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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Tom Meade Update: April 2012 -Part 5

 February in Norway en route to Modena

“I learned electronics in the navy, on North Island, San Diego, my home base. I also went through bootcamp there. As an aircraft electronics engineer, I served for four years on aircraft carriers: two years on the Oriskany, and two years on the Yorktown.

“With my Merchant Marines/Navy I.D., they told me all the freighters leaving from California went to the far East, and that the closest port with passage to Europe was in New Orleans. So I left Newport Beach, California, and hitchhiked, bound for the port at New Orleans with 50 bucks in my pocket. While still in California I was picked up by an Australian, a plumber. Having lived and gone to school in Australia before, he and I hit it off well and became fast friends.

“We both headed straight to New Orleans and got an apartment together in the French Quarter off Bourbon Street, during Mardi Gras. While staying there, there was a break in to our apartment. But it was the police who broke in –breaking down the front door without a warrant, guns drawn. It scared the hell out of us. After scaring us half to death they realized they were looking for someone else.

“After the time in the French Quarter, I found a freighter shipping out of the Port of New Orleans, the SS Nardo, a Norwegian grain freighter. As a mess hall boy, I landed in Stavanger, Norway. And I was sick for the entire 35 days onboard, which was strange. Of the four years I was in the navy I never got seasick. So in order to function I had to make myself throw up before serving food. After a while, of throwing up so often, there was only green bile coming up. Their remedy was a suppository up your butt. But I didn’t do it. It was unappealing to me. But I did feel better in a prone position.

“With the dry heaves, in order to have something to throw up, I had to eat crackers. That was the only way to cope, as the Norwegians do not consider seasickness as an excuse to not perform duties. The way the freighter tossed and rolled, I didn’t know my name anymore. The Norwegians also loved blood pudding, a jello-like serving of fish blood. It stunk and was nauseating. It only helped me to throw up.

“The Norwegians onboard would also be constantly painting the ship with this anti-corrosion silver paint. And it would get everywhere, including the smell. They would go directly from painting to eating. They had paint all over their hands and it wound up on the dishes and silverware. So they would end up eating paint, literally. Already nauseated, I avoided the contaminated dishware as much as possible.

“So immediately upon leaving the shores of America, and with the immediate onset of nausea at sea, I had to adapt to unfamiliar conditions, which is something I have had to do ever since. But the overseas passage seemed endless. As they paid me a seaman’s salary, I earned only very little money at sea. When the Nardo finally arrived at port it was in the dead of winter. 

“From Stavanger, I resumed my hitchhiking towards Oslo. All was quiet. I stayed on the highway for hours, and it was completely desolate. A car passed once every four or five hours. The ice must have been at least two feet deep. Eventually, I was picked up by a farmer driving an old rickety pickup truck. Speaking no English, he kindly shared his cheese with me. It was clear later that the people in this region had never seen a foreigner before, as if I was from outer space. As he dropped me off in the middle of nowhere, north of Stavanger, south of Oslo, I was wearing a flimsy California cotton jacket, with a short-sleeved shirt underneath. But I never felt cold. I was so excited to be in Europe.

“I recall the beauty of the fjords among a freezing placid lake. It was like being dropped right in the middle of Lord of the Rings. Completely alone, I could hear goat’s bells and heard hawks screaming as they floated through the air down the fjord, flying over the water. This was all before I did or knew anything to do with Modena. I had no money, no knowledge of mechanics or cars, no family, no backup, nobody to help me. And I knew no one. Italy was a foreign place and I had never been there or even to Europe. I could not speak Italian but was leaving for Italy. It was my ‘mission impossible,’ with the future ahead of me. And still it was very exciting in the midst of it all.

“But I knew one thing: I had to own a Ferrari or Maserati, with everyone saying ‘you’re a crazy man, you don’t have any money, that’s impossible’ –naysayers. If they can’t do it then they don’t want you do it.

“I ended up as an actor in Rome for Dino De Laurentiis with David Niven (a famous English actor), and Alberto Sordi. I slept under woodpiles in my sleeping bag when I arrived in Modena. I had no money for a hotel or pensione. People said ‘you’ll never be able to do it.’ That only made me more determined to succeed." 

Friday, March 30, 2012

Ferrari Design Overtones: Going, Going, Gone Asian? Part 2

Seeing Red
(Continued from part 1) And from the same site,, the modern Breadvan-esque/station wagon/"shooting brake" FF is a clear Asiatic success story: 
"The FF conquers Asia. Ferrari’s new four-seater four-wheel drive car unveiled at the Shanghai Show by Ferrari CEO Amedeo Felisa and Felipe Massa.
"Shanghai, 19 April, 2011 – The FF is enjoying huge success on the Asian market having already won over a plethora of clients in the Far East. The new car made its official debut in the Asia-Pacific region today at the Shanghai Show where it was unveiled by Prancing Horse CEO Amedeo Felisa and Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro driver Felipe Massa. The latter couldn’t hide his delight with Maranello’s latest creation: 'I’m very pleased to be here in Shanghai for the presentation of the FF,' he told journalists.
“It’s a car I like very much indeed: the perfect combination of performance and usability. I have a son who’s just over a year old now, and this is a Ferrari that you can use with the family without having to compromise on the driving pleasure that only our cars can deliver.' Massa also went on to emphasise the very special relationship between Ferrari and China: 'I was very impressed by the warmth and passion that the Chinese have for the Ferrari brand –that’s also something I’ve seen every time we come here to race, in fact.' 

"For his part, Amedeo Felisa spoke about the growing importance of the Chinese market to Ferrari: 'Last year, we broke all previous records by reaching the 300-car mark,' he said of the company’s sales there. 'In 2011, we intend to continue to grow by at least 30% and exceed the 400-car threshold. I am convinced that the Greater China area will be our second largest market by the end of this year.” 

And initially panned by Ferrari fans as a "woman's car" (which it may be), the so-called F149, aka, Ferrari California, with its contemporary 458 Italia and FF companions, are apparently hot topics in the land of the red: 
"Ferrari’s Chinese market has been growing strongly since 2004. Sales have been excellent across the entire range, but the 8-cylinder Ferrari California and the 458 Italia have performed particularly well. In previews, our Chinese clients were greatly impressed by the technological innovations offered by the FF as well as the generous size of its four comfortable seats and roomy boot (the capacity of the latter can extended up to 800 litres)."
Ferrari F12 Nissan GT-R
For me the F12 reveals a generally pleasing form with more than quite a few moments of gorgeous design throughout the body. It carries the elegance and poise that a Ferrari V12 GT berlinetta should. There is a lushness there with just enough edginess. On that point, at first glance, I don't want to think about Japan when enjoying highbrow Italian cuisine. And I certainly don't want to think about Chinese takeout and volume selling. Although each cultural texture has its place, I want the bottle of fine Italian wine to go to my head, to imbue me with passion. At such a price point, too, a Ferrari V12 GT should produce this intoxicating effect immediately. And the first impression of the F12 nearly does. 
Initially, the unveiling of F12's front end appointments appeared a little strange. But, as was the case with the 458 Italia (and Nissan GT-R), eventually the new child-of-the-wind-tunnel design idiom began growing on me. The contemporary Ferrari face with the elongated "bioluminescent," deep-sea-creature-like headlamps, running up the top sides of the car, and the "Chevron Cars" cartoonish grille --have presented themselves as decadal identifiers. Hence, this is what Ferrari looks like today. 
And as with the severe Ferrari Enzo (and in some of the aforementioned newer Ferraris), the Nissan GT-R can elicit a polarizing effect upon the beholder: It is either hideous or brutishly attractive, at very least an acquired taste for the enthusiast not already well-adapted to Japanese tuner culture. Form following function doesn't have to be ugly but in some cases it is. 
When a car can slice through the air, shift, corner, in fractions of a second quicker than a competitor, engineering will begin to dictate what beauty and "passion" are allowed to be. It is evident, too, that when such results render less-than-attractive design cues, then the policy is to feature such appointments. Why try to hide them when they can be exaggerated and passed off as being state-of-the-art?  
Familiar with Japanese tuner/enthusiast culture myself, I could not help but to see the Nissan GT-R discreetly whispering over the form of the F12. Certainly, Ken Okuyama has been long gone from the midst of Pininfarina's corridors of power and had nothing to do with GT-R development. So is this mere coincidence or is there an airborne Asian car virus sprinkling dust over Maranello?

part 3 here:

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Ferrari Testarossa (1984-1996): Tame Design in Hindsight?

Considering the current decadal design idiom of the latest offerings of Montezemolo-era cars (FF, F12, Italia, to name some), is the Ferrari Testarossa, 512TR, and 512M, of 1984-1996, a relatively tame design platform in hindsight? Are the side strakes really such purveyors of extravagance and flamboyance? 

To backtrack into some context briefly, in 1982 Pininfarina was commissioned to style a 12-cylinder Ferrari with radiators in the flanks like a racing car, with GT-level luggage and storage space, user comfort, and top-tier Ferrari performance and image. The Testarossa was among the first Ferraris to be shaped partly by the wind tunnel to enhance aerodynamics, promote low cabin noise, and increase high speed stability.

Rear location of the radiators made the car's aerodynamics even more important as passive direction of air to and from the engine bay had to be very effective. In achieving this feat, Pininfarina's design and engineering of the Testarossa project became, seemingly overnight, the most recognizable and influential car of a generation. It became, as in the Lamborghini Countach, the unequivocal exotic dream car to have. On posters affixed across the world, in the rooms and garages of kids and adult children alike, the Ferrari Testarossa is unmistakable, bold, and impossible to ignore, cherished to this day by a devoted cult.

Of note, the Testarossa's roofline exactly matches that of the straked flank below it. And with the traditional Ferrari identifiers present (such as the egg crate grille, recessed headlamps of the era), the new elements (such as rectangular rear lights and the broad, squared, rear flanks) mark a bit of a departure. Early Testarossas feature a single mirror located halfway up the driver's side A-pillar, on stalks. But clearly the Testarossa's most defining and controversial image is that of the five body strakes that cover the side intakes and stretch between the ridges just below the door mirrors. Today most, or at least many, Ferrari fans regard these as extreme design aesthetics, dated, even hideous. But is this necessarily really true? 

Individual tastes and perceptions notwithstanding, is the Ferrari Testarossa, 512TR, and 512M, made from 1984 through 1996, respectively, actually a tame (even tasteful) design in hindsight? Are the side strakes really that outlandish compared to the more recent 458 Italia's bizarre front end? Or to the new F12's strange cartoonish front fascia? Or what about the FF, with it's entirely non-confomist Breadvan shape, with similarly strange front end? Do these design showboats, Italia, F12, FF, boast restraint --or do they go beyond what one would consider to be in good taste? 

By comparison, is not the Testarossa quite conservative and understated, being a basically squarish wedge design with retractable headlamps? Save for the wide track and strakes, Ferraris had become what the TR represented at the time, with the 348 and 355 following in its shadow. It would seem that the front end of any TR, particularly the non "M" version, can actuality pass for austere and tastefully restrained. One could even say it appears "normal," in its design idiom of the time. But yet it is forever "outrageous." 

In a strange twist of fate, perhaps it is the time that the TR was trapped in, when new, which forever entraps it into its continual stigma of being the gauche, strake-riddled, testa rossa/red-headed stepchild today. Alas, I tip my hat and embrace Testarossa, the black sheep that it is for so many Ferraristi

Friday, March 23, 2012

Ferrari Design Overtones: Going, Going, Gone Asian? Part 1

(photo illustration by Chad Glass)
With the demise of the traditional family-owned Italian cultural design mainstay Pininfarina, will Ferrari increasingly slide into the hands of Asian design aesthetics, blowing in the wind of market forces and banking dictates? Has the Ferrari/Fiat/Italian identity already been usurped by an increasing economic force guided by the likes of Japan and China? 

Rewind a decade to the Enzo supercar and Ken Okuyama, Pininfarina's chief designer at the time. In addition to designing for Porsche and Maserati, Okuyama's creative direction heralded a different direction in Ferrari aesthetic. Although brief in involvement with Pininfarina before being booted out, Okuyama's Enzo became the poster child "Lamborghini Countach" of its generation. For those so captivated then and today by the Enzo's Italian centerfold/fantasy dream car appearance, such affection and support exists for a Japanese-inspired form. Alas, the Land of the Rising Sun appears setting all over the carbon fiber, the Enzo a form following function. 

Your personal taste notwithstanding, the red car (including the 612 Scaglietti also designed by Okuyama) may be taking on a new meaning: Has Pininfarina's direction been forever infiltrated, skewed to Asian/global sensibilities, even if subconsciously? 

To illustrate the story further, here is an example of recent market conditions from, 27th July, 2011:

"Ferrari celebrates best six months in its history in terms of revenues (+19.6%) and cars delivered 3,577 (+11.8%). Net profits of 91.8 million Euros (+23.5%). Record industrial net cash of over 650 million Euros. Exceptional results in the USA (+23%) with China (+116%) now second largest market...

"With regard to sales, North America maintained its position as Ferrari's no. 1 market with 939 vehicles delivered during the six-month period, an unprecedented leap of 23.2% vs. 2010. Volumes were also higher in the Greater China region (Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan) with 378 vehicles delivered in the first six months (+116% vs. 2010). This performance means that the main Asian market is now Ferrari’s second largest worldwide, overtaking Germany where volumes remained the same as last year with 337 cars delivered."
(Continues in part 2)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Tom Meade Update: March 2012 -Part 4

Metal Crafters and John Gaffoglio

“John Gaffoglio, Argentinian founder of Metal Crafters of Orange County, California, is one of my best friends. He would make prototypes for Chrysler, Porsche, Mercedes, Bentley, Rolls Royce. He worked on the Chrysler Thunderbolt, Plymouth Prowler, and Dodge Viper, to name a few. He has done one-offs for the Sultan of Brunei (Bentley and Rolls).

“Gaffoglio has since retired and moved back to Argentina. His three sons now run Metal Crafters out of Fountain Valley. I recall they did a concept “hot rod” car a while back for Chip Foose and it ended up not quite how they had intended.

“In the early ‘70s, a classic car collector named Tony Carlini was meeting with Iacoca one night. Carlini said ‘I have a guy who’s a genius at metal work and making prototypes.’ That same night he took Iacoca to see Gaffoglio. What resulted was an overnight deal between Gaffoglio and Iacoca to financially setup Metal Crafters, to build prototypes for Chrysler.

“In the 1980s, Gaffoglio would visit and stay over at my place in Milano when he had any business in Italy. And Iacoca had a villa in Tuscany outside of Florence. At the time, John was looking for Italian windshield glassmaking machinery. I would help him locate the parts.”

Ferrari GTOs

(above: Ferrari 250 GTO #3647 at 2008 Lime Rock Historics: This is the only 250 GTO that is still unrestored)

“I had a Series III, Ferrari GTO #4091. Today Peter Sachs, grandson of Harry Sachs of the Goldman/Sachs banking dynasty, owns it in Connecticut. I had a typo 64 LM roof GTO as a daily driver in Modena, and I had fastback GTO #3647 which I sold to Mr. Saurs, who lives on the east coast, for $5500 after originally paying about $900 for it, worth about $35 million today."

According to Tom: “It is commonly misunderstood and misrepresented in modern automotive literature as to the designation of series types of the GTOs. In common error, the auto journalist will refer the 250 GTO as being of two types, the so-called ‘Series I’ and ‘Series II’ body styles. This is inaccurate. Back in Modena they were not differentiated by only their body styles. You have to look at both the body style and the number of vents on the front sides.

“A Series I GTO will have the original body style that debuted in 1961, and will have two vent slots on each side of the front quarter. A Series II GTO, of 1962, continues the 1961 body style but has three vents on each side. A Series III GTO, the ‘250 GTO/64,’ of 1964, has three vents and a totally different body and LM style roofline.

“You can see clearly that GM took the design elements of both styles of the Ferrari GTO and directly applied them to the Corvettes of the 1970s and early ‘80s.”

Chassis Heist

“While in hospital about two years ago I had 4 valuable Ferrari chassis stolen.  They are as follows:

·      1960 250 PF Coupe: SN 1847
·      1964 250 GT Lusso: SN 2917
·      1966 275 GTS, 2-cam: SN 08653 --owned by Steve McQueen, #200 of 200 built
·      1969 365 GT 2+2: SN [N/A] –4 suspension corners intact, complete with steering and pedals

“I’m presently seeking their recovery and will offer a great reward. Anyone with any information about the chassis can email at:

“I was going to rebody them as they were nude chassis,’ as I have all of the mechanical parts and components for reassembly. You can see what Steve McQueens’ 1966 275 GTS looked like when he had it, on page 41, in the book ‘McQueen’s Machines’ by Matt Stone.” It’s also in Hillary Raab Jr.’s Ferrari Serial Numbers, Part 1.”

(above: Steve McQueen’s 275 GTS 4 NART Spider)

Inventors, Journalists, and Madmen

“In 1996 Marc Sonnery did an interview with me in Santa Monica but did not cover most of this as we just ran out of time after five hours. I’m glad Chad Glass is covering this material today, most of it untold (as of this writing). And I want to recommend another book, The Golden Age of the American Racing Car by Griffith Borgeson, another good friend of mine (and regarded as the greatest automotive writer in all history). With his wife, Jasmine, Borgeson lived in Aix-en-Provence, near Côte d'Azur, the French Riviera, one of the most beautiful places in France. When in Italy, he would sleep over at my house. He wrote a feature article about me in 1971 for Motor Trend.

“But about Borgeson’s book: Harry Miller stands as the central figure. In my estimation, he was a mega genius, my hero, and the God of American racing cars. You could say that he was the Nikola Tesla of race car design.

“At his workshop, in Culver City, California, Miller “reinvented” the overhead cam, the multi-valve engine, putting them on the map. And he built his own cars to boot. As early as the 1920s he was building V12s using 4 valves per cylinder. He got the attention of Ettore Bugatti when he raced his Millers in Europe. In 1955 Griffith flew to France and bought the two Miller cars that Bugatti had bought from Miller, years before, in order to copy the overhead cam designs --Bugatti literally ripped off Miller’s designs. But despite these historical firsts, his enormous gifts and achievements, he died penniless in a hotel room –he was too ahead of his time, which created a living hell for himself.

(below: 1922 HCS Special Miller)

 “Leo Gossen, his German engineer, developed Miller’s ideas into reality. In the 1930s Bugatti bought 2 of Miller’s cars and copied the overhead cam designs. It is well documented by Borgeson. And his journalistic successor, Karl Ludvigsen, sort of picks up where Borgeson leaves off. Ludvigsen, from Michigan, is the most technical auto journalist that I know of. He is, to the best of my estimation, without peers in his sphere of expertise. He went to MIT and writes about cars like an engineer.”

People continue shuffling by as Tom and I have our coffee. And that name stays with me: Ludvigsen --seems to ring a bell. I look up and take pause. As if caught trying to recollect a dream, I have a picture in my mind of a book that I have. It’s a heavy book, not light reading. And I’m nearly certain it is what I think it is.

So long after our meeting, back at home, I reminded myself to go to the spot I was envisioning, to get the book, and look at the cover. And as I expected, upon scanning the shelves, I recognized the title on the spine and it just said The V12 Engine. That’s the book. I then took it off the shelf and scanned down to look at the author. And lo and behold, there printed was: “Karl Ludvigsen.” I can say the book is quite dense and packed with history.

As visions and sounds of V12s from a bygone era echo away from my mental snapshots I am taken back to the present as Tom is continuing:

“Another influence on me, Michael Parkes, was a Formula 1 Ferrari driver and suspension engineer. He drove for Scuderia Ferrari from 1962-67. He joined them in 1963 as a test and development engineer. He was promoted to the F1 team, as driver, after John Surtees left, just before the 1966 Le Mans race. He would bring his personal Ferrari, a 275 GTB, into my shop in the Via Piazza, and work on it. It is from Parkes where I learned about suspension engineering theory. He was killed in a Lancia Stratos at age 46.

“Speaking of John Surtees, his teammate, Lorenzo Bandini (who in 1966 became Ferrari’s number one driver), was killed in an F1 Ferrari at the Monte Carlo Gran Prix, 1967.”

Friday, March 2, 2012

Cult of Tacky: Perfectly Good GTOs Destroyed for Monkee Business

("Monkee Mobile," designed, crafted, and butchered from a perfectly good Ponitiac GTO) 

The sadness, tragedy, and untimely death of pop icon Davy Jones aside, we inevitably must get back on track, look forward, and come around to thinking about cars again. Whereas the 1960s television series The Monkees had its host of hip characters and props, the standout item of interest clearly points to the Monkeemobile: A tacky, tasteless, and generally ridicuolous looking cartoon car that "won," as perfectly good Pontiac GTOs were destroyed for the sake of Monkee business, with business emphasized. Hence, in context of the time and the cultural aesthetic established within the show, cult of celebrity and branding trumped good design. As in the case of the Batmobile, a mascot car for the Monkees made sense and seemed to fit, the massive success of the franchise being self-evident. 

Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, Peter Tork, and Mike Nesmith found fame in the 1960s with their eponymous television show The Monkees, and went on to sell more than 50 million records. The band split up in 1971 but has reformed several times since. Their popular TV show ran from Sept. 12, 1966, to March 25, 1968, with 58 episodes. The show, inspired by the Beatles’ movie A Hard Day’s Night, won two Emmy Awards.

(The Monkees in their heyday: Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, Peter Tork, and Mike Nesmith)

Whatever one's opinion of The Monkees may be, including the car, at their peak in  popularity, in 1967, they were outselling the Beatles and the Rolling Stones combined in the United StatesI’m a Believer, written by Neil Diamond, remained at No. 1 on the Billboard charts for seven weeks. Diamond also wrote A Little Bit Me, a Little Bit You, which reached No. 2. The Monkees had six top-10 hits, including three No. 1 hits: Last Train to Clarksville, I’m a Believer and Daydream Believer.

After the Monkees, Mr. Nesmith became the creator and chief executive officer of Pacific Arts, a successful video production company that made some of the first music videos. Nesmith pitched the idea of a 24-hour music-video channel and sold the idea to Warner, which developed it into MTV. His video Cruisin’ was one of the first MTV played. Nesmith often is called the “inventor” or “stepfather” of MTV.

With such innovation, perhaps the "Last Train to Destroying GTO-ville" was for the good. Although not a particularly rare car for the time, the GTO was clearly at the forefront of American design aesthetic and a leader in the muscle car revolution, a child of the 1960s. So, too, the Monkees became a major influence in the fabric of 1960s American pop culture, undoubtedly helped along, in part, by the implementation of the Monkeemobile as an integral element in many of the television episodes. At the leading edge, television, the Pontiac GTO, the American muscle car, and the British Invasion all clashed in harmonious tastelessness and fun. Some forty years on, The Monkees, today, are forever carved in stone and guaranteed a place in history, in memoriam.

The Monkeemobile's origins began when Dean Jeffries, and his sidekick Dick Dean, were asked to design and build a car for a new TV show called "The Monkees". Dean, who was under contract with Model Products Corporation (MPC), told CEO George Toteff about the project. A make of vehicle had not yet been chosen for the project. Mr. Toteff then told his friend Jim Wangers of these developments. 

(Jim Wangers, the man most closely associated with the advertising and promotion of Pontiac during the glory days of the 60s and 70s, the man affectionately termed, the "Godfather of the GTO")

Mr. Wangers was working with Pontiac promotion and advertising at the time and saw the show as a huge promotional opportunity for Pontiac. After making the deal, Mr. Wangers supplied two base 389 4-barrel 1966 GTO convertibles with automatic-transmissions to be converted into Monkeemobiles. MPC was in turn given exclusive rights to market a model kit of the Monkeemobile. They would end up selling over 7 million copies of these kits.

Two cars were built for the NBC TV show The Monkees in the span of 4 weeks: Car #1 to be used mostly for the TV show, and Car #2 to be used as a stunt car but used on the promo/touring circuit. Both cars were base-engine 389 four-barrels with automatic transmissions, were originally silver/blue metalic in color, and each would end up being used in the TV series (as an example; Car #1 in episode 33 and #2 in episode 39).

Car #1 has a larger door logo, different color blower flaps (blacked out) and different belt cover than the #2 which has the smaller logo and red colored flaps, the belt cover ribs farther apart. Both measure around 20 feet long. Stewart Warner gauges fill up the dash. Permanent hardtop was built to resemble a convertible top and covered in tan orlon to match the tan vinyl upholstry. Two people could unbolt the top and lift it off the car. Outside the car, all chrome was removed including door handles. Front and rear sheet metal was hand formed by Dean Jeffries and Dick Dean. No fiberglass was used. 

Square CIBIE headlights brought over from France were used in front. Taillight covers frabricated especially for the car were used over factory assembly. Thirty coats of Candy Wine Burgundy paint were laid on and hand rubbed. The car rests on Goodyear 900x15 tires in the rear and Goodyear 650x15's in the front. Crager SS wheels with center knock-off caps lay inside the tires. Power comes from a 389 cubic inch Pontiac engine. Dummy blower set up is used to cover carbs. Rear axle is solidly mounted.

(Monkeemobile, early concept drawing for modified GTO)

Factory windshield was cut and tilted forward and a chrome piece was added to the center to give the illusion of a taller split windshield. The aft portion of the front wheel wells were lengthened to allow the non-functional chrome exhaust trumpets to protrude. Functional exhaust exits are located just ahead of the rear wheels. 

A trailer hitch was added to the car with the intention of pulling a trailer that would open up so that the band could perform on it. Even though the trailer was built, it was never used in the show. The hitch was later removed. Car #1 was taken to Australia to help with promotions on the 1968 Monkees concert tour. For some reason, the car did not travel on with the tour and was left there. Dean Jeffries made the attempt to retrieve the car but was unsuccessful.

The car would later appear in Puerto Rico as a hotel courtesy car. It is still a mystery on how it ended up there. In 1992, it would sell at government auction for $5,000 when the hotel went out of business. Car #1 is now in the safe hands of a private collector on the East coast. Car #1 can be seen from time to time at collector shows. Car #1 was used for the 1/18 scale diecast (note the use of the door logo which is reversed on the right door). Car #1 was used in 1997 for the Monkees TV special and on display in 2001 for the Petersen Automotive Museum "Cars And Guitars Of Rock & Roll" exhibit. 

(George Barris and adoring fan with the Monkeemobile)

Car #2 was acquired by George Barris at end of The Monkees TV series after Dean Jeffries declined to purchase the cars back from NBC. Car #2 was auctioned off in September of 1983 for $26,000. The winning bidder never appeared to pay for the car. Car #2 was used as part of the TV Land display. Car #2 was seen in the "She's gotta have it" episode of the TV show Wings along with Peter Tork. Car #2 was fully restored & modernized by Mike Gray and his team in 2006 for the 40th Anniversary of The Monkees.

Car #2 was auctioned off by George Barris through Barrett-Jackson on January 19, 2008 for the winning bid of $360,000. This car is now owned by a private individual in southeast Michigan. Of course these Pontiac GTOs, #1 and #2, were at once destroyed but consequently immortalized, catapulted to a fame and exposure never to be seen had they remained unmolested. Alas, "The Monkees" were a cartoon and parody/marketing force directly drawing from the Beatles phenomenon. As the Monkees were selling more records than the Beatles, seemingly impossible, so, too, can public tastes often mirror such illogic; hence, the butchered cartoon car Monkeemobile --where tasteless, tacky, timing, and opportunity trump good design. Jim Wangers couldn't agree more.