NORM GRABOWSKI’S CUSTOM CORVAIR BIKE | SICK-AS-HELL SIX-PACK ON 2 WHEELS

norm grabowski

“Norm Grabowski”s monster– the Corvair-powered “Six Pack”. Neil East (another rodding icon), owned AutoBooks in Burbank, CA, and Colorado Carbooks here in Denver told me that Norm used to come to L.A. Roadster club meetings on the Six Pack, and he said Norm had no problem kick starting this bike, when it was time to leave. It had no electric starter!” –Irish Rich 

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norm grabowski corvair motorcycle

Norm Grabowski’s epic “Six Pack” — an air-cooled, flat-six Corvair engine mounted on the frame of a ’41 Indian shaft drive with no transmission, just a clutch. Another future Kustom Kulture legend pin-striped the bike– Dean Jeffries. Irish Rich (whose website is the authority on old school builders, and is due a ton of respect for his own incredible work) saw this impressive bike himself back in ’65, and has chronicled it well. Norm actually built 2 Corvair-powered “SIx Packs” — the other mated with H-D tranny called “PP ‘n’ Vinegar.”

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norm grabowski motorcycle magazine

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ARTICLE FROM BARRED OUTLAW MOTORCYCLE MAGAZINE, 1966–

Norm Grabowski lives in a beautiful ranch type home in the Sun Valley Hills with his mother and father. He stands 5′ 9″, 210 lbs, blues eyes, strawberry blond hair but cannot grow a beard. Almost every morning Norm takes his racing bicycle for a twenty mile ride. Works out every day and also takes a dip in his swimming pool. He doesn’t smoke and only drinks beer on weekends with his outlaw motorcycle buddies. He is in perfect physical condition. His only hang-up is his mother won’t let him drive his famous “Six Pack” Corvair-powered motorcycle out at night– but he does sneak it out occasionally.

Norm’s only comment about his “Six Pack” is that once you ride it, you won’t want to ride anything else. His only other gig other than motorcycles and acting is a nightclub act which he has done extremely well at. He sings like a girl or something unusual like that.

Two years in succession he has been on crutches for a period of several weeks. The first time a motorcyclist ran through a red light wiping Norman out. His buddies which were following in a truck picked him up thinking he was dead– but Norman survived. Just recently he shot himself in the leg practicing a fast draw with “Cold 45″– the kid has a 1966 4-door Lincoln Continental and a pretty sister to chauffeur him around. The lucky cat has three films to be released in which he plays important supporting roles” Out-of-Site” for Universal-International, “Happiest Millionaire” and “Gnomobile” both for Walt Disney Productions.

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norm grabowski motorcycle

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ARTICLE FROM BARRED OUTLAW MOTORCYCLE MAGAZINE, 1966 CONTINUED–

Norm says, “Well, I loved doing the role on “Run For Your Life”…I thought it was good for a TV show considering what we could get away with. I think Barrymore did a great job of acting with his role, but he didn’t like the ending and walked off the set once– but like in most cases the studios have it their way and you’re working for them. Barrymore just didn’t think the character should die like a coward. And I sort of agree with him– but you can’t win them all. I don’t think the show did the outlaw world justice. I can’t regret playing the role because if I didn’t play it someone else would have– anyhow the paycheck was helpful.

I just hope one of these days I’ll get cast as “Joe Good Guy” instead of the bad guy all the time in these Hollywood motorcycle pictures.

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NORM GRABOWSKI CORVAIR MOTORCYCLE

When Norm Grabowski added the sidecar the Corvair-powered ‘Six Pack’ it then became known as– the ‘Six Pack plus Sidehack’. “Norm Grabowski took a German-made Steib sidehack frame, and added a narrowed and sectioned fiberglass T-bucket body from CT Automotive to it. He did this around ’67-’68. Tony Nancy did the upholstery, and Jeffries matched in his striping.” –Irish Rich 

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NORM GRABOWSKI CORVAIR MOTORCYCLE SIDECAR

Norm Grabowski’s only comment about his Corvair-powered “Six Pack” is that once you ride it, you won’t want to ride anything else!

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norm grabowski six pack sidehack corvair motorcycle

Norm Grabowski flexing with his epic Corvaired-powered “Six Pack”  – turned – “Sidehack” motorcycle.

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NORM GRABOWSKI CUSTOM CORVAIR MOTORCYCLE

Norm is packing heat in this pic (see the revolver strapped to his leg…), which is kind canceled out by those hippy-trippy sandals he’s sportin’.Norm Grabowski and his “Six Pack” on the back cover of the Defrance & Defrance (D&D Cycles) catalog, circa 1969.” –Irish Rich

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norm grabowski six pack easyriders

“Norm Grabowski on his Six Pack. The photo showed up in an Easyriders magazine, in their ‘In The Wind’ section. I don’t remember the exact issue, or the exact year, but it was in the early ‘80s, that I know. Notice Norm has grey hair, and definitely looks to be about the age when the photo was taken. You’ll notice it was revamped a little. It has a different paintjob (don’t know the color), different gas tank/gas cap, and it has the Indian script painted on the tank. He also has what looks like a Barnes rotor on the front now, with dual Hurst-Airheart calipers. The bars are different, along with the handlebar risers. It has a bigger automotive-style rectangular headlight, which would date it approximately late ‘70s to early ‘80s, that was the style of headlamp that was popular from the Big 3 at the time. But, you can see the ‘Six Pack’ lettering on the valve covers, so it definitely isn’t PP & Vinegar. Don’t know if Norm still owned it when the photo was snapped, or if he was just posing on it. My guess is it was still in his possession at the time, from the photo pose.”  –Irish Rich

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NORM GRABOWSKI CORVAIR MOTORCYCLE PP 'N' VINEGAR

Norm Grabowski’s epic “PP & Vinegar” — an air-cooled, flat-six Corvair-powered motorcycle.

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Norm Grabowski six pack corvair

Norm Grabowski’s epic “Six Pack” — an air-cooled, flat-six Corvair-powered motorcycle with a very over-the-top 1970s looking airbrush paint job.

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norm grabowski pp vinegar motorcycle corvair

Norm Grabowski’s epic “PP & Vinegar” — an air-cooled, flat-six Corvair-powered motorcycle.

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norm grabowski corvair harley PP vinegar

Norm Grabowski’s epic “PP & Vinegar” — an air-cooled, flat-six Corvair-powered motorcycle now on display at Rocky’s Great Outdoors and Cycle in Burton, Michigan.

R.I.P. Norm Grabowski (February 5, 1933 – October 12, 2012)

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17 thoughts on “NORM GRABOWSKI’S CUSTOM CORVAIR BIKE | SICK-AS-HELL SIX-PACK ON 2 WHEELS

  1. What’s happened to your blog? It was classy at one time. Look I ride, but showing spike helmeted riding goofballs ain’t really the class you were showing when you started this gig.

    • Zarcero,

      Norm Grabowski was an icon, and a very classy guy – who also had an amazing sense of humor. He passed away 10/12/2012 and I’m sure that thousands of his friends would tell you just what a classy guy he was.

      I’m guessing you don’t know shit about Norm, so I’ll let it slide, but try to be more thoughtful the next time you speak about a fallen icon like Norm Grabowski.

      • Everybody over a certain age would recognize him from various “tough guy” character roles he played. I guess it’s all in your perspective. RIP Norm.

      • JP, like I always say, there’s always some kid that shits his pants at the birthday party. Not sure who’s Corvair-powered bike the candy painted one is. Some have said it was one of Norm’s, but I don’t think so. Some have said it was Joe Alphabet’s “Boneshaker”, but it isn’t his, either. I’ve also been told it was a Dean Lanza paintjob on it. If it was a Lanza paintjob, I bet Ronnie Paugh (Paughco) knows who’s it was.

  2. Irish Rich,

    Hmm. Now I’d really like to know the story behind the PP & Vinegar Corvair bike. Also, what have you heard about the fate of the “Six Pack”? Is it around, or is that another mystery?

    Thanks for chiming in, I knew you’d have some insight.

    JP

  3. I was just a kid when I saw Norm riding that thing around up in Sunland /Tuujunga. I didn’t even have any idea who it was but you could here that thing coming and it was always a spectacle when it passed. I didn’t know it but turns out Norm went to the same high school I went to , Verdugo Hills High where he shows up on their website. There was a bike shop in town called D &D and they were well known for building Corvair powered trikes with the engine in front ala Norms contraption, they must have been connected somehow me thinks. Zarcero; You have only shown your idiocy with your dumb ass statement, hope you learned something.

    • kevinhog,
      I grew up in La Crescenta in the 70’s and I remember Sunland/Tujunga as a kind of biker heaven. I still remember “The Place” (ain’t no place like the place so this must be the place), Rodan’s and The Freedom Machine. Do you have any idea if any of those places are still around?

  4. Wow JP . Two great posts in a row ! This .. blast from the past complete with friend Neal East as well as Irish Rich’s commentary …and the ‘ Outlaw ‘ segment previously .

    As far as Zarcero though …. allow me to inform the dear boy that the ‘ Hipster’ wanna be aesthetic he no doubt follows religiously has its roots in the down and dirty past you’ve put on the site today …. Outlaws … genuine Rebels and Iconoclasts ….. e.g. the genuinely ‘ Hip ‘ .. not the suburban urban wanna be Hipsters with their noses stuck in Mensfile , downing their $7.00 lattes , $50 lunches , $500 jeans and $70 hair cuts

    Learn your history Zacero …. cause btw JP’s done more than a few like these two in the past

    JP … you’ve made amends times two in my book with these for the ‘ One Show’ Portlandia schtick. Paid in full . I’s a happy man ;-)

    Irish Rich – Yeah I’d like to hear more about the PP& Vinegar bike as well and shame on me for not knowing you’re right around the corner ( respectively speaking )

  5. Irish Rich,

    I just found and posted a a grainy old B&W pic of Norm on the PP ‘n’ Vinegar Corvair. Could it be his? Or do you think it was a possibly a bike built at D&D that he took a pic with? The way he’s sitting on it looks like how you’d sit for a posed shot where maybe it ain’t your bike.

    Check it out, thanks.

    JP

    • JP, I’ve seen that photo, that’s Norm’s bike. You can see the Defrance’s (D&D) milled valve covers on it, monogrammed just like Six Pack’s were, only with “PP&Vinegar”. As far as what happened to Six Pack, a friend told me he used to speak to Norm in Lead Hill, and Norm was always on the lookout for it in later years, and had planned on building another like it. As far as I know, he never got any solid leads on Six Pack. Another guy I talk to when I see him on the West Coast said that the Defrances set up the drivetrain on 3 Corvair bikes for Norm, but I’ve never heard anyone besides him say that, and I’ve never seen a 3rd. Could have been Norm sold the 3rd unfinished. I’m gonna ask Ron Paugh next time I see him if he knows. Ron said growing up his family used to live up by Norm, and used to stop by the chicken ranch, and buy eggs from the Grabowski’s front yard stand.

  6. So I guess the question I’m asking myself now the more I look at both the 6 Pack and Grabowski’s PP& Vinegar is ……. were the designers at Honda motorcycles aware of Norm’s creations back in the day …… and if so ….. how much did these bike influence the creation of the Goldwing/Valkyrie ?

  7. I used to go to Rocky’s in the 1970’s and PP&Vinegar was there then. The store was advertised as the largest chopper shop in the country at that time. Is it still there?

  8. Pingback: NORM GRABOWSKI’S HARLEY-DAVIDSON PANHEAD | THE TRICYCLE FOR BIG BOYS | The Selvedge Yard

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