Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Automotive Historian and Archivist Ron Kellogg with Chad Glass
pictured above: Ron Kellogg and Chad Glass with hood of 1965 Buick Riviera in foreground
Today I drove over to Ron Kellogg's house in Whittier to talk about some things and be among his archives. Since my completion of the poster for Stephen Mitchell's "Carrera Panamericana (1950-54)" this was our first meeting one-to-one. And as I was en route to his home, I went with the anticipation of a kid going to a toy store. Alas, my artist self had to be fed, and the guilty pleasure beckoned: I'd be talking about cars all day with a bona fide and involved car (and army) veteran --someone who was there to experience major automotive historical events. He's owned multiple Ferraris, a Talbot Lagot, Bugatti, Scarab, some one-offs (among them a one-of-a-kind blue Aerodyne, hand-built and designed like a late 30's French streamliner, that was in his garage); many others unknown to me.
I initially met Ron through Stephen Mitchell, whose Elysee' Wednesday meetings (in Westwood at the Elysee' Bakery, and then on Sunset Strip at Cafe Primo) would bring in a perpetual rotation of like-minded people. One particular night sometime last summer I arrived a bit late at the cafe to discover this guy sitting there talking in vivid detail about vintage Ferraris. Spoken in tonally well-articulated stories I instantly knew he was not only an owner and a driver of sports cars but an automotive historian. He introduced himself as Ron Kellogg and I immediately remembered his name.
Upon arrival at his place, he and his wife, Sonya, warmly greeted and treated me to lunch. Over lunch he confided he had owned over 300 cars. He spoke of cars I was aware of and some I'd never heard of. To my delight, Sonya revealed her penchant for a lead foot while driving Ferraris and Porches. I thought she was kidding initially but as we kept talking I realized she wasn't. After that Ron and I repaired back to his office, which revealed to be more of a giant "area." I only expected to have fun but when I began walking deeper into the surroundings I was bombarded with automotive visual stimuli. Vintage art and posters adorned the walls among shelves and files brimming with inconceivably voluminous amounts of printed material and scale models. Several car engines were standing among his archival premises. Banners and thousands of things in every corner invited me further in.
Easing into the center of the space, we chatted a while among his collections and then he flipped on a light switch. Something lit up on a wall behind a partially pulled-back dark yellow curtain, a glass wall. I didn't quite understand the spatial relationship as the area was strange to me. But what lit up was apparently a garage alcove with a perfect, sea-foam-green-metallic, 1965 Buick Riviera sitting in there. Was the Buick in his house? In a garage? We made our way into the Buick's stall and he said it was an unrestored original. The paint (which I touched with the non-oily back of my finger) felt as new as a baby's ass. He said the Riviera was "a keeper" in light of his having owned hundreds of other makes (and later on he had another "wall" rise up to reveal open space to the outside, overlooking the land below as seen in the picture accompanying this article).
We spent the next 6 hours chatting and going through some of his files. In that time I was perpetually occupied with investigating and discovering and discussing and brainstorming with Ron. I made scans of some photographs, some of which nobody has seen published before, and we called it a day. Among many things that he is, Ron is a curator and historian and one of the nicest guys I've met. The archival footage for the "Carrera Panamericana" poster were his and I thanked him for it. As the day slipped into evening my head was reeling. We parted knowing I had to return as I felt I had barely begun even though we had explored through hours of material.