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    In 1979, the pop world was agog over a New Wave band fronted by an aggressive and slightly loopy blonde female singer known as Debbie Harry. The band was Blondie. Their hits were legion. From the breakthrough album "Parallel Lines" in 1978 alone they had "Hanging On the Telephone,""One Way or Another," Sunday Girl" and "Heart of Glass." Blondie's band accrued several more hit songs before the decade was over. It wasn't an easy road to the top. Blondie was formed after the fall out of Debbie's previous band, The Stilettos in the summer of 1974. Debbie Harry and her partner/collaborator, Chris Stein, were Stiletto band members but the girl fronted doo woop band wasn't having much success getting gigs, let alone a record deal.

    Blondie was a new start, christened by the nick name passer bys always called Debbie. She liked it, thought it was catchy and suitable for the kind of music she envisioned the new band playing. The Punk rock scene from England was starting to affect New York City clubs and Blondie was hanging around with early fans of the music including Richard Hell, The Ramones and Television. Blondie also remained friends with the New York Dolls and The Magic Tramps who represented the Glam Rock scene. Through this entire period of transition and growth towards becoming major music stars. Debbie Harry drove a classic pony car; a 1967 Chevrolet Camaro coupe.

    Of course back in the early 1970s, it was just a used car. Debbie described it as "an inheritance from her Mother." She didn't have enough money to properly take care of it and living in apartment buildings in the roughest part of New York City didn't do the car any favors. Debbie owned it from her arrival in New York in 1971 all through the Stiletto band era. She mentions the car in a poem she wrote during this time. Debbie's car contributed greatly to keeping body and soul together. She mentions how convenient it was to have transportation for gigs and the luxury of enjoying trips to the beach or Coney Island during the summer. The sport coupe was often parked on Washington Street in Tribeca in 1974. Debbie had to hustle the car around to avoid being towed by the city for vagrancy. It meant waking up at 6.30 AM to get out and move it before the tow trucks ambled down the street.Later on it spent time in the Bowery district and on 17th Street. Not real pleasant places for a car to be parked out doors.

    From 1974 through 1977, Blondie rehearsed, did club dates at places like CBGB's, performed strings of one-nighters and eventually flew out to Los Angeles California for an important meet and greet with music legends, David Bowie, Ray Manzerek and record producers. They signed with Private Stock records and made a few albums before signing with Chrysalis Records. The band was often touring and they rented station wagons and Winnebagos for road trips as far away as Montreal, Quebec. For their tour of England, Blondie went by jet of course. the cold hard reality of traveling is bus, plane, tractor trailers or train. Blondie used all of those. The 1967 Camaro was used when Debbie was back in New York City, by this time living in 17th Street apartment which had suffered a terrible fire. The Camaro came through once more by providing a place to wait while Chris Stein opened the apartment windows to get rid of soot and gas fumes that had flooded their apartment in the Bowery. This near death by smoke and gas inhalation happened in wintertime at night. So a Camaro's heater was a very good thing to have!

    All good things come to an end. Debbie's car was in poor health. The front end caved in from parking mishaps. The transmission was none too healthy and prone to miss shifts, failed on May 16th 1977 just before Blondie was to leave for their Tour in England. The front clutch pack had failed completely leaving just Reverse and Park. Debbie drove backwards down the Avenue of the Americas into a garage. Later that day Debbie had someone named Vinnie tend to the car and get it repaired while she was on tour. Blondie was in England from May to June 3rd. When they returned she asked what happened to the car. Vinnie said it was towed to a scrapyard for destruction as it was too far gone to repair. The scrapyard wouldn't take the car without an ownership title. Debbie didn't have it with her so the car was driven off a cliff. Debbie was sad to see that part of her life vanish. She wrote a song called "I'm On E"about it. So all those years fans listening to it thought it might have been about the club drug Ecstasy? Wrong, it was about her car! You really should've been listening to the lyrics. She mentions her car and trip to England, her loaning it to a guy named Vinnie, the repair bill.

    Yes, about the car. Debbie's Camaro was a base model 1967 sport coupe. It had the standard interior door panels, bucket seats, AM radio with fixed antenna, full wheel covers, and a column shift transmission.I can't even tell you if it was a six cylinder or V8 because the one picture Debbie has of it she's parked her butt where the engine call out emblem is on the front fender. Although it was pushed off the edge of a cliff somewhere in New Jersey in 1977, I doubt it was left there for long.Most likely it was parted out and pieces of it are in other Camaro owner's cars. New Jersey is so fanatical about licencing issues that there's no chance of it being replated and driven in that State. It'd have to go back to New York or some other State to get a second chance at life. Only, who would bother with a used up Camaro in 1977? I think it's safe to assume this is another Lost Star Car. Somewhere in the fens of New Jersey.

    The weird thing about Debbie Harry is a strange tie in with Marilyn Monroe.Debbie Harry was adopted. She didn't know her real parents. She had a strong liking for Marilyn. After her high school years, Debbie modeled and became a waitress in Max's Kansas City, a well known restaurant featuring lots of celebs and underground stars like Andy Warhol, Nico, Ultra Violet and Candy Darling. It's almost as if she was being groomed to enter a seamier 1960s version of the avante garde film world. Debbie quit the waitress gig not long after Woodstock's famous festival happened. She eventually returned to music making in NYC around 1972. She dyed her hair blonde. The World got to know Debbie Harry as Blondie, the New Wave Sex Goddess. Like Marilyn, Debbie posed for pictures in and around an awful lot of cars in the 1970s. This might lead some to think she owned them. These were for the most part, jolly japes taken for fun and as a punk rocker's version of tourist shots.

    article copyright 2013 by Patrick Smith. Pictures by PHS Media Archives.

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  • 07/04/14--09:00: Honda 750 Nighthawk by AdHoc

  • Right now, the epicenter of the European custom scene is Spain. The Iberian Peninsula is already famous for its petrolhead culture, which has spawned legions of MotoGP stars—and we’re now seeing a growing number of workshops transforming older bikes into drop-dead gorgeous traffic stoppers.

    Shops like Café Racer Dreams, Kiddo, Macco Motors, Valtoron and El Solitario are pushing the custom envelope in different and refreshing ways. A relative newcomer to the gang is Ad Hoc, the nom de plume of David Gonzalez—creator of this stylish Honda 750 Nighthawk.

    Gonzalez’ trick is to pick solid but somewhat clunky bikes, and give them a touch of class. This Nighthawk was his second build and until now has flown under the rader, being the the ‘shop bike’ until a customer took a fancy to it. 
After a repaint, Gonzalez has just waved the bike goodbye.

    The Nighthawk 750 is the classic Universal Japanese Motorcycle: functional, well engineered and slightly dowdy. So Gonzalez retained just the engine and the central section of the chassis. The handling has been upgraded via forks from a Suzuki GSX-R750 and the wheels from a Ducati GT1000.

    Gonzalez sandblasted and repainted the frame before hooking it up to a new swingarm and subframe. Sitting up top is a long, squared-off tank from Europlast, molded in the endurance racer style. The seat is a modified Bultaco TSS item, retrimmed in brown nappa leather and the perfect match for the angular bodywork—a signature of Ad Hoc’s style.

    There is rarely anything wrong with the engine of a Nighthawk, which makes an ample 75 hp. So Gonzalez has simply refreshed it, restored the stock header pipes, and hooked them up to slim custom mufflers.


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  • 07/06/14--09:00: John Britten and The V1000

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  • 07/06/14--11:00: Jaguar XKSS

  • The Jaguar XKSS was a road-going version of the Jaguar D-Type racing car.

    After Jaguar withdrew from racing the company offered the remaining, unfinished chassis as the road-going Jaguar XKSS, by making changes to the racers: adding an extra seat, another door, a full-width windscreen and folding top, as concessions to practicality. However, on the evening of 12 February 1957, a fire broke out at the Browns Lane plant destroying nine of the twenty-five cars that had already been completed or were semi-completed. Production is thought to have included 53 customer D-types, 18 factory team cars, and 16 XKSS versions.

    Following Jaguar's withdrawal from competition at the end of the 1955 season, a number of completed and partially complete D-types remained unsold at the Browns Lane factory. In an attempt to recoup some of the investment made in building these unused chassis, and to exploit the lucrative American market for high-performance European sports cars, Sir William Lyons decided to convert a number to full road-going specification. Only minor changes were made to the basic D-type structure: the addition of a passenger side door, the removal of the large fin behind the driver's seat, and the removal of the divider between passenger and driver seats. In addition, changes were made for cosmetic, comfort and legal reasons: a full-width, chrome-surrounded windscreen was added; sidescreens were added to both driver and passenger doors; a rudimentary, folding, fabric roof was added for weather protection; chromed bumpers were added front and rear (a styling cue later used on the E-type); XK140 rear light clusters mounted higher on the wings; and thin chrome strips added to the edge of the front light fairings. In total 16 XKSS variants were made, with most being sold in the USA, before the Browns Lane fire destroyed the remaining chassis

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  • 07/07/14--09:00: Santini TT 1988

  • A Time Trial bike build by the small italian manufacturer Santini with a 26/28 geometry (front wheel is a 650C, rear wheel a 700C), short chainstays for a good acceleration, very stiff and lightweight - columbus tubing. Equiped with a complete 7 speed Shimano 105 group, Ambrosio Montreal Medaille d'Or rims, a beautyful nitto njs stem, a special turbo bio saddle, a rare 3ttt tt handlebar with syntace tt handlebar extension and syntace computer extension. The frame looks like completely chromed. This bike is uncompromising fast.


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  • 07/07/14--11:00: Sidecar chase

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    The O.E.C. was an unusual motorcycle, using 'duplex' steering; an OEC trademark, although not all of their bikes used this system. The advantages of this arcane steering system on these early motorcycles was great stability at speed, plus the possibility of front wheel suspension which didn't alter the steering geometry when compressed by bumps, giving totally 'neutral' steering under all conditions. In practical use, the OEC chassis was reported to be very stable indeed, although resistant to steering input! So, while potholes and broken surfaces brought no front wheel deflection, neither did a hard push on the handlebars...perfect for a speed record chassis actually.

    Joe Wright had already taken the Motorcycle Land Speed Record with the OEC, back on August 31st at Arpajon, France, at 137.32mph (see top photo with news story), but Henne and his BMW had the cheek to snatch the Record by a mere .3mph, on Septermber 20th. That November day was unlucky for Wright and the team, as the Woodruff key which fixed the crankshaft sprocket sheared off, and the OEC was unable to complete the required two-direction timed runs to take the Record. As you can see in the photo below, the engine mainshaft drove the supercharger as well as the primary chain/gearbox, and was a one-off for which there was presumably no replacement, with probably no time for repair in any case.

    Supercharging a v-twin motorcycle is a difficult business, as the compressor blows fuel/air mix at a constant rate into a shared inlet manifold for both cylinders, but as the cylinders aren't evenly spaced physically (as they are on a BMW, for instance), one cylinder inevitably gets a much bigger 'puff' of built-up pressure. Figuring out how to accommodate a different charge for each cylinder led to all sorts of compromises, from restricting the inlet port of one cylinder, to the use of different camshafts/compression ratios/valve sizes for each cylinder, in an effort to keep one cylinder from doing all the 'work' and overheating. It was an imperfect science, as supercharging was still relatively new to motorcycles, and only a handful of blown motorcycles were truly 'sorted out' for racing or record-breaking before WW2. Typically, these had flat-twin or four-cylinder engines, with even intake pulses! (Although, of course Moto Guzzi, typical of their genius at the time, had a lovely 250cc ohc blown single-cylinder which worked a treat).

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  • 07/08/14--11:00: Fast Freddie

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  • 07/09/14--09:00: Lockheed A-12

  • The Lockheed A-12 was a reconnaissance aircraft built for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) by Lockheed's famed Skunk Works, based on the designs of Clarence "Kelly" Johnson. The aircraft was designated A-12, the 12th in a series of internal design efforts with the A referring to "Archangel", the internal code name of the aircraft. It competed in the CIA's Oxcart program against the Convair Kingfish proposal in 1959, and won for a variety of reasons.

    The A-12's specifications were slightly better than those of the Kingfish, and its projected cost was significantly less. Convair's design had the smaller radar cross section, however, and CIA's representatives initially favored it for that reason. The companies' respective track records proved decisive. Convair's work on the B-58 had been plagued with delays and cost overruns, whereas Lockheed had produced the U-2 on time and under budget. In addition, it had experience running a “black” project.

    The A-12 was produced from 1962 to 1964, and was in operation from 1963 until 1968. It was the precursor to the twin-seat U.S. Air Force YF-12 prototype interceptor, M-21 drone launcher, and the famous SR-71 Blackbird reconnaissance aircraft. The A-12's final mission was flown in May 1968, and the program and aircraft retired in June of that year. The program was officially revealed in the mid-1990s.

    Over the life of the Oxcart project, the participating US government departments and officials associated the project name "Oxcart" specifically with the A-12. An Agency officer later wrote, "OXCART was selected from a random list of codenames to designate this R&D and all later work on the A-12. The aircraft itself came to be called that as well." The crews named the A-12 the Cygnus which was suggested by the pilot Jack Weeks to follow the Lockheed practice of naming aircraft after celestial bodies, and was the code-name given to the A-12 during testing

    When the U-2 became operational in 1956, CIA officials estimated that it would be able to safely overfly the Soviet Union for no more than two years. When the Soviets demonstrated the capability of tracking and attempting to intercept the U-2,Richard Bissell was so concerned about the U-2s vulnerability that he asked DCI Allen Dulles for permission to establish an advisory committee, headed by Edwin H. Land, which became known as the Land Panel, to assist in the selection of a successor aircraft. To prolong the U-2s operational capabilities Lockheed introduced a number of modifications, called "Trapeze", to the U-2. This included the use of wires and paints impregnated with tiny iron ferrite beads. ECM systems were also introduced at this time. U-2s with these enhancements were called "Dirty Birds" and the program was not successful in substantially reducing the radar cross-section (RCS) of the aircraft. A completely new aircraft with stealth characteristics integrated into the design would have to be conceived.

    With the failure of the CIA's Project Rainbow to reduce the RCS of the U-2, preliminary work began inside Lockheed in late 1957 to develop a follow-on aircraft to overfly the Soviet Union. Under Project Gusto the designs were nicknamed "Archangel", after the U-2 program, which had been known as "Angel". As the aircraft designs evolved and configuration changes occurred, the internal Lockheed designation changed from Archangel-1 to Archangel-2, and so on. These names for the evolving designs soon simply became known as "A-1", "A-2", etc. The CIA program to develop the follow-on aircraft to the U-2 was code-named Oxcart.

    These designs had reached the A-11 stage when the program was reviewed. The A-11 was competing against a Convair proposal called Kingfish, of roughly similar performance. However, the Kingfish included a number of features that greatly reduced its RCS, which was seen as favorable to the board. While Convair prepared for production and struggled with aerodynamic issues, Lockheed pursued its own design efforts on a high-speed, high-altitude reconnaissance platform. Lockheed's own designs evolved from A-4 through A-11. The first three configurations, A-4 through A-6, were smaller, self-launched aircraft with vertical surfaces hidden above the wing. The aircraft employed a variety of propulsion schemes that included turbojets, ramjets, and rockets. None met the required mission radius of 2,000 nautical miles (3,700 kilometres), leading Lockheed to conclude that maximum performance and low radar cross section were mutually exclusive. The A-10 and A-11 configurations were larger aircraft that also focused on performance at the expense of radar cross section. The more refined A-11 was submitted by Lockheed at the next Land Panel review. When the A-11 was rejected by the Land Panel review, Lockheed responded with a simple update of the A-11, adding twin canted fins instead of a single right-angle one, and adding a number of areas of non-metallic materials. This became the A-12 design. On 26 January 1960, the CIA ordered twelve A-12 aircraft.

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  • 07/09/14--11:00: Rainey

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    Morgan 4/4 was the Morgan Motor Company's first car with four wheels. It appeared in 1936. Its model designation "4-4" (later "4/4") stood for four wheels and four cylinders. Earlier Morgans had been three-wheelers, only, typically with V-twin engines. Apart from a break during World War II (and the period March 1951 to September 1955) the 4/4 has been in continuous production from its debut right up to the present day. Engine capacity has increased from the 1,122 cc Coventry Climax engine in 1936 to a 1.8-litre Ford engine in 2004, although it is currently back down to 1,595 cc.

    The Series II, now the 4/4 rather than the 4-4, was introduced in 1955 with 386 built by October 1960. Although very similar in appearance to the old 4-4 it was virtually a new car with a chassis based on the one used in the Morgan Plus 4. The traditional independent front suspension using sliding pillars and coil springs was fitted with a rigid axle and semi-elliptic leaf springs at the rear. Disc wheels were fitted as standard items.

    A side-valve 1,172 cc Ford 100E engine was used with a Ford three-speed gearbox. The engine produced 36 bhp. Hydraulic brakes with 9 in (229 mm) drums were fitted. It was also available in 40 bhp (30 kW; 41 PS) 'Competition' form with Aquaplane head conversion, twin S.U. carburettors, and an improved gearshift linkage.

    Inside there was a bench seat back and individual squabs covered in PVC, with leather as an option, and rubber floor covering. A heater was available as an option as was a rev counter and more surprisingly, direction indicators.

    In 1956 The Motor magazine tested a Series II and recorded a top speed of 75.3 mph (121.2 km/h), acceleration from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 26.9 seconds and a fuel consumption of 35.1 miles per imperial gallon (8.0 L/100 km; 29.2 mpg-US).

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  • 07/10/14--11:00: The Golden Years

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  • 07/11/14--09:00: Honda SS "Eve" by Bandit9

  • EVE is the latest design from Bandit 9 Motorcycles and will form the beginning of their new operation in Saigon. Anyone who’s ever been to Vietnam, or pretty much anywhere else in South East Asia, will immediately understand the importance of the motorcycle to the local residents.

    In equatorial east Asia motorbikes aren’t weekend rocketships designed for fun, they’re essential tools used by entire families for all of their transportation needs. This difference in perception has led to a relatively small number of custom motorcycle garages popping up in the region, which is something Bandit 9 want to change – their goal is to take the smaller-engined bikes of the Asian urban areas and turn them into world class customs that defy common genres – then sell them at affordable prices.

    EVE is based on a 1967 Honda SS, with an engine capacity ranging from 90cc to 125cc these Hondas are very common on the streets of cities like Saigon and Hanoi, making them an ideal starting point for a new line of customs. Each model will be rebuilt by hand and fitted with classical brass instruments and a hand-formed chrome unibody will give the bike an almost steampunk appeal.

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