This week’s VLOGROCKET goes to Barbara Fish’s stunning Red ’67!

Man, these Vlogrockets just keep getting better. This time, I rode up to north Malibu 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 it’s this week’s Rocket.

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.

Today’s VLOGROCKET is Peter Ireland’s nearly new ’49 FIRE TRUCK!

Ah, hidden Malibu gems. They’re everywhere, and for today’s Vlogrocket, I came upon a nearly brand new classic old 1949 Dodge Fire Truck owned by Peter Ireland. 

Yea, you heard that right, kids.

Up on north Pacific Coast Highway is the Nature Trust of the Santa Monica Mountains and the old Malibu Riding and Tennis Club. 

Virtually abandoned now, Ireland is the president of the trust. He spends his days caring for the grounds and planning cool events and keeping the place busy. It’s a great gig because the huge piece of land is just awesome.

As I drove up in the lush green playground, in the distance I spotted this flash of something red. Sure enough, it was Ireland’s ‘49 Fire Truck. The red beauty came from the Lake Parsippany Fire Department in New Jersey with 35,000 original miles – and that makes sense, as most fire trucks don’t put a lot of miles on their tires.

It was a Dodge B series, five windows “Pilot House” cab, flathead six-cylinder engine and a single throat down draft carburetor, Standard Boyer Fire Apparatus with a three-speed on the floor stick shift. 

“I found her 10 years ago on Ebay,” revs Ireland. “She was begging to snowbird it to Malibu to get away from those cold ‘nor-easter’ winters.” 

Don’t we all.

 “Having been through every major fire in Malibu since 1981, I know the value of having a fire truck, pumping apparatus, fire hose and water supply at the ready when you need it,” Ireland said. “Plus, it was cheaper than buying a swimming pool pump that you can’t drive and doesn’t have a siren.” 

What an awesome idea. You live in a town where Fires can get nasty, so you buy a fire truck and poke those puppies out with your own water rocket. Right now, I can hear little circuits going off in my head like squirrels having a nut powwow.

 Oh, but there’s more, baby. 

“The ‘Pilot House’ cab sets you up nice and high so you can see the whole world in front of you,” smiles Ireland in a gleeful kid-like grin. “But the sweetest part is the slow winding centrifugal siren made by the old Sterling Siren Fire Alarm Co. To crank her up, you got to stand on a big spring-loaded floor pedal, being careful not to mix it up with the brake or clutch pedal. After about a minute she’s singing better than Pavarotti.” 

Give me images of Ireland standing on the back of the truck during a smoke-out, hose in one hand like Ahnuld and singing Pav’s notes of love.

 So what does Ireland use it for when there are no fires?  

“Peace of mind, mostly,” he said. “It’s my form of Zen.” 

Yea, I can relate – although, my Zen is a 570 McLaren on Piuma. Just saying.

Then Ireland starts in with a quick diddy.  

“Some years back, there was a beach related helicopter air-evacuation on PCH right in front of the ranch,” he said. “The County Fire Department had to close down Pacific Coast Highway to land the chopper. I could see everything from our parking lot without being in the way of any rescue work. After all the emergency response work was complete and the various response teams were starting to disperse, I fired up the old Dodge fire truck, stepped on the siren pedal and coasted into our parking lot above and overlooking PCH. At least the old fire truck brought smiles to the faces of those who were called to serve on that day.” 

Yea, that’s nothin’ but awesome, Ireland. Sounds like that brand new classic spends time bringing joy in between times of serious flame eruptions. Just one look at her and the grin gets stuck in the upright position.   

“I feel very lucky to be in Malibu,” Ireland said.

There are few vehicles that have the power that a fire engine does. Not Horsepower, but the power to elicit joy. I don’t care how old you are, a Fire Truck makes you feel like a kid and few of us actually find a way to make that permanent. But Ireland has, and I thank him for sharing it with me. Just need to figure out a way to make my garage a bit bigger now as I have eyes on buying a Ladder Truck. Anyone want to drive the rear for me? Shout out.

 And finally, Ireland’s favorite movie car? The 1952 Jag XK 120 roadster his father drove in the original 1955 version of “The Fast and the Furious,” opposite Dorothy Malone (yes, there was an original). 

“This was Roger Corman’s first AIP production,” Ireland said. “My father also co-directed it. This beautiful XK 120 Jag got more camera time than any other car in film that I can remember. Since part of it was filmed during the actual ‘Pebble Beach Road Races,’ there are some absolutely classic shots of vintage race cars during the actual road race. The film open at what may be the only existent film footage of the original “Saddle Peak Lodge.” My father tapped jazz great ‘Chet Baker Quartet’ to do the music.” 

Crazy.

Today’s VLOGROCKET is Sandy Bettlelman’s JENSEN INTERCEPTOR

In most of our heads, rare cars command high prices. I see that every time I head to an auction. But, the truth is that if you love your car, it’s priceless. And that is certainly true when it comes to Sandy Bettelman and his 1976 Jensen Interceptor convertible. And why it’s this week’s Ride of the Week. 

When I go to shows — and I go a lot — I invariably run into people wanting to show me their cars. And it’s cool because I love talking to people that love talking about their rides. And I’m grateful that I get to meet so many people. Although my favorite is always the one with four wheels, I’ve always been partial to the Jensen Interceptor. 

Being retired, Sandy gets to do much of the same thing. He has several cars including an Audi RB and a Bentley GT. But, as cool as those cars are, this Jensen is something else. Why? 

According to Sandy, Jensen bought their powertrains from Chrysler. A 440 cu. in. V8 with the 727 Torqueflite transmission. His car is totally stock, but the convertible was the most glamorous of the Jensen lineup in 1974. It was the most prestigious of the cars for the West Bromich England car builder dating back to the ’30s.  

“I bought the car in 1988 from the original owner,” said Sandy.  “I found it sitting in a driveway two blocks from where I lived and it had not been moved for two years. I bought it because of its beauty and how scarce it is. In 1976 they built only 52 convertibles. Mine came off the line in March and the factory closed in May.” 

Wow.

But back in the ’70s, futurism was a very strange and unique notion. Films like “Barbarella,” “Zardoz” and “Logan’s Run” with groovy futures were in. And TV shows like “U.F.O.,” “Space 1999” and “Thunderbirds” were getting weirder by the minute. The Interceptor was right out of their future language. It would have been something that the Persuaders drove or James Bond. An elegant and groovy tune built from English heritage. 

Now, Sandy only uses this car for shows or cruises with the top down, but he has a funny story to boot. 

“The car is well known around beach towns. At a show inland, a woman came up to the car and read the badge on the hood that says ‘Jensen.’ She turned to me and asked, ‘Who makes Jensen?’ To which I responded ‘Jensen.’”

Its powerful and elegant interior is classic, yet there’s almost a feeling that you’re in a concept car from a future that never came. It’s a vision ahead of its time, but in a parallel universe. And the fact that the company disappeared in 1976, right at the bicentennial is almost ethereal in it’s nature. Did these guys ever really exist? Well, parallel future or not, this car is in league with the Tucker Torpedo, Avanti and visions of futures gone. If you’re trying to get your head around what I’m saying, it’s more of a feeling and can only be explained by taking a walk through GM Top Secret Motorama Vault for the ’50s. Yes, I’ve seen it, and it’s wonderful.

“I love to cruise with the top down up PCH through Malibu … along the beach on warm days,” concludes Sandy. A fitting statement to being resolved that no matter how universally unique this car is, it’s purpose is the same as all of them. To bring joy to a world of car lovers. The highest purpose a car can have and why this Jensen Interceptor is this week’s Ride of the Week.

A Malibu Horror Queen Christine sits waiting… Today’s VLOGROCKET

In every town in LA, cars sit on the side of the road wanting new homes. You see them everywhere you go. For sale, for trade, for … free. But, in our little town of Malibu, Hollywood’s diamond in the rough, we get a different kind of experience. 

The other day, as I was scootin’ PCH and the corner of my eyeball snagged a blip of red wrapping a metal body. Something I hadn’t seen in years. It was a 1957 Plymouth Fury that although could be a plenty in SoCal’s custom car culture, this one version in particular was a cut above the rest. She was a duplicate of the car used in the film “Christine.” And although she would be instantly recognizable in an Auto Museum or at one of my car shows, Christine lay dormant, wanting and waiting for a new owner.

Now, this is not a pitch to have someone go buy this car, as it’s not mine. But in case you would like to have it, it’s at the Malibu Auto Spa (unofficial plug). But the interesting thing about this car is that it literally felt like Marilyn Monroe sitting at a bus stop. You instantly recognize her, but can’t quite believe she would be sitting alone without a crowd around her. But there she was, Christine. All alone, blanketed by orange cones like she was waiting for John Carpenter to yell out her name for the next scene.

And that got me thinking. Car culture is as old as the car itself. And each year, a flourish of cars are created as hot rods, classics, customs and tuners of every shape and size. The kinds of cars that rarely are used for anything other than car shows. Take the SEMA Show for example. Every year these cars get built and most of them would never be daily drivers. Thousands of cars each year for the last 30-40 years (30 at least, as that’s how many I’ve attended). And literally, most of them are never seen again unless they end up in a museum. They disappear into garages, store houses, warehouses and cargo containers leaving for other countries. Literally what would amount to millions of custom rides all over the planet.

Almost an unimaginable concept that affirms that historical car culture is alive and well and will be for years. So, for those of you afraid that autonomous cars will be taking over and no one will want to drive anymore, I say Bah Humbug!

Christine may be sitting idle, wanting and waiting. But her new home, wherever it may be, will be a place where love abounds. So as you pass her on PCH next week, give a wink and a smile and know that even though she’s a true Horror Queen, and may be a little distorted, she’s most likely just misunderstood and needs some love. But if you do decide to buy her, be cautious. She’s a little creepy in the trust department. Not for the owner with a wandering eye if you know what I mean. So be warned!

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.

Today’s VLOGROCKET goes to Filmmaker Adam Shell’s 1995 Porsche 993

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 Vlogrockets, 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.