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In the early 1990s, Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre introduced gangster rap to MTV with their G-funk anthems “Nuthin’ But A ‘G’ Thang“ and “Gin and Juice.” The videos were pretty straight forward: a day in the life of Snoop and Dre being cool hanging out with friends and the ladies in South Central LA.
But the real stars of the videos were 1960s Chevy Impalas with hydraulics that made the cars bounce. I had never seen anything cooler in my life. I turned 16, and I bought a ’61 Chevy with every intention of adding hydraulics. (My plans were ruined when no mechanic in my rural hometown in the South knew what “hydraulics” were.) Although my hoopty never worked out, I’ve always admired Snoop’s ability to pick cool cars.
Here’s the problem. Earlier this week Snoop’s newest album came out, and he’s looking G in from of a Datsun. See for yourself:
That’s a Datsun 510 Wagon from the late 1960s or early 1970s.
An original ad promoting a few of Datsun’s finest automobiles.
Don’t get me wrong, Datsun made some cool cars. The Datsun 510 makes a vintage Japanese racer that wins respect at a car show. Datsun also made the original Z cars that were reintroduced early this decade as the Nissan 350Z. But Datsuns cannot be gangster cool.
My guess is that Snoop was stoned on the day of the photo shoot, and he thought he was posing in front of a ’64 Impala wagon.
Kids, don’t do drugs!
I’ve stumbled across some cool trucks that are for sale here in the city. Last week I found a late model convertible Chevy truck on eBay. This week I found this tasteful 1963 Chevy Truck for sale over on MarkBarbee.com.
First, take a look at the original concept drawing. This is the kind of stuff they taught us at Georgia Tech…it makes me want to bust out my tools and start drawing. It’s rare that a finished product looks so close to the original drawing. Most drawings are sensational and cool, but unrealistic to fabricate with a real car body. But here they got it right.
The minor difference don’t amount to much, but they are worth pointing out. They removed the “parking lights in the hood”, something Chevy should’ve done before the truck ever left the factory. They used a stock grill instead of the Rolls-inspired grill in the concept. I would’ve liked to see them make the bumper as it was in the concept sketch with the concrete-scraping crease along the lowest portion of the bumper.
Here’s some more photos:
Notice the smoothed-out tailgate and the deleted bumper.
To make room for big rims, you have to remove the inner fender well. Now the top of the wheel rises well into the engine bay. Other classy details are leather seats and suicide doors.
To pull off this ride height requires a lot of reworking of the frame. The photo below shows all the modifications beneath the bed. Typically, the gray frame would be pretty flat from front to back. But here, the frame rises up and over the rear axle to allow for the low stance. The two yellow boxes are batteries for the airbag suspension.
Beneath every cool truck is an unexciting foundation.
Let’s talk about the bed, because that’s where all the magic happens. First, the wood looks fantastic juxtaposed against the chrome strips. This is the pinstriped suit of the auto world. Second, the leather panels tucked around the perimeter are subtle, yet luxurious. The inset frame of stitching gives it an extra detail. A poor man’s version is to paint the bed to match the interior. (Take a look at the Datsun truck in a previous blog.) Lastly, you’ll see that the fenders rise just to the top of the bed because the rims are that big and truck is that low. On a stock truck, you’d might see 10-12 inches separating the two.
Chevy got low low low. That’s the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ, home of Super Bowl XLII.
The glamor shot.
Summary: Big Rims Save Lives
Big rims have saved many vehicles from the junkyard, including this generation of the Chevy truck. Throughout my childhood, guys were only interested in the generation that came before and after. (Check out ChevyTrucks.com for a detailed history with photos.) But this generation didn’t have many fans because it’s body was so wonky. If you wanted to describe the truck like it were a person, it had a big head that goofy glasses.
But big chrome rims fill out the fenders and allow the truck to have better proportions. The trucks that were once forgotten are getting dragged out of desert junkyards and into the welder’s shop. Just look at how this 1963 Chevy looked on day one.
Fall from Grace. Copyright Reuters
News broke a couple days ago that the FBI busted New York governor Eliot Spitzer for using prostitutes. After reading the headlines this morning, I wouldn’t be surprised if he will resign before I am finished writing.
The moral of the story is obvious. I doubt anyone respectable blogger or political columnist will warn readers of of the wrath that awaits hypocrites.
At this very moment Spitzer’s opponents are popping the cork of champaign bottles to toast to his self-inflicted political death. On the other side of the street, supporters mourn beneath confusion and betrayal. As for me, I don’t know much about his voting record or state initiatives, so I have to take this story in it’s simplest form. My only response is to be sad with him.
I am sad for Spitzer because his fall from grace is nothing but sad. It’s sad for his family. Sad for the state of New York. Sad for opponents of the sex trade. Sad for the Democratic party.
On this day last week, his future was bright with a fighting chance at becoming a future president of the United States. Now he’ll spend the next decade of his life tangled in regret and anger.