A host of interesting and unique rods, customs and automotive memorabilia will be up for grabs next weekend at Auctions America’s California Auction. The event takes place Friday, July 17th and Saturday, July 18th at Barker Hanger in the beachfront Southern California town of Santa Monica. Among the lots that caught our attention were a ’59 Impala barn find custom; the ’31 Chevy “Mechanix Illustrated Special” and Hemi-powered Sorrell-Manning sports rods; an ultra-clean ’65 Riviera; and even some original artwork by Von Dutch and Roth Studios. We’ll bring you more on these and others next week, but first we wanted to highlight what is probably the most unique custom crossing the block: the “Beatnik” bubbletop.
Owned by TV personality, custom car collector and friend of TRJ, Barry Weiss, the Beatnik is one of the modern era’s most notable bubbletop customs–and it’s sure to draw a lot of attention and action on the auction floor. It was originally completed in 2005, when it snatched one award after the next, including the Fresno Autorama Sweepstakes, a Top 5 at Paso Robles, Outstanding Custom and Barris Kustom d’Elegance at the ’06 GNRS and many others. You may have even caught it creeping down the highways and byways of America on Barry’s television series, “Barry’d Treasure.”
Builder Gary “Chopit” Fioto has a long list of notable rods, customs and motorcycles to his name, but the ’55 Ford-based Beatnik is by far the most radical. Harking back to the ’50s and ’60s show rods built by the likes of Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, Darryl Starbird and others, every panel on the Ford body was sliced, diced, tweaked or discarded and completely re-imagined. A tinted Lexan bubble rests where the top once was. Sculpted skirts front and rear cloak chrome reverse steel wheels wrapped in Coker whitewall radials. Canted-quad headlights from a ’60 Lincoln flank the custom-bullet grille, while same-year Chrysler taillights bring up the rear. When the dust settled, not a panel on the old Ford’s body escaped the torch.
Poking through the pancaked hood is a 350-inch smallblock Chevy mounting six twos on a cross-ram intake. It’s detailed to the hilt, with finned Mooneyes valve covers, stainless steel lines and tons of chrome offsetting the gold-painted block and heads. A ’99 Lincoln Town Car donated its underpinnings, which are fitted with hydraulic lifts a la Ron Aguirre’s “X-Sonic” bubbletop. Now the metallic lavender custom rides low and parks even lower for an absolutely otherworldly profile.
Inside, the Beatnik combines jet-age styling with classic ’50s custom cues (with a little modern technology thrown in for good measure). A custom console housing a DVD-equipped television sits among yards of pearl white Naugahyde, and a massive, center-mounted gauge pod fills the dash. While the bubbletops of the past got a little toasty under the sun, the Beatnik is equipped with air conditioning to keep things cool–making it a show and go custom for the ages.
The Beatnik will cross the block next Saturday, July 18th on the final day of the two-day California Auction. We’ll have more on this exciting event, including some of the other hot rods and customs being offered, in a newsletter next week. In the meantime, you can click here for more information and to download Auctions America’s digital auction catalog.