Last week we were in the mountains above Malibu, CA to shoot one of the most interesting cars I have ever seen, the Timbs Special.
This sleek streamliner was created by mechanical engineer, Norman E. Timbs, back in 1948. The aluminum body was hand-formed by legendary metal man, Emil Diedt, and it was powered by a mid-engine Buick straight eight. The car actually graced the cover of the second issue of the newly-launched magazine, Motor Trend, back in October 1949.
Gary and Diane Cerveny are the proud owners of this baby. They have a number of cars in their collection and their tastes run the gambit from Rolls Royce Silver Ghosts to vintage drag and Indy cars, but they really made a commitment when they took on the restoration of the Timbs Special.
After its glory days in the late 40’s and 50’s, the car had some less auspicious decades including a stint as an attraction out in front of a SoCal restaurant with kids running up the back and sliding down the fenders. It was largely forgotten until what was left of it was auctioned at the Peterson Museum back in 2002 and was bought (almost accidentally) by Gary for about $17,000.
Gary, his son, and his father embarked on the restoration. Altho they had done numerous award-winning restorations in the past, after four years they decided to call in the cavalry and engaged the services of Dave Crouse and Custom Auto in Loveland, CO. Dave and his merry band spent another three years to recreate the masterpiece that is the Timbs Special. All told, over 5,500 hours went in the restoration of this car. It is absolutely stunning.
Last weekend I had the opportunity to go up to Winnipeg, Manitoba as the guest of Peter Ginakas for one of his Sunday night cruise-ins. Peter is a restaurateur in Winnipeg and is also a serious car guy. He has four restaurants around the city which all go by the name, Pony Corral, and several years ago he started holding Sunday night cruise-ins at one of his locations. These really caught on and have grown steadily.
Winnipeg is a real car town. Without a doubt, it is the cruisin’ capital of Manitoba; and perhaps all of western Canada. There are a lot of cars there and the quality is quite high. I attribute that to a combination of factors; very skilled craftsmen and really long winters. I also love going up there because they are such huge fans of the show. I always say, there are no fans like Canadian fans!
I flew in on Saturday and when the plane broke thru the cloud cover during landing, I noticed a lot of standing water everywhere on the ground. They apparently had gotten quite a bit of rain the previous night and earlier that day. I figured that surely it would clear off for Sunday’s cruise-in, but instead it proceeded to dump record amounts of rainfall through the evening and well into the night.
Underpasses throughout the city were flooded, the Red River which runs thru Winnipeg was well beyond its banks, and the flood control system that diverts excess water around the city was at its capacity. All I could think was, “Well this sucks!”
Sunday morning didn’t start out much better. It was grey and chilly and showed little promise for improvement. Peter had a VIP brunch at one of his restaurants, and I was surprised at the number of people that attended with their cars in spite of the weather. These Canucks are tough!
The cruise-in itself was scheduled to run from 4 to 10 pm at another one of Peter’s locations, and I was really keeping my fingers crossed for an improvement in the weather. As luck would have it, almost on cue, the clouds parted at about 4 pm, the sun beamed thru, and the cars began streaming in. It was still only 55 degrees but hey, for Winnipeg, that’s balmy.
This past week I was in Washington for SEMA’s biannual DC Rally.
SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) is the trade association that represents the automotive aftermarket. It is made up of 7,500 member companies; most of which are small businesses. In fact, the annual SEMA show in Las Vegas is the largest gathering of small businesses in the US. And while the individual companies may be small, the automotive aftermarket in total accounts for $32 billion in sales annually.
I’ve been on the Board of Directors of SEMA for the past seven years and will finally be terming out in July. There was a board meeting in DC in conjunction with the Rally, but the main purpose for being there was to keep this industry and this hobby top-of-mind on Capitol Hill.
I had meetings with the two senators from Indiana, Richard Lugar and Evan Bayh, as well as the congressman from my district, Brad Ellsworth, to discuss issues that affect our industry like health care costs for small businesses and tax credits on capital expenditures and R&D.
This may seem like sort of boring stuff, but there is a direct correlation between the strength of the car hobby and the health of the aftermarket. The hobby is as strong as it is today at least in part because of growth of the automotive aftermarket. Twenty years ago we couldn’t do the restorations, the rods and the mods we can these days because the parts simply weren’t available. However, the demand was there, and leave it to American entrepreneurs to create products (and entire businesses) to meet that demand. Actually they fuel each other; the hobby is strong because the aftermarket is strong and vice versa.
SEMA has a Washington office that is dedicated to keeping legislation “hobby friendly”. Many of you (or perhaps your car clubs) are members of the SEMA Action Network (SAN); a grassroots network that stays on top of local issues and that can be rapidly mobilized when we need to make our collective voice heard in Washington.
This past weekend was Torquefest in Farley, Iowa. This is a traditional hot rod show that was being held at a dirt track speedway. It was the first year for this event, and I have to admit that I was a bit nervous about that fact. Actually, in the history of MCC, I have never shot a first year event. I prefer to wait till they’re a little farther along the learning curve. However the promoter, John Wells, is a good guy and it was being held for a good cause. I also wanted to try to help this event get established because ultimately I’d like to see these traditional hot rod shows dotted all across the US so that there’s one within driving distance of anyone that would want to attend one.
Farley’s a bit of an outpost tho, and there really wasn’t a good place to fly into so we decided to make it a road trip. It was going to be about 500 miles from E’ville to Farley, and there were supposed to be some pre-event festivities starting at 5:00 pm Friday so Ben & I got on the road mid morning in hopes of getting to the church on time.
It was pretty smooth (and flat) sailing most of the way thru central Illinois until we got up to Rockford and turned west at which point we were faced with a wall of black clouds which was frequently illuminated by bolts of lightning raining down all around us.
And speaking of rain, it wasn’t long before it started to do that in earnest, and continued till we were about 20 miles outside of Farley (which had received somewhere between two and three inches). We were running a bit behind schedule, but it didn’t matter because the planned cruise to the farm where Field of Dreams had been filmed was wisely cancelled. Fortunately tho, the weather forecast for the next day was nearly perfect, and I was just keeping my fingers crossed that the cars that did show up for this event wouldn’t sink out of sight in the showfield.