Question: Universal Studios Backlot Tour Cars?


Yesterday on Jalopnik, they had a story about Hollywood’s Hidden Parking Lot.  It was really a pretty cool read, and it got me thinking back to when I was about 13 years old.  I remember taking a family trip to Florida, and going on the “Universal Studios Backlot Tour”.   (It is a very vague memory so bare with me.)  I think I was on a trolley sort of thing, and I remember driving by a big parking lot that had a bunch of old movie cars in it.  The only part of the tour that I actually remember was the row of faded & damaged blue 1939 Plymouth coupe’s that were from the Roger Rabbit movie.  With a quick search of Google, I actually found an old picture of them.  Gosh I would love to have one of them.  Even the one with the missing roof!  Like most cars from 39-41, they just have great lines.

My question to you is:  Does anybody know if these cars are still there?  Got pictures? What else is there with them?  Bonus Points if you can find them on Google Earth! (I tried and failed.)

Photo by Jeff Lange, Found on:

Help This Guy Find His Stolen VW in SoCal!

The automotive community these days is tighter than ever, which means that it is tough for criminals to get away with car related crime.  Today’s mission for car enthusiasts nationwide is to find this guys VW GTI! He went out to a restaurant to have some delicious chicken wings and watch some football, and ended the night staring at an empty parking spot where he left his much loved GTI.

The owner (HipHopDub) says:

“I was at buffalo wild wings on citrus and workman in west Covina watching football with a friend of mine. We left and I realized I didn’t have my keys so I went back to the table we were sitting at and looked around. We didn’t find anything and I spoke w the managers. They said no one turned in any keys. So I had my friend drive me home to grab a spare key. When we returned, my car was gone. I was bummed w the idea of having to replace a vw switchblade key because of how expensive they are…. But I never thought that someone would actually steal my car…. I took a picture of my car in the parking lot while I was leaving, never thought it would be the last time I saw it.

It’s a 2004 reflex silver gti. Black roof. Vw roofvrack crossbars. Lowered on 17″ arrietas. No tint, no front plates. License plate is 5HRS162. If anyone sees it, please call the cops right away. I’ve had that car brand new from 6 years ago. Not just another car to me. I’m devastated right now. Police report filed. car was parked outside of restaurants outdoor camera’s line of sight. management will check inside videotapes tomorrow.

I hope they find it. i dont care of its stripped, i just want it back. 🙁 ”

Readers in SoCal & Surrounding Areas > Keep your eyes peeled on the streets for this car, and possibly on Craigslist for it’s parts.  If you see it, call the police and get the scum of the earth thrown in the slammer.

Fingers crossed for a safe return!

Original post found here:

Junkyards: The Resting Place of Failed Invention

Junkyards are the final resting place of failed invention.  For those of you that frequent junkyards, I certainly do not need to tell you about the types of brilliance that can be found behind their prison-like chain link fences.  See, junkyards aren’t just about crashed cars; their awesomeness is far deeper than that.  Obviously there are a plethora of cars that are so horrifically crashed that they instill the fear of driving into you that you will never forget.  Then you see rows of burned-out motorhomes.  In tough economic times, as if by magic, those rows seem to grow.  Coincidence?  Hmmmm.  Around the outskirts of most junkyards is where you typically find the really old stuff.  Everything from old cars and trucks to farm equipment and machinery.  But we aren’t talking about any of that today.  We are talking about inventions.

These inspirational inventions in junkyards are almost always unfinished projects that were likely fueled by acetylene, oxygen, a bit of argon, and most of all, alcohol.  We all know that if you take two great things, and put them together, you obviously multiple the greatness and get something twice as nice.  Right?  Well, junkyards prove this because the merging of great things just so happens to be the most common invention found. Take this “Willy’s-Jeep-Nissan-Plow-Tow-Offroad-Truck” from the 80’s for example.  It features an 86 Nissan D720 up top, and what I believe is a vastly shorter Willy’s Jeep chassis and suspension below.  It’s a win from every angle.

Now, you are probably asking: What about the projects with less than 4 wheels though?  Do those end up here too? Ofcourse they do!  The junkyards don’t discriminate when it comes to great inventions.  Here we have this “Lawnmower-Scooter-Moped-Trike” for a 3 wheeled example.  I have always thought that my lawnmower had too many wheels.  Sadly, the previous owner of this super mower trike didn’t put it into production so that we all could reap the huge benefits of the rotational weight savings.

Oddly enough while at a swap meet over the weekend I spotted an invention that is strangely similar, yet equally genius.  Naturally there were a lot of comments like “Geeze, my (husband, wife, mother, son, grandmother, etc) could really use this thing!”  So was it purchased?   You’re darn right it was!  Sadly, I don’t know the purchase price.  We can only imagine that an invention of that caliber must go for top dollar.  Will it be a failed invention found in the junkyard someday? Who knows.

For those of you that don’t find yourselves loafing through the ever glistening, questionably non-freezing mud of your local salvage yards, I would like recommend letting down your hair and taking a stroll through.  It is a bizarre world out there, and the salvage yards are hiding the physical proof of it.  After all, it is the resting place of failed invention.

Throw Out Bearing Says: “Not Agaaaaain!”

When you build a car from a bunch of parts that were not intended to play nicely together, sometimes you end up breaking some random stuff.  Normal people don’t have these issues.  Unfortunately… hm…  no….. fortunately in my world, this kind of issue is the norm.  This past weekend my brother in law and I had a hoot of a time pulling the transmission out of his 2nd generation FC RX7 because the throw out bearing had exploded in grand fashion.

In a serious tone, you say:Jeremy, this is not normal! What is the meaning of this?!
To which I proudly respond:Truer words have never been spoken!….. but alas! He has a 3rd generation, FD twin turbo engine swap producing mucho POWAH!
You then cover your ears with your hands and shout:Oh My!

Back to reality…. where were we?  Oh yeah, so the car was built quite some time ago, and then recently sat untouched for a few years outside in the awful New England weather (sadface), which we are thinking maaaaaay have been a contributor to the bearing failure.

To sum it all up:  Throw Out Bearings can make the Best Day Evaaaaaar! into the Worst Day Evah!!! in the blink of an eye.  Use the picture above to easily determine which day you may be having.

No More Excuses! I Think?


Finally.  When I was 15, I bought a 1964 Chevy Impala convertible (my dream car), which you may have read about HERE.  Because of it’s sad state of disrepair, I immediately started a body off restoration when it rolled off a flatbed and into my parents driveway.  Much to my chagrin, it has never made much progress because of x, y, and z, but mostly because of its full time outdoor storage.  Everybody that I know hassles me about it not being done yet because I thought I would be driving it to the junior prom (nope), then senior prom (nope), college graduation (nope), 5 year high school reunion (nope), wedding day (nope), 10 year HS reunion (nope)…… Well..yea….it still isn’t done.  However, over the course of this extremely short feeling summer, I built myself a garage to play in.  Last night, I finally got all the garage doors attached properly, and Read More

The Rust Heinz Designed Bowman & Schwartz Phantom Corsair

This picture above is what it looked like when it was new.
This is after it was modified and painted by the second owner.
This is what it looks like now.

Back in the mid 1930’s Rust Heinz (yes, the ketchup guy) decided to design a high end supercar.  He made a model out of clay, and had it built by Bowman & Schwartz (they were awesome car builders).  The car was known as the 1938 Phantom Corsair.  Rust Heinz wanted it to be a limited production car that would be sold for about $15,000, which was a massive sum of money at the time.

The car used a Cord engine in its original front wheel drive configuration. It had an automatic transmission, and they bumped the horsepower up to around 190.  Not too shabby for the 1930’s!  Once completed, Rust drove the car for a while and advertised it all over.  Unfortunately, Rust died tragically at the young age of 25 in a car accident (not in this car), and the “push” for the car to become a success was lost.  The car was stored for a few years after Rust’s death and then sold to a guy that modified it to be a more driver friendly vehicle.  Better cooling, a bigger windshield, and a modified roof were all molded into the clean original body.  It was then painted gold and driven by the new owner.

Decades later it came up for auction and landed in the Harrah Collection in Reno Nevada, which eventually became the National Automobile Museum. It was modified again back to its original design, and is currently on display in the museum today if you’d like to see it in person.   My only thought is that it needs more “low”, like at least 5 more inches of it.  Other than that, its bug eyed killer whale body is quite appealing to me.

Image Borrowed From:

Taking it Back to 1984 with “Fat Charlie”

Recently I had the pleasure of working on an absolutely beautiful 1984 Chevy Caprice.  I know, I know, “absolutely beautiful” and “Caprice” probably shouldn’t ever be used in the same sentence.  However, I assure you that this car is an exception to the rule.  This big fella, nicknamed “fat Charlie” by its owner, was clearly babied from the start, and always well taken care of.  He was parked indoors, and only driven when necessary which kept the mileage down around 2800 miles per year.  Yes, you did read that correctly, Charlie has just over 70K miles on it today.

When Charlie arrived in my driveway under the cover of darkness (don’t ask), he had a saggy headliner, stripped out windshield wiper arm, a leaky muffler, and a directional that only wanted to make left turns.  All were easy fixes that I thoroughly enjoyed doing.  Every nut and bolt was removed without a fight, and I took special care on everything I removed because I didn’t want to damage any of the original interior trim that was in perfect condition.  Overboard? Yea, maybe, but I love cars.

Several days later, Charlie had officially passed the state inspection, and I got to take the big guy for a truly enjoyable jaunt down the road.  It basically feels like a brand new 1984 car.  There is plenty of room for you and 16 of your closest friends, it has power everything, and the floats like a Cadillac down the bumpiest of roads.  I even got thumbs up from multiple people!  Going forward, Charlie will be kept in the family of the original owner, and driven and enjoyed daily for the foreseeable future.  Maaaybe Charlie will even make it to some local cruise nights?  We’ll see. 🙂

Any other 1980’s B-Body fans out there?