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  • 53 Chevy Belair Custom Hot Rod “StarDust” Video!

    Posted on April 28th, 2010 "Tiki Chris" Pinto No comments
    Rusty Tiki Car Club at Tiki Lounge Talk

    Rusty Tiki Car Club at Tiki Lounge Talk

    errrr rrr rrrr rrr  Vrrrooooom  Vrumm Vrumm Vrumm Vrumm VARRROOOOMM VARRRROOOOOOM…

    The throaty sound of a hot split-six in the night. The engine revs up, falls off, revs up, falls off. Red-hot exhaust headers ticking. Juiced-up carb spitting gas down the throat of the this monster as fast as it can take it.

    I’ve been working on (and driving) my 1953 Chevy Belair Hot Rod since May of 1990. As the 20-year mark of owning this 57-year-old classic 1953 Chevy Belair Hot Rod "StarDust"approaches, I decided to do some major service ops on her to get her better suited to Florida’s roadways. I recently rebuilt the Holley 390 carb, tightened the front end and just this last few months completely restored the entire braking system, from new shoes to new lines, wheel cylinders and rebuilt master cylinder.

    So last night, just for fun I took her out of the garage and drove her around the neighborhood. She ran smooth and fast. Stopped pretty good, too. Then, for fun, I decided to throw together a quicky video (with Christine in mind!)

    Her name is StarDust. And she’s a beast.

    Tiki Chris reporting from the Tiki Culture Web Lounge (Blounge™)

  • Snow? What snow? (Or, Why I Moved to Florida)

    Posted on December 19th, 2009 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 4 comments
    My house in Northfield, 1999. 1956 Buick Century Station Wagon in background, 1979 Lincoln Mark V in foreground.

    My house in Northfield, 1999. 1956 Buick Century Station Wagon in background, 1979 Lincoln Mark V in foreground.

    Funny, hearing all about the snow hitting the East coast yesterday must have really gotten into my head…because when I woke up this morning, with a slight chill, I had that old feeling that when I’d look out the window, the world would be covered in a blanket of white, sparkly magic. Really, I woke up thinking there would be snow outside.

    Then as I gained consciousness, I realized the chill was from the air conditioning, and that looking out the window I would see palm trees and parrots. You don’t get snow in South Florida.

    I gotta tell ya kids, I did really love watching the snow fall, especially at night, watching those crystal white flakes flurry down against a black sky, shimmering in the light of a lampost. I loved how everything seemed so peaceful, so clean. So beautiful.

    What I didn’t like about the snow  – as with most people –  was getting around in it. Which leads me to my sub-headline:

    Why I Moved to Florida

    Ok, this isn’t the only reason why we headed down here. In fact, it was my plan to move from the land of toxic waste to the land of palm trees from when I was three years old (really). But this was the clincher…

    The closest I ever get to snow now is on my Christmas train platform. The trains are my father's Lionels from 1931. There are also a couple of TootsieToy cars that were his as a kid.

    The closest I ever get to snow now is on my Christmas train platform. The trains are my father's Lionels from 1931. There are also a couple of TootsieToy cars that were his as a kid.

    It was the winter of 1999/2000. I was living in a little suburb of Atlantic City, NJ that went by the moniker of Northfield. This little burg was kinda nice; my house was a 1928 Jersey  Shore bungalow with a Tiki Bar in the basement and giant oak trees in on the lawn. The only problem with it was that it was in the North.

    At the time, I had four cars…I know, krazy, but I’m a car guy…a 1956 Buick Century Station Wagon (aka the Dragon Wagon), a 1979 Lincoln Mark V (That my old man was borrowing at the time), my 1953 Chevy Belair Hot Rod (which I still have today), and a 1975 Buick LeSabre ragtop. I’m telling you all this for a reason, read on…

    I used the wagon as my everyday transporter. I loved it. It was fast, kool, and had a ’50s look that turned heads everywhere. The one thing it didn’t have was heat. There was a valve stuck somewhere, and by the time I found out about it, it was too cold to try to fix it. So, for most of the winter, I used the secondary car, the summer car…the ragtop. Funny enough, the heat worked in there. (I also used the Chevy on occasion for short trips, but never in the snow).

    So, one night it snows. No big deal really, three inches. Of course, in South Jersey, where it really doesn’t snow a lot, three inches is a big deal. Businesses were closed, etc. But I worked for a newspaper, and the paper had to be open for production. So, I had to drive in the snow.

    Ok, at this point you’re probably thinking, “Uh oh, he cracked up the ragtop in the snow!” Well, calm down. Nothing that drastic…but tormenting just the same.

    It’s freezing like hell. I get all bundled up in my wool overcoat, scarf, fedora, and gloves. I’ve got me keys in my hand, and make my way carefully through the icy snow to the car. My hand raises up to put the key in the lock…and the keys fly out of my frozen, numb, gloved hand, and land a few feet away in the damned snow.

    Now it should be pointed out that I was pretty much snow-blind, as my eyes hadn’t adjusted to the brightness of the fluff.

    So I didn’t see where they landed. Worse, the snow was the fluffy kind…and immediately closed itself in on the spot where the keys fell.

    Remember earlier I mentioned those giant oak trees on the property? Did I mention I was not very good at raking leaves?

    So here I am, cold, annoyed, trying to find my keys in three inches of snow covering two inches of leaves. I move around the snow where I though they fell…no dice..

    My 75 Buick LeSabre Convertible

    My 75 Buick LeSabre Convertible

    Scene cuts to TWO HOURS LATER. With a rake, a shovel, and a hose, I finally find my keys. I’m frozen on the outside and sweating on the inside. I have to take a shower and change clothes. I’m three hours late for work. Oh, and the phone lines are of course down, so no one knows why I haven’t been to work in three hours. Finally I go outside, raise the keys to the lock, and they fly out of my hand again. AHHHHHH. But this time, there’s no snow left for them to fall into.

    I hope you’re getting a little giggle outta this. It was very traumatic for me at the time. Sure, most of you are saying ‘big deal’. I know a lot worse things could happen in the snow. But hell, isn’t any excuse a good excuse to move to the subtropics??

    Now, instead of dealing with snow, I deal with falling coconuts. The grass stays green year-round here and there aren’t any leaves to fall off of palm trees. Sure, we get some bad weather now and then; hurricanes are a bitch. But I’m much happier here in Dixie than I ever was in the great white north.