RETRO MOTO | ABOUT CLASSIC BIKES & THE PEOPLE WHO LOVE TO RIDE ‘EM

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Matt Smith & JP check out a ’65 Triumph Bonneville T120C rebuild at Matt’s shop Quaker City Motor Works in West Chester, PA. –Image by Ashley Smalley

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My Friend, Matt Smith, vintage Brit bike restorer at Quaker City City Motor WorksSmoke and Throttle, has joined forces with some very impressive talent–  avid motorcycle collector and racer John Lawless, ex-dirt bike racer and experienced filmmaker Ed Buffman, and former director and editor at NBC Shel Brown. The result is this great little trailer for a television show being pitched that Matt would host, called– “Retro Moto”. I’m really excited about it because it’s exactly the kind of show I’d want to watch– all about classic bikes, their history, and the people who love to ride ‘em. Check it out after the jump and let us know what you think.

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THE ART OF THE CLASSIC AMERICAN HAIRCUT | TOMCATS BARBERSHOP

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Our friends over at  R E L I C  put together a nice little short on the guys that run Greenpoint, Brooklyn’s own Tomcats Barbershop. It’s a place where you can roll up on your Harley, and step in for a period-perfect ’40s or ’50s barbershop haircut by a guy who not only talks the talk, but walks the walk.

The film was produced in collaboration with the Harley-Davidson Ridebook and pays tribute to the great American brand that, “…impacted the early identity of American culture in everything from the way people began to dress to how they wore their hair…” Amen.

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EVEN COWBOYS GET THE BLUES | VINTAGE PHOTOS OF DUDES IN DENIM

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Times sure have changed.  Playing “Cowboys & Indians” outside has been replaced with playing “Halo” or “Call of Duty” in a darkened room.  Heck, it’s probably so politically incorrect to even mention “Cowboys & Indians” that someone somewhere is having a tizzy.  The American cowboy is an icon of grit, honor, independence and masculinity.  Hard work, long days, and little pay except for the open sky, a horse to ride, a hot meal and a drink or two to wet your whistle.  Maybe even a dance with a pretty girl if yer’ lucky– and don’t stink to high heaven.

The 1910s – 1930s saw the Wild West American lifestyle move largely from a way of life, to ever-increasing faded memories and mythology.  Our country was getting smaller. Technology and transportation were ushering in a new era of industrialized cities and advanced accessibility.  The real jean-wearin’ cowboy lifestyle of days past were kept alive over the decades largely through the Western fashions worn by the stars of silver screen and music.

These images are some of my favorite captures of the American cowboy at the very end of his reign– many not surprisingly taken by LIFE photography giants like Loomis Dean, and Ralph Crane to name a few. Some, unfortunately, are uncredited.  If you know the pic, give me a shout  so I can give the photographer their due, please.

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circa 1934– “Rear view of a man wearing chaps and spurs”  –Photo McCormic Co., Amarillo, Texas.

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Lubbock, TX, 1940– Matador, A Texas Ranch: Seven cowboys sitting along corral fence draped w. their chaps (which they don’t wear while not working), as they wait for brand irons to heat up during cattle roundup at Matador Ranch, the second largest in the state.  –photo by Hansel Mieth

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“WE’LL DROP A HEMI IN THE REAR– AND RUN LIKE HELL.” | HEMI UNDER GLASS

Promo ad sketching out George Hurst’s concept that gave birth to the epic– ‘Hemi Under Glass”  via

That’s the way the whole thing got started.  A Barracuda with a nasty 426 Hemi stuffed where the back seat used to be.  A Barracuda, the likes of which had ever been seen before– with Hurst-designed hi-performance chassis, suspension, driveline components– and naturally a 4-speed stick. This beastly Barracuda was christened “Hemi Under Glass”– a black & gold bomb that appeared at main events across the country.  It would rock awestruck crowds back on their heels, as the Barracuda’s front wheels pitched high into the air and screamed down the strip with its nose pointing to the sky.

This was the hard part– fitting the 426 Hemi through the Barracuda’s front door for the first time. With the aid of a cherry-picker, Hurst personnel jockey the mill prior to making primary measurements that result in the Hemi’s final location.  — Hot Rod, circa 1965, via

The “Hemi Under Glass” was a Hurst Shifters’ promotional project (designed by George Hurst & Ray Brock) that performed at drag strips and auto exhibitions across the country throughout the mid ’60s and ’70s. Hurst hired-on professional driver Bob Riggle to race the Hemi-powered, mid-engine ‘Cuda in front of testosterone-laden crowds who loved the spectacle of seeing these over-the-top wheel-standers scream down the strip at well over 100 mph down the track. Over the years 9 different “Hemi Under Glass” autos have been built, all based on the Plymouth Barracuda.  Riggle himself drove the epic Mopar wheelster up until 1975 when he hung up his racing gloves after a serious accident, and moved back home to Arizona.

LindaVaughn hemiunderglass

“Hemi Under Glass” was largely forgotten about until Bob Riggle decided to resurrect the drag strip icon in 1992, at the urging of “Miss Golden Shifter” herself– Linda Vaughn, and began building a replica of the ’68 model.  Bob once again toured the country’s drag strips and auto exhibitions– drawing new fans, and tickling the old-time reminiscers as he and “Hemi Under Glass” sped down the strip full-tilt, still bringing everyone to their feet just like old times.

“Hemi Under Glass” was originally designed in 1965 by George Hurst & Ray Brock to be a competitive racer.  They soon encountered a problem– the mid-engine placement of the extremely powerful 426 Hemi caused the front end to jerk up into the air quickly at acceleration, which became a huge hit with spectators, so they embraced it and made it arguably the most iconic 1/4 mile wheel-stander of all time.

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OLD SCHOOL HURST GIRLS GONE WILD | GENTLEMEN, START YOUR ENGINES

linda-vaughn-hurst-lug-nutsLinda Vaughn, the legendary “Miss Hurst Golden Shifter”

Linda Vaughn, the lovely, leggy, legend of the auto racing scene from the 60’s through the early 80’s was better known as– Miss Hurst Golden Shifter. She was a trophy queen whose voluptuous looks and charm often stole the show at auto racing events she attended– SCCA, NASCAR, Indy & Formula One, among others.  Linda has been knocked by many for setting Women’s Lib back with her busty displays, but her passion for the sport ran deep and she had a major impact– not just in promoting the sponsors, but also in advancing women’s racing.  Vaughn earned her SCCA competition license at the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving and then got behind the wheel and raced.

Linda Vaughn, the legendary “Miss Hurst Golden Shifter”

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TSY STYLE HALL OF FAME | JAMES DEAN CULTURAL GIANT OF THE REBEL SET

The irony is that James Dean was considered anything but stylish by many of his Hollywood peers of the day. He turned heads and created a legend, not by dressing up– but by dressing down.  Established style icon Humphrey Bogart looked down his nose at Dean, considering him a punk and a slob.  On Jimmy’s passing, Bogart had this to say– “Dean died at just the right time. He left behind a legend. If he’d lived, he’d never have been able to live up to the publicity.” Bogart was right in that Dean was difficult, and definitely not a natty dresser– but his impact on style can never be diminished.

James Dean cemented the rebel uniform for his generation of youth, and for many to come, through his very personal portrayal of Jim Stark in Rebel Without a Cause. Immortalized onscreen in Technicolor wearing the now iconic red jacket, white tee, Lee 101 Jeans, and engineer boots, Dean seemed to hold the world breathless, and became the first actor to speak for the silent anguished teen– he gave them a voice they had been lacking. Before James Dean, onscreen you were either a boy or a man. Dean’s influence on countless great actors that followed him created some incredible performances, like Martin Sheen in Badlands, who owes Jimmy everything he knows about acting.

“Jimmy Dean and Elvis were the spokesmen for an entire generation. When I was in acting school in New York, years ago, there was a saying that if Marlon Brando changed the way people acted, then James Dean changed the way people lived. He was the greatest actor who ever lived. He was simply a genius.” – Martin Sheen

James Dean on the set of George Steven’s epic 1956 masterpiece, Giant. It was Jimmy’s last film, and was released after his tragic death behind the wheel of the infamous “Little Bastard'” Porsche Spyder. Jimmy was on his way with mechanic Rolf Wütherich to Salinas to pursue his other passion– racing cars. James Dean received two Academy Award nominations for Best Actor posthumously, the only person to this day to ever do so– in 1955 for East of Eden, and again in 1956 for Giant.  — image via Hulton archive

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In 2006, the original Lee 101z Rider jeans worn by James Dean (pictured above) were auctioned off for $35,850. Lee Japan has introduced a replica of these same 101Z Rider jeans worn by James dean in Giant for the Lee Archives in 13,25oz narrow loom, Sanforized indigo cast denim with its characteristic one-side selvedge.

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James Dean as the surly and misunderstood Jett Rink in George Steven’s epic masterpiece, “Giant.”

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BIKES, BIKINIS, BEER & BEACH PT. III VINTAGE DAYTONA BEACH BIKE WEEK

Holy Handlebars, Batman!  Regis Decobeck has blessed us all with another installment of old-school Daytona Beach black & white images from ‘74 – ‘78.  Regis picks up where – BIKES, BIKINIS, BEER & BEACH II VINTAGE DAYTONA BEACH BIKE WEEK– left off, with more eye candy that’s sure to either take you down memory lane, or give you that sick feeling that you were born too late.  Either way — Enjoy y’all.

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Circa 1974 – 1978 ~ Another Kustom WTF, Daytona Beach ~ image by Regis Decobeck

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Ca. ’74 – ’78 ~ Bikers window-shopping (AMF, not Harley’s Golden years…) Daytona Beach ~ image by Regis Decobeck

Ca. ’74 – ’78 ~ Dig the aggressive ink on the thigh, Daytona Beach ~ image by Regis Decobeck

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