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  • Tucker: The Man and His Dream for Retro/Mod Movie Monday

    Posted on August 12th, 2013 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 2 comments

    tucker_the_man_and_his_dreamIt was 25 years ago to the day (August 12) that “Tucker” debuted on the silver screen. I remember seeing that movie with my father, in the theater…we were both huge antique car fans and the mystique of the Tucker wasn’t lost on us. Two hours later we were driving home in his vintage Buick Electra 225, discussing what American cars would have been like if Tucker had succeeded with his dream. Our conclusion: Detroit iron would be 10 to 20 years ahead of its time from 1948 on.

    Tucker: The Man and His Dream, 1988

    Directed by Francis Ford Coppola
    Executive Producer George Lucas
    Starring Jeff Bridges, Joan Allen, Martin Landua, Christian Slater, and the 1948 Tucker Torpedo

    The Movie: This flick was based on the true-life engineer Preston Tucker, who had a dream to start a new, technologically advanced auto company. Using designs he had been perfecting since before WW2, he managed to secure funding to start the Tucker Automobile Company. 50 Tucker Torpedos were built (plus the prototype), but the company was doomed to failure (you’ll have to watch the movie to learn why).

    The Car: As much a character in the film as any of the actors, the 1948 Tucker Torpedo was stylistically and technologically way ahead of its time. The low-slung vehicle utilized a flat airplane, rear-mounted six cylinder engine, giving it a sleeker look than most late ’40s cars, and came standard with safety features like a padded dashboard and seat belts (stuff that wouldn’t be found on most conventional cars until a decade later). It even sported a “Cyclops eye” center headlight that turned with the front wheels. Kookie.


    Before this flick hit the screen, Tuckers were rare but still could be bought for around $40k if you could find an owner who wanted to part with it. After the movie, the price shot up to beyond $400k. Today, millionaires use them as toys to trade back and forth with their millionaire friends, usually in the $1.5 Mil range. Jerks.

    Several original cars were used in the movie…and some fiberglass molds, for the “crash” scenes. No actual cars were harmed in the filming of this movie.1948-tucker-torpedo

    My Take: The movie itself is very cool, with a great 40s vibe throughout. Unfortunately 1980’s audiences weren’t “hip” to anything vintage, and unless it had a DX-7 doing the soundtrack, got panned. The movie originally grossed a few mil less than it cost, labeling it a flop. But don’t let that deter you from digging this thoroughly enjoyable flick.

    Dinner & Drinks: I’m thinking Iron City Beer and burgers for this one. Real workin’ man’s food.

    -Tiki Chris P. reporting from the screening room at Pirate’s Cove Tiki Bar, Fort Liquordale, FL

  • Happy Thanksgiving from the Tiki Bar! Hess Trucks & Charlie Brown

    Posted on November 24th, 2011 "Tiki Chris" Pinto No comments
    The first Hess truck, 1963

    The first Hess truck, 1963

    Thanksgiving in the subtropics is a little different than it is for most people. For instance, today I put the top down on the convertible and drove down to the Hess station to buy a toy Hess Truck.

    When I was a kid, we’d get up extra early on Thanksgiving, drive down to the Log Cabin Diner in West Atlantic City and have breakfast (they were one of the few places open). It was right next to the Hess Station…and we’d have breakfast there because the Hess Trucks came out on Thanksgiving Day. The Hess station opened at 8am, and there was always a line of about 50 people waiting in line to get a truck. We waited in this line for several years in a row, until we realized that line fizzled out around 9. So we’d go to the diner, have breakfast and wait for the line to slow down. Once it was down to about 5 people, one of us would go get in line, buy a truck, and return to breakfast.

    If you didn’t get a Hess Truck on opening day, chances are you wouldn’t get one at all that year.

    Things are a little different now…they trucks come out on November 11, and you can always get one online. Oh…and I remember when they were $4.95. Now they’re 28 clams.

    Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

    One thing that never changes is Charlie Brown…We’ve been watching the “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” since it came out in 1973. Of course back then you had to get the TV Guide and bookmark the page for the date and time. In the 80’s we video taped it, so we didn’t have to worry about missing it. In the 90s we bought the video tape, and that’s what we still watch every year.

    What a masterpiece of mangling holiday traditions! What kid wouldn’t want a dinner of popcorn, toast and jellybeans, prepared and served by his dog? I have to admit, at least twice over the years we’ve had a similar Thanksgiving dinner…once on purpose, for fun.

    If you haven’t seen CB’s Thanksgiving, you’re missing out on a real treat. You can catch the whole episode of A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving on YouTube.

    The house smells like turkey. We’ve got the air conditioning on because it’s 78° outside. We’ll have our traditional little turkey dinner in the dining room, then have drinks at the Tiki Bar on the lanai.

    From us here in the sunny land of South Florida, we wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Too Hot To Tiki?

    Posted on August 31st, 2011 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 3 comments

    palm-tree-beach-largejpgJust a short musing…

    While the rest of the country is looking forward to cooler fall weather, we here in South Florida are smack dab in the middle of hottest time of year. Our “summer” lasts long after Halloween is over, and “fall” is just a concept in our minds. The end of August means hot, humid days and rainy evenings are promised for at least another month.

    Now don’t you cats & kitties get me wrong…I ain’t complaining. I love the heat and the screwy weather. It’s just that when it’s 85° at 9:00 o’clock at night, it’s not so nice to sit out on the lanai and drink booze at the outdoor Tiki bar. Unless of course you can jump in the pool.

    -Tiki Chris P.

  • Futurama TV Show uses Tiki Chris Pinto’s Car in Season 6 Episode 16!

    Posted on July 11th, 2011 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 1 comment

    Futurama's hot rod on top, my CUSTOM 53 Chevy hot rod with fins I designed myself on the bottom.

    Futurama's hot rod on top, my CUSTOM 53 Chevy hot rod with fins I designed myself on the bottom.

    YES, it is true. The proof is in the photos! There is only ONE 1953 Chevrolet Bel Air in the WORLD with my custom-made shark fins, and it’s sitting in my garage. Now, another appears to exist 1000 years in the future.

    Imagine my surprise while watching the new episode of Futurama last week, a show I’ve watched and dug since it first aired in 2000, when the “Tron” motorcycle cop/car chase scene so obviously used my own, custom designed hot rod as the car being chased! My jaw dropped, as you might have guessed. Good think I had it on TiVo so I could rewind it and watch over again to make sure I wasn’t nuts.

    Futurama's car, and my 1953 Chevy, from the back. The fins are exactly the same. And I designed them.

    Futurama's car, and my 1953 Chevy, from the back. The fins are exactly the same. And I designed them.

    It’s not just the fins…the overall look of the car is absolutely an early 1950’s GM vehicle, which is common in the show (Futurama was the name of the GM auto shows in the 50s, and also their shows at the World’s Fairs). Specifically it has the same rounded look as the 1954-54 Chevy, and even has a similar grill and side molding. But none of those cars had fins. In fact, all the GM cars of the 50s had fins that mimicked jet planes and rockets, never sharks, like these.

    The front-side view of the Futurama Car, and my 1953 Chevy. Tell me they didn't copy mine! I dare ya.

    The front-side view of the Futurama Car, and my 1953 Chevy. Tell me they didn't copy mine! I dare ya.

    Now, of course the cartoon car is highly stylized…for the cartoon. Plus it’s in “TRON” mode. But the similarities are unmistakable. I really can’t imagine anyone else in the world pairing these exact style sharkfins with what is absolutely an early 1950’s stylized Chevy. Sure, there’s is a 2-door, and, well, it’s a hovercar. But…

    I’m actually very honored that they used my personal custom design in an episode. That puts my lil’ old 53 Chevy Star Dust right up there with The Warecar (The CAR), Christine, the Original Warecar (the original Batmobile) and the 59 Caddy hovercars that appear often in the show.

    My '53 Chevy Hot Rod

    My '53 Chevy Hot Rod

    If anyone from Hollywood sees this, please tell Mat Groenig thanks, and I’d really like a signed cell or photo of the cast as a thank you.

    Check out my car’s website at, and see for yourself how close it is!

    You can see the clip the car is featured in at Comedy Central.

    -Tiki Chris Pinto reporting from the garage at Tiki Lounge Talk.

  • An old photo, me & my 1940 LaSalle

    Posted on July 8th, 2011 "Tiki Chris" Pinto No comments

    1940-lasalle-chris-pintoI came across this photo today. It’s a picture of me, pre-Tiki days, with my 1940 LaSalle. I was 13, the photo was taken in 1982.

    How does a 13 year old kid get his hands on a then 40+ year old classic car? Well, my old man loved to buy and sell old cars. He’d get them cheap, fix them up, sometimes paint them, and sell them for a profit. Today this would be called being a “automotive enthusiast”. Back then we called it hustling cars for bread.

    The short version of this story is that I had my own side business buying and selling go-karts, minibikes, even 1/4 midget racer and a Model T Ford midget car (like you see clowns drive in parades). In 1982, I traded the Model T for a real 1941 Dodge Luxury Liner sedan. Eventually I made my way into buying this 1940 LaSalle Sedan for $400…a barn find. My buddy Steve and I would pretend to drive it, actually dubbing it the “Air Car”, a car that could go from cruising the country highways of South Jersey to flying above the Pine Barrens. Well, this was before video games and internet so we had to be creative.

    I traded this beauty for a 66 Olds Toronado, and eventually made my way up to the 1974 Caddy Eldorado Convertible I had a few years ago. I sold that and put the money into my 53 Chevy Hot Rod, which I’ve had since 1990.chrischevyatdoor

    The point of all this is that at 42 years old I still feel like the goofy kid in the photo, hanging out with vintage cars and never actually finishing any of them. And apparently I still pose the same way, too.

    -Tiki Chris Reporting from the garage at Tiki Lounge Talk

    53 Chevy in Primer

    53 Chevy in Primer