2019 is gonna be an epic year here at Fireball Publishing and we are just about locked into the book slate. The Corvette Coloring Book is hitting stores December 1st… but the New Year will also bring 12 new books including… wait for it… wait for it WOODIES!! So if you have a Woodie, send me a photo. No guarantees, but you never know.


A full custom Mustang Woodie Wagon to Color! Ol’ Skool Shooting Brake, this Surfmobile knows how to chill seaside…


SANTA BARBARA WOODIES AT THE BEACH! – FIREBALL MALIBU VLOG 820 – In a 2019 Hyundai Accent, Fireball and Ken head to Santa Barbara to see an amazing array of Chrysler, Ford and Chevrolet Woodies on the Beach. And some wild ones too…

Check out the Woodie Club here…

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

Revamped 1947 Woodie seeks new home…

In Malibu, my job (among many things) is to seek out cool cars, waiting like a cobra in the grass to pounce on awesomeness.

But, sometimes, being the patient cobra that I am, I can get restless and be forced to slither my way around town to scoop curvaceous sheet metal. And one of the places to wind through is Malibu Car Wash and Detail.

Pictured here is owner Justin Silvers with a smokin’ hot 1947 Ford Woodie wagon. Although this car doesn’t belong to Justin, he put me in touch (via email) with passionate owner Gerard Cappello.    

As an investment banker, Cappello has been financing growing companies and energy projects since 1984, but also spent 10 years developing custom homes and running a sustainable real estate consulting firm, specializing in energy efficiency and renewable energy systems. Whoa, that’s a mouthful, and I should know since I’m a cobra in this here article.

But the bottom line is that Cappello’s success has allowed him to acquire coolness of the vehicular sort. But let’s hear it from him, shall we?

“The woodie was originally a junked and decaying 1947 Ford,” starts Cappello. “It took close to a decade to rebuild it to its current state.

“Starting from the ground up (due to the severity of the rusted metal), I started with a new chassis built by Chubby Chassis.”

If I didn’t know any better, I’d say their cars were phat. See, that’s funny, because they’re called Chubby Chassis. OK, whatever.

“All the corresponding sheet metal was replaced (due to rust) as well as the four fenders and hood (which were stolen while being restored and painted at a shop in Lancaster).”


Cappello ordered a wood kit built out of maple and ash from Cincinnati Woodworks and had it fitted to the frame by Accurate Woodworks in Morgan Hill.

“The electrical and final assembly/construction was done by Van Emblem of the Fat Fendered Street Rod Shop,” he said. “It was his last woodie before retiring and his work included A/C, new wiring, install of a Chevy 350 V-8 (I know, it’s a bit of sacrilege), and arranging for a custom hand-painted dashboard that now matches the interior wood doors. Wanda of San Bernardino hot rod interior fame did the upholstery, so it’s basically a new car that looks like an old woodie!”

Bam, done — and nicely done, I might add. But since California is full of woodies in all conditions, the only things that really separate them are the stories.

For Cappello, who was born and raised in Southern California (a third-generation Californian), cars have always been his obsession, and woodies have been an obsession since 1961.

The best part of the car?

“I love sitting behind the wheel and enjoy the chrome and wood grain painted dashboard framing the views of Malibu as I drive down PCH,” he said. “The looks, air high-fives and Shaka Brah signs I get from strangers as I drive by never ceases to put a smile on my face. Hard to have a bad day driving that car around town.”

But alas, as Cappello has owned many cars, he’s putting the woodie up for sale to make room for more dream machines.

“Now that my kids are all grown (my Labrador, Kona, is the most consistent passenger) and I’m alone, I’m looking to sell to someone who may be able to use her to make new memories and perhaps bring joy to another family as she did to mine,” he explains.

As always, let’s wrap up this Ride of the Week with some Malibu love. Cappello expresses it perfectly.

“I love the friendliness of the locals and also think that on most weekends in Malibu (even when traffic is heavy), PCH is full of people looking for signs of the California dream,” he said. “Sunshine, warm beaches, surfing, bikinis and, of course, woodie wagons!

“There’s a lot more smiles per capita here than anywhere in LA, and people seem to appreciate cars like this.”

Want to be featured in Ride of the Week? Send Fireball an email at

A Perfectly Imperfect 1950 Ford Woodie Wagon…

A few weekends ago, I did the Malibu Woodie Parade thanks to my good friend John Zambetti.

For the last 4-5 years, we’ve tooled down PCH during the holidays with about 30 woodies, and I get to meet some amazing people.

This year, a woodie showed up that was a little different from the rest. I’d call it a “RatWoodie,” as it wasn’t clean and perfect like the rest, but dressed down, slammed and full of California rust paint.

As we headed south, I couldn’t stop filming this awesome car, as it was the only one with a bit of attitude. But I found the owner to be nothing but gracious and full of smiles.

John Schiess and his bride-to-be, Lauren Rheaume, along with their children Keri, Kelly and Slade piled into the dulled down racing green 1950 Ford woodie wagon and joined the parade as they cruised PCH. Once we arrived at the party at Malibu Village, I got a chance to talk with Schiess and find out why his woodie went rat.

“I’m the owner of Custom Built Machines,” began Schiess. “A fabrication, restoration hot rod shop in Chatsworth.”

Well, that explains it.

According to Schiess, the outer look is stock with the exception of an old Hollywood accessory hood ornament delete. The maple wood frames are original wood, and the panels have been re-veneered over the original wood.

“The running gear consists of a 350 Chevy, 700R4 transmission, and Ford 8-inch rear end,” he exclaimed.

And then there’s the power disc brakes, power steering and hidden A/C. The interior was custom, but with a vintage look.

“I bought the car 20 or so years ago from a guy in Riverside. It was in as many pieces as a car could possibly be and scattered around the top of a hill,” he said. “What sealed the deal for the sale was the previous owner had removed all the wood and stored it all in his garage for the better part of 35 years. So it was in good shape. This was my third woodie project, so I was familiar with what it took to get it done.”

Most people are lucky to get a barn find, but this goldmine was on a hilltop. Doosh.

Schiess went on to mention that out of all the cars they’ve had, this one serves them the best. Looks great, very reliable, comfortable and fits all of them. It’s nice, but not so nice that it can’t be used for daily driving.

According to the fam, the best part of the car is a tricky question.

“It definitely makes people smile or react when they see it,” Schiess quips. “It’s got a faded worn look to it, so maybe that’s what makes it approachable? The original intent was a finished shiny paint job as the bodywork was done and ready for paint. So in prep, I sprayed epoxy primer tinted green and figured I’d drive it for a month or two, work out any bugs and then paint it. Ten or so years later, the primer is fading, the paint never happened, and we love it.”

That’s my kind of story. The days of shiny paint are over and the days of cool textures are in.

Schiess uses the car fairly often for day trips, weekends, swap meets and hauling things. He drives it to and from work a couple days a week, but Rheaume drove it in the Malibu Woodie Parade. Her smile never quit, and I imagine it’s still there to this day.

Oh, and don’t forget about the best short story with it. John tells it true.

“The most fun we had was a trip we took to Cambria earlier in the year,” he said. “We rented a beach house for the Fourth of July and loaded the woodie with surfboards, boogie boards and all of our gear. It was a fun trip, lots of smiles and waves. But driving in Malibu brings back tons of memories.”

He learned to surf as a kid here in Malibu and taught his daughter to surf here, too.

“My fiancee, Lauren, lived in Malibu and we have friends here as well,” he added. “When the traffic is light, it’s fun to take a cruise up or down the coast, take in the views and relax.”

So many people go out and buy a Toyota, Honda or Kia to get the job done when they are missing the point. Driving through the ’Bu on the weekend is therapeutically powerful. The smiles, positive vibes, energy of the people and joy of sharing what you love is the recipe for success in any language. Begs the question, what is your ultimate ride and how can you make that happen?

Then get busy.

Want to be featured in Ride of the Week? Send Fireball an email at


2017 MALIBU CHRISTMAS WOODIE PARADE – FIREBALL MALIBU VLOG 718 – Fireball, Ken and Kathie snag a 1961 Cadillac from the Murphy Auto Museum and hit the 2017 Malibu Christmas Woodie Parade.


RESTORED 1952 CHEVY SUBURBAN WOODIE – FIREBALL MALIBU VLOG 688 – Fireball and Kathie head to the Murphy Museum to return the ’62 Pickup, spot a fully restored 1952 Chevy Suburban Woodie. The next day, it’s off to Wheels and Windmills in Solvang!

From WIKI… The Chevrolet Suburban is a full-size, extended-length sport utility vehicle from Chevrolet.

It is the longest continuous use automobile nameplate in production, starting in 1935 for the 1935 U.S. model year, and has traditionally been one of General Motors’ most profitable vehicles.

The Suburban has been produced under the Chevrolet, Holden, Plymouth and GMC marques until the GMC version was rebranded as the GMC Yukon XL.

For most of its recent history, the Suburban has been a station wagon-bodied version of the Chevrolet pickup truck, including the Chevrolet C/K and Silverado series of truck-based vehicles.

Cadillac offers a version called the Escalade ESV.

The Suburban is sold in the United States (including the insular territories), Canada, Mexico, Chile, the Philippines, and the Middle East (except Israel) as a left-hand drive vehicle, while the Yukon XL is sold only in North America (United States and Canada) and The Middle East territories (except Israel).

This model 1952 generation was based on the Chevrolet Advance Design series of pickups.

Beginning in 1953, the Hydra-Matic 4-speed automatic transmission was available in GMC models and in the 1954 model year Chevrolet Suburbans.

Models with rear panel doors were designated “3106,” while those with tailgates were designated “3116.”

In 1952, the Suburban came with either a tail gate or panel doors. The front bench seat was split, with two seats on the driver’s side and a single seat on the passenger side, which slid forward for access to the rear two rows of seats.

The second row was a “2/3” seat, requiring occupants to move past the front passenger seat, as well as the second row seats to access the third row.

This was the last series to feature “Canopy express” models.

The design of the 1949 Suburban would inspire the design of the Chevrolet HHR over half a century later.

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 ( 

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.

Today’s VLOGROCKET… The Malibu Woodie Parade!!

There are many things that make Malibu unique —the grand views, amazingly talented people and its small town feel. Those are among the larger scopes for sure, but hidden in the details of Malibu are the individual goings on that truly set this town apart from many. One of those incredible events was the 13th Annual Malibu Woodie Parade.

Now, I have attended this event for several years and each one gets better for a number of reasons, but even within the overall event lies a seed of uniqueness that is only Malibu. Being more of a cruise than an actual parade just yet, it grows each year in joy, awareness and sheer coolness. 

Founder and Chief Woodie Grand Poobah John Zambetti wrangled more than 30 woodies from all over Los Angeles to gather at the Paradise Cove parking lot at 2 p.m. to form one of the longest woodie lines this side of anywhere. 

My plan was to snag a woodie from the Automobile Driving Museum to join in, but, alas, the car wasn’t ready so I launched in the new 2017 Nissan 370Z as a woodie chase car, filming and watching these amazing rides head down PCH. 

I’d set up, shoot them coming by, jump in the Z and race past them, and do it again at least four times to get the shots I needed for the Vlog. Down PCH, into Ralphs, across Webb Way and then into Serra Retreat where they were escorted by a horse and buggy. I waited on the bridge as they rolled by in their glistening Christmas outfits, each one colorful and many downed with wreaths, ornaments and stockings. I could hear the Christmas tunes in the distance as each one appeared onto and off of the bridge.

Then, the final destination was into the back of Malibu Village to the nostalgic classic music of the Hodads, whipping Christmas beach tunes and enhancing the infectious smiles that permeated the creek. All the woodies sat side by side, shimmering next to their owners, who shared photos, ate and gave cheer. A success for sure, but something even more. 

I like to call cars “tools for peace.” They’re shining metal boxes that we use to share what we love, carry who we love and drive where we love. And the shapes and sizes attract similar minds both young and old, and even that of the pooch kind. Events like this and instigators like Mr. Zambetti ensure that love and joy are shared in a positive atmosphere. A solid bright contrast to the sometimes-dark PCH attitude. I mean, these cars actually drove the speed limit all the way from Paradise Cove. Blew my mind!

I’m always grateful that Mr. “Z” calls me in to share the experience, because each smiling face is a reminder of what the world can be with the help of shared kindness and a love for something special — a true Christmas gift. For those of you who missed it, be on the lookout next year and let’s make this Malibu tradition an institution. 

Wave as they pass and let’s spread the magic that is our little town.