The Truth About Cars » Photography http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 04 Dec 2014 19:13:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Photography http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Worth The Wait? Old School Coverage Of Dodge’s Newest Hellcat http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/worth-wait-old-school-coverage-dodges-newest-hellcat/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/worth-wait-old-school-coverage-dodges-newest-hellcat/#comments Wed, 20 Aug 2014 14:20:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=895570 Let’s start this off with a caveat. I make no pretensions to being a photographer. At best I can compose and frame a decent snapshot. Years ago I realized that if I wanted to get more serious about photography I’d have to start learning a bunch of technical things like depth of field and f-stops […]

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Let’s start this off with a caveat. I make no pretensions to being a photographer. At best I can compose and frame a decent snapshot. Years ago I realized that if I wanted to get more serious about photography I’d have to start learning a bunch of technical things like depth of field and f-stops and I already had enough hobbies. As a result, I have a great deal of respect for professional and serious amateur photographers and cinematographers. That respect has grown since I started writing about cars, as that gig often requires taking photographs to accompany my words.

Last Wednesday, Derek Kreindler and I worked together to make sure that The Truth About Cars had someone to cover the Dodge Charger Hellcat reveal on-site at the event, which wrapped up around noon. We managed to get almost 100 high definition color photographs of the event and the car picked out, cropped and up on this site by mid-afternoon. We also decided that the reveal, and subsequent Woodward Dream Cruise, would be a great opportunity to show you how long you would have had to wait to see color photos of an event back in the pre-digital era.

Click here to view the embedded video.

We live in an age of miracles and wonders. At the celebration of my Bar Mitzvah I received actual paper telegrams via Western Union. Nowadays, I can be walking down the street in suburban Detroit and my brother, who lives in Jerusalem, Israel, can send me a photograph on my phone and then call me about it, and because of flat rate cellphone service, neither one of us is actually paying very much for that communication. Far less, I’m sure, in both real or inflated dollars, than those telegrams cost my parents’ friends and relatives in 1967. Come to think of it, my brother taking and sending me that photo via SMS was also a lot cheaper than it used to cost to take and process a photograph and mail it to someone halfway around the world.

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My mom, I’m also sure, has those telegrams somewhere in her house. As the saying goes, may she live to 120. Three quarters of the way there, though, she’s showing some signs of age and recently moved into a nice apartment at a senior assisted living facility. My sisters also live out of town so it’s up to me to go through mom’s house. My late father started taking photographs, color slides and home movies before I was born. He had three 8mm movie cameras that I’ve found while cleaning and since there are a couple of rolls of 16mm movies in the box of home movies, he must have at least had access to a 16mm movie camera way back when. As far as still photography was concerned, the camera of my father’s with which I’m most familiar is his Konica Autoreflex T2 35mm single lens reflex he bought when I was in high school. He had another Konica before that but when the T2 came out he traded up.

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That’s the camera that I personally used taking photos of my family as my own kids grew, the camera that I took on vacations and camping trips to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. However, before the Konicas, and before a series of Polaroids going back to the black and white days when you had to wipe the “finished” print with a pad soaked with fixer, my dad had an Argus C3.

Argus was a company in Ann Arbor, Michigan that can be said to have popularized the 35mm photographic format in America. Charles A. Verschoor had a company that produced radio receivers, International Radio Corporation. On a trip to Europe he noticed the costly Leica cameras being made to use Kodak’s then new daylight loading 35mm film cartridges and resolved to make a similar camera, but one that could be affordable, costing just $10. Starting in 1936 with the Model A, Argus would go on to sell millions of cameras over the next three decades. Argus cameras were so popular that they even affected how people talk. The title of Alan Funt’s Candid Camera television show was taken from a phrase popularized by Argus.

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With the success of the Model A camera, the company was renamed Argus, after the mythological creature with 1,000 eyes. The cameras were almost entirely made in Ann Arbor, where the company was a major employer. Even the lenses, which were said to rival Leica’s lenses in optical if not manufacturing quality, were made in-house. The Argus C3, affectionately called “The Brick” by collectors, sold over 3 million units in the 1950s and 1960s. However, like the Michigan based car companies a decade later, as it entered the 1960s Argus didn’t recognize what a competitive threat Japanese companies could be and today the only thing left of Argus in Ann Arbor is a museum devoted to the company and its role in American culture.

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I checked out the mechanical functions on my father’s C3. The aperture opened and closed, the shutter worked and so did the shutter timing mechanism, it seemed. I did have to clean accumulated dust from the lens, viewfinder and rangefinder. What’s a rangefinder? Before digital let everyone see what the main lens was seeing via sensors and viewscreens, there were SLRs. That stands for single lens reflex. Photography buffs can correct me if I’m wrong, but the “single lens” part is in contradistinction to older twin lens reflex (TLR) cameras that had one lens for the shutter/film and another for the photographer’s viewfinder. The two lenses worked in tandem so the photographer would know when things were in focus. SLRs’ viewfinders were able to see through the main lens via an internal mirror setup that retracts just before the shutter opens.

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Before SLRs became popular professional photographers, the kinds who would be covering something like the introduction of a new car, as well as serious photography enthusiasts, would be using a TLR. Members of the general public were more likely to be using  simple fixed focus viewfinder cameras. Photography buffs on a budget, though, had the option of a rangefinder camera. Rangefinder cameras had lenses that could be focused based on distance to the subject. There are two optical ports in the back of a rangefinder camera, one to frame the shot, and the other to determine distance to the subject. The rangefinder port gives a split image from the viewfinder and from the rangefinder. Since there is a parallax between the two image sources, when the two are lined up, that will correspond to the right distance. The knob that adjusts the rangefinder is ganged via a gear to the lens focusing ring. Alternatively, you can just set the distance using a scale on the knob.

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To shoot with a rangefinder camera, you first have to frame the shot with the main viewfinder, then check the focus with the rangefinder, then go back to the main view to take the photo. Of course, since just about everything else on the Argus C3 is manually set, that’s just the last step, almost, in the process of taking a photo.

First you have to set the aperture, how large the shutter opening will be, and the shutter speed, based on some kind of chart that references those two settings relative to the ASA speed of the film (how sensitive to light it is) that you are using. Ah, but don’t think you’re ready to shoot just because you’ve set the camera. First you have to cock the shutter mechanism with a small lever on the front of the camera. Then you have to make sure that you move your fingers out of the way because if you don’t, the lever will hit your finger when the shutter releases, causing motion blur in your photo, as you can see in the first roll that I shot with the Argus at the Charger reveal.

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Once you’re done taking the photo, you have to advance the film by winding it, but first you have to press on a little film release button for the first 1/4 turn, then wind to the next shot. If you hold the button down too long, you skip past a frame and waste a shot on the roll. If you forget to advance the film, there is nothing to prevent you from double exposing (or triple exposing for the matter) a frame. Some of you may never have seen a double exposure before. I know you can use a photo editor to reproduce the look from two separate shots but is it even possible to natively shoot a double exposure with a digital camera?

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My dad’s Argus was made in 1957. I believe that the Konica T2 came out in 1971. The Autoreflex from Konica was the first “through the lens” metering SLR and it can shoot in full automatic mode. Well, full automatic mode circa 1971. You just set the film speed and the shutter speed and the camera will auto-expose and set the aperture itself. There’s a handy light meter inside the viewfinder that lets you know when you’re out of range, or how changing the shutter speed will affect the aperture. It also has mechanisms that prevent double exposures and missed shots. The film won’t advance unless you’ve triggered the shutter and once you’ve triggered it, it won’t release again without advancing the film.

When I took the cameras to the Charger Hellcat reveal, I had to use the Konica in full manual mode because the batteries were dead and you have to go to a camera shop to get the air-zinc batteries from Wein that replace the old stable-voltage mercury batteries that were specified when the camera was made. Still, even in full manual mode the Konica was much easier to use and not just because of its simpler focusing.

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Since I was playing around with a camera that was already 10 years old at the time of my Bar Mitzvah (the serial # indicates it was made in 1957) I didn’t want to throw money at the idea. Before I spent money on film, I decided to try out both cameras with some unexposed (but out of date) Kodak Gold film in an ASA speed of 200 I’d found in the house. Checking with film photography sites online (it’s had a bit of a revival in part because hipsters have embraced film) I found that if it isn’t frozen (which preserves film for a long, long time) old film will be slower, i.e. less sensitive to light, the colors might be off and the results might be grainy, but you’ll likely still get some kind of image on the film.

With that in mind, along with what rudimentary photography skills that I have, and my dad’s old pocket Kodak photography guide to help with the settings, I used the two film cameras at the Hellcat event. I also used them at some Woodward Dream Cruise events as well as at the regional annual American Motors club meet in Livonia and the huge Mustang Memories show held at Ford headquarters. The idea was to show just how long you would have had to wait to see color photos of a car event back then.

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While I could have taken the film to a chain drugstore with one-hour photo processing, that seemed a bit anachronistic since when both of those cameras were new, there was no one-hour film processing, at least with color film, and not at all for consumers. They didn’t have film processing machines in drugstores then, you had to send the film off for processing at an out of town lab. Photographers shooting news would likely have access to a darkroom, either their own or one belonging to their employer, but they would have been shooting black and white. Color, at least as far as the news industry was concerned, was reserved for monthly publications (it’s worth pointing out that daily newspapers didn’t print in color until the 1980s). Autoweek might have had a color photograph on the cover, but inside it was mostly black and white.

It usually took at least a week, sometimes two, to get your color negatives and prints back.

We’ve gained speed, but we’ve lost the anticipation that came with traditional chemical photography. Did they come out? Which ones came out? Which ones could have been better? Which shots had our thumbs over the lens?

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Film back then was also expensive. You paid for the film and processing no matter if you got any usable shots or not. The fact that a family spent money on photography meant that getting a permanent record of their memories was important. It wasn’t cheap to do so. I remember my dad looking for combination film/processing deals and buying bulk 35mm movie film loaded into cartridges. Speaking of movies, movie film was even more expensive and could be an even bigger pain to use. I found an unexposed “double roll” of 8mm Kodachrome II movie film. The double part meant that it was 16mm stock, you’d shoot half (after having to load spooled film in dim light so you didn’t expose it and fog the film), then have to flip around the spools so you could shoot the other half. After developing, the processor would slit the film down the middle into two 8mm strips and then splice them end to end.

Since I wasn’t sure the film would process and develop, I figured that it made more sense to have it done at a camera shop with their own processing lab than to trust a technician working for a contractor to Rite Aid or CVS. Woodward Camera had graciously sold me some batteries for the Konica when they were actually closed for the Dream Cruise and hosting a Daughters of the American Revolution event. Since they were nice to me, I took the film to be processed there. By the way, if you happen to shoot film, before having it done at a drugstore, check your local camera shop. Woodward Camera was actually about 20% cheaper than Rite Aid. They also processed the film in less than a day. As a result, you’re seeing the photos now instead of next week.

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I also wanted to use my dad’s old Revere 8mm movie camera. It’s got a turret with a couple of lenses and it’s build like a fine watch. More important, since I’m writing what is essentially a piece about old cameras for a car site, Revere started out in the automotive business, making radiators. That little movie camera is a jewel. It will work mechanically long after we’re all dead. However, it takes a film magazine and there weren’t any unexposed 8mm magazines that I could find in mom’s house. I ended up using dad’s Kodak Brownie movie camera, whose build quality showed what a mass-market consumer item it was compared to the Revere. Still, it seemed to function okay.

Later on there were battery operated movie cameras but when “home movies” were really big, you had to wind up a spring for the clockwork mechanism. Since the mechanism is similar to how a movie projector works, an old home movie camera makes the same sorts of noises. They’re hard not to notice. While shooting movies at the Charger reveal, a young man asked me, “Are you shooting tape?”. Tape??!!

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I’d show you the “video” results but after I shot it I found out that nobody does Kodachrome II movie film processing anymore, at least not in color.

While the old age of the film that I shot at the Charger Hellcat reveal made the results unacceptable for publication if I wasn’t trying to make a point, most of the prints still came out, more or less, but the differences in results clearly showed how much easier the Konica was to use. Out of 24 exposures, the Konica produced 22 shots that would have been usable with new film. Out of 12 exposures with the Argus, only one came without motion blur, double exposures, or just a blank frame because I advanced the film without taking a shot. Everything that could have gone wrong did, another reason why I like digital photography.

I hadn’t really planned on doing more than shooting those two rolls of old film but when I was checking out processing prices, I noticed that Rite Aid was selling four packs of their house brand 35mm film in ASA 400 for $14.99 and there was a buy one get one free deal for loyal customers, of which I am one. That works out to less than $2/roll. It said it was made in Japan and with so few companies making film these days, that almost certainly means that it’s made for Rite Aid by Fuji.

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Though I still managed to double expose a shot with both a Dodge Power Wagon and vintage Fiat 500s at the Dodge display on Woodward, by then I knew to keep my finger out of the way of the cocking lever when it springs back into position. The rest of the new film shot on the Argus at the AMC and Mustang shows came out fine.

There was a 1962 Rambler American convertible at the AMC show. My dad owned a 1961 Rambler American sedan, so it seemed appropriate to use the camera he owned back then to shoot little ragtop car. As you can see, the results weren’t too bad. The shots that I took of the 1963 Mustang II concept and Larry Shinoda’s personal Boss 302 prototype at the Mustang Memories show also came out well. I was a bit concerned that the Argus might not be “light tight” because the simple spring-metal catch for the back has lost some tension over the years and has to be bent back out to hold the back on tight, but the results show that the 57 year old camera can still take fine phototgraphs.

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It may work fine, but it was meant to work fine in a different era. In the time that it takes to compose, frame, focus, set aperture and shutter speed to take a single photograph with the Argus, I can take an entire series of photos, most with better focus and exposure, in 3D yet, and get them cropped and uploaded so that you can be enjoying them while I’m still on my way to the camera store to get that film developed.

A note about the scanned photos. I wasn’t happy with the results from scanning the prints with my flat bed scanner, which I should probably replace. In addition to scanning the prints, I also used the inexpensive slide scanner that I have to scan the original negatives. Those results were better and in much higher resolution, though there were some issues with dust particles in that scanner. Also, the scanner software picked some curious defaults for color selections and I’m not adept at color correction. The actual prints from the new film in the Argus actually came out rather well, with very vivid and true to life hues. On the shots taken with the Konica at the Charger Hellcat reveal, I played with the software to boost the exposure to make a second set.

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While that Rite Aid / Fuji film was inexpensive, and while both the Argus and Konica cameras still work pretty well, processing and printing runs about $10 for a 24 exposure roll. Right now at MicroCenter you can buy a 16 gigabyte SD card for that same ten bucks. The 8 megapixel Canon SD850s digital cameras in my still photography 3D rig can put between 900 and 1,000 images on the 4 GB memory cards that I use. For the same cost as shooting one roll of color film, I can shoot thousands of digital photos, but then with digital I can transfer those photos to my desktop computer (or the cloud) and shoot thousands more photos on the same media. Getting high resolution color photos to other people almost instantaneously isn’t the only reason to use digital photography.

For more on the history of Argus and their cameras, this article at Shutterbug.com is a good start. The Argus Collectors Group site has manuals if you have a “Brick” in the attic and want to use it. The Ann Arbor District Library also has a comprehensive sub-site devoted to Argus. If you’re in Ann Arbor, the Argus Museum is located in one of the company’s former buildings at 525 West William Street, on the second floor.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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Brenda Priddy Steps Out From the Shadows of Shooting Spy Pics With Exhibit of Fine Automotive Art http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/brenda-priddy-steps-out-from-the-shadows-of-shooting-spy-pics-with-exhibit-of-fine-automotive-art/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/brenda-priddy-steps-out-from-the-shadows-of-shooting-spy-pics-with-exhibit-of-fine-automotive-art/#comments Thu, 09 Jan 2014 12:30:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=695569 You’ve probably enjoyed Brenda Priddy’s photography before. Brenda specializes in getting spy shots of prototypes and development “mules” out testing, usually in the Arizona desert, her base of operations, though she has associates around the country. Spy shots aren’t the most artistic of photographs, though. You’re trying to get shots of the car, often a […]

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You’ve probably enjoyed Brenda Priddy’s photography before. Brenda specializes in getting spy shots of prototypes and development “mules” out testing, usually in the Arizona desert, her base of operations, though she has associates around the country. Spy shots aren’t the most artistic of photographs, though. You’re trying to get shots of the car, often a moving target, so you may not have the luxury of getting the composition, framing and every camera setting on every photo just right, but make no doubt about it, Brenda’s got some serious chops as a lenswoman. She’ll be stepping out from the shadows of shooting spy pics and making a public appearance in Chandler, Az at the January 31 opening of her exhibition of fine art photographs entitled “Automotive Artifacts: The Fine Art Photography of Brenda Priddy” at the Chandler Center for the Arts.

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When she’s not out in the desert tracking down some camo’d car, Brenda photographs the spectrum of the world of cars, from concours classics to junkyard patina. Hood ornaments, nameplates, badging and the architectural lines of automotive design are what often catch her eye. “These images recall a day long past when the automobile stood as an iconic figurehead in the American life,” Priddy explains. Brenda has also photographically documented Cuba’s fleet of old American cars and will be leading a people-to-people tour there in the fall of this year, focusing on art and automobiles.

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The exhibit will run from January 31st through March 8th, 2014. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday; 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; closed Sunday. Admission is free and open to the public.

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Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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The Automotive Photographic Art of Zoltan Glass http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/the-automotive-photographic-art-of-zoltan-glass/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/the-automotive-photographic-art-of-zoltan-glass/#comments Sat, 21 Sep 2013 16:55:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=399623 Zoltan Glass was an amateur car racer and professional photographer who shot many of the major racing events in Germany in the 1930s as well as shooting commercial photography for automotive clients like Mercedes Benz, Horch and Auto Union. Glass, however, was Jewish so things started getting difficult for him after the National Socialists came […]

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A photograph of a driver sitting at side of the Nürburgring course, reading a newspaper, his Bugatti racer next to him. Zoltan Glass c. 1931.

Zoltan Glass was an amateur car racer and professional photographer who shot many of the major racing events in Germany in the 1930s as well as shooting commercial photography for automotive clients like Mercedes Benz, Horch and Auto Union.

Glass, however, was Jewish so things started getting difficult for him after the National Socialists came to power in 1933, though he doggedly worked on, ironically doing advertising photo shoots with cars sitting next to Nazi planes, and covering races and motoring events partially sponsored by the party. After the Nuremberg laws were passed in 1936, severely restricting the civil liberties of Jews, an associate of Glass’ from the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency, Peter de Peterson, helped Glass move his base of operations to London, from where he managed his Berlin based photographic agency. Glass continued to travel to Germany to shoot advertising for his clients. After the widespread organized violence against German Jews broke out during Kristalnacht in 1938, and Jews were prohibited from running or owning businesses, Glass permanently relocated to London, taking all of his photographic negatives with him.

He struggled for a while but eventually got established working for ad agencies and magazines. Many professional photographers who would later find notable success started off using his studio in exchange for royalties on the photos they created there. He ended up mentoring a generation of British commercial photographers. His work for a risque British magazine also led to a lucrative side career in “naturist” photography. Surprisingly, Zoltan Glass never took up an interest in British motorsports and his commercial work in the UK had almost nothing to do with cars. Glass died in 1981 and left his archive of negatives to the British National Media Museum, which has digitized the photos. You can see more of his work at the Museum’s web site, but I’ve included a nice selection of his racing and automotive advertising work in the gallery below.

Zoltan Glass was a superb photographer. Looking over his photos one notices that very few of his photographs of cars were of the cars alone, nearly all of those photos include people and he had a deft touch capturing their humanity.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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Junkyard Treasure! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/junkyard-treasure/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/junkyard-treasure/#comments Sat, 18 Aug 2012 13:00:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=456813 After I visited the Brain-Melting Colorado Junkyard last month, I couldn’t stop thinking about the car project I’ve been wanting to build more than any other (including even a Zaporozhets with a Tatra V8 swap, and that’s saying something) in recent years: a 1940-1954 American sedan with well-aged patina, 21st-century Detroit V8, manual transmission, and […]

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After I visited the Brain-Melting Colorado Junkyard last month, I couldn’t stop thinking about the car project I’ve been wanting to build more than any other (including even a Zaporozhets with a Tatra V8 swap, and that’s saying something) in recent years: a 1940-1954 American sedan with well-aged patina, 21st-century Detroit V8, manual transmission, and modern suspension and brakes. So, last weekend I returned to the largest assortment of cars from that era that I’ve ever seen, to get some ideas. While wandering around, looking at Kaiser Virginians and Buick Specials, I glanced up and saw the scene in the above photograph.
That got me thinking about my friend Walker Canada‘s great artwork, and the “Junkyard Treasure” graphic he designed for the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand™ website a few years back. And, as a gift from the MMLB™ to you, I’ve added a downloadable desktop-wallpaper-sized version of the Junkyard Rainbow photograph (in case you’ve become tired of the Junkyard Wallpaper and Thrown Rod Wallpaper files you already have lowering the property values of your workplace computer). Enjoy.

Junkyard Rainbow - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden Junk Yard Treasure - Picture Courtesy of Walker Canada

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Lower Your Workplace Computer’s Property Values With Thrown-Rod Desktop Wallpaper http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/lower-your-workplace-computers-property-values-with-thrown-rod-desktop-wallpaper/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/lower-your-workplace-computers-property-values-with-thrown-rod-desktop-wallpaper/#comments Fri, 23 Dec 2011 14:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=423359 After officiating at 24 Hours of LeMons races for three years now, I’ve seen every possible style of escaped connecting rod. Through the oil pan, out the side of the block, out both sides of the block, engine internals ground into random metallic hash, you name it. There’s something weirdly beautiful about the sight of […]

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After officiating at 24 Hours of LeMons races for three years now, I’ve seen every possible style of escaped connecting rod. Through the oil pan, out the side of the block, out both sides of the block, engine internals ground into random metallic hash, you name it. There’s something weirdly beautiful about the sight of an engine that gave its all on the race track, and so I’ve photographed as many thrown-rod victims as possible. What to do with those photos? Why, make them into computer desktop wallpaper files, in all the most common monitor resolutions!
They’re free, and I’ve probably got the right size for your computer (unless you’re still running a 286 with CGA display). Just go here, pick your resolution, and right-click/save the images you want. If that’s not enough, you can also get some of my favorite Junkyard Finds images as wallpaper files here. Enjoy.

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Book Review: Roadside Relics by Will Shiers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/book-review-roadside-relics-by-will-shiers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/book-review-roadside-relics-by-will-shiers/#comments Thu, 01 Dec 2011 18:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=420923 It’s that time of year, with the clock ticking on your shopping for Hanukkah/Christmas/Kwanzaa and the ease of buying books online makes them such low-hassle gifts. You want to give that special car-freak on your gift list a nice coffee-table book, but everybody’s coffee table seems to be creaking beneath the weight of books full […]

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It’s that time of year, with the clock ticking on your shopping for Hanukkah/Christmas/Kwanzaa and the ease of buying books online makes them such low-hassle gifts. You want to give that special car-freak on your gift list a nice coffee-table book, but everybody’s coffee table seems to be creaking beneath the weight of books full of photos of gleaming classic/exotic cars. Boring! The solution: this book full of photos of abandoned cars!
I admit it, I’m a sucker for beat-to-hell, forgotten cars in desolate landscapes.
Author Shiers drove all over the continental United States and shot cars in junkyards, on farms, near abandoned gas stations, and all manner of picturesque locations. The Upper Midwest and desert Southwest get special attention, but there’s at least one shot from each region of the country.
Each photo has a caption describing the scene in which the car was captured on film, plus a bit of the car’s historical background.
Shiers has the photography skills to make the whole package work; I’ve been through this book more than once (while other review books sit for months in my on-deck stack) and it’s going to live in a high-traffic spot on my office bookshelf.
Technically, this isn’t a true coffee-table book, in that it’s a large paperback, but who cares when you can get it for just $14.99.
I’m going to give this one a four-rod rating (out of a possible five OM617 rods). Murilee says check it out!

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Junkyard Find, 1991: When 1960s Vans Still Hauled Parts On Half Price Day http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/junkyard-find-1991-when-1960s-vans-still-hauled-parts-at-half-price-day/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/junkyard-find-1991-when-1960s-vans-still-hauled-parts-at-half-price-day/#comments Thu, 01 Sep 2011 20:30:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=409954 More than two decades before I owned a Dodge A100, I admired the boxy mid-engined cargo haulers and enjoyed photographing them. Here’s a shot from the parking lot of a now-defunct self-service junkyard in Hayward, California, circa 1991; this is Half Price Day and these are customers’ vehicles. Yes, it’s a Dodge A100 and an […]

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More than two decades before I owned a Dodge A100, I admired the boxy mid-engined cargo haulers and enjoyed photographing them. Here’s a shot from the parking lot of a now-defunct self-service junkyard in Hayward, California, circa 1991; this is Half Price Day and these are customers’ vehicles. Yes, it’s a Dodge A100 and an early front-engine Ford Econoline.
20 years later, you might see battered vans of this vintage hauling greasy engines, but not today; most of them were eaten by the Crusher quite a while back. I took these shots while shopping for Impala Hell Project parts with my friend Chunky Deth; he was picking up some bits and pieces for his band’s Dodge Sportsman gig rig.
I found this strip of negatives loose in the bottom of my file cabinet, so equipment-fetishist Photography Jihadis should feel free to take a break from tedious discussions of barrel distortion and let fly their sharpest barbs against both my choice of grainy news-photographer film and the dust and scratches that my 1997-vintage version of Photoshop (gasp!) can’t remove.
You can’t have too many Quadrajet intakes!

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Behind the Orange Curtain, 1993 Edition: V8 Mustang II, Ran When Parked http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/behind-the-orange-curtain-1993-edition-v8-mustang-ii-ran-when-parked/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/behind-the-orange-curtain-1993-edition-v8-mustang-ii-ran-when-parked/#comments Thu, 25 Aug 2011 17:30:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=408768 After sharing this beater Torino wagon I photographed back in the early 1990s, I ran across a series of shots of an even Malaise-ier machine. Just as silver miners often find lead mixed in with their metal of choice (or maybe it’s the other way around), I keep discovering long-forgotten car photos as I scan […]

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After sharing this beater Torino wagon I photographed back in the early 1990s, I ran across a series of shots of an even Malaise-ier machine. Just as silver miners often find lead mixed in with their metal of choice (or maybe it’s the other way around), I keep discovering long-forgotten car photos as I scan the negatives for the 1965 Impala Hell Project series. Here’s a car that I believe has a 0.00043% chance of having avoided The Crusher during the 18 years that have passed since these photos were taken.
During a visit to a friend’s place in Santa Ana, I spotted this basket-case Mustang II in a driveway across the street. I had just discovered the joys of cheap 35mm cameras at that time, so I’d ditched the AE-1 in favor of thrift-store point-and-shoots, disposable cameras hacked and reloaded with black-and-white film, and crappy panorama cameras. This Mustang seemed like a good subject for some artsy experimentation, and so I shot it with three different terrible cameras. This panorama camera had such terrible light leakage that the sun-in-background shots blew out the images in several adjacent frames.
These days, the few Mustang IIs that didn’t die donating their front suspensions to Model A Fords are enjoying something of a comeback. They’re not exactly valuable, but they’re worth a lot more than the nadir of value they reached in the early 1990s.
The Pinto-based Mustang II spent the entire decade of the 1980s being loathed by car freaks, and so an ugly 15-year-old example with mismatched body parts— even with Centerlines— would be about as desirable in 1993 as, say, a slushbox ’91 Hyundai Scoupe with a full Manny, Moe, and Jack customization and a potato for a gas cap would be today.
But look! Finding details in these blurry, grainy photos is like looking for the second gunman in frames of the Zapruder Film, but this car definitely has a V8 emblem on the fender. The Mustang II was available with a just-barely-into-triple-digits-horsepower 302 starting in 1975, but the problem in 1993 was that California hadn’t yet exempted pre-1976 cars from emissions testing. That meant that the owner of this car couldn’t swap in a real V8 and still pass the smog test. Not that it really mattered, since this Mustang probably hadn’t run since Reagan’s first term by the time I photographed it.

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1965 Impala Hell Project, Part 9: Fastening Shoulder Belts, Bailing From Academia http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/1965-impala-hell-project-part-9-fastening-shoulder-belts-bailing-from-academia/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/1965-impala-hell-project-part-9-fastening-shoulder-belts-bailing-from-academia/#comments Thu, 18 Aug 2011 16:00:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=407188 Introduction • Part 1 • Part 2 • Part 3 • Part 4 • Part 5 • Part 6 • Part 7 • Part 8 • Part 9 • Part 10 Once the Impala had been modified sufficiently to function as a 1992-grade daily driver, the long-term project of converting it into an art car […]

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IntroductionPart 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8 • Part 9 • Part 10
Once the Impala had been modified sufficiently to function as a 1992-grade daily driver, the long-term project of converting it into an art car that drew upon the Holy Trinity of American Car Archetypes (drive-by-shooting ghetto hooptie, official vehicle, redneck street racer) took on less urgency; I planned to “finish the work of art,” whatever that meant, but along the way I’d created an excellent road car. And when you have an excellent road car, you have no choice but to hit the road.
Back in the early 1990s, cheapo Chinese-made point-and-shoot 35mm cameras flooded the world. At that time, my love of photography had veered from an obsession with shooting razor-sharp, depth-of-field-calculated-to-the-millimeter shots on my prized Canon AE-1 to a fascination with shooting blurry, bleary, headache-inducing shots with the likes of the $1.99 Guangzhou Special panorama camera that took the photograph above.
With disc brakes, a rebuilt front end, stiff shocks, and new rear springs, my 27-year-old Chevy drove and handled like a much more modern car; the design of the advanced-for-Detroit-at-the-time four-link-with-Panhard rear suspension had held up well (especially compared to the leaf-spring setups on the GM B platform’s contemporary Chrysler and Ford competitors), and improvements in tire technology helped a lot.
The car’s 350 small-block, with its Malaise Era smog heads, woke up a bit once I installed headers, a Quadrajet, and HEI ignition; my Impala wasn’t particularly quick, but it had the edge over Camrys, Tauruses, and the like when it came down to freeway-onramp drag races. Fuel economy (about 17 MPG highway, much less city) wasn’t great by early-90s standards, so I resolved to wait for the day when small-block Chevy throttle-body fuel injection systems started showing up in Pick-Your-Part in large numbers.
Around this time, I burned out on bouncing between rejected job applications and working for temp agencies and surrendered to the inevitable: I started graduate school. With a University of California undergrad degree under my belt, the skids were already greased for my quick acceptance into my choice of California State University campuses, and so I looked for the Cal State in the area with the cheapest living expenses. With presidential candidate Bill Clinton excoriating Sista Souljah and Ice-T as background noise, I packed up the Impala and moved to my new home in… Turlock, California.
Yes, I was no longer an underemployed San Francisco slacker driving a primered-out Detroit heap. As the spring semester at California State University, Stanislaus (aka “Turkey Tech”) began, I was an academic driving a primered-out Detroit heap. American Grafitti was filmed in Turlock, allegedly because it resembled the early-60s version of George Lucas’s hometown of Modesto (located just a bit down Highway 99), and its bovine-scented farm-town ambience was just the thing to force me to focus on my studies. Ideally, I’d have a master’s degree in Rhetoric and Composition (a fancy name for “teachin’ writin’ to the young’uns”) in two years’ time, at which point I’d be able to snag a soft job teaching sullen small-town stoner kids how to write five-paragraph essays at some backwoods-ass junior college. I would have preferred a warehouse job staring at stacks of boxes, punctuated by the occasional forklift race with my coworkers, while the Dead Kennedys played on my workplace boombox, but such jobs were no longer available in 1992 California.
Graduate school turned out to be fairly pleasant, if somewhat boring. While Los Angeles burned during the Rodney King riots and Clinton, Bush, and Perot duked it out, I cranked out gibberish essays about the hermeneutical reification of the work of John Donne. The English Department at CSUS boasted perhaps a dozen graduate students, half of which were cynical Generation X types like me, sheltering from the Unstoppable Downward Spiral of Civilization and half of which were jaded, chain-smoking high-school teachers hoping to nail down a fatter paycheck by adding a master’s degree to their resumes.
My life settled into a low-stress routine. Every couple of weeks, the professors would scrounge up English Department funds sufficient for us to buy barbecue food and a keg of beer, and we’d all spend a day getting drunk and sunburned and playing volleyball. Every night, I’d stay up until about 4:00 AM with some of my fellow impoverished grad students, drinking Milwaukee’s Best, listening to Cypress Hill and Primus, and playing cribbage. Most weekends, I’d hop in the Impala and drive the two hours back to the San Francisco Bay Area and hang out with my friends there. It was a dignified life and an easy one, and the months went by fast.
During this period, a couple of my cribbage partners drove off a freeway overpass while drunk-driving a mid-70s Celica back from a Social Distortion show in San Francisco. They were pretty well banged up, with the un-seat-belted driver being thrown from the wreck and having an Evel Knievel-grade quantity of bones broken; when he recovered enough to move under his own power, he fled to the Czech Republic Czechoslovakia to avoid probable jail time for a DUI-with-injuries crash. These events had two effects on me: first, no more nightly cribbage marathons. Second, I became more aware of the crash-safety limitations of my pre-Ralph Nader GM car. I had installed some junkyard Olds 88 lap belts soon after getting the car, but visions of my face getting mashed by the steel dashboard in a wreck sent me to the Modesto Pick-N-Pull to buy a 1969 Caprice shoulder-belt setup. Due to the inherent inferiority of the film-camera era, I don’t have any photographs of my seat belt installation, but it was simple enough: the first generation of US-market shoulder belts used separate belts and buckles for the shoulder and lap seat belts, which meant that I could keep my bright green Oldsmobile lap belts and add some brown Caprice shoulder belts merely by drilling holes in the B pillars and mounting the upper mounts of the shoulder belts with Grade 8 hardware through the pillars. This worked well, although the lack of spring tensioners in the early shoulder belts meant that I had to unbuckle the belt in order to lean over and adjust the stereo volume or turn on the heater.
During my second semester as an R&C scholar, I began to realize that the life of an academic wasn’t a good fit for me, and that my envisioned future teaching writing at Butcher Holler Junior College wouldn’t be to my liking. Accelerating this realization was the fact that I had been taken under the wing of the angry, sociopathic professor of feminist literature who had poisoned her relationships with academics on several continents (I was heavy into Virginia Woolf at the time, which apparently convinced her that I would one day be just as angry and poisonous as she was); this meant that my academic career, such as it was, would forever be tainted by my association with a mentor loathed by everyone in my field. Things got weirder by the day. At one point, I attended a party at the home of one of my fellow grad students, one of the bitter/master’s-degree-chasing high-school teachers, and she cornered me and a couple of my cynical 20-something peers (as we were in the process of guzzling a bottle of Bailey’s we’d found in her liquor cabinet) and launched into a scary tirade along the lines of “All you young guys, you think you want to teach… but YOU’RE NOT SHOWING ME ANYTHING!” That was the tipping point.
I decided to take a leave of absence from my academic career and head straight to the land that inspired me to write (what I thought was) good fiction and take4 (what I thought were) good photographs: southern California. So, I rounded up my friend Judy (the only San Francisco resident I’d ever met who was actually born in San Francisco) as a traveling companion and steered the Impala onto Interstate 5.
By that time, I had spent seven years driving between the Bay Area and Southern California on I-5 between five and thirty times per year. When driving I-5, I had the sense that everything that had taken place between the current drive and the previous one had been a weird dream, and that I-5 was the place to evaluate the dream. As the Impala had proven to be the best I-5 car I’d ever owned (better even than my Competition Orange ’68 Mercury Cyclone), I slipped into the requisite I-5 mental groove very easily while behind its wheel.
So, while I pondered existential questions as the mileage signs to Los Angeles showed progressively smaller numbers, Judy read fashion magazines and enjoyed the nostalgic sensation of riding in the same type of car she’d ridden in during early childhood.
During my performance-art career, I spent quite a while working on my never-to-be-finished magnum opus, a piece entitled “I-5.” In it, slide projectors would show an endless series of through-the-windshield photographs of I-5 between I-580 and the Orange County line. Meanwhile, Murilee Arraiac (my Negativland/Throbbing Gristle-influenced band) would perform a short musical piece representing every freeway exit during that drive. I got as far as shooting a few hundred slides and recording perhaps a half-dozen songs, including “Twisselman Road”.
I had decided that I would photograph this journey using only the Guangzhou Special panoramic camera, loaded with Kodak Tri-X. It’s difficult to shoot a flying bird out the side window of a moving car with a 1/30th shutter speed, but I managed this one.
Even though my Impala looked like a clanking beater, it ran perfectly at this point, and the ride was quite comfortable. I had never expected this 27-year-old Chevrolet to win me over as a driver the way it did, but sometimes things sort out in unexpected ways.
These days, I prize the images on this single roll of film more than just about any other. I became a jaded hack long ago when it comes to photography, and I’d never go back to film, but I’m glad I put in my time in the darkroom.
I must admit that the P71 Crown Victoria I bought in the 21st century was an even better long-distance-drive car than my ’65 Impala, but not by much.
Just around sunset, we made it through the Grapevine and entered Southern California proper. Little did I know that the Southern California journeys would soon end, as the economy picked up and full-time employment loomed its ugly head. Next up: Fiat X1/9 hood scoops, spinning that Buick odometer.

IntroductionPart 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8 • Part 9 • Part 10

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Road Trips: Cruising Oakland In a 40-Year-Old 1951 Chevy http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/07/road-trips-cruising-oakland-in-a-40-year-old-1951-chevy/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/07/road-trips-cruising-oakland-in-a-40-year-old-1951-chevy/#comments Tue, 12 Jul 2011 18:30:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=402314 I’ve been scanning a lot of my old 35mm negatives and slides for the ongoing 1965 Impala Hell Project series (using a time-slows-to-crawl 1999-vintage SCSI film scanner), and I ran across this series of panoramic black-and-white photos that I shot in the early 1990s. I was a hopeless, if financially challenged, photography geek back then; […]

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I’ve been scanning a lot of my old 35mm negatives and slides for the ongoing 1965 Impala Hell Project series (using a time-slows-to-crawl 1999-vintage SCSI film scanner), and I ran across this series of panoramic black-and-white photos that I shot in the early 1990s.

I was a hopeless, if financially challenged, photography geek back then; for my darkroom, I’d tape aluminum foil over the windows in the bathroom, put the chemical trays in the bathtub, and set my ancient enlarger on the toilet seat. During this period, I was into low-tech artsy stuff: black-and-white 110 film (yes, such a thing existed), prying open disposable 35mm cameras and reloading them with hyper-grainy 3200-speed film, hacksawing off the lenses of thrift-store cameras and JB Welding beer-can-sourced pinhole lenses onto the wreckage, and so on. At some point, I picked up a $5.99 Malaysian-made point-and-shoot panoramic 35mm camera, complete with hazy plastic lens, 1/15th shutter speed, and light-leaky film door and went through 100 feet of half-price expired Kodak Tri-X film in it. Most of the resulting photographs sucked, but the effect worked pretty well for interior shots of a scurvy, property-value-lowering ’51 Chevy full of my scurvy, property-value-lowering friends.

The car was a Seafoam Green 1951 Chevrolet Styleline Deluxe, and my housemate Anthony had inherited it from his original-owner grandmother as a teenager. This was the only car he had ever owned at the time, and so for him a very loose and rattly— though extremely original and unmodified— three-on-the-tree-equipped 40-year-old Chevy was a perfectly normal daily driver.

And drive it he did; his job required a 60-miles-each-way commute, Oakland to Santa Rosa, through some of the most apocalyptic traffic that the San Francisco Bay Area had to offer. The Styleline, while underpowered and primitive by 1992 standards, never missed a beat during all of those miles, requiring only regular tune-ups and oil changes.

Anthony was— and is— an anachronistic sort of guy, and so he never understood any of the complaints from passengers in his car about, say, the Styleline’s AM-only tube radio that took ten minutes to warm up, or the lack of seat belts, or the vacuum-powered windshield wipers that stalled under full throttle.To him, Grandma’s car did everything a car was supposed to do.

The ’51 Chevrolet was actually a perfectly competent motor vehicle by modern standards, provided that the driver planned ahead a lot more than he would with a newer machine. Uphill freeway onramps required a great deal of patience and the ability to spot the correct opening, and even fairly short downhill grades would cook the brakes in a hurry. But just look at it!
Image source: Old Car Brochures

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any exterior photos of Anthony’s Styleline other than this one; my negatives are much more difficult to keep organized than my digital photos. This is one way in which the 21st century is superior to the mid-20th.

I’m not sure where we were driving that day, but it involved a drive through Oakland to Interstate 580.

Zooming in on the last photo reveals a nice pair of Down Behind The Barbed Wire Fence finds.

All the photos show the dash clock stuck at 2:05. It would be too much to expect, a 40-year-old working clock in a Detroit car.

The one location I could identify in this sequence was this shot on MacArthurthur Boulevard near 72nd Avenue in Oakland, which was my neighborhood at the time.

Anthony still has the ’51, but it got T-boned pretty catastrophically in the late 1990s and has been in storage, awaiting major body/frame repair, ever since. His daily driver became an early S10 pickup, which no doubt seems quite futuristic to him.

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The Car’s Courtesans: A Flashback At Car Photography http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/06/the-cars-courtesans-a-flashback-at-car-photography/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/06/the-cars-courtesans-a-flashback-at-car-photography/#comments Mon, 20 Jun 2011 16:47:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=399542 Jacques Séguéla, a French photographer and founder of the advertising agency RSCG supposedly once said: “Don’t tell my mother I’m in advertising, she thinks I’m a pianist in a brothel”. It must have been an exclusive brothel. Photographers, especially for cars, are paid higher and are sought after more than exquisite courtesans. Fees of $1,000 […]

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Jacques Séguéla, a French photographer and founder of the advertising agency RSCG supposedly once said: “Don’t tell my mother I’m in advertising, she thinks I’m a pianist in a brothel”. It must have been an exclusive brothel. Photographers, especially for cars, are paid higher and are sought after more than exquisite courtesans. Fees of $1,000 per hour are not unheard of. What do they do for that much money? They make the cars look good.

Dietmar Henneka is one of them. I know what his rates were. In the 70s and 80s, Dietmar was one of the most sought after and highest paid courtesans of the business, and we did many campaigns together.

When Dietmar heard that the car is celebrating its 125th birthday, he thought of the people who set it in scene. Fashion and cars are unthinkable and unsalable without photographers. Henneka wanted to unite them under one roof. If you are on a trip through Europe in Summer, make a stop in Sindelfingen, which will become even more pittoresque from July 3 through August 28 with the exhibition “Ein Bild von einem Auto” – Mercedes Benz through the lenses of famous photographers 1930 – 2010.

The exhibition is at the gallery of the city of Sindelfingen at the central market square – you can’t miss it.  Exhibition and a printed catalog will show 87 pictures by 66 photographers, some dead, some alive, some hardly known, some world famous. Here are a few.

Dieter Blum / 600er Pullman / 1989

Gary Bryan / Car, Glass Girl / 1997

David Douglas Duncan / Ghost of Sindelfingen / 1954

Zoltán Glass / speed and spirit III / 1934

Hans Hansen / o.T. / 1989

Dietmar Henneka / Nighthawks, Hommage to Edward Hopper / 1999

Werner Pawlok / Polaroid Lifts C 9 III / 1992

Horst Stasny / Grossglockner / 2002

Reinhart Wolf / Vorbilder I / 1959

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Car Photograph of the Day: Valet Ballet by Phil Waters http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/03/car-photograph-of-the-day-valet-ballet-by-phil-waters/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/03/car-photograph-of-the-day-valet-ballet-by-phil-waters/#comments Tue, 15 Mar 2011 17:30:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=387406 The Denver MCA boasts something that most museums don’t have: a 1968 Chevrolet Chevelle parked on its nose outside the building. I’ve been trying to shoot a worthwhile photograph of this fine sculpture by Gonzalo Lebrija, entitled Entre La Vida y La Muerte, but I just don’t have the boss camera skilz to do it […]

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The Denver MCA boasts something that most museums don’t have: a 1968 Chevrolet Chevelle parked on its nose outside the building. I’ve been trying to shoot a worthwhile photograph of this fine sculpture by Gonzalo Lebrija, entitled Entre La Vida y La Muerte, but I just don’t have the boss camera skilz to do it justice. Fortunately, I know a guy who does.

The Chevelle still has the engine, transmission, interior, the works, and appears to be in pretty good condition. Was it worth removing a solid classic Detroit car from street duty in the name of art? I say it was worth it; 425,300 Chevelles were built for the 1968 model year, so it’s not exactly rare, and Lebrija’s sculpture has thousands of non-car-freaks contemplating one of Detroit’s best designs.

Top photo credit/copyright, © 2011 Phil Waters Design
Please do not reproduce or distribute without approval

Valet Ballet by Phil Waters Entre la Vida y la Muerte, by Gonzalo Lebrija. Image source: Denver MCA. ValetBallet2 Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Book Review: Sports Car Racing In Camera, 1950-59 by Paul Parker http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/02/book-review-sports-car-racing-in-camera-1950-59-by-paul-parker/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/02/book-review-sports-car-racing-in-camera-1950-59-by-paul-parker/#comments Thu, 10 Feb 2011 15:00:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=383435 A proper coffee-table car book ought to be heavy on the grainy action photos, light on the words, and include photographs of Škoda 1101 Sports and Renault 4CVs at Le Mans. Sports Car Racing In Camera, 1950-59 qualifies for inclusion in even the most crowded coffee-table real estate. Normally, I give review copies away after […]

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A proper coffee-table car book ought to be heavy on the grainy action photos, light on the words, and include photographs of Škoda 1101 Sports and Renault 4CVs at Le Mans. Sports Car Racing In Camera, 1950-59 qualifies for inclusion in even the most crowded coffee-table real estate.

Normally, I give review copies away after I’m done with them, lest I run out of shelf space for my collection of Nixon biographies and Emile Zola novels, but this one is a keeper. In fact, this shot of Ak Miller from the 1954 Carrera Panamericana is going to be sliced out, framed, and hung on my office wall.

The book is broken down by year, with a chapter for each year of the 1950s and a breakdown of teams, drivers, and results for each year. Unsurprisingly, most of the photographs were shot at European events, though we do get a few from Sebring and other New World events. Here’s Jack Fairman behind the wheel of an XK120 at Dundrod in 1951.

Porfirio Rubirosa digging his car out of a ditch!

Those who enjoy drooling over photos of 1950s Ferraris and Maseratis will find their Italian car-porn needs amply satisfied with this book; there’s even something for the Osca aficionados.

This is a Haynes book, written by a Brit for the British market, which means that some of the photo captions contain near-disturbing levels of attention to detail. You’ll also get some double-take-inducing Anglocryptic turns of phrase, e.g., “…their dominance was interrupted by Jean Behra’s Gordini biffing Tony Rolt’s D Type up the bum at Thillois on lap 21.” Biffing up the bum! No matter— I’ll take this over the “Go Dog Go” style I slog through in some of the drag-racing books I won’t be reviewing.

This fine book earns a Four Rod Rating (out of a possible OM615-grade five). Murilee says check it out!

Sports Car Racing In Camera, 1950-59 by Paul Parker
SCRIC-14 9781844255528 SCRIC-01 SCRIC-02 SCRIC-03 SCRIC-04 SCRIC-05 SCRIC-06 SCRIC-07 SCRIC-08 SCRIC-09 SCRIC-10 SCRIC-11 SCRIC-12 SCRIC-13 Rating-4ConRods-200px Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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