Tom recently flew to Austin to join his friend, Lee Pratt, on a road trip in Lee's '55 Chevy Nomad. They headed to Baltimore to attend the 3rd annual RodderThe back story is that Tom and Lee have been friends since they both showed custom cars in the sixties. In 1967, Lee approached Tom about painting this same Nomad and, as a result, their collaboration won paint awards at over a dozen shows across the country. Lee sold the car, regretted the decision soon after, and spent the subsequent decades trying to find it and buy it back. He was convinced that it had been through the crusher because all promising leads turned up nothing.
Four years ago Lee started building an exact copy of the car. He was over half done with the “clone”, when a man who had the original car, recognized it and found Lee on the net. They struck a deal and Lee had his Nomad back. Those who know the value of the highly collectable “55 Nomad have told them that this car was in the worst condition of any junk Nomad they have ever seen. Lee abandoned and sold the “clone” Nomad. Then, he disassembled the original car down to the bare frame and rebuilt the it from the ground up, replacing over half of the parts. Last winter, the car was 95% complete when Tom went to Austin to help Lee with the paint job, 46 years to the month that they had done the original paint job! The car had 100 miles on the odometer when they left for Baltimore!
In the hotel parking lot the first night. Notice the bug debris on the front of the hood. The Nomad has hydraulic front suspension which allows for a lower stance when it’s in a show, but is raised in this photo for adequate ground clearance. Tom reports that Lee has learned over the years how to create a car that rides low while also having a smooth ride. The cushy 1950’s seat was like a sofa and after riding all day, Tom said his back felt better than it has for decades of riding in “modern" car seats!
At each stop, people were taking phone shots of the car! At this gas station, a man approached Tom and asked, “Whose paint did you use?”. He said, “I don’t know, probably House of Color. What kind is it, Lee?”. Lee said, “PPG!”. Then they both saw the PPG Paint Company Logo on his company golf shirt! He was happy and Lee kiddingly “asked for some free paint”.
Arriving in the Baltimore/DC area, they drove to their friend Richard Glymph’s house in Silver Springs for the evening. Several other cars convened there as well and Richard's excellent back yard provided a great backdrop. The green Model A sedan was to have accompanied Lee and Tom from Austin, but they weren’t able leave until the next day, so they arrived trouble-free at Richard’s the following day.
The first official show activity was on Thursday night. The show producers managed to secure parking for 200 of the show's cars on the harbor waterfront in the very popular Fell's point. It is an historic district with narrow cobblestone streets. The cobblestones arrived in Baltimore from Europe being used as ballast in wooden sailing ships.
The 1932 Ford below was driven from San Francisco by its owner, Roy Brizio. He operates a second generation hot rod building company started by his father Andy, in the 70’s. Roy is known for building specialty cars for ordinary millionaires as well as celebrities such as Reggie Jackson and Eric Clapton. Roy is himself a rockstar in the car building world. He normally sends a large semi-truck loaded with his cars to all the large shows as a booth. It takes the attraction of a special show for Roy to drive his car across the country for fun and leave the booth at home.
The cloudiness and rain of Wednesday and Thursday gave way to sunny conditions for the Friday morning cruise to the Havre de Grace area along the Chesapeake Bay. This exquisite pin striping job still carried a coat of early morning dew! Over 200 cars participated in the parade and there were camera phones aimed their way at every intersection. They all laughed as Tom started hanging out the window with his camera, shooting them taking their picture!
This shot was taken out of the back window of the Nomad during the cruise. The black car is owned by new friends, Scott and Jane. It’s a total showcar work of art, much too perfect to be driven much and risk damage, but they drive it a lot of miles anyway! Riding with Brian in the Model A are new friends Bruce and Clive. They flew over from London just for this show and for the Race of Gentlemen the following weekend. They had planned on taking their rental car on the cruise until Brian offered a ride!
Clive was instrumental in setting up the first hot hod beach racing in England many years ago. Their event inspired the Race of Gentlemen started just three years ago. It has quickly became one of the bucket list items for hot rod fans in this country.
One of the main problems with shooting a car show is that the background is usually messy, with other cars, people, wrong lighting, etc. In the shade, you can barely read the license plate. It means that the car was an old race car “exhumed” from the junkyard and given new life as a show car!
As a first time photo-shoot organizer, Tom was flying by the seat of his pants! First of all, when he asked several cars to stay late, he did not know that the organizers would be on the PA system announcing that all cars must leave the grounds by 6:00. Not really a problem since Tom knows the organizers and all was fine, they “let themselves out”. But at least one of Tom’s favorite cars obediently left the grounds as both he and Tom missed out on a great opportunity.
The car below was Tom’s favorite car in the show, owned by his new friend, Kevin. The car, a ’63 Buick Riviera, has had extensive, but subtle alterations.
Below is Tom’s crew saying goodbyes before heading back to the hotel. The barely visible orange ’58 Thunderbird is owned by Richard and his son Brandon. The blue ’62 Impala is Richard’s, while the Green Impala belongs to Brandon’s girlfriend. Tom wound up driving the green one home as she had left early.
Below is a full shot of Richard’s Thunderbird in front of their hotel. It is one of Tom’s favorite shots. The 1958 Ford “Squarebird” is extremely rare (when’s the last time you saw one?).
That is all for my blog. More cars from Rodder's Journal Revival can be found on Tom's website: tomdavisonart.com. Head over there if you would like more eye candy!!