Caffeine and Octane, Car Culture

Caffeine and Octane car shows adding a clubhouse | ClassicCars.com Journal


Caffeine and Octane
Caffeine and Octane has become the country’s largest monthly car show | Caffeine and Octane photos

A few years ago, Atlanta’s High Museum of Art presented an exhibition of automotive art. “Dream Cars: Innovative Design/Visionary Ideas” featured 17 of the world’s most stunning concept cars. 

I was among the throngs that jammed High during the exhibitions run. Before leaving, I did a lap through the museum gift shop and bought what I thought was a souvenir of the show, a T-shirt promoting “Caffeine and Octane: World Class Speed and Style.” 

I’ve worn that shirt on a series of annual cross-country road trips, but only recently learned that the shirt wasn’t designed for the museum’s concept car showcase but for a monthly Atlanta-area car show that has grown into an NBC Sports television series and soon will open its own car-centric restaurant, Caffeine and Octane at the Garage. 

Former Firestone tire store will become TV studio and car-oriented cafe

As it turns out, rather than using the Cars and Coffee moniker, the group of car guys who met in the parking lot of a Panera Bread restaurant in metro Atlanta called their gathering Caffeine and Octane. The group outgrew that parking lot, moved a couple of times to larger quarters, and then…

“About seven or maybe eight years ago, Auto Trader was looking to expand its brand, knew of Caffeine and Octane and purchased it from the founders,” explained Bruce Piefke, who had operated an events company for a couple of decades and was brought in by Auto Trader as a consultant to create a plan to take Caffeine and Octane national.  

However, there were changes that transformed Auto Trader into Cox Automotive, “the original CEO left, long story short, after about two years they offered the opportunity to me to purchase it.” 

Bruce Piefke has made Caffeine and Octane an international brand

Which Piefke did. But instead of taking Caffeine and Octane national, he took it international, in the form of a television series. He also moved the monthly Atlanta show to the parking lot of Perimeter Mall, where it has become the nation’s largest monthly car event, and he also staged a couple of Caffeine and Octane at the beach weekends on Jekyll Island (and is adding other locations this year), and most recently has begun to turn a former Firestone tire shop into a television studio, cafe and event space.

Piefke’s Special Events Network has done as many as 1,500 events a year. It started by organizing consumer events for radio stations.

“Back in the ’90s, radio stations were social media,” he said. “We created events that fit the format of the specific radio station.”

Since taking over Caffeine and Octane, Special Events Network has cut back to around 100 events a year, doing movie nights at military bases, where it sets up huge inflatable movie screens for an evening’s entertainment.

Piefke was so impressed by the stories people were sharing at Caffeine and Octane car shows that he launched a television series that is about to begin filming its fifth season.

Monthly show fills around 2,500 or more spaces in shopping center parking lot

“What drew me were the people, the stories, the camaraderie, the diversity,” he said. “I don’t know of any other hobby or passion that people have that appeals to every color, every race, every age group, every domination. It’s the diversity not just of the cars but of people.

“I wanted to do a TV show that was different. Not a build show. No drama. No fake deadlines. Just a show about the people and their passion.”

The show is hosted by historian Skip Smith, builder Bryan Fuller and drag racing champion Rickey Gadson. It airs weekly on NBC Sports and is distributed to 65 countries around the globe. 

By the way, the monthly Caffeine and Octane show typically attracts more than 2,500 vehicles and as many as 20,000 spectators to the Perimeter Mall in Dunwoody, Georgia, just off the I-285 ring road north of Atlanta. The event takes place the first Sunday of each month, running from 8 a.m. until 11 a.m. so the parking lot can be cleared for shoppers arriving as stores open at noon.

The Caffeine and Octane at the Garage restaurant will be in Sandy Springs, Georgia, about 6 miles north of Perimeter Mall. Piefke hopes to have the restaurant — and its 150-space parking lot — open for business and car gatherings sometime in the summer of 2020.

Diversity is a theme at Caffeine and Octane events

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Car Culture

Rolls-Royce likes its ‘willfully disruptive’ customers | ClassicCars.com Journal


A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the Web and becoming the author of more than 15 books. In addition to being Editorial Director at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times, writes a weekly automotive feature for The Detroit News and is an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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Car Culture, Ford v Ferrari, Shelby

Meet the reel stars of ‘Ford v Ferrari’ | ClassicCars.com Journal


ford v ferrari
A Ford GT40 like those used in the ‘Ford v Ferrari’ movie was parked in front of the screen showing the trailer at the Shelby Heritage Center when ‘The Perfect Lap’ tour visited Las Vegas | Larry Edsall photo

Asked to identify the stars of the Oscar-nominated film Ford v Ferrari, you’d likely respond with the names Christian Bale and Matt Damon. Indeed, they were the A-list movie stars who played the two leading roles, Ken Miles and Carroll Shelby, respectively. 

But when it comes to the “reel stars” of the movie, at least from an auto racing perspective, the correct answers are Robert Nagle and Tony Hunt.

Stunt coordinator Roger Nagle and Tony Hunt, stunt driver for Christian Bale (and wearing blue Ford racing jacket), sign posters during The Perfect Lap visit to the Shelby Heritage Center in Las Vegas | Twentieth Century Fox photo

You may not have heard of them until now, but Nagle was the movie’s stunt coordinator and Hunt was the driver handling the cars supposedly being driven by Bale as Miles.

One reason the movie has been such a success, both with the audience of Hollywood story fans and with a car-savvy contingent, is that while director James Mangold knows how to share a story, he also knows he’s not a car guy, so he relied on Nagle to bring the on-track excitement to the big screen.

Nagle and Hunt were in Las Vegas this past weekend as part of “The Perfect Lap” promoting the movie’s release February 11 on DVD, Blue-Ray and for download. Even before then, they and others will learn on February 9 whether the film wins any of the four Academy Awards for which it has been nominated. It also was revealed at the Vegas event that the musical score from the movie will be released as a vinyl record.

The promotional tour’s visit to Las Vegas, just one of several stops, took place at the Shelby Heritage Center, where Shelby Mustangs and F-150s are assembled and where there is a weekly Saturday morning Cars and Coffee Las Vegas gathering in the parking lot (see photo gallery below).

A vintage Mustang in Bullitt-green color draws attention at the Cars and Coffee Las Vegas event in the Shelby parking lot (see separate photo gallery featuring that event) | Larry Edsall photo

Nagle raced in sports cars until he ran out of money. It was about at the end of his racing career that he met a move stunt coordinator who invited him to do some driving in The Dale Earnhardt Story, a made-for-ESPN movie. 

“The creative side drew me in,” said Nagle, who has complied 85 film credits, including such movies as Talladega Nights, The Hangover, Fast Five, Total Recall, Jack Reacher, The Lone Ranger, Captain America, Captain Marvel, John Wick, Baby Driver and, of course, Ford v Ferrari.

He recalled a Saturday morning telephone call from Mangold, inviting him to meet Monday morning, and two weeks later they were in production. His duties as stunt coordinator ranged from finding such drivers as Hunt and designing and choreographing the racing scenes. 

Hunt (left) and Nagle greet fans at Shelby Heritage Center | Twentieth Century Fox photo

The movie’s opening scenes take place at a race at the Willow Springs race track in Southern California, and since the race that is portrayed never actually happened, Mangold turned to Nagle to create the story and to stage the action. He wrote and choreographed the scene, which was transformed into an animated version, and finally was filmed with real cars.

Nagle said his job, and that of second-unit stunt director Darrin Prescott (who also played the role of Bob Bondurant in the movie), is “making it look very exciting and dangerous, but also making it safe (for the stunt team).”

Regarding the driving team for Ford v Ferrari, Nagle said there were special challenges since the cars they were using – Ford GT40, Ferrari P3 and Porsche racing cars – are from a previous era and the cockpit dimensions of those vehicles limited who could fit inside to drive them.

Anyone taller than 6 foot couldn’t fit in the GT40 and you had to be 5-foot-8 or shorter to fit into the Porsches. Plus, he added, “you also needed people with his level of talent.”

Former racers have found new careers in the movies | Twentieth Century Fox photo

The “his” in this case is Tony Hunt. Hunt grew up with auto racing. His grandfather, Joe Hunt, was an Indy car mechanic turned car builder turned car owner with a 45-year career that included fielding cars for Tony and Gary Bettenhausen, Jim Hurtubise, Joe Leonard and Al Unser. Tony’s father, Tom, not only raced but served as vice president of the U.S. Auto Club.

Tony started racing quarter-midgets, moved into formula cars and midgets and sprints (he was a multiple USAC winner) and then stock cars. He was racing stock cars in North Carolina and trying to figure out how to move up to the next level of the sport when he was invited to drive a car in a commercial being shot at Darlington Raceway. 

He also did driving in an episode of the TV series Coach and then followed with a series of eight movies, from Herbie Fully Loaded to The Fate of the Furious, Venom and Ford v Ferrari. He’s also driving in Fast & Furious 9, which could be known simply as F9 by the time it opens in theaters in May 2020.

A Ferrari racing car and a Shelby Super Snake Ford Mustang were parked in front of the Shelby Heritage Center as part of ‘The Perfect Lap’ tour visit | Larry Edsall photo

Hunt said he finds the same sort of intensity and adrenaline rush doing movies as he did on the race track. However, he said, and Nagle agreed, you have to be more flexible in movie work. Racing has a schedule. Drivers know what time qualifying takes place, what their race-day schedule will be. 

In movie work, “your life changes with a phone call,” Nagle noted.

Hunt said that while there are detailed scripts even for stunt drivers, things are constantly being revised and suddenly you’re no longer on page 19 but must jump to page 62. As for a work schedule, shooting days typically run 16 hours and, in the case of Ford v Ferrari, that’s 16 hours in the hot and humid conditions of summertime in Georgia.

But Hunt said he especially likes working on a film such as Ford v Ferrari because of the way it pays homage to the sport’s history. He also said he’s honored to be part of a movie that has been so well-received, and not only by racing and car enthusiasts but a much-larger general audience.

“As time goes by,” he said, “I think we’re going to appreciate this more and more.”

Once the Cars and Coffee Las Vegas vehicles cleared the parking lot, ‘The Perfect Lap’ offered some thrilling rides to visitors | Larry Edsall photo

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Car Culture

A century later, Citroen plans another Sahara crossing – with electric vehicles | ClassicCars.com Journal


Sahara
Citroen will celebrate the centennial of the first drive across the Sahara by another one, but this time sending production electric vehicles along with two re-created half-tracks | Citroen photos

In mid-December of 1922, Citroen had what it called “the audacity” to attempt to drive motorized vehicles across the Sahara. The drive south across the African desert to Timbuktu (English spelling of the historic stop on the medieval trading route) covered nearly 1,970 miles and 21 days.

On February 5 during the Retromobile collector car celebration in Paris, Citroen announced that it would send not only two replicas of the five original half-track vehicles, a Golden Scarab and Silver Crescent, on a centennial re-creation of the trip, but that also making the drive would be a fleet of standard-production electric vehicles.

Student-built re-creation of Golden Scarab is on display in Citroen stand at Retromobile 2020 in Paris

The “E.Pic” drive is planned for December 19, 2022, to January 7, 2023, and the support vehicles will be from the 2022 model year production range. Citroen also promised that present at the starting line will be a new futuristic concept car.

A reproduction of the Golden Scarab is on display at the Citroen stand at Retromobile 2020. The vehicle was built by students and teachers from French arts and crafts schools as part of the Citroen centennial celebration in 2019.

The Citroen convoy crosses the Sahara in 1922

Each of the five Citroen half-track vehicles had a nickname for the original journey: Golden Scarab (Scarabee d’Or), Silver Crescent (Croissant d’Argent), Flying Turtle (Tortue Volante), Sacred Cow (Boeuf Apis) and Crawling Caterpillar (Chenille Rampante). 

The original plan for the 1922 adventure was to leave the vehicles in Africa, but the trip went so well that the teams decided to drive the vehicles back to the Mediterranean coast.

1922 map from the Citroen archives

A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the Web and becoming the author of more than 15 books. In addition to being Editorial Director at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times, writes a weekly automotive feature for The Detroit News and is an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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Car Culture

Meet the man behind the ‘Ford v. Ferrari’ movie cars | ClassicCars.com Journal


Lance Stander
Lance Stander

Ford v. Ferrari lit up movie screens around the world with raving motorsports fans and the uninitiated alike loving the action-packed racing scenes and the dramatized relationship of Carroll Shelby and his star shoe, Ken Miles.

Beyond the storyline of the movie nominated for a Best Picture Oscar were the car stars. Cobras, GT40s, Daytona Coupes, Ferrari 330 P3s and Porsche 906 Carerras were on-screen heroes. Director James Mangold was able to reach less than 60 miles from the 20th Century Fox studios to Irvine, California, and Hillbank, distributer of Superformance, the South African manufacturer of the most popular, Shelby-licensed Cobra replicas on the planet.

Cinema Cars | Superformance

Lance Stander is chief executive of both Hillbank and Superformance and his companies provided beautifully detailed replicas of the two main GT40s, two Daytona Coupes, and 23 Cobras including the genuine Shelby 427cid aluminum block in the MkIIIs and 289cid Ford Racing engines in the Slabsides. A few of the other cars had crate 302cid engines installed.

“My cars were very expensive,” Stander said. “They were very well done and they were damn true to form, as the cars were back then.”

His father, Stan, founded Hillbank in South Africa in 1977, “on the hill, next to the bank,” Stander chuckles. Under Lance’s stewardship, bringing the distribution arm of the company to the United States in the late 1990s and purchasing the Superformance factory from Jim Price in 2005, has proven incredibly successful. Beyond the Shelby replicas, Hillbank is an authorized Shelby American dealer – and has expanded its product offerings to Caterham Lotus Sevens and 1964 Corvette Grand Sport replicas.

The movie cars, like all Superformance cars, began as rolling chassis, including frame, suspension, fiberglass body, electronics and connections – all hand built in the South African factory. Once shipped to Irvine, the engines were installed at partner shop, V’s Performance in Orange, California. Once turned over to 20th Century Fox, the cars were wrapped in the colors and numbers of the original cars.

The movie made reference to many of the legendary stories of Miles and Shelby. One particular scene, filmed at Willow Springs International in Rosamond, California, showed Ken Miles slamming the trunk of a Cobra shut on a “mandatory sized” suitcase as per FIA GT rules. While Shelby himself did that at Le Mans in 1964 to satisfy the FIA scrutineers for proper fitment of the suitcase. The dents in the trunk would be promptly and cleanly fabricated by Phil Remmington — on site.

For the movie, sharing the story required a modification to the movie car: an aluminum trunk lid. Fiberglass would have split or shattered.

Stander said that Cobra restorer Drew Serb produced the aluminum trunk lid — three of them and all were used by the studio.

Shortly after production began, collectors bought “dibs” on the hero cars. The main Cobras were bought by the sons of the famed racers. Peter Miles bought the Ken Miles Cobra; Rich MacDonald bought the Dave MacDonald car; Alex Gurney, who played his dad in the movie, took his home; and Aaron Shelby, grandson of Carroll, also grabbed one. MacDonald, who lost his dad, Dave, on “Black Sunday” at Indianapolis in 1964 in a fiery wreck along with Eddie Sachs, proudly drives his Cobra to work most days – at Hillbank – where he is a sales executive.

Lance Stander (left) and Rich MacDonald at a Shelby event | Tom Stahler photo

One of the movie cars was sold to a customer who ran it through a Mecum Auction where it fetched three times the purchase price. Another of the cars went to The Cobra Experience, a non-profit museum committed to the promotion, conservation, education and preservation of the cars produced by Shelby American. Lynn “Mr. Cobra” Park with Cobra expert Drew Serb, and their spouses are the founding members of the Bay Area, California museum. The car, which was a static prop in the film, was fitted with a Roush 427,linked to a Tremec TKO-600, will go to a lucky winner in a raffle on June 6, 2020.

The cars certainly got used. Watching the movie would clearly tell so. The on-track and in-car footage wowed audiences around the world. After production, the cars needed TLC.

“The cars came back in very rough condition, rock chips, chipped chrome, windshields, but they ran flawlessly.” Stander noted.

Superformance is also producing a series of ‘cinema series’ cars. Though not in the movie themselves, the limited run of 100 cars include Shelby Cobra roadsters, Daytona Coupes and GT40s that follow similar specifications of the cars used in the movie and will be included in the Shelby Registry.

How did Stander feel about watching cars his companies built on the big screen?

“It’s so cool,” he said. “I sometimes have to pinch myself because it is amazing what I’m doing – and dealing with, in my opinion, the best race cars in the world. If you haven’t, go see the movie!”

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Car Culture

Hagerty renews license to drive program for teens | ClassicCars.com Journal


Hagerty
Teens who submit short videos are eligible for driver-training scholarship program | Hagerty photo

Hagerty is renewing its “License to the Future” program that offers $500 driver-training scholarships for teenagers 14-18, the insurance and vehicle value-tracking company has announced.

“We’re thrilled to have supported over 65 aspiring drivers in 2019,” McKeel Hagerty, chief executive, said in a news release. “The responses generated for ‘License to the Future’ demonstrate that young people are, in fact, excited to get behind the wheel. It’s vital that we foster this enthusiasm early on in order to preserve the joy of driving for future generations.”

To apply for one of the grants, teens must submit a 1-minute video or a 300-word essay answering the question, “Why are you excited to drive?”

Submissions should sent to TheShop@Hagerty.com. Funds for the scholarship program are generated through sales of merchandize at Hagerty’s “Shop.”

The first deadline for applicants is March 31, 2020. Subsequent deadlines for applications are June 30, September 30 and December 31.

A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the Web and becoming the author of more than 15 books. In addition to being Editorial Director at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times, writes a weekly automotive feature for The Detroit News and is an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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Car Culture

Lamborghini unveils… not a car, but latest line of men’s wear | ClassicCars.com Journal


Lambo
Lamborghini posed a Huracán Evo to help attract attention to its latest men’s fashion line | Lamborghini photos

Automakers typically unveil their latest vehicles at major auto shows, concours d’elegance or even the Consumer Electronics Show. Automobili Lamborghini used the Pitti Uomo international men’s fashion show to unveil its “total-look collection” for fall-winter 2020-2021.

That’s “collection” as in clothing.

A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the Web and becoming the author of more than 15 books. In addition to being Editorial Director at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times, writes a weekly automotive feature for The Detroit News and is an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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Car Culture

‘Ford v Ferrari’ gains Oscar nominations | ClassicCars.com Journal


Oscar
Matt Damon (left) played Carroll Shelby and Christian Bale played Ken Miles in ‘Ford v Ferrari,’ which has been nominated for the best picture Oscar | Fox Studios image

Ford v Ferrari, the movie that is more about the bond between team manager Carroll Shelby and driver Ken Miles than it is about the battle at Le Mans between two car companies, has been nominated as one of nine finalists for the 2020 Academy Award as best picture, the academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced.

The movie also is one of five finalists for the Oscar for sound mixing, and production team members  Michael McCusker and Andrew Buckland were nominated for the Oscar for film editing, and Don Sylvester for sound editing.

The movie Joker led all films with 11 nominations, one more than either The Irishman, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood or 1917.

A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the Web and becoming the author of more than 15 books. In addition to being Editorial Director at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times, writes a weekly automotive feature for The Detroit News and is an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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Auctions, Bullitt, Bullitt Mustang, Car Culture, Ford Mustang, Mecum Auctions, Steve McQueen, World Record

Bullitt hammers for $3.4MM at Mecum Kissimmee — A new record! | ClassicCars.com Journal


Bullitt Mustang
Hero car Bullitt Mustang will be on display at Dallas auction | Mecum Auctions photos

Everyone said it would set the new record for Mustangs and possibly muscle cars alike. The Steve McQueen Bullitt Mustang GT certainly raised the bar for Mustangs. At the end of the bidding the hammer price of $3.4 Million not only broke records, but wowed the throngs of spectators that crowded the Osceola Heritage Park Hall in Kissimmee, Florida. There’s been a lot of speculation. Now we know.

The pricey 1968 Highland Green GT was walked in like a prizefighter. Known as the the “hero” car used in filming. It was used for closeups and driving scenes, while an identical Mustang was setup as a stunt car. That stunt car was essentially wrecked from an arduous schedule of “gags” on set.

The Ford Mustang driven by Steve McQueen in Bullitt has inspired countless tributes. | Warner Brothers ScreenshotThe Ford Mustang driven by Steve McQueen in Bullitt has inspired countless tributes. | Warner Brothers Screenshot
The Ford Mustang driven by Steve McQueen in Bullitt has inspired countless tributes. | Warner Brothers Screenshot

When Ford unveiled the new 2019 Mustang Bullitt model during a press preview before the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January 2018, they also unveiled the actual Bullitt Mustang in its original survivor petina.

Robert Kiernan had bought it as simply a used car in 1974. He knew of the car’s provenance, but the collector car market was different then and this car was not any more valuable than any other Mustang at the time. The car has been in the possession of the family since.
The car was driven for years by Robert’s wife, Robbie, as her daily to her job as a schoolteacher.

The first-ever Shelby Cobra still holds the muscle record of $13.75 Million, sold by RM Sothebys at Monterey 2016.

Previous articleOur celebrity obsession: The Paul Walker Collection at Barrett-Jackson

Tom Stahler is the Managing Editor of the ClassicCars.com Journal. Tom has a lifelong love of cars and motor racing – beginning with the 1968 USRRC race at Road America, in a stroller, at eight months of age. His words, photos and broadcasts can can be found on a myriad of media. He has won the Motor Press Guild’s Dean Batchelor Award and a Gold Medal in the International Automotive Media Awards.

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Car Culture, Jeff Stork, Palm Springs Modernism Week

Classic cars have their place in Palm Springs’ Modernism Week events


Editor’s note: In February, Palm Springs, California, stages its annual Modernism Week, a festival celebrating  midcentury architecture, art, fashion, design and culture. But wait, there’s more: In October, there’s a Modernism Week Fall Preview weekend that highlights the automobiles of the era with the Cul de Sac Experience and the Casual Concours. To whet your appetite for both weeks, John Grafman caught up with Cul de Sac Experience curator Jeff Stork.

The Cul de Sac Experience has become one of the highlights of the Modernism Week’s Fall Preview, at least for those that have a drop of motor oil in their veins. This event in Palm Springs, California, is a blend of architecture and automobiles of the same period. Actually, this takes the concept to the next step, as this is totally immersive with all the homes in state of the art (1950s) condition, many of which are open for viewing. The homes are very much in step with the mid-century modern flair, from the materials to the small details and art.

This gathering can’t happen just anywhere, as the towering mountains provide a majestic backdrop that’s timeless. This is probably as close to time traveling as one can get.

AutoDesignO tackles the gregarious Jeff Stork, former General Motors marketing team member and now a private-collection curator and automotive writer who also is curator for Modernism Week’s Cul de Sac Experience.

Walking down the sidewalk of the Cul de Sac Experience at Modernism Weeks Fall Preview is like a walk back in time. What part does automotive play in discussing Mid Century Modern?

Stork: Automotive styling is fashion stamped in steel. It’s an indelible date stamp. With an architecturally preserved structure, the right car is the strongest visual element to creating a time capsule experience. From there add the clothes, the music, the accessories and go as far as your team is willing.

How did you get involved, and how challenging was it getting the right cars for this event? Why were these particular autos special in telling the story?

Stork: Cul de Sac Experience started by accident in Tom Dolle’s (of Tom Dolle Design) kitchen. His house was on a home tour, and he had his ‘67 Pontiac convertible in his driveway. He asked if I would bring over a couple of period-appropriate cars to park at neighboring houses. I showed up with a ‘64 Riviera and a two-tone ‘59 Olds with crazy tail fins. We looked through his kitchen window at the scene and knew what we had to do. And people went crazy over them all day. We knew we were on to something.

What are the hallmarks of mid century design that carry over from architecture to automotive?

Stork: Both reflect the era they are conceived in, and both focus on line and perspective. In the late forties, the International style with its clean geometry seemed to be moving faster than the roundish cars did. But then automobiles became inspired by rockets, and by the late ‘50s — with the advent of the tail fin — the car caught up.  

The selection of cars at the Cul de Sac Experience is memorable, in part because of the styling, but also due to being so well preserved. Are these the anomaly in the Palm Springs area, or is the desert home to a treasure trove of nicely preserved, mid-century Detroit metal?

Stork: The desert has a surprising number beautifully kept cars. I rely on a small set of carefully curated collections. The first time I drew pretty heavily from our own collection, but now people even reach out to us. Once the theme is decided, I pick out the cars that best support the statement we are trying to make, and then I start calling owners. No one has ever said no. Not once. It’s amazing. It’s like being part of a Cul de Sac Family.

This isn’t the first time that Modernism Week has featured the Cul de Sac experience, and it’s clear that period-correct cars help to re-create the era. Should MW expand upon the pairing of cars and homes?

Stork: The important thing to realize is that Cul de Sac is a Time Capsule Experience. So the cars are very important, but so are the clothes, the music and the period accessories. I’ve talked about curated car displays in Modernism Seminars and have helped on other tours, but it’s more than just plunking an old car in a driveway. It’s about selecting the most appropriate choices for a specific tour, and then supporting them with as many period elements as you can. That makes for a memorable tour.

What are some of your personal favorite cars from the late ‘50s and early ‘60s (and why are they standouts)?

Stork: You can pretty much tell my taste from the Cul de Sac display. I love the crazy tail-finned 1959 GM cars so much — they’re more like rocket ships with wheels than automobiles, but they were late to the party and fell from grace quickly.

The Sixties had such refinement. The sporty yet upscale four-place Thunderbird, The elegant 1961 Lincoln Continental with its center-opening doors, the razor-chic 1963 Buick Riviera, the Mustang which transformed the compact car experience, and the iconic Avanti, which of course was designed right here in Palm Springs.

Modernism Week 2020 is scheduled February 13-23. For information, visit the Modernism Week website. This year the week includes several car-centric events, including a presentation by author Susan Skarsgard on “Where Today Meets Tomorrow — Eero Saarinen & the General Motors Technical Center, a presentation by author William Knoedelseder on “Fins: Harley Earl and the Rise of General Motors and the Auto Industry,” and another by author Gabrielle Esperdy on “Greetings from Autopia: Architecture, Urbanism & the Roadside Metropolis.”

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