Ride of the Week: Artist CHRIS GARCIA’s tribute to his father’s Unfinished Project…

Cars and art go hand in hand in many cases.

They are designed by artisans in the automotive world; their inspiration can carry over for generations.

Today’s Ride of the Week does exactly that in a way that spans a generation inspired by a specific ride: a 1930 Ford Model A Coupe.

This is Chris Garcia, and let’s start off with some of Garcia’s words about the model.

“I chopped the top 4 1/2 inches myself,” he began. “It still has the original four-cylinder motor that I updated with an intake manifold, a Stromberg Carburetor and custom header I made from scratch. I changed out the original 19-inch spoke wheels for these 1940 Ford Wheels with Firestone White Walls. And after pulling the fenders off, I mounted vintage B-L-C headlights, restored and then painted them to match the car. Then I mounted 1951 Pontiac taillights into the rear pan. Currently it still has the original mechanical brakes.”

Although you could say it’s quite beautiful as an almost 90-year-old, the true meaning behind the car is much closer to Chris’ heart.

“My dad and I bought the car in 2015 up in Grass Valley, California,” he said. “It was a complete and an all original Henry Ford Steel car. But we actually got it to restore for his retirement. It was going to be a father-son project.” 

But things did not go as planned.

“You see, I found the car so that my dad and I could build it for his retirement as I mentioned,” he said. “He always loved hot rods and fast cars and used to take me to the Dragstrip as a kid. But unfortunately, he passed away shortly after we bought it and he never even got to work on it with me. So now I am building it as a tribute to him.

“I am building the car the way he way he would have wanted it.”

According to Garcia, the ’30 Ford is currently in its first phase of the build. Eventually, he will update the frame, drive-train, brakes and put the fenders back on, “That’s the way my Dad would have built it”. 

But what is his favorite part? 

“The custom header I made for it,” he said. “It’s wide open, really loud and lets me wreak havoc through the streets of Southern California. I primarily take the car on cruises with my friends and enjoy driving it along with my other cars. I’ve also done vintage racing events like RPM Nationals and I take it to some car shows.”

Chris’ art reflects the time of the Monster movie posters. Although the Monster itself has been replaced by a powerful motor. Truly unique stuff. 

As of May 11, Garcia’s work will be on display at The Murphy Museum’s Fireball Gallery in Oxnard, just north of Malibu. And the 1930 Ford will be there for the evening festivities.

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

Fireball Gallery launches at The Murphy Auto Museum May 11…

Also posted in THE MALIBU SURFSIDE NEWS…

I am so proud to announce that Fireball Automotive Art Gallery will be opening on the evening of May 11 with a launch party celebrating the work of five incredible artists. 

We are less than one month away, but The Murphy Auto Museum (just outside of Malibu in Oxnard) has been working feverishly on the gallery to get it ready.

The car you see above is an incredible classic Studebaker President and sits currently in the main gallery. All cars will be removed once the art exhibit begins and the show will run for three months.

The artists include featured pinstriper Johnny Martinez, photographer Wes Nielsen, painter Chris Garcia, illustrator Geoff Ombao and the secret street artists of Bohemia Incorporated. 

The gallery is committed to making sure that the artists featured are in diversified categories covering auto culture from vastly different perspectives. But this is only the beginning.

“It’s astonishing how many artists there are in the automotive world that have never been in a professional gallery,” said David Neel, owner of The Murphy. “Well, the Murphy Museum is changing that and it’s time we celebrate their work in the Fireball Gallery to reveal their stunning capabilities. Many car museums have art on the walls, but this gallery will be the very first dedicated nostalgic automotive art gallery in any car museum in any country.”

The Fireball Gallery is already booked a year and a half out with artists, including celebrity sculptor Tony Dow (“Leave it to Beaver”), Art Center College professor Richard Pietruska, famous car designer Mark Stehrenberger and many others. 

For Gallery One coming up on the evening of May 11, the VIP party will feature StripeWork from Martinez, a Ventura local and automotive multishow winner; photographer Nielsen who shoots more than 50 shows a year; Garcia and his automotive monster posters; Geoff Ombao’s amazing car illustrations, ranging from Jaguar to Porsche; and DTLA street artists Bohemia Incorporated, whose infamous sculpted works pepper the city, even though no one has ever seen them. 

Their latest work features Jack Nicholson’s 6-foot face from “The Shining” busting out of the side of a building. They’ll be attending the show, but no one will know they’re there.

The art exhibits will run for three months, then strike for a month to regroup and start again. 

A portion of proceeds will benefit a variety of dog rescues, ocean conservancy and children’s art programs. 

And don’t miss the museum’s monthly Cars and Coffee called Muscles and Mojo every first Sunday as you’ll get a sneak peak into the Museum’s 90-car collection and Gallery.

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

RIDE OF THE WEEK! From the SEA to Shining CADILLAC…

People travel from all over the word to come to the ’Bu, and for many different reasons. But, regardless of the reasons, they all get to experience some of the same things.

Our beauty is what makes us unique, but also the gleaming azure sea to our shoulder which serves as a timeless reminder to stay in the present and appreciate what we have.

But, along with its natural beauty, we can and do enhance this by cruising PCH in our personal beauties. Many of you have gone up and down PCH in your cars and can testify that the gift you receive is beyond words. But let’s also consider what we do for other people as we drive.

Many people frown on the exotics, car clubs, motorcycles and such that zip through our town. It’s important to consider that these people also want to share in Malibu’s free beauty. And if you drive responsibly, you get that gift. If you abuse it, though, you get to visit the sheriff’s station in Agoura … or worse. But back to the gift.

As we drive our luscious coast, we pass many who are what I call “mindlocked.” They are so in their heads that many of them don’t even see the beauty of the coast, as they are locked into the aspects of their lives that are challenging. This in no way is a judgement, as we all do this from time to time, but driving something cool up and down PCH “pops” people out of their muck for a brief second and zips them into the present to appreciate beauty. Beauty as in this 1961 Cadillac Coupe DeVille from The Murphy Museum.

Now, I have driven this car many times and I call her “Marilyn.” Wherever she takes me, people stop and take a look, and even snap some selfies. I feel like a car agent and this car is my celebrity guest.

I do this with actual celebrities on my show from time to time, but it gives me great joy to pull into a station and watch a friendly tourist with their daughters take a selfie with the car. 

“My mom owned one just like this in white,” he says.

Well, in many ways, Malibu cars are celebrities. People stop. They ask to take pictures. They briefly tell a story, and then they share that photo with their friends. The same thing would happen if you saw one of your favorite stars. I’m grateful to be able to do this with the cars I have access to through Southern California. And I’m constantly reminded of the gift that I not only get, but also that cars give to others. 

We all strive to be present in the moment, as we know that creativity stems from there. The answer to the challenges of our lives emerge from our connection to the present. This Cadillac was designed in the present of 1961 and continues to pull people there. So, the next time you’re out and about, take a brief second from the inside of your cool car and allow the idea of the gift you’re about to give to others to percolate. 

Let it fill you with love, and then drive. You’ll be amazed at how much more you see in this tiny town and how your life will slowly become filled.

More coolness to come, people.

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

Ride of the Week: Cruising along PCH with Hollywood’s Kirk Taylor

It seems that nowadays, people want to tell their stories more often. Or maybe it’s just that, thanks to the web, they now can in a variety of ways. 

Long before Jerry Seinfeld’s car show, I did a thing called 5Minute Drive where I took celebs for drives in cool cars and got their stories. It was fun, unique and in-depth. And now, there are a multitude of shows online that are doing it.

So, it’s time to evolve.

When actor Kirk Taylor’s people reached out to me to do a Vlog episode about Taylor and an article here, I jumped as I always do. It’s fun to meet new creative people who are making a difference. So, we got together and this is how it went.

Taylor has been an actor for a long time and he’s been fortunate to have worked with some amazing people over the years. His first story involved Charles Bronson, where he played a heavy opposite to the massive gun toting vigilante in “Death Wish 3.” Bronson pushed him to get intense, resulting in a rifle-powered pistol blowing a Hollywood hole on Taylor. He was fine, but the leather jacket he was wearing was blown to smithereens.

“It nearly made me sick when I looked at what had become of the jacket,” mentioned Taylor. 

As we drove his 2017 Kia Niro up PCH, the last thing on our mind was stopping for gas, as it got 51 miles per gallon. So, we kept moving. 

Next up was an audition for Stanley Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket.” He told a hysterical story about getting shot in the rump that, although very funny, is not appropriate for this article so you’ll have to watch my Vlog, Episode 893. Yes, he got the job. 

Taylor’s stints as an actor also included the cult hit, “The Last Dragon” in which he was pulled from an extra to a fighting roll as one of Sho’nuff’s henchmen. Yes, that was the bad guy’s name: Sho’nuff. 

But nowadays, Taylor is doing a combination of acting, teaching acting and music — all of which landed him a roll opposite Chaka Khan in the upcoming musical film “Revival,” out this Easter. 

I got the sense that Taylor was a kind, gentle soul in the mix of Hollywood’s violent realm from the past. The same goes for most of my friends who are stuntmen to Hollywood’s elite, including Jeff Jensen, Stuart Wilson, Simon Rhee and many others. 

The tough, bad guys in film are always the kindest people I’ve ever met. And maybe it’s because they love cars, eh? 

Regardless, pretty sure that Taylor is still driving that 2017 Kia and hasn’t visited a gas station in the last two weeks or more. Times are a changin’ and gas stations may become a thing of the past. Will millennials not know what it’s like to fill ’er up? 

Big thanks to Taylor for hanging out with me and cruising Malibu’s scenic PCH. We hit Latigo for some beach time and had a blast. If you’re an agent or in PR, send me your celeb peeps and we’ll do the same.

And be on the lookout for Taylor in his upcoming film, where he sings a solid tune. Sho’nuff.

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

Ride of the Week… The Long Lost VON DUTCH BIKE FOUND!

I’m always amazed at how the universe manages to pull things together based on people’s passions. And this story exemplifies that in many ways.

A longtime friend of mine, Bob Clark, and his co-conspirator, Greg Weier, were minding their own business back in 1971 when Weier spotted a used motorcycle on the side of a trailer park in the Valley. He consulted Clark and they went to look at the bike together.

It was a classic Velocette owned by a guy who live in the park itself. After looking the bike over, Weier (with some prodding from Clark), bought it for $350. The seller was none other than infamous pinstriper Kenny Howard, also known as Von Dutch. Yes, that Von Dutch.

“He didn’t call himself Von Dutch at the time,” Weier said. “But he was known as a really great pinstriper.”

Clark and Weier took the bike home and immediately began to pull it apart, re-chroming and painting with the idea of turning it into a chopper. But over the next several years, Weier basically rode the bike around town and it eventually went into storage in the early ’80s. And there it sat for almost 30 years, in Weier’s garage collecting dust and getting covered with a variety of garage material.

In 2012, Clark and Weier began to get the bug again and started tinkering. Over the next seven years, they off and on fixed the bike up. But, now knowing that it was a Von Dutch original, the idea of a chopper waned in light of a full, original restoration. And that’s exactly what they did.

Then, about two months ago, Clark came to me and mentioned that the bike was nearly finished but needed to get pinstriped. And that’s when I called my buddy, master pinstriper Johnny Martinez from Ventura. 

“Hey, Johnny, wanna stripe something truly unique?” I asked.

If he wasn’t wearing his black glasses, I’m pretty sure his eyes would have popped out of his head. (I’m glad I didn’t see that.)

And that’s where we came up with the idea for Martinez to stripe the tanks and fender at last weekend’s Wheels and Waves here in Malibu. Martinez did his job with about 30 people watching, blasting music and, yes, with his black specs on. It was a sight to behold.

This week, the final stripes will be placed and full assembly of the bike will begin. According to Clark and Weier, with their schedules — Clark is a sculptor in the film industry and Weier is a contractor — the bike should come together over the next few months. And if it turns out half as good as I expect, it should command a pretty penny at auction. How many original Von Dutch bikes are out there? Who knows, but this one is spectacular.

The goal is to tour the bike through the museums and shows to get the word out, let people see it and maybe let a few select people ride it. But one thing is for sure. We can thank Clark and Weier for securing a piece of motorcycle history — a memory we can all appreciate and one that may get us looking through our garages to see what we might have missed.

Good on ya, boys!

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

Ride of the Week: What’s it like driving into the NEW YEAR?

We had a pretty eventful 2018, folks. 

There was a lot of change, disaster coping and shifts. But, in all this, Malibu prospers and it’s important to know why.

In the physical world, we are surrounded by beauty in many forms, from the ocean to the skies to the hills. But back in the ’50s, people didn’t want to be here. At least, most people. The drive into town was just too much. But those that were true Malibuites (like Bill Armstrong), knew that Malibu’s gift existed in the moment — the moment you let things go and became present.

Many of us hardcore Malibuites get it. We’ve been here a long time and don’t plan on going anywhere else. It’s central now to everything. Hollywood, the Val, car shows, 385 Starbucks. If you do it right, you can live and breathe the ’Bu. We do, and have since 1980. But going into 2019, it’s not enough to have resolutions. Resolutions are like diets. They work for a bit, but you really don’t want to be on one. So, over time, they disappear.

Malibuites embrace change. And change is what makes us strong. At least, it’s about how we perceive change. It’s not good or bad, but how we look at it moves it forward. So, if you’re a car guy or girl, change things up a bit. Hit some shows that you don’t normally hit, like the Petersen Museum, Grand National Roadster Show or Benedict Castle Car Show. Embrace change and it will reward you with new experiences. Use PCH north and south as a road to new adventures.

Ride of the Week is generally about someone with a cool car, but sometimes it’s about what you do with your cool car. Get out there. Hike. Meet people. Share your stories of success, passion, hope and excitement for 2019. In “Blade Runner,” 2019 was dismal, dark and dirty, but we managed to not become that. In fact, beauty is alive and well and you have to get that cool car out there and grab some of it.

I make my living doing automotive coloring books and our TV show. And I choose that because I’m living my passion. It’s my calling since I was a child. Have you found yours? Do you jump out of bed every morning excited for the day and what you’ll do with it? I do. If that’s not the case for you, then make 2019 the year when it happens. Find your calling. Don’t let another day go by living a life that is half full when you can embrace change and set a new life in motion.

This can happen in an instant. Get in and drive somewhere new. 

SoCal is filled with automotive gold. In every direction. It’s free. It costs nothing but your time. If you’re stressed or have doubts about something, let it go. Take a chance, get out there and then let me know what you did so I can make you an official 2019 Ride of the Week.

Life is a gift and every moment you spend wasting it will not come back. Want to take a trip? Go! Want to have a relationship? Go! Want to experience something new? Then go!

From Newport Beach to Solvang, there are hundreds of car shows and events to visit and experience. If you’re not sure where to go, visit my website (fireballtim.com) and I’ll help, but one thing is for sure: when you do the same things, you get the same thing. Do something different, and life begins.

Have a great 2019, my friends! And I hope to see you on PCH!

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

Ride of the Week: Daniel Dews’ Woodie Masterpiece

Ahhh, Christmastime is upon us — a time of cheer, goodwill and giving. 

So, with all of this going on, why are some people so blue? And what can we do here in the ’Bu to cheer them up? I have just the answer.

A woodie. Seriously. No one — and I mean no one — can look at a woodie and be sad. What people fail to realize is that within woodies are secret happy ingredients that penetrate all sadness like ammonia penetrates grease. Like water penetrates my roof. Like chocolate penetrates my desire to not have dessert. It’s foolproof.

So, it’s with sincere gratitude that I present to you a present in the form of Daniel Dews’ 1948 Chevy Fleetmaster woodie. 

There, don’t you already feel amazingly awesome? I can see the hairs standing up where you didn’t have hair before.

And this proves that woodies are magical beasts like unicorns. Only made of wood. And, a few other things, but without the horns. OK, where was I? 

Ah! Dews’ woodie — and why it’s awesome. As a 46-year varnishing vet, Dews spent decades restoring yachts in Marina Del Rey to the point where his finish became unlike anyone else’s.

And if you hit the Malibu Christmas Woodie Parade, you’d have noticed that Dews basically sold his soul to the varnishing devil, because his woodie is epic. 

And although it’s a ’48, it’s got a ’53 straight six motor. But, who cares, ’cause it’s all about the varnish, baby. I mean, you could eat Taquitos and guacamole off the wood, then see yourself smiling as you licked it clean. (Too visual?) Anyway, let’s hear from the master varnisher aka Captain SuperVarnish himself.

“I found this car in San Pedro 11 years ago,” Dews states. “And since the Beach Boys made the woodie famous in their surf music and I was in Hawthorne High School, which was home to the Beach Boys, I grabbed it. I love the beauty of these lovely vehicles. Lovely, lovely pieces of furniture.” 

Only a woodworker would say such a thing. Maybe he forgot to notice it was a car? Maybe he just wanted a driveable house? Maybe we should move on? 

“I enjoy going to car shows,” he continues. “But when I got the car, I went to work immediately on the wood finish. I stripped off the old varnish and sanded the wood down. Then [I] stained all of it by applying 40+ coats of marine varnish. I have close to 750 hours in this finish. Whew!”

I’m pretty sure I would have stopped around coat 12, but not Captain Varnish! 

But only part of the woodie culture is the build. The second half is the feeling behind driving a piece of art. And that, my friends, is what woodies are: art. In every way a car can be.

So, spending a bit of time with the woodie club allowed people to meander like it was an art exhibit in the Louvre. (Imagine, the Louvre having a woodie exhibit!)

Dews’ love for woodies obviously didn’t stop at the build, as he and the Santa Barbara Woodie Club now peruse the coast in search of beach breaks to display, hang and swap stories.

Much like it was back in the day during my time at C-Street in Ventura. Beach tunes, fire pits, nighttime football under headlights and the sound of the surf. Oh, and surfing of course.

Still with me? Still sad? I think not. And that, my friends, is the magic of the woodie and why these pieces of art not only still exist to bring joy, but to cruise PCH in search of present moments in time that harken back to joyous beach moments.

If you ever get down, just think of a woodie and wait for your smile to return. Then, be grateful that there are those out in the world like Captain SuperVarnish who take the time to make SoCal safe and enjoyable. 

Happy holidays, folks!

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

Ride of the Week… Fire-destroyed Ranchero finds new home at Murphy Auto Museum

The Woolsey Fire left many cars in ruin. 

Literally hundreds of them litter the ’Bu, and many of them will head to the scrap heap.

But when my friend Thom Panunzio asked me if there was anything we could do with his 1957 Ford Ranchero, I had to take a moment to contemplate. This Ranchero was in Panunzio’s hands for many years and two days before the fire started, it was just completed. His to-do list was done. The next stop for the car was my Wheels and Waves show here in Malibu.

But alas, the fires ripped through the canyon and destroyed his garage, cars and all its contents. 

So I made a call to my friend David Neel at The Murphy Auto Museum. What if we could drag the car out of the ash-littered garage, take it to the museum and put in on display as a piece of history? And to no shock at all, Neel was immediately on board.

A few weeks later, I was heading to Panunzio’s again with my wife, Kathie, and friend, Ken Vela, to grab the car. We posted on Facebook that we needed a trailer and up popped Dennis Burnham from Torrance. He had just purchased a trailer and was eager to help. We arrived at the garage to find that the car sat on its belly and was in park. The only way to get it out was to drag it. So, we did.

It took four hours to get the car on the bed — twice as long as we expected. 

We had to come back the next day and drive it from Malibu all the way to Oxnard, ash flying out the back. The dismount of the ’57 was slightly easier than getting it on the trailer, albeit it falling a few times. But once we got it cleared using a forklift, we set her down in a prime spot where people could see her.

The Murphy is currently closed for the holidays, but will reopen in January if you want to go up and get a closer look.

But as we settled the car in the space, Panunzio called me to express his gratitude that the car that he once had truly loved was going to have a second life. This made me very happy and gave me perspective in regard to the cars, homes and things that people lost in this fire. The attachments we had are not about the things, but about the feelings behind them.

The emotion that was rattled in this year’s fire was what truly shook us. Most things can be replaced and some things can’t, but the feelings we suffered from hit us to our core. Many of us identify ourselves with what we have instead of who we are. And it’s who we are that truly defines us.

Loss of your possessions is horrible. But loss of yourself is worse. And that can only happen if you give up, which is something Malibu will never do — and that’s why I’m grateful to be here with all of you.

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

Ride of the Week: Ken Hower and his 1948 STYLEMASTER

Going to car shows in SoCal is a unique experience in many ways, but one of the things I enjoy most is the unexpected. 

There’s always a car show unicorn that invariably appears and wows the crowd. But it doesn’t have to be a huge show. 

Last month, I headed up PCH to the Murphy Museum for a Chevy show. It was small, at about 15 cars, because of the overwhelming fire activities that were still going on. Those who did come just did so to get a break from the smoke and clear their heads. For me, I had gone about two weeks without seeing anyone smile, so it felt good to see people recovering and trying to make the most of their days.

While there, I met Ken Hower. Normally a printer repair technician, Hower has been on workers’ compensation for the last 17 months while trying to recover from a hand injury. So, a car show was just the thing.

Hower brought in an amazing and super rare 1948 Chevrolet Stylemaster sedan delivery wagon. It is a stunning piece of Chevy history, customized in a beautiful dark aqua and silver leaf. 

“Well, these cars were built on a car chassis as opposed to a truck chassis,” Hower explains. “They were used as work vehicles mostly in and around town for making deliveries, etc. You know, the local grocery store, the hardware store … that kind of thing. This is why they only have a 12-gallon gas tank and [are] not meant for long trips.” 

The car is unusual and rare because it came as a Stylemaster. Hower explained that as all the pretty chrome and stainless appointments. 

“Most sedan delivery wagons were ‘plain Janes,’“ he adds.

Hower has owned this SDW for less than a year and has done most of the mechanical work, fixing a cracked block and more.

“This car runs like a top now,” he said. “ … I actually got this car in a horse trade, so [I am] looking for a new home for it now as I have too many cars! It all sounds good, owning multiple classic cars like this but, truthfully, it’s hard to keep up on seven cars.”

According to Hower, he never saw himself owning this genre of car (known as a Bomb.) But having had this one for a while, he gained a new perspective. 

“I saw similar cars around in clubs and while I appreciated all their time and effort, was never on my radar,” he said. “When I drive it around town, it turns some heads for sure and attracts lots of attention.” 

The paint and silver-leaf striping makes the car a show winner.

But, let’s let Hower explain: “The paint, silver leaf, striping, and airbrushing really works. The paint is a stock GM Color from 1992 called Dark Teal Blue Metallic. There’s a small metal flake in it that really glitters. Depending on the light, it goes from a very deep blue all the way to a really gorgeous blue green. A guy named Mike from the San Bernardino area did the silver striping, but that’s about all I know as I found a receipt for it in the glovebox. Folks ask all the time who did it … and do I have his number.”

Hower basically cruises around to shows and fun events in hopes that his wheels will catch the eye of their next owner. But you’d have to be a very unique individual to own this one. It’s the epitome of “car culture.”

And finally, Hower’s best story goes like this.

“So, I go to the gas station and fill her up with gas and fill some air in the rear bags ([the car] has manual fill rear airbags),” he said. “Then I get ready to put the air in and actually start and the end on the fill line blows apart. The rear end drops down to about 2 inches from the asphalt. I look around and I find the parts, but can’t get the ferule back on correctly. So, [I had] no choice but to drive the car back across town with the butt dragging. Had to cruise and try not to hit any bumps or potholes. Was the weirdest ride I ever had and I was cracking up the whole way blasting ‘Low Rider’ by War.” 

And what does Ken love about driving in Malibu?

“It’s the epitome of the SoCal lifestyle,” Hower said. “When I take my ’62 Vette or the ’68 Camaro convertible out and head south to Malibu … the drive from Mugu Rock to Sunset just couldn’t be any better. Thought about moving once … but then I woke up and realized … it really couldn’t get any better than this.”

Gratitude goes a long way to making your life a complete package. Ken gets this and lives the car lifestyle. Hopefully, he can find someone who loves this car as much as he does. Have a great week, folks!

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

Ride of the Week… Paul Grisanti and his Unicorn AMG MERCEDES WAGON

There are two kinds of people here in the ’Bu.

There are those who move here, check it out for a while and realize that the salt air, beach life and PCH traffic isn’t for them, and then there’s the other kind. You know, the lifers.

Now, the lifers are an interesting bunch. They don’t see the traffic. They don’t notice the salt air and how it permeates everything. All they see is Malibu — an overwhelmingly beautiful and tiny spot on the planet that, if they will allow it, will fill them with the kind of joy and peace that exists nowhere else on the planet. And when your head is in the stars and your feet far below the ground, it’s hard to notice the little irritations of life.

If you don’t know Paul (and Sara) Grisanti, then you have some work to do as a true Malibuite. The reason being that I’m pretty sure Paul has photocopied himself and is in virtually every corner of this town simultaneously.

And, as a result of this, Paul’s understanding of the streets, homes, addresses and current traffic snarls is unsurpassed. As a real estate broker (a la mode), it’s Paul’s job to know virtually every home in this town, and he’s being doing that for the last 40 years as a resident of the ’Bu. (Sorry, Paul, I had to give up the numbers.)

To get around, Paul has chosen a vehicle that scoots this town and its potential buyers into an automotive frenzy. Paul’s ride is a 500-plus horsepower Mercedes-AMG E63 S Shooting Brake Wagon with carbon ceramic brakes. (I only point out the brakes as the car tends to thunder up and distort time. Carbon brakes help to suck you back into this universe.)

The car and its launch capabilities is bone stock and all-wheel-drive. Right out of the box, it’s like the Starship Enterprise already at Warp 10. But let’s hear some more from Paul.

“I bought it through the Mercedes certified pre-owned program last spring when I sold my 2004 Mercedes E500 sedan with 220,000 miles,” he said. “I had been looking for one for about six months that was not black (too menacing), or modified. It came with an unusual interior (most are black or cream colored) and mine was Mystic Red.”

Think Merlot in a $10,000 Baccarat crystal glass.

“This is a unicorn car,” he continues. “It handles like a sports car but has room for clients, family and open house signs. TV screens on the seatbacks provide an entertainment source for grandchildren, too. At the same time, it is discreet enough to blend with traffic and not draw undue attention to itself or the clients within. Car people know what it is immediately and are enthusiastic about seeing it.”

I myself have ridden in this buster and immediately felt that I must respect it.

According to Paul, the best part of owning this car is being able to go to Cars and Coffee events, and seeing the reactions of fellow car guys.

“I use the car for everything short of going to the dump,” he said. “Plenty of room for a foursome and their clubs. With the seats down, my bike fits in the back without taking off the front wheel. When we prepared to evacuate during the fire, I was able to fit the essentials.”

Paul enthusiastically continues, “My clients are not opposed to riding in the car. I love the way the wagon handles on our curvy, mountainous roads without ever feeling tippy or uncertain.”

Further, the brakes are ready to engage when a distracted driver on PCH decides to pull a U-turn from the curb. Yes, people actually do that. In fact, they do a lot worse and it’s important to have a vehicle that can and does respond quickly.

“Despite all the performance of this vehicle, it is still possible to tolerate inching along in a traffic jam on the 405 without losing my temper or having the car misbehave,” Paul continues. “Malibu still has plenty of space between houses and lots of interesting roads in the surrounding hills and mountains. And they will be beautiful again.”

See what I mean? A lifer, Paul is. (Yoda-speak) And as a lifer, he’s seen it all, as I have. As lifers, we realize that our little corner of the planet is unique. And, being unique, it requires a ride that keeps us present in the moment, grateful and open to time travel.

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