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Tiki Central Forums General Tiki Tiki and vintage Hot Rod / Custom Car culture
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Tiki and vintage Hot Rod / Custom Car culture
Sabu The Coconut Boy
Tiki Central Poet Laureate

Joined: Aug 20, 2002
Posts: 2792
From: Carson, California
Posted: 2011-05-23 1:26 pm   Permalink

Thanks for good and on-topic input, Everybody.

Sven & Brudda Bear - You've got it right. Hoping to focus on the vintage connections in this thread, since we've already got several other threads for modern Tiki cars & trucks. That doesn't mean however that we can't post modern photos of vintage cars that had a tiki or Polynesian-pop connection. And if you find that old guy in your neighborhood who has a backyard full of old hot-rods and tikis, then BY ALL MEANS post some photos.

It's interesting how the two least-tiki looking vehicles (the Tahitian and the Polynesian) are from the early 1950s and probably influenced more from pre-tiki culture (maybe South-Seas or Beachomber bars and South Seas films?), before carved tikis had really made the scene. In the case of the Tahitian at least, the name might have been chosen because of the paint-job. It seemed to have resembled a Tahitian sunset, perhaps. Don't know what the paint-job was like on the Polynesian.

Love the bamboo-font on the Hawaiian dragster.

Bigbro - totally forgot about the Hula Hut in Whittier and the "Hutters". Would love to see more photos of that car club.

Also - great catch on that tiki mask logo being pretty much the same one on your decals. It also reminded me of the old mask-and-shield signs that appeared over some tiki restaurants as well.

hewey - I didn't know about the pith-helmet craze. Wonder what that was influenced by. Also, beautiful video of that Dodge Turbine in front of the Bali Hai - I'd never seen that before.

msteeln - it must have been great growing up so close to Ed Roth's shop in the 60s. I remember the street I lived on in the 60s & 70s had a custom chopper club at the end of the block. Beautiful Candy-Flake choppers, some in custom styles that Ed Roth would have been proud of, used to cruise up and down my street on Saturdays. Used to see a lot of dune buggies and custom vans too. I miss those sights.

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Big Kahuna
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 11, 2007
Posts: 2330
From: SoMass
Posted: 2011-05-23 2:38 pm   Permalink

Even though "The Polynesian" was a "50 Olds, it was built later in the '50's. It was the cover car for the June 1958 issue of Custom Rodder magazine, with a full feature on the car inside. Even though the article says the car was painted gold, it looks maroon on the cover & in every other picture I've ever seen of it. Lukeulele should be able to shed more light on this, as well as, come up with some more cars. I'll PM him.

 
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Lukeulele
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 04, 2006
Posts: 377
From: So Cal-holic
Posted: 2011-05-23 3:22 pm   Permalink

Probably one of the most famous customized cars ever, was Bob Hirohata's '51 Mercury built by Barris in '51/'52. Today, everyone refers to it as the Hirohata Merc, but back then, it was called The Hawaiian (way before Leong campaigned his front engine dragster).



The Polynesian was built by Valley Customs for Jack Stewart. The color was more of an organic maroon. (Honduras Maroon)


My personal belief is that Tiki & Hot Rod/Custom Car culture is not directly linked per say, but just another example of how the Polynesian craze that swept America in that time period affected pretty much anything and everything in its path.

I can think of many cars with Poly-themed names.....The Beachcomber, Royal Tahitian, The Headhunter, etc...

Also, many car clubs of the era used Poly-themed names for their club and insignia.



 
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Big Kahuna
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 11, 2007
Posts: 2330
From: SoMass
Posted: 2011-05-23 3:37 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2011-05-23 15:22, Lukeulele wrote:
Also, many car clubs of the era used Poly-themed names for their club and insignia.


Quick response there, Chucklehead!
I happen to know a really cool current club with a Poly-Pop themed name!


 
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Lukeulele
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 04, 2006
Posts: 377
From: So Cal-holic
Posted: 2011-05-23 4:15 pm   Permalink

Typically what a car club would do back in the 50s and 60s (and, today, as well) would be to have car club plaques cast with their logo or insignia. These were aluminum plaques approximately 6"X 9" in size (about the size of a license plate). They would usually be painted in the club colors and then sanded so the top portion of the image would be aluminum and the lower relief area painted. The plaques would be hung from the rear bumper in support of the club. The images below are raw aluminum plaques before painting and sanding. These are just a few of some original clubs from the late 1950's.




Not necessarily Tiki, but fitting for this forum....

Hey Rick, what's this cool club you speak of??


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11130
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2011-05-23 4:24 pm   Permalink

Very cool!...now more of the cars you mentioned!



That pith helmet thing for the desert races is fascinating to me. I am theorizing about three possible sources of inspiration:

1.)
Just like nowadays we dig 50s and 60s imagery, back in the 50s, people liked 1920s and earlier vintage stuff, like old timer cars and jalopies (=Model T Fords were made into Hot Rods) and slapstick movies...



...which had silly jungle explorer and African hunter characters...





Silent film cliches like that were used in the 50s with the same sense of humor with which we use mid-century Polynesian pop images today, so it was that kind of cliche joke that might have made desert racers wear these helmets.

One example for a hipster who did use this look was

2.)
Lord Buckley, famous Beatnik wordsmith and comedian


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lord_Buckley

(note: "In 1959 Buckley voiced the beatnik character Go Man Van Gogh in "Wildman of Wildsville"!")

And 3.)
Considering that Bikers used German steel helmets and iron cross insignia, perhaps (just perhaps!) they were an homage to the German Afrika Korps look:


"Desert Fox" Rommel had always been afforded a certain admiration by Americans...


...and it seems his soldiers did have a good sense of humor, too:


This is just the kind of equipment modification that Hot Rodders would have dug


[ This Message was edited by: bigbrotiki 2011-05-24 08:49 ]


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Bruddah Bear
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 07, 2011
Posts: 628
From: Los Angeles Basin, Westside
Posted: 2011-05-23 6:53 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2011-05-23 16:24, bigbrotiki wrote:
...and it seems the soldiers had had a good sense of humor, too:


This is just the kind of equipment modification that Hot Rodders would have dug




Case in point...



The "SoCal Tank"

Modified ex-military auxiliary fuel belly tank.


I'd also have to say that it wasn't just ex-military guys hot rodding. Young guys have been buying older model cars and building "hopped-up jalopies" since at least the 1930s, and I have found a number of old newspaper photos in the LA Public Library photo collection from the 50s of teenagers busted for drag racing and stunting on public streets and highways. It wasn't just a military vets game.


Bear



[ This Message was edited by: Brudda Bear 2011-05-23 18:54 ]


 
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MadDogMike
Grand Member (6 years)  

Joined: Mar 30, 2008
Posts: 7290
From: The Anvil of the Sun
Posted: 2011-05-23 7:06 pm   Permalink

Maybe it was just hot out on the salt flats and the pith helmets provided shade with ventilation

 
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msteeln
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 24, 2008
Posts: 280
From: Ka'a'awa, HI
Posted: 2011-05-23 7:20 pm   Permalink

Quote:
it must have been great growing up so close to Ed Roth's shop in the 60s

That lil nugget set the tone for everything. The kicker was being buds with Dennis, Ed's 2nd oldest, from small kid days. The perks and experiences were often extreme, and Ed was beyond, yet still a (semi) regular Joe. Fun times, too bad the 60s didn't last forever ...not that they couldn't have been better/fairer for many. Nothing tiki, but here's a taste of the old and more current times, the surviving boys are carrying on the tradition
www.rothoriginals.com
Great thread, and I love the club plates!

We now return you to your tiki channel...


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congawa
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 11, 2008
Posts: 356
From: Long Beach, CA
Posted: 2011-05-25 2:38 pm   Permalink

I missed this thread (being in Tiki Caliente), but Roland Leong originally got into drag racing teamed with Danny Ongais, from Maui, who later drove for Mickey Thompson and then left drag racing to drive in the Indianapolis 500 for years. In the 70's, when the sponsor name became the main thing on the cars, Leong always kept his sponsorship with "Hawaiian" in the name--he had the Hawaiian Punch funny car for years, and then Hawaiian Vacation, sponsored by the Hawaiian travel bureau. And the first successful driver of that beautiful 60's front engine Hawaiian dragster pictured was Don "The Snake" Prudhomme, who went on his own and became commercial rivals/partners with Tom "The Mongoose" McEwen, which had kind of it's own subtle Hawaiian reference (Snake vs. Mongoose).

Caltiki Brent


 
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congawa
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 11, 2008
Posts: 356
From: Long Beach, CA
Posted: 2011-05-25 2:57 pm   Permalink

This is something I've been meaning to post for a while, and this Tiki vehicle thread (unless it's fully turned into a pith helmet thread) seems to be the perfect place.

This is a Kodachrome slide of me in 1964 (circa age 2) taken by my mother during a trip to San Francisco/Bay Area I only remember in small snippets (the most memorable things to me were all the neon signs of glasses containing what I thought were spoons in them that I saw out the car window from my low child's perch in the back seat, which made my parents laugh whenever I said "Hey there's the spoon in the glass again"; turns out they were, of course, neon martini glasses with an olive and toothpick--SF's neon symbol for a bar, some of which still survive. Kids say the kwayziest things).

I still have the tin cable car I'm holding in the picture (and also a smaller one, plus a wooden log truck from that trip). However, I'm not sure whether this was the San Francisco Zoo or the Oakland Zoo. I know we went to Children's Fairyland in Oakland (which I don't think this is), and one or both of the zoos, but my mother doesn't remember which this is. Maybe a NorCal TC'er will know which zoo had the elephant tiki hut trams.



Since my mother took me to a number of SoCal tiki palaces, and took a lot of pictures, I'm still working on getting her to look through her troves of photos and slides to see if there are any of polynesian restaurants (I know she took a lot of shots of the Coco Palms in Kauai when we went there in the 70's--hoping she will turn up those as well).

Caltiki Brent
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congawa
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 11, 2008
Posts: 356
From: Long Beach, CA
Posted: 2011-05-25 3:15 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2011-05-23 16:24, bigbrotiki wrote:
Very cool!...now more of the cars you mentioned!



That pith helmet thing for the desert races is fascinating to me. I am theorizing about three possible sources of inspiration:



I think the main reason is pure practicality--to keep the blazing heat of Utah and California deserts off of them (in the days before giant straw Japanese gardener hats and such became prevalent among westerners for such purposes).

Quote:

On 2011-05-23 16:24, bigbrotiki wrote:
1.)
Just like nowadays we dig 50s and 60s imagery, back in the 50s, people liked 1920s and earlier vintage stuff, like old timer cars and jalopies (=Model T Fords were made into Hot Rods) and slapstick movies...





Since you've wandered into one of my other areas of historic study, I can tell you (for no good reason, other than digression) that this is from the 1913 Mack Sennett Keystone Comedy BARNEY OLDFIELD'S RACE FOR A LIFE, with Ford Sterling, Mabel Normand and Raymond Hatton (on the left).
[/quote]

Quote:

On 2011-05-23 16:24, bigbrotiki wrote:

...which had silly jungle explorer and African hunter characters...



Silent film cliches like that were used in the 50s with the same sense of humor with which we use mid-century Polynesian pop images today, so it was that kind of cliche joke that might have made desert racers wear these helmets.

[ This Message was edited by: bigbrotiki 2011-05-24 08:49 ]



Actually, in this instance Harry Langdon (on the left) is actually wearing a "white wings" helmet, which were the type worn by city trash pickers (which he plays in this film).

However, there are a number of other instances of pith helmets in comedies, and adventure films. There was also the military cousin of the pith helmet--the British military helmet worn in India, as worn by Cary Grant in GUNGA DIN and Errol Flynn in THE LIVES OF A BENGAL LANCER, which was a little taller and not as wide as the "pithier" type.



I think the popularity of the pith helmet came from the romance of the "Great White Hunter," brave first world men (a la "Stanley and Livingston") going into darkest Africa, India or the Amazon knowing not what horrors they'd face. Which is a bit of a precursor to the exotica craze.

Caltiki Brent

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[ This Message was edited by: congawa 2011-05-25 15:17 ]


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abstractiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 29, 2009
Posts: 604
From: Lodi, CA
Posted: 2011-05-25 7:27 pm   Permalink

This is Marty Thorp in 1968 in front of the Stockton Latitude 20 lounge with the Islander Restaurant in the background. I previously posted this pic on the "Hop Louie the Lost Chapter" thread.





 
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Kon-Tiki Viking
Tiki Centralite

Joined: May 20, 2004
Posts: 91
From: Somewhere Beyond The Sea
Posted: 2011-05-25 11:30 pm   Permalink

I think it's more likely that the Hot Rod pith helmets are just US Military surplus...the Marine Corps wore them in WW2...see attached photo..




 
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Johnny Dollar
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Oct 01, 2003
Posts: 2954
From: Baltimore, Maryland, PNG
Posted: 2011-05-26 09:07 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2011-05-23 06:48, hewey wrote:
Dodge Turbine car in front of the Bali Hai
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Gy_fNjOy98



this is cool - my dad worked at chrysler at the time - i sent him the link, and this was his response:

Quote:
What a combination: Tiki and Turbine. I have a lot of Turbine car info including a list of all the people given a turbine car for a few week test program. I probably can find out who the family was that the video car was lent to back in 1964/65.



 
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