Thursday, June 30, 2011

White Hot Rod



copyright_Jeffery_Blackwell_2011


[UPDATE: I have entered this photo in the "One Life" photography contest. There is a "People's Choice" award, and I would appreciate your vote here. Thank you. -- Jeff ]


This scene stopped me in my tracks.

The house is from around 1850. The car looks like its vintage is around a hundred years later.



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Hot Rods always seemed like they were just a little before my time. Like Elvis and bongo drums. As I have gotten older, I have learned to appreciate early Elvis and early Hot Rods. (Maybe I’m still too young for bongos.)

The car was basically hand made by a man named Bob Merkt, who runs a body shop not far from my house.





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Aside from mechanical and fabricating skills, and thousands of hours, it takes some serious creativity to achieve this look – the stance, the paint, the right wheels and tires.

The body is still in flat white primer, which will some day be covered with a pearly white finish. Bob’s hesitant to invest in the fancy paint, because he actually drives this car, as you can see. Personally, I hope he never does.




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Bob told me with obvious pride that his son, Bob “Bleed”, builds hot rods down in Austin with Jesse James, and is a noted constructor himself. This kind of thing is hereditary.

Bob Sr. told me that this car has won several best-in-show awards down in Texas, and that Jesse James’ ex, Sandra Bullock, once sat in it. (Maybe that’s her hairbrush!)




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“Women love this car!” Bob said, shooting me a grin and shaking his head.  “They wanna just hop right in!”






All contents copyright Jeffery Blackwell 2011


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Friday, April 8, 2011

Big Rig Graveyard


Abandoned Semis 01 copyright 2011 by Jeffery Blackwell




As I coasted down a hill upon this scene, I was reminded of an image from an old Tarzan movie: The Elephant Graveyard.

When their teeth were too worn to eat anymore, the sagging elephants would pull themselves off into the jungle to the dying place. Their mammoth carcasses and skeletons stretched across the horizon.




Abandoned Semis 01 copyright 2011 by Jeffery Blackwell




Their days and long nights of pulling the goods of man back and forth across the landscape clearly over, these enormous machines have been left to slowly sink into the grass.




Abandoned Semis 01 copyright 2011 by Jeffery Blackwell




Their cave-like cabs, long inhabited, sit vacant high above the ground, the radio chatter and cigarette smoke long since drifted away.





Abandoned Semis 01 copyright 2011 by Jeffery Blackwell




Hollow eye sockets and gaping mouths, mighty diesel motors once hot now just inert lumps of greasy metal, tires and paint being worn away by the sunlight.




Abandoned Semis 01 copyright 2011 by Jeffery Blackwell



Abandoned Semis 01 copyright 2011 by Jeffery Blackwell




Tilted at uncomfortable angles, as though straining to pull their wheels out of the ground and struggle back onto the highway, only yards away.




Abandoned Semis 01 copyright 2011 by Jeffery Blackwell







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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Spring Thoughts – Topless 1965 Buick Electra 225


1965 Buick Electra copyright 2011 by Jeffery Blackwell


I ran across this unique automobile last spring on the highway between Sterling, IL and Polo, IL.

There was a sign that said I was in a community named Penrose. (See map. This car was at the intersection of Penrose Road and Freeport Road.)



Google map of Penrose, IL 




It promised to be a warm Spring morning, but the dew was still clinging, and I wondered why the car was sitting with its top down, exposed to the elements.




1965 Buick Electra copyright 2011 by Jeffery Blackwell




A closer look revealed that this 1965 Buick Electra 225 is not, in fact, a convertible at all.





1965 Buick Electra copyright 2011 by Jeffery Blackwell




The chiseled 225 inch-long flagship of the Buick line was never offered as a four-door convertible. This car once had a solid steel roof, which had been quite skillfully removed. And replaced with nothing. The car has no top whatsoever.




1965 Buick Electra copyright 2011 by Jeffery Blackwell





1965 Buick Electra copyright 2011 by Jeffery Blackwell





1965 Buick Electra copyright 2011 by Jeffery Blackwell




Which explains why the interior has that “weathered” look.




1965 Buick Electra copyright 2011 by Jeffery Blackwell





1965 Buick Electra copyright 2011 by Jeffery Blackwell





Whoever removed the roof did a very clean job and obviously put a lot of time and effort into doing so.

Which left me wondering how the deuce-and-a-quarter came to sit here, drying off from dew and its sensitive vinyl interior about to be assaulted by the piercing rays of the rising sun. 



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All contents copyright Jeffery Blackwell 2011


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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Deep Patina - 1939 Mercury Eight Convertible

1939_Mercury_Eight_copyright_Jeffery_Blackwell_2010



This Mercury has been sitting outside the body shop down the road from my house since late last summer. I kept thinking the owner would move it indoors before the snow started.

I drove past it many times, thinking I should stop and photograph it, but the car is parked on the North side of the building, and this time of year it was constantly in shadow.

Finally, the snows came. I was on my way over to Doc’s and drove by the Mercury.




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I had mixed feelings about the Mercury not having been taken in. I felt badly for the car. But I knew it was time to make some pictures.

As I began looking at the car through the lens, my emotions continued to struggle. The car is in desperate shape, as you can see. The floorboards are practically gone. There’s nothing left of the seats save the springs. The once-painted dashboard deeply pitted with rust. I wondered if there was even enough left of this car to save.



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Yet the aqua-colored glass that remains in the driver’s half of the windshield and the fragments of flamingo-colored plastic that cling to the steering wheel’s rim seemed jaunty and nautical. Looking across the interior with its art deco clock and out onto the long, tapering hood, the Mercury seemed almost like a boat, and I imagined a beautiful young girl behind the wheel with her Veronica Lake hair tossing in the wind, and a bright red smile on her lips.




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This is a rare car - 1939 or 1940 - either the first or second year of Edsel Ford’s new Mercury brand, and carries one of the earliest mass-produced V8 engines – the famous Ford Flathead. Cars like this one begat the earliest Hot Rods, and people just can’t seem to get enough of old Mercurys, which explains why this shell of a car has not been sent to the crusher.

Wonder where it will be when summer comes around next time.






All contents copyright Jeffery Blackwell 2010


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