My story begins with my Granpappy. He was one of those tough old, hard drinkin' bastards, who lived through the hard times of the depression and wrenched his way through life. This photo is about 1947, that's a '39 Indian Chief he's on, and although he had other bikes before this one, it was his favorite. His eyes gleamed as he told me about getting some chrome done for it. If you look closely, you'll see the rod that runs from the shifter to the transmission, that's it ! He also told me, how him and my grandmother, rode in the dead of winter, it was the only transportation they had. Hard times.
Back then, mechanics did it all, rebuilt engines, bodywork and even painted. In fact, my first spray gun was his. I found it in the garage one day,an old siphon feed Binks no.7. I made my living with that particular gun for about the first 10 years.
My first chopper ! A rigid frame, girder front end with 12" pullback bars. I was about 12 years old , Easyriders Magazine had just hit the shelves and I was a big fan. Vulgar language, naked chicks, motorcycles, what's not to like ! Ever since I started riding bicycles, I'd back them up to the curb and park 'um in the street, on an angle,like the big bikes. Signs of things to come.
So, after high school I started wrenching at a GMC dealer.Then worked at Central Chevrolet for about a year, when a guy from high school asked me to paint his ElCamino. I had been doing some airbrush work for friends. I learned the basics of painting with big guns from an old biker from WestSpringfield. So I thought i'd do it, for the fun. It came out so good, I was inspired to try my hand at bodywork and painting for a living. I worked at a shop on Gasoline Alley in Springfield. It was right next to Van America (this is around the time when vans were the vehicle of choice) well the guy next store, painting murals on them was Rocky. This guy was awesome ! More inspiration ! At the time I was drivin' this badass '69 Cobra (which was a Torino ) 428 CJ DragPak, R-code car.
Well, me and that friend rented space from the guy I was working for and started Wizard autobody. The work was great, we did some very cool cars.We did restorations and custom paint, for about a year. I was young and my lifestyle cost more than we made. So, we split and I went to work for a long secession of bodyshops, fine tuning my craft.
I admired the work of area pros like Smily from Agawam,Ma. He did awesome ribbons.
Bob Mercier, from Ct. his use of pearls and candies, for graphics and murals was the coolest thing goin'.
And Rocky, who's airbrush work is still the best I have seen ever. So real, it was like a photo. Not cartoony like most out there. Real art !
Over the years I've been fortunate to have some very nice bikes and some very cool cars.
'75 Sportster, full custom
'51 Ford F-100, chopped and dropped with Merc. flathead 8, check out the exhaust running along the bed !
'50 Stude, chopped, 302 ford power
'56 Ford tudor, 292 cu.in. with 3 strombergs
There are plenty more, I just have to find the pictures.