Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Supernationals: Rafik Kaissi

A featured builder for the show was Rafik Kaissi, a Texas based motorcycle builder who has been shaking things up for a few years now. I first became aware of Kaissi when his 'chain bike' hit magazines and websites about five years ago. Since then he's clearly been letting his imagination run wild and putting his impressive fabrication skills to good use. I had the opportunity to speak to Kaissi about some of his creations and techniques, I found him to be very friendly and enthusiastic about his work, and was happy to have met him.

 There was a large and pressing crowd around the area, which made it difficult to get good camera angles. The bikes are also incredibly detailed, I tried to capture as much as possible but there is definitely missing information.

The Chain Bike

The antique fire extinguisher on the floor is actually the fuel tank, worn on the back while riding.

Nearby was this interesting bike with an off-center in-frame fuel tank, the seating area defies definition.

Also on display was this tube-framed trike.

Very cool pulley-and-wire suspension system.

Kaissi and his lovely companion visible in the background.

Finally this bitchin', out-there creation, with one of the most unique suspensions I've ever seen.

Notice the single coil-over shock.

Notice the ring around the engine.

Notice that the front wheel is attached to the outside of the ring, the rear wheel to the inside.

The whole bike flexes at the middle to absorb bumps in the road.
I found both the man and his creations inspirational, he's definitely pushing the envelope of avant garde motorcycles, and I genuinely appreciate that he took the time to show his work speak to his fans on a personal level.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Supernationals: The Uncategorized

Some vehicles just don't fit into any one persons neat categories on how cars are separated, specifically my categories. A person could argue that these should already have been included in previous posts, but I just wasn't convinced. Regardless of my naming doubts they are all cool cars.

Starting with the DeTomaso Pantera, one of those beautiful and unexpected unions that come from automobile history, DeTomaso (an Italian auto-maker) bought Ford V8s for their super-cars. The mid-engined beauty before you was the result. 

DeTomaso also made a car called the Mangusta (Italian for mongoose), a fine example of which can be seen as Bill's car in Kill Bill v.2.

We don't see very many open-wheeled racers around here.

Very low lowrider, with satin black paint and bitchin' flames, it needs two zip codes for registration.

Cool and classic Bronco outside the show.

I'm a big fan of El Caminos, they are just so much fun.

This is a fun little beach-cruising VW Bug, with an antique air conditioner on the window.

 And it came with an even better accessory, a slammed, low-riding, hot rod wagon. It has a shifter handle and side pipes with chrome tips.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Another cherry Volvo

Just like the gorgeous Volvo wagon, I saw this great P1800 near The Frontier restaurant. It has the same shiny red paint and modern seats inside.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Chevrolet Nova

Great looking Chevy Nova with green paint and a vinyl roof. The big pimp wheels aren't even all that bad.

The Supernationals: the Hot Rods

Always one of my favorite and most under-represented kind of car is the hot rod. These pre-1940 cars were lightweight and cheap after the war, and in the late forties and fifties many returning soldiers looking for excitement got themselves an old Ford, Chevy, Dodge (or Other) coupe, took out all the unnecessary junk, tuned the engine for performance and went racing. Early hot rodders were considered a menace (the term 'hot rod' was a pejorative originally, referring to the high performance crankshafts being installed), due to their dangerous street racing, eventually many of them were forced to start early dragstrips and retreat to the salt flats to meet their racing needs. In the 1960s, following the rise of high chrome and fancy paint schemes from the factories, hot rodding moved towards the 'show car' mentality, hot rods were painted wild colors, given gobs of chrome (chroming the frame of the car even became standard eventually) and some were built with themes, Ed 'Big Daddy' Roth was one of the most influential and prevalent members of this time period. The hot rod culture has swung back and forth ever since, frequently depending on the economy to dictate which style is in fashion.

The 1932 Ford roadster is considered by many to be the epitome of hot rods, it was the first factory V8 available and sold in such great numbers that they were affordable all the way into the 60s. They are such an icon of motoring that numerous songs have been written about this one car, and they are still being produced as fiberglass replicas.

Commonly called 't- buckets' these cars were built with the body of a Ford Model T, which was essentially a steel tub with seats in it. These are good examples of the stripped down but still high dollar show cars that became popular in the sixties.

Here is an example of an excellent Ford Model A coupe, with a modern Chevrolet V8 powerplant in front.

Classic post-war influence.
A newer trend in hot rodding is the so-called 'volksrod.' As with the early trend setters, Volkswagens are affordable and easy to work on. This one has a chopped roof, suicide doors and the fenders have been removed. The moon covers on the wheels are a classic salt flat racing accessory.

Dig the upholstery.

This wild car is a perfect example of the excesses that come with purpose-built show cars. Every surface is either chrome or deep black. The 'body,' which resembles a t-bucket, is actually steel bars forming a cage, which is also fully chromed, a theme that carries over to the grill. The engine is another modern Chevy small-block, with a huge chrome supercharger and twin chrome carburetors.

Notice the mirror under the car, so you can see the various chromed and painted under-surfaces.
Outside the show we saw this cool themed hot rod, inspired by a hearse. The body is most likely fiberglass, the suspension is all chrome, the interior has a pleasant style to it, and there are many fun details such as the taillights to discover on your own. It's also for sale!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Supernationals: Customs and Classics

Even more of the massive collection of cool cars from The Supernationals, featuring the classic sedans of coupes of yesteryear, like this 1937 Buick:

Originally a businessman's sedan, the owner has clearly restored the paint and interior, and added some flash under the hood in the form of chrome and modern electrics.
Just around the corner from the Buick was this gorgeous AC Cobra:

 In miles deep black with perfect red stripes, faux hub-bolt rims and side pipes, this Cobra is the epitome of racing cool.

Just check out that gauge cluster, and the fire extinguisher in case the gauges have bad news.

 The only thing I could possibly take exception to on an exceptional vehicle like this is the (in my opinion) questionable mural on the door panel. It's not my taste; but then, it's not my car either.

There were a number of attractive restorations and mild customs as well:

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


While most people were watching some sort of sporting event and gorging themselves on snacks and commercials, we attended an event at the New Mexico State Fairgrounds. This annual car show, called the Super Nationals, brings together high quality show cars, out-of-control customs, antique vehicles, muscle cars, hot rods, and everything else you can think of. I've attended this event seven times, and while some of the vehicles are familiar they're always a treat to see.
There were far, far too many cars worthy of capturing, but we managed to get a choice selection; today-the muscle cars!

We didn't even have to enter the show before we started seeing total gems, like this stingray Corvette.
Badass bandit Trans-Am
Well restored Coronet
One of my favorite muscle cars, the Challenger.