possibility that electric vehicles are not limited to auto showrooms, but your favorite classic could also be converted to be green and gas-free.” 

And the best short story with it?

“EV drivers assume that I’m inconsiderate or a clueless idiot when I’m parked at an EV charging station,” he said. “With barely contained indignation, they inform me that I’m hogging a spot they would use to charge their vehicle, and when I reveal that the little yellow 914 is electric, they lighten right up and have a zillion questions. Once at Disneyland, I returned to my car to find a very tall police officer doubled over and peering into my driver window. He straightened up when I approached, and I prepared myself for the lecture about wrongfully parking in a EV charging spot. With great authority, he asked if I was the owner of this vehicle. When I confirmed that I was, he blurted out like a 13-year-old kid, ‘This car is so cool!’”

And finally, Mark’s take on our wee lil’ town? 

“I absolutely cringe driving on crummy, rough roads that are in disrepair, but Pacific Coast Highway is one of the smoothest and best maintained roads for smooth cruising in Southern California,” he said.

Thank you, Mark, for taking me along on this Malibu Adventure Drive. I learned a lot about electric cars, passion for the environment and how to lay the smackdown on other Porsches. I’m still feeling a little buzzy. 

If you’re in the market for an electric upgrade, hit Mark up at www.914electric.wordpress.com. I suggest getting one in Electric Blue.

What’s it like to drive a 600HP OUTLAW 1965 PORSCHE 356? Ask my boy Ken…

I get to drive a lot of cars. I mean, a lot.

And although driving a new Ferrari or some sort of exotic can be exhilarating, it’s when I get contacted by personal builders that I get really excited.
Last week, I did a Malibu Vlog episode on my buddy Ken Vela and his 1965 Porsche Speedster. A one-off hand-built replica that screams Hot Rod Outlaw Custom. If the OK Corral existed today, this car would have shut them down hard.

Ken’s company, WIKD KUSTOMS, focuses on unique builds for unique clients and when I say “unique,” I mean WIKD. As a Car Builder, Ken’s outlook on the extreme kustom world is peppered with historic data with influences from Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, Gene Winfield, George Barris and others. This Speedster is a true character car. But how about some specs from Ken?

“It’s got an HB Aircooled Type IV 225 hp 2.4 liter motor, 400hp shot of wet Nitrous, Porsche 911 5 spd. Accusump oil system, remote nitrous purge and electric deck lid with aluminum scoop. A low gloss black patina paint and body, shaved door handles, shaved front end, hand built flares, plexiglass windshield, UFO rear view mirrors, hand painted number 13 gumballs, kustom aluminum tonneau cover, Rollbar and complete cage, 4’’ dropped floor, Nitto street/strip tires wrapped on 15 X 10 & 15 X 9 Centerline wheels, kustom Black and red leather seats with black diamond tucked red stitched interior, rally stopwatch hidden stereo with steering wheel remote.” Yes, he said that all in one breath… Obviously, he’s been practicing.

But here’s where it started…

“I’ve had the car for 5 years and found it on Ebay. It originally sat in Santa Barbara for 20+ years, unfinished and abandoned. The new owner could not finish it and it was too far gone. So I rescued it or should I say, it rescued me?”  

Ken wanted back into Kustom car building … his life long dream. At age 5 in Indiana, he and his father learned how to do tune ups, oil changes and body work together on their new 1968 Malibu. “Rattle cans and Bondo” Dad saw Ken’s talent and saved enough money to buy a Sears compressor, tools and spraygun setup. The “Malibu” was the first car he painted and at 16, resulted in his first Kustom car.

“I was painting a new car every week out of my parents garage. My biggest influences were the 1966 Batmobile (George Barrris) and TV was my ‘window out of the corn fields’ along with Speed Racer’s MACH 5. (You can see some of the styling cues in WIKD) and in HotRod Magazine. I remember my Mom bought me my first Hotrod Magazine and it became my monthly bible. I was looking to build another car and my best friend  said ‘why don’t you build a Speedster?’

After entertaining the idea, he did some research on the history of Porsche and it bit him. He wanted a vintage race inspired 356 Porsche. After collecting over a thousand vintage race photos of all makes and models, he began the design.

“I wanted a mix of American ‘Hot Rod’ and German ‘Outlaw’ with modern upgrades and technology. The love and passion for building cars, along with the memories, came back to me with great vengeance… and the rest is history. I owe it all to my Dad and this build is dedicated to him.

Ken uses the car strictly for the Track, Car Shows and Events now like our WHEELS AND WAVES where you can come see it.

His best short story??

“The debut at Malibu Cars and Coffee with actor Keanu Reeves. My good friends Rolland and Cory pulled and all-nighter getting the car ready the day before… 18 hours straight! We started the engine at 2pm, began installing the interior at 9pm, test drove and adjusted the suspension at midnight, completed the interior at 5:30am, polished her up by 5:45am and loaded her on the trailer for the show! What a great event! There is so much beauty to see and experience here… From the breath taking coastline views to the serene canyons. It was perfect.”

It’s about the best experience you can get here as an Automotive Enthusiast. You can watch the Vlog, but better yet, come to the show and see it. Who knows, maybe Ken will inspire you to build your own WIKD Kustom.

What’s it like to drive a 1967 PONTIAC FIREBIRD? Ask this original owner…

I rode up to north Malibu the other day to the beautiful pad of Barbara Fish and her husband, Sal. They’re fantastic people with a super passion for cars and here’s why.

Off I went when I heard that this gal Barbara had a smokin’ hot 1967 326 Firebird Convertible (one of my faves). And the thought of meeting new people here in town, especially if they’ve been here longer than my 30-year stint, got me juiced like a dragster. 

When I arrived, I could see down the driveway the glistening shell of the red bird against Barb’s banana and palm trees. The perfect shot was about to happen, and I was pretty sure that nothing could happen to make it better… until, I met Barbara. 

She came out with an outfit that looked like it was made for the car. My shot just went up a notch for sure. And then, Sal told me he used to be the publisher of HOT ROD Magazine. That’s when I nearly hit the ground, teeth first. But that will be another story because this here article is all about the Barb.

Retired college professor from Pierce College in Los Angeles, Fish bought this beautiful car on day one back in 1967. An Automatic V-8; 326 and now still with the original body, top and interior, but with an upgraded transmission and wheels.

“I bought it new in 1967 from a dealer in Fort Wayne, Indiana,” Barbara starts to tell me. “Interesting side note: The dealer was a friend of mine. When I called him to get a price, I mentioned I had a Triumph to trade in for which he gave me a good price. When I drove into the lot to pick up my new car, he noticed it was a Triumph Herald, not the TR3 he had assumed. Though disappointed, he honored the trade-in price.” 

Whoa, a car dealer who actually keeps his word. Pretty sure that’s when I soiled my shorts. Sorry for the visual. 

But the Barb goes on. 

“In l967, it was a unique statement, especially for a young, single, third-grade teacher,” she said. “In fact, one of my student’s father was always waiting for me after school trying to buy it.” 

But there was no way Barb was going give this redhead up. Her favorite part? The color and the convertible top, obviously. Red is her thing. Her primary use is to visualize the “Thelma & Louise” thing (minus the “jump into death” part). Just feeling young and carefree.

But the best story was yet to come. 

“The day my Mother and I were driving through Kanan (probably back in the 80s) when we were terrified by a high-speed vehicle passing us on a curve and double yellow line,” Fish said. “The irony was that this ‘speed demon’ got a short distance ahead and was stopped at the tunnel for some construction. As we approached behind him snickering while waiting, the guy gets out of his car, saunters back to us, leans one elbow on my car door, and apologizes for frightening us. Those steely blue, sparkling eyes were so familiar. Yep, you guessed it: It was Steve McQueen. Needless to say, my anger turned into admiration — a moment I will never forget.”

Wait, did she just say that Steve McQueen blessed her car? Hold on, I’m calling the Petersen Museum and telling them to save a spot. 

“The second best story is when my soon-to-become husband, Sal Fish, helped me load up the car in front of my Sausalito duplex and followed me in his truck carrying all of my worldly belongings,” Barb continued. “I was relocating to Southern California (Malibu) to start a new life as a soon-to-be-married woman. Oh, the things you do for love.” 

That’s the perfect story around Valentine’s Day.

And what does Barb love about living and driving in Malibu? The “Thumbs Up and Smiles” when someone appreciates her vintage vehicle, she claims. 

That’s not an exaggeration, either, because that’s exactly what I was compelled to do when I arrived. They gave me a tour of the house, showed me some cars and talked Malibu and all I could do was hope that she didn’t notice that my left eye never stopped looking at that car.

One last thing that Barb mentioned was her favorite road. 

“It’s got to be Route 66,” she said. “In 1968, my Mother and Maltese Terrier accompanied my relocation from the Hoosier State to San Francisco where I secured a new teaching assignment. It was a thrill to see the sites on such a famous stretch of highway. Life was good. Little did I know that four years later it would become even better. I met Sal and moved to Malibu, which has been my home for 44 years and still counting.”

What an awesome story, Barb. We should all be so fortunate to live a wonderful life like that. Oh wait… we all live in Malibu, so we do. Thanks for reminding us.

And that, folks, is why cars are our thing. They take us on life’s journey to bliss and back. And if we’re lucky and close our eyes real tight, we may all be passed by the Steve McQueen’s of the world and say “thanks.” I for one, can’t wait. 

Until next time, lovers of caritos.

What’s it like to drive a 2015 POLARIS SLINGSHOT?

So there I was, minding my own business at Wheels and Waves when I saw out of the corner of my eye this thing. Now, if you can visualize the corner of my eye, you’ll notice that it’s very small and this thing is very — shall we say — very large. But I sauntered up to it, pretending that I knew what it was — like a good car guy should — but the drool and googly eyes gave me away.

As I stared in awe for what seemed like an hour and wondered whether it would take off vertically at some point, I noticed a tall gent standing at its corner. This gent, I came to know as Mario Koger, and his thing was the 2015 Polaris Slingshot SL.

As a handyman and painter, Mario’s job is to make things look and work well, bringing coolness to the world by fixing stuff that’s broken. Thank God for people like that, otherwise, I’d be in serious trouble. 

But when it came time to buy a car, Mario must’ve gone off the deep end. His world was not going to be wrapped up in a sedan or sports car. He chose to go to the edge and live the extreme.

“I’ve had it for four weeks and got it from LA Cyclesports,” he said. Yes, you heard it right. He bought it from a motorcycle shop because, well, this thing is actually a motorcycle and not a car at all. 

“It’s, by law, a motorcycle. It looks and drives amazing and stands out from any other legal vehicle. I fell in love with the design and performance right away.”

Performance? How about a 2.4l Ecotec GM engine with a dry weight of 1684 pounds. That’s 173 horsepower at 6200 rpm. 9.77gl tank for 91 Octane or higher. It’s got coolness like HID lights and he’s probably going to install turbo kit to increase horsepower to 280. Whoops. Did I just see a red blur go by? I’d tell the cops, but red blurs could be anything since I’m only looking out of the corner of my eye.

Although Mario only uses this car to go to work and have fun, I think … Wait. Go to work and have fun? Isn’t that what life is supposed to be? Going to work to have fun? Man, if I had this thing, I’d bypass work so fast that my eye corners would spin. Can you see that? 

“I’ve had so many stories in just four weeks,” Mario said. “We drove Rodeo Drive and a $1 million Bugatti stopped next to me and told me that he loved my car and asked where he could get one.” 

I typically have that issue when I drive my truck, also, but let’s keep the focus on Mario. 

“Or, people stop their cars, get out and take pics of me. I feel like a movie star with it and pictures are taken wherever I go.” Again, I have the same problem. Had my picture taken at the police department just the other day. Two shots.

Mario says he also gets offers to rent it or drive people around in it and Malibu is the perfect place for that. If you’d like to rent it for a movie, he’s game: Supermariopainting@yahoo.com 

Mario’s favorite car in a film? “Mad Max.” Typical, since he seems to be completely mad in driving such a thing as this. I wouldn’t dare drive …  Wait, hold on. Is that him calling? Sorry, folks, I gotta go and have some thing to do.