Last night I was having a discussion about design topics with a friend of mine and it got me to thinking about this years Greaserama car show at the Boulevard Drive In. The reason I started thinking about it is because my current desktops and screen saver is made from photos that I took at the show this year, and because the cars in the show are truly “designed”. I’m going to use one car as a specific example, partly because I have a number of images of it, and partly because the attention to detail is outstanding. It is that attention to detail that elevates this car to a status point that is many ways equal to a work of art, and that shows the design thinking behind it. I have no idea who created this. It was parked on the lot with all the other vehicles at the show, and the owner was nowhere to be found. This car in all it’s rusted glory, is a work of well designed hand crafted rolling art. Everything about it has been thought out and executed and styled with a keen eye. It is because of this attention to detail, and the unique theme that I am saying this qualifies in its own right as something that is well designed.
It has been said that everything is in the details, and this is true. What helps define the design quality of this car is the execution of theme from front to back and the level of detail in which that theme is executed on every level.
Lets start at the back of the car and work forward. Looking at the tail end, you notice a number of things. First off the car, while appearing rusted is solid, the color is a patina that has been applied to give it a unique look. framing the top of the open back window is tone on tone pin striping painted to look faded and burned in over time. The pin striping detail calls back to a classic period of American hot rod culture. Where the top of the car has been chopped and lowered a detail of welded wire wraps the seem to create a look like the top of the car has been stitched to the body much like the top of the Frankenstein Monsters head. Hanging out of the back window is a human skull sporting a pair of broken and tattered goggles. The top of the skull is sown on with wire just like the top of the car mirroring that detail. The licence plate holder is from a dealer in Las Vegas, it holds a 1935 licence plate bearing the number 666. All of this is designed to create a menacing appearance that says in its own way, “Trouble”.
As we move down the car you notice that the side windows are a unique orange color, helping to pull together a look that says this car is from a place that is hot. A place that is as much trouble as the car is itself. The rusted patina wraps around the back end and extends down the body panels and doors all the way to the front of the car. As you look inside the vehicle, the attention to detail explodes. Who ever made this car really thought about the overall look, and the selection of interior items in the build out. The floor is constructed of old barn wood planks, tacked to the flooring is an old Phillips 66 sign, placed to look as though it is covering a hole in the floor itself. The seats are made from steel tractor seating, and old leather horse collars. in the center of the floor where the shift lever would normally rise is a welded set of horse shoes, designed to create a unique bottle holder, enhancing a building western theme to the car. A flashlight is attached to the steering column with rusted baling wire. Hanging from the rearview mirror is a set of spurs. The mirror itself has an inset clock letting you know that this was a unique find brought to and installed in the car. Behind the mirror, bolted to the roof frame is a cast Frankenstein head with checkered flags on each side. I love how the Frankenstein theme is peppered throughout the car and repeated with small accents inside and out. The orange windows cast a unique glow inside the car, tinting floorboards and highlighting interior parts.
Just outside the driver’s side door is a vintage bottle opener with red paint flaking off of it. It sits just above another pinstripe that wraps around and over the front of the car just outside the windshield. The color of the pinstripe matches the orange of the windshield glass, and stands out against the sanded and rust colored black undercoat of the paint. Gauges protrude from the bonnet outside the cab designed to be visible from the driver’s seat. The whole car looks like it has been driven for a million miles, torn apart and rebuilt time and time again becoming its own Frankenstein Monster. It has a western feel that seems like it came straight from Death Valley, looking for trouble and eager to find it.
The front of the car is styled the same way. The radiator cap is a horse shoe that frames in a hand giving you the finger, letting everyone know just exactly what car and driver think of the rest of us. It sends a clear message, “Get out of my way.” The grill looks like a snarling mass of shredded steel. The bottom a mess of broken tines, bent and shaped for maximum effect. Even the interior of the straight intake stacks coming off of the carburetor are painted an orange to match the color of the glass and the pinstripes. Every section of the car has been shaped, and formed in order to create an overall look. A theme that is one of a kind. This car has truly been designed in every sense of the word, and more over it feels like part of a never ending project. It is as though this car will transform and morph again as it ages with its owner.
So I guess the point of this is the fact that good design is all about the details. And good design comes in all shapes, sizes and themes. Look at the images and you will see what I mean when I say that this was “Designed” and that the attention to detail is outstanding. By the way if anyone knows who the owner/builder/designer of this car is send me a comment so I can post it and give them credit.