The Age of Inspiration


…is defined by Webster’s as skill or cleverness in devising or combining: inventiveness, or: cleverness or aptness of design or contrivance.

It’s been a word that has spent an unholy amount of time bouncing around in my brain over the years. I find it to be a powerful word when applied to our hobby/industry of hot-rodding in general, as it’s really the backbone of what we do. Consider an engine builder, working to tweak every last ounce of power, Sam Barris chopping the first Merc roof, or the first guy to conceive the idea of using lace to create killer patterns in custom paint. Hell, each day I’m confronted with the challenge of bringing unique ideas to a project, and in some cases, finding ways to stretch a budget, and draw in some wicked little details to set a car over the top. It’s a matter of using what’s there in front of you (and occasionally what doesn’t exist!) in a new or different way, and then getting it all to flow.

A recurring theme here in the old blog has been that of cool details and inventive use of materials on a project, and this entry brings in some really neat stuff. The human mind is capable of solving problems with amazing agility at times (there’s even some grace in banging a sheet metal panel to shape over a 2×4 when it’s in the right hands!), and when it comes to creating tools to aid in work, provide convenience, whatever, it’s always cool to witness.

Speaking of ingenuity, a recent side trek on the web, seeking more info on Sam Barris’ Mercury led me to a video highlighting a car that’s always kept me fascinated (and, amazingly, another Barris-constructed car — I say “constructed”, as the majority of the innovations on the car were those of the owner), the Golden Sahara II, from the ingenuity (see a theme here?) of owner/designer Jim Skonzakis (aka Jim Street). Every inch of this car is loaded with ingenuity, and inventive, if not a step beyond state-of-the-art for its time (this was pre-1962!)… Man, consider that this was the FIRST car to have a TV in it, much less every other technical marvel thrown in. You may know this ‘53 Lincoln Capri from the Jerry Lewis movie Cinderfella:

golden sahara

Hey nice laaaadeeeee….

…or even the old Rob’t. Williams Leadsleds poster (it’s there in the original incarnation, anyway… prior to the double fins being added later on), too! In any event, over on YouTube is the following video… take a peek, and we’ll pick this back up in a few:

How absolutely freaking cool is THAT??!

…and those light-up tires? Dig this:

illuminated tires

Bringing new meaning to “light ’em up!”

In the ’60’s, Goodyear toyed with translucent polymers to create pastel-colored, illuminated tires! More likely than not, they were to be marketed toward women (color matching everything was in fashion, after all), yet the material proved to wear too quickly, and they never made it to market…

tire lights

Tires to match your eyes, hair, underwear…

Ponder the thought that went into this car, the forward thinking, the sheer inventiveness… the INGENUITY. Granted, there’s a lot of gimmickry going on here, but isn’t this car just the perfect illustration of the times? That whole “world of tomorrow” kinda vibe going on, and all wrapped up neatly in a pretty slick custom.

I had shown this to my kids, and they flipped that the car had a TV, a remote… and then they said “they had TV back THEN”? Illuminated tires, whoopie…. TV? Amazing to kids. Go figure…

Perhaps more interestingly, as designers, we often tinker, adapting the latest styles and technology to our projects… Viewing the Golden Sahara as a the techno-wunderkind it truly was, it’s obvious to see the impact it had on today’s techno-rides. What new technologies do you see making their way into your next designs? Even better, what retro-inspired technology would you like to see make it into your next “traditional” design…  and why?


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About drawinghotrods

I draw cars. I also provide full-service hot rod design and illustration, custom car, graphic and web design tailored to the custom automotive aftermarket, including logos, branding, project planning and research, and even apparel design. Need an ad, some copy, or a jump on social media? I do that, too. My mission is straightforward: To consistently provide the ultimate in design creativity and customer service, with an experience and artistic vision that is second to none. While working to raise the standard of automotive illustration, I seek to educate the public with regard to the labor and sacrifice required to create a work of fine art.

3 responses to “The Age of Inspiration”

  1. Alyssa Mandel says :

    My father was Jim’s partner in crime for many a year, and never gets mentioned in the literature. Get in touch – he’s willing to discuss the Golden Sahara.

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