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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 Socialite

Joined: Aug 20, 2002
Posts: 2793
From: Carson, California
Posted: 2011-05-21 11:54 pm   Permalink

In other threads on this forum, we've discussed how the modern Tiki Revival has mixed and overlapped with the Rockabilly, Surf, Hot Rod, and Burlesque revival movements. This is generally accepted as a modern phenomenon - It makes sense that Mid-Century Modern revival cultures connect and overlap - they accent and enhance each other and we all have the element of nostalgia in common now to bring us together.

Back in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, these cultures were distinct and not even necessarily recognized as "cultures" or "movements". They were just passions and enthusiasms of the era. If they overlapped, it was purely by accident, right?

For the longest while, the only evidence we had that Hot Rod Culture and Tiki Culture (and Surf Culture for that matter) overlapped at all was the famous Surfite model that appeared in the "Book of Tiki":



Lately, we've been seeing more overlap in bits and pieces. I recently had the opportunity to leaf through at least a hundred Hot Rod magazines from the 1960s at an estate sale and found even more connections. I still don't think that tikis were a major part of vintage Hot Rod culture, but I DO now believe that some hot rodders, (at least in Southern California), found Tikis to be very cool, and incorporated them in photographs to amp up the appeal of their cars. I have a feeling this might be because the "Exotic" nature of Polynesian restaurants and Tiki statues accented the exotic-ness of the custom cars, but that might not be the only reason.

Anyway, let's devote this thread to images of vintage hot rods and custom cars mixed with tikis or tiki restaurants, as well as discussion and debate about the intersection of the two movements back in the day. Here are some photos from my collection to get started. I wish these types of images were more common. Seeing tikis and hot rods together triggers a "cool" overload in my brain. It's hard to think of a better juxtaposition.

1. "Rod And Custom" magazine, March 1954. "The Tahitian" is a custom 1951 Ford Victoria, painted in Sunset Flame and Golden Mist, parked in front of the original Kelbo's restaurant on Fairfax & 1st in Los Angeles.







2. "Hot Rod" magazine, June 1961 - At the Winternationals Rod and Custom Show in Pomona California, a Long Beach club called the Renegades, won the Best Display award with their "Primitive" tiki-themed background:







3. "Hot Rod" magazine, March 1962 - Lawndale resident, Gary Heliker displays his custom Model-T street rod next to the local
Tiki Kai restaurant to great effect:





4. "Speed and Supercar, Feb 1967" - A 1965 Dodge Coronet, named the Kon Tiki, is one of the quickest stockers running in the Midwest:








Other recent posts on TC:

TC member congawa recently posted this photo of a nice custom van parked in front of the Kono Hawaii in Santa Ana, CA, sometime in the 1970s:



TC member Lukeulele publishes a custom car magazine and recently found these great photos of Dirty Mike Gildea's tikis taken in Manhattan Beach, CA as part of a lot of hot rod photos that were submitted to him. One suspects that the original photographer might have been both a Hot Rod and Tiki aficionado. Here's the original thread and some of the photos:

http://www.tikiroom.com/tikicentral/bb/viewtopic.php?topic=38445&forum=1








Anyone else have any other images? Or theories on why tikis might have appealed to Hot Rod enthusiasts in the 1950s & 60s?

As a bonus, here's an AC spark plug ad from "Motor Trend" magazine, March 1963:




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[ This Message was edited by: Sabu The Coconut Boy 2011-05-22 00:38 ]


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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11236
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2011-05-22 12:41 am   Permalink

Nice idea. I am very curious about such evidence, too.

Allow me to emphasize the theme of this thread once more for our less cautious readers:

Quote:

On 2011-05-21 23:54, Sabu The Coconut Boy wrote:
....let's devote this thread to images of VINTAGE hot rods and custom cars mixed with tikis or tiki restaurants, as well as discussion and debate about the intersection of the two movements BACK IN THE DAY.



 
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Bruddah Bear
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 07, 2011
Posts: 629
From: Los Angeles Basin, Westside
Posted: 2011-05-22 12:56 am   Permalink

Shouldn't that be more like "VINTAGE IMAGES of hot rods and custom cars mixed with tikis or tiki restaurants" rather than "images of vintage cars with tikis and restaurants, etc."? The idea is for period images made during the original Tiki Culture era, correct?

Bear



 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11236
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2011-05-22 01:29 am   Permalink

Yah, correctly termed, that is the request here, right, Sabu? The above magazine finds are great, by the way, especially the one in front of the Tiki Kai. Exceptions to the rule, though, in my estimation. But please, folks, keep'em comin' if you gottem.

No direct visual evidence, but I remembered this thread:
http://www.tikiroom.com/tikicentral/bb/viewtopic.php?topic=33381&forum=2

...with these contributions by our esteemed members:

Quote:

On 2009-08-10 13:59, 1961surf wrote:
The Hula Hut in El Monte was very popular in
the 1950's.My Dad met my Mom there for the first time and the rest is history.
They have been married for 51 years.My Dad has told me of the stories at the Hula
Hut which later turned into Bills drive in.This was the quintessential place that
would have been right out of "American Graffiti".The guys had slicked back DA
hair cuts with their cigarettes rolled up in their tee shirts sleeves and the girls
had the poodle skirts with bu fondue hair dues.Lots of cruise nights with cars of
all sorts would pull up there...



Quote:

On 2009-08-10 16:30, Dustycajun wrote:
The Hula Hut in Whittier was frequented by Dean Moon the famous hot rod pioneer. They even had a car club called the "Hutters" named after the Hula Hut. Here is a picture of Moon and some fellow Hutters from the book Moon Equipped. Looks just like your description.

DC



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bananabobs
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 16, 2003
Posts: 824
Posted: 2011-05-22 04:09 am   Permalink

Roland Leong, owned a dragster in the early 60's named the Hawaiian, it was the Grand Champion in 1965. Before BigBro jumps in and denies any relation to Tiki, this car and the team nodded to the Polynesian culture.





 
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JOHN-O
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2694
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2011-05-22 06:37 am   Permalink

Thanks Sabu !!

These days, the power of the internet is making things a bit too easy (and taking the fun out of it?), when we can just do a Google search and get instant results. Most will stop their casual research there, assuming the vast wealth of a subject's content has been digitized and is available on the internet.

You did your urban (periodical?) archeology the old-fashioned way by thumbing through hundreds of old magazines at an estate sale !! I'm sure the 1st-generation (pre-internet boom) Tiki Revivalists here can appreciate that the most.

I think the most significant thing you uncovered is this:

Spark plugs can be Tiki !!




 
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JOHN-O
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2694
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2011-05-22 09:49 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2011-05-22 04:09, bananabobs wrote:
Roland Leong, owned a dragster in the early 60's named the Hawaiian, it was the Grand Champion in 1965. Before BigBro jumps in and denies any relation to Tiki, this car and the team nodded to the Polynesian culture.


Well...

Maybe if there was an image of a Tiki (or the word Tiki) on that car.


 
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MadDogMike
Grand Member (7 years)  

Joined: Mar 30, 2008
Posts: 7392
From: The Anvil of the Sun
Posted: 2011-05-22 10:51 am   Permalink

Hasn't Hawaiian Tropic suntan lotion sponsored drag cards for years? Any of them tiki themed? Or was that too late on the timeline? 70s? (so many questions and no answers!)
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Big Kahuna
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 11, 2007
Posts: 2355
From: SoMass
Posted: 2011-05-22 5:16 pm   Permalink

While not in front of a Tiki establishment, this is Jack Walker's 1950 Olds Kustom "The Polynesian".


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11236
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2011-05-22 8:54 pm   Permalink

Cool, so we got the TAHITIAN, the HAWAIIAN, and the POLYNESIAN now! Shows how those monikers were part of peoples' world back then. Interesting how, especially in comparison to today's Tiki revival, none of those cars sport any Polynesian pop design elements (not to mention Tiki).

Well, I am not a custom car guy, but I can see that the Tahitian and Polynesian are all about stripped, clean lines, ANY ornament would have been extraneous and against their concept. But the Hawaiian, and those hot rods don't have anything Poly pop on them either (x-ept that cool Bamboo font!)

That spark plug ad rang a bell...


...and I dug up this large old water decal from my files, showing a smiling version of that mask:


I have no idea where it came from originally...


 
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Dustycajun
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4392
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2011-05-22 9:33 pm   Permalink

Great thread topic Sabu.

Here is a photo of the Surfite model and Tiki Surf Club hut




and a few models with the Surfite






DC


 
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hewey
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Sep 14, 2004
Posts: 4278
From: Sydney, Australia
Posted: 2011-05-23 06:48 am   Permalink

Some great pics and links in this thread.

One link that hasnt really been mentioned is that a lot of the early hot rodders served time in the US armed forces, and a lot would have served in Hawaii. They then went home and used their new mechanical skills souping up old cars to go fast. Makes sense that a bunch of these guys might have had tiki bars too I reckon, though I have nothing to prove that!

One thing I have noticed looking at vintage racing pics is that pith helmets were commonly worn at both the drags and the salt lakes. Not sure if this is a tiki influence or not?





Kasier concept cars - check the names!



Dodge Turbine car in front of the Bali Hai
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Gy_fNjOy98

Not quite tiki, but definitely relevant to the intermixing of surf culture and hot rod culture 'in the day' was the Beach Boys. Prob the closest they came to tiki was the song 'Hawaii'

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msteeln
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 24, 2008
Posts: 283
From: Ka'a'awa, HI
Posted: 2011-05-23 12:22 pm   Permalink



I grew up near Roth's Slauson Ave. shop, witnessing the koolest of 60s kustom kulture kreativity in action. Surfite was kute but kompared to many of Ed's other products like the wild bug-eyed Mysterion and his flying car, Rotar, this little job was mere movie fodder. Fortunately it survives today along with much of Big Daddy's awesomeness.

Legend Leong had many Hawaiians, soon leaving the rails behind for funny cars. His '72 Challenger had the most beautiful candy apple blue paint job covering the entire car, with gold bamboo HAWAIIAN lettering on the sides. One of the prettiest cars ever, certainly the best looker he had. You'll see it go up in flames @ 2:00
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYJQkaPD2d0

If you didn't live in the 50/60/70s, you should sue somebody!


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King Bushwich the 33rd
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jan 10, 2005
Posts: 1192
From: Ling Cod Beach, CA 90803
Posted: 2011-05-23 12:35 pm   Permalink

Ed Roth's Surfite made a brief appearance in the movie "Beach Blanket Bingo"


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Capt'n Skully
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 28, 2005
Posts: 404
From: The Lost Lagoon
Posted: 2011-05-23 12:44 pm   Permalink

Quote:

Or theories on why tikis might have appealed to Hot Rod enthusiasts in the 1950s & 60s?




More than just a theory can link the two... Both Rodders and what could be called Tiki enthusiasts of the day were military men- The GIs returning to their homes at the conclusion of WWII.

In short and basically, you have one group of military men who brought back stories/souvenirs of being stationed in exotic Hawaii... From this birthed the 'Tiki' culture as discussed and is well known here.

At the same time though, some GIs returning from the motor pools in Europe began buying the clunkers that were cheap and readily available- converting them into 'hotrods'... Cars built for speed and excitement. They started racing their cars in the desert outside of Los Angeles and soon were building cars that exceeded 100 miles per hour. From this birthed the 'Custom' culture.

So you have 2 groups of military men in LA/Cali that surely ended up together in social settings (or reunions or via networking looking for jobs) discussing 'war stories' and what they were doing now that they were home... Supporting each other after what they went through in the war, possibly becoming friends in some instances.

There wasn't much crossover in the two or this wouldn't be a conversation, but both groups in LA had to have witnessed and shared the work being done on the separate 'movements' (which, btw, can also be classified as 2 truly American art forms).

My 2...

[ This Message was edited by: Capt'n Skully 2011-05-23 12:45 ]

[ This Message was edited by: Capt'n Skully 2011-05-23 12:46 ]


 
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