Whenever I get an email from the film lab, I open it immediately. The photos come in sets of 36, and I flip through them one by one—slowly. Depending on the day, some are blurry, some are overexposed, some are underexposed, and others just don’t show up at all. That being said, sometimes I have a keeper. Last week, I opened the folder to find a pair of shots that fall into the latter category.
As soon as I looked at them, they brought me back. Cold Sunday morning. Springtime in San Francisco. I wake up early—too early—to go to the monthly car show at Ocean Beach. I throw on my heavy wool jacket and pull a beanie over my ears. I roll my roadster into the driveway and fire it up. I wonder if the idling ’banger will wake the neighbors. Before they have time to say anything, I’m already on my way.
It’s cool and foggy by the beach. Gray as far as the eye can see. I throw on my headlights as I roll into the battered parking lot. I find a spot amongst the hot rods, customs, lowriders, sports cars and groups of people in hoodies and jackets sipping their morning coffee. I park, walk around, and then I spot one of my favorite cars: Aaron Von Minden’s 1934 Ford coupe.
Aaron, best known as SAVAGE here on the H.A.M.B., built his coupe to do it all. Power comes from a multi-carbed flathead Cadillac, and everything about it is period perfect. The best part? He racks up the miles. From hauling a camping trailer to racing at T.R.O.G., he’s always pushing the envelope. Getting to catch up with him at the show was the highlight of the day—or so I thought.
Once the wind rolled in and the air got colder, we decided it was time to split. I live just about four miles from the beach, so we hatched a plan to cruise back to my house. We haul up north on the Great Highway (back where hot rodders used to race) and then make our turn onto Fulton.
Four-banger roadster and five-window coupe. The rap of my engine is drowned out by the roar of the Cadillac. I’m in front, leading the way. I watch the cars. I eye the buildings on my left and Golden Gate Park on my right. Aaron catches up and then roars by. We climb hills, shift gears, speed up, slow down, and wait at traffic lights. Curious onlookers study the machines.
What are those? Where did they come from? Did you build them? Do they pass smog? Once we hit the Terrace, we back into a pair of spots by my driveway. I pull out my camera and take the shot. There’s no doubt about it: it’s a keeper.
In the world of hot rods and custom cars, you hear the word cruising used a lot. Longtime readers might notice that I hardly ever use it. Why? That’s because I didn’t grow up with it, and I’ve always thought of it as something of another place and time. I feel like it’s reserved for those who actually cruised, not those who were trying to emulate it.
That day coming home from the beach was an exception. This was the first time in my life I’ve ever driven my hot rod with another old car by it. Vintage tin looks best in motion—especially when viewed from another hot rod. Don’t you think?
For more hot rod adventures on film, make sure to check out my Honest Pictorial here.