(originally posted 11/24/2012) I had just lost my job at a well-known New York design house and was looking for a way to make some bucks to finance a trip to Spain to work on a documentary film with one of my college buddies. I found a job close to home in South Norwalk, CT at an eclectic joint that did a variety of auto-related stuff. We installed sun roofs; we did high-end custom interiors; we armor-plated all sorts of vehicles; we built riot control trucks (basically a self-propelled water reservoir and fire hose powered by a Mopar 318—great for knocking pissed-off Chileños off their feet and into the gutter); we designed and built a Lincoln for the Shah of Iran who liked Nixon’s ride; and we pumped out a ton of Pimpmobiles.
I had been hired to prepare presentation boards for the Shah’s car. It had an incredible number of sub-systems that were to be built into the car, everything from life support, armor, communications, and upgraded performance. The chassis, engine and driveline were sent to Holman and Moody in Charlotte, NC to be upgraded/hardened to handle the substantially weightier package.
I had been tipped off to the job possibility by another former co-worker. We both worked on the Shah’s presentation and I made the princely sum of $5 an hour. My friend’s name was Vince but the Bavarian owner of the shop couldn’t handle that, so Vince was always “Wince”. I’m not sure the owner, I can’t remember his name, ever knew mine. Probably not. But Wince and I cranked out the presentation boards. The highlight of our day was when WOR radio in NYC began broadcasting the Bob and Ray show in the afternoon. Let’s say our productivity took a nosedive towards the end of the day, we were too busy cracking up at Bob and Ray’s exceedingly dry humor.
OK, the Shah’s Lincoln was interesting, but the other stuff going on in the shop was far more compelling, notably the ”Pimpmobiles” that the shop cranked out.
Pimpmobile? Don’t know what a Pimpmobile is? Check out Magnum Force, one of the Dirty Harry movies. In that film a pimp (Albert Popwell) drives a Cadillac Eldorado that does a pretty good job of establishing what an early ‘70s Pimpmobile was all about: Super Fly headlights; a fake Rolls Royce grille; an overstuffed landau roof, with, duh, landau irons (that the Dirty Harry car is missing). Plus other bits of gagtastic design details, as if the un-modified cars weren’t bad enough.
We pumped out a steady stream of Eldorados and Marks, but also a bunch of Electra 225s and Lincoln Marks. I don’t remember any Oldsmobiles.
I think that our shop was fairly conservative. Obligatory add-ons were a big assed faux Rolls grille; Super Fly headlights; padded landau top with chromed landau irons (we had our own plasma cutter that cut these things out of half-inch steel plate); a tacked-on Continental blister on the ass end (Continentals didn’t need this addition, but vinyl snakeskin on the bump was appreciated). Shag carpeting on the padded dash was always a good idea, but I’m not sure our shop did that. I don’t recall that we did the Duesenberg-esque side pipes or the fake side mounts, but I’m sure that if the end user wanted them, we were willing to provide whatever crap they wanted. We were high-end whores. I’m sure that we cut in sunroofs to most of the cars.
So who bought this garbage? The Saudis (sunroofs in Saudi Arabia?). We would regularly truck these turds down to the Port of Elizabeth in New Jersey and kiss them goodbye. We couldn’t build enough of these things, but I’m glad most of them headed to the Middle East. There must be a huge junkyard over there with a whole bunch of crappy US iron. Pimped out with padded landau tops and SuperFly headlights.
At the time I was the happy owner of a Fiat 128. Nuff said.