“Where the guys who get it go”… that is the driving thought behind the Meltdown Drags.
The crew behind the Meltdown Drags goes all out to recreate a 1966 and earlier racing weekend at Byron Dragway, and in just their 5th year they have created what many consider the top vintage drag racing event in the world. The guys putting on this amazing event have an incredible vision of what they have created, and the world who also “gets it” is responding with open arms.
At the Meltdown event you will find no bracket racing, no breakouts, no trophies, no egos, just pure sixties match racing for fun and bragging rights. What you will find is a mind blowing gathering of authentic, REAL, vintage drag cars putting on one hell of a show…not just sitting around looking pretty… racing! This year’s event featured over 500 vintage drag cars along with some amazing era correct built nostalgia cars from both Coasts and 38 States in between. Spectators poured in from the US, Canada, the U.K., New Zealand, and the list goes on. Ed Iskenderian and Bones Balogh flew in from California, and several gasser race teams showed up in force to battle it out against each other including: The Nostalgia Gasser Racing Association, The Great Lakes Gassers, The Southeast Gassers, The Ohio Outlaw A/A gassers, and many more.
Unlike many events, no one was paid to appear, and there are no payouts, or prize money, and no profit for the MDA. All fees paid at the Meltdown go directly to support the track and keep it open for people to enjoy all year. One of the major goals of the Meltdown Drags is to relive and teach the past, so if you want to take in a drag racing event that will convince you that you have stepped back in time…get on down to 2015 Meltdown Drags on July 17th -19th at Byron Dragway in Byron, Illinois See you there! meltdowndrags.com
I remember back in the late fifties and on into the early sixties, when you attended your first new car show that came to town, and the promoters would brighten up the show by featuring some old classic custom cars and a hand full of unbelievable street-rods. In a lot of communities this was the beginning of the now famous annual street rod and custom car shows that attract tens of thousands of car enthusiasts in most cities throughout the United States and Canada every year.
Thus the story begins. I am fortunate enough to have owed my little 1926 model “T” coupe for the past fifty some years and she has treated me well since back in the mid-fifties when we tore her all apart. And thanks to a very special high school auto shop teacher, Mr. Emery, we recreated a little safer car than old Henry Ford could build back in the twenties. She has been in quite a few street rod and custom car shows over the years from Spokane to Seattle, Portland, Sacramento, Boise and even down to Hot August Nights in Reno, Nevada—some 25 plus years ago.
That’s where and when I first met Roy Collier. Roy was driving his dad’s 1950 Ford 2Dr Coupe that was showing off a pretty nice candy apple red paint job. He was still running the little flathead in it for power and the rest of the ride was pretty much stock. In fact, it still had the hood ornament in place that looked a little out of place over that candy paint job, but Roy and his dad liked the all Ford stock look. Mr. Collier made his home in Salem, Oregon and this was just one of several cars, street rods, trucks and bikes that Roy and his dad apparently owned together.
I was making my home in Portland at the time and frequented several custom car and street rod cruise-ins as well as the world class Portland Roadster Show always held in late winter. I ran into Roy again at the Portland Show that year, but he wasn’t showing his Dad’s Ford off—he was just checking out all the rides. I spent a little time enjoying the show with him and it seemed that every time I would pick out a car that really caught my eye, I’ll be darn if Roy and his dad would have one just like it, but just a little bit different color. I’d see a ’39 Willy’s coupe all tricked out running a big blower and sure enough Roy had one in his collection, same color and everything.
Now, I had not been to the Collier estate in South Salem before, but it sounded like from the number of cars, trucks and bikes that Roy’s family had acquired over the years that they would have to have a pretty large piece of real estate to accommodate a fantastic collection of this size. We’re talking 60 to 80 vehicles at least. “Wow! Just how private is your families car collection,” I questioned with a little more than some excitement in my voice to old Roy? “Any chance I could drive the old model ”T” down to South Salem some time and take a quick look at your world class car collection?”
“Well, of course you can,” was his reply, with or without the Model ”T”, I was always welcome.
“OK if I bring my camera?“
“Of course bring it!”
Now I have been to a few personal one-owner car collections over the years, including the Lemay in Tacoma, Harrah’s in Sparks, and the Davis family’s Pa Pa’s Toys in Cornelius, but I have got to see this very private collection at the Collier Estate in South Salem, Oregon. We established a date that would be comfortable for all parties in question to make the trip down to Salem and it was OK to bring along my son Mike, who was visiting from California. Wow! This was going to be a fantastic day.
It was late March and there was still a cool nip in the air as Mike and I headed for South Salem. The address he directed us to was out in the area of the South Salem Golf course and I expected to find a large gated entry to this very private estate! However, as we approached we found ourselves not in a gated community but in an average little middle class housing development with medium size two car garage homes and no gated entry at this address! We were at the correct estate as there sat the candy apple red 2DR Ford a little dirtier and not quite as shiny as she looked in Reno. Well they must have the big car collection at a more secure location.
Roy saw us pull in and was at the door in no time at all, welcoming us into his dad’s home. Now where is the world class 60-80 car collection I pondered in my mind? Roy was so busy introducing us around the table, then he asked me where the model “T” was and why hadn’t I brought it, as he had all his buddies there wanting to see it! We satisfied his request with the excuse it looked like snow in Portland and not a good drive for the “T” in questionable weather.
My big question is “where is that big car collection of yours, Mr. Collier?”
“Oh, there all in the basement on display, awaiting your camera.”
Wow! All 92 stock cars, custom cars, street rods, trucks and bikes were downstairs awaiting my camera, with the average size of 1.18% in scale size. I truly had been snookered by my own digestive thoughts of automobile collective wonderment, and never questioned the dimensional size of the vehicles that this family had been collecting for the past 25 plus years. To this Collier family, this was a fantastic collection of American custom cars of vehicles on display that included every popular Ford, Chevy and Mopar, as well as Packards, Willy’s and Studabakers etc. in both cars and trucks. Some fantastic custom show cars, street rods, trucks and quite a few good old classic stockers.
In addition, Ron had identified each ride with a spec tab of year, engine size, mfg. number and estimated MSRP value displayed on each ride.
My son Mike and I had quite a laugh over a couple of beers when we got back to Portland that afternoon. Boy did I learn a lesson in size and dimension that day. I also learned that I wasn’t the only guy that still had his car from high school. Roy’s father Ron had his little ’50 Ford 2DR back in school also. I sure hope she’s still in their family today.
All in all it was a fantastic collection of memorable vehicles (despite the size) as well as a super fun day with my son.
“It’s a gift to one’s eyes just seeing in person your gorgeous 1934 Dodge P.U.”
Happy Birthday and Merry Christmas and thank you Mr. Jerry Klinger, from Gresham Oregon, for having the vision of seeing this ride come alive after a 38 year work in progress. Now most of those 38 years were dedicated to just making a living and raising a family. When Jerry finally retired about a year ago he decided it was now time to do something with that Dodge Pick-up.
A total body off restoration was the place to start. With a beefed up chassis and some new motor mounts to handle a 318 ci Mo Par power plant / 904 Auto Tranny and a 9” Ford rear-end really got her moving down the highway.
Jon Lind of Springfield stitched in the delicious Banana Leather interior and B & J Zahn out in Corbett laid down that mouth-watering dark blue metallic exterior. Full torsion bar suspension and disc brakes on all four makes for an updated and comfortable ride. She sports 205×15’s in rubber up front and 235×15’s out back for a perfect stance.
The frenched-in license plate and frenched oval crested tail lights plus the polished chrome wheels on all four corners make this a real one of a kind custom automotive creation.
We at R&R NW Publication are pleased to make this our Featured Ride of the Month for December 2015.
Let me introduce you to a man that loves fast and fancy cars so much that he belongs to the Cascade Plymouth Car Club locally, The National Desoto Car Club and the Walter P. Chrysler International Automobile Club of America and beyond. Now one would think this dude loves nothing but Mopar cars? WRONG! He actually loves all flavors of autos that are fast, fancy and long—the longer the better. Did I mention that he also belongs to the local Rose City Thunderbird car club, The Cadillac LaSalle car club and is an active member in good standing with the Pharaohs Street Rodders Car Club here in Portland, Oregon? We at R & R NW Publications are proud to introduce you to a few of Mr. Brad Groff’s automobile artistic creations “All for the Love of Classic Custom Cars “ for December 2015.
Mr. Groff is a true Oregonian, born a mere 55 years ago right here in beautiful Portland, where he attended Grant High School and had fun for a few years in the auto shop classes. At 15 years of age, the story goes that he purchased his first ride, a ’66 Chevrolet Malibu 2 Dr H/T. Now he is a self-taught automobile operator, teaching himself how to drive. He swears he practiced for a full year in the family driveway, forwards and backwards, never once wandering out into real traffic in preparation for his 16th “B”day. Then it was off to the Oregon DMV in that ’66 Chevy Malibu, all shined up, where he promptly flunked the driving test.
Not to worry, Brad has a flawless driving record today, and makes his home in the Alameda area of Portland and his fantastic family of friends, include a nine year old Boxer dog named Dash and a wonderful 17 year old kitty cat named Waffle. Of the 20 plus cars Brad has shown over the years around the Pacific Northwest, I can’t ever remember one of them that wasn’t fast, fancy and fantastically flawless in their true creative wonder. From his delicious Rolls-Royce, His Ford “T” Bird and his Corvette Stingray along, with a host of others, Brad is truly a car kind of guy. We at R&R NW Publication would like to thank you for sharing your story with us and our thousands of readers all over the Pacific Northwest “All for the Love of Classic Custom Cars.”
1960 De Soto Adventurer 2 dr H/T
Featuring for power a ’63 413 ci Chrysler Imperial V8 with stock tranny and rear-end. The deep Adventurer Desoto Red color really makes the lines on this beauty come alive. She sports w/w on all four corners, showing off a full set of Desoto wire wheels to finish this ride off in style. For the interior, a quality black and grey leather add a nice touch. This is truly another Brad Groff super cherry flawless winning ride, as featured at the 2015 Portland Roadster show, a real winner where ever she shows.
1958 Plymouth Belvedere Convertible
For power she sports a 350 ci Golden Commando power plant with a high cam and dual quad intake with a three speed torque flight tranny. She features all electronic ignition plus disc brakes on all four. The w/w with deep polished chrome wire wheels and the Fury Bright Red color and trim really do a number on this gorgeous Plymouth Belvedere. She wears a delicious red and white interior with a touch of class. Nice ride and another winning featured car at the Portland, Salem and Eugene Car Shows.
1960 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Convertible
Very limited edition. Powered with a stock 390 ci mean and lean all-Caddy, she’s all stock from the tip of the nose to the tip of those wild tail fin taillights out back, a mere 19’4 ½” long. The official color on this beautiful Cadillac is Sierre-Rose, with Eldorado trim and a gorgeous interior in lilac and white deep tucked leather. She sports W/W on those super Caddy wire wheels on all four corners. This is a fairly new ride for Brad and we look forward for you to see it in person at the 60th Portland Roadster show come March 18-20, 2016 at the Portland Expo Center.
SEMA2015 has outdone itself again. The SEMA Show has grown throughout the years—along with it, the Convention Center down in Las Vegas has expanded as well, out of necessity. Because, this year’s show utilized every square inch available. Additional displays filled the Sands Convention Center and areas of the Westmark Hotel. This show is one of the largest in Vegas. Many were complaining of walking the over thirty miles of aisles – but, not yours truly!
We heard Linda Vaughn was in the house but never found her. Her good friend George Barris, builder of who knows how many way out, Hollywood hot rods, died before the show ended. Godspeed—He will be missed by many.
Every year this show set the pace for what we will be seeing in the coming years in the Hot Rod world. There is plenty to talk about but for now, we have a few observations. As usual the number of bitchin’, badass, brand new hot rods was in the thousands. Nowhere on earth will you see this many brand new builds. We were covering them as fast as we could for #GearHeadsWorld. Check it out online in the coming weeks to view the most extensive video collection of the event.
To start off, one thing we were not seeing was a proliferation of roots style superchargers, along with the muscle car style pro Streeters’ we used to see. Now, the Pro Touring style is more the order of the day. The Prochargers’ and the turbos are more hidden down in the engine compartment.
Something we are seeing a lot of is carbon fiber all over some of the cars. Some cars are completely made of carbon fiber. Some of the builders are getting into making molds for this. There were many custom, carbon touches made for good eyeball candy.
Continuing on that subject was the proliferation of body wraps. Dozens and dozens of companies have sprung up that can wrap your car from head to toe with a brand new paint job, without painting it. It’s all decals GearHeads!
But when it comes to actually painting your hot rod, this is what we found: Flatz paint is in. Make no mistake about it. These kinds of paint jobs are tough to do but it looks like they are here to stay for a good, long time. We were seeing them on all kinds of vehicles. And the color selection was nothing short of amazing. All kinds of bright colorful variations of flat paint. Be ready – it is coming to your neighborhood soon.
One final observation would have to include the wheels. With all of the new cad/cam and billet machining capabilities that are available nowadays, wheel styles have exploded. Be ready for the largest selection of wheels ever! ‘Nuff said.
Photos by John Jackson of NotStockPhotography
The beauty you see gracing these pages was built by MetalWorks Classic Auto Restoration in Eugene, Oregon as their personal “shop car.” Not a bad shop vehicle huh? Before shop owner Jon Mannila and the talented crew at MetalWorks got their hands on the 68, it was an illegal daily driver… ha ha, but we’ll get into that in a bit.
The first recorded history of the GTO dates back to the early 80s when Rick, a customer of MetalWorks, purchased it for $2500. After about 3 years of ownership Rick had a blue velour interior installed in the Pontiac, as at the time blue velour was extremely cool, and it matched the GTO’s blue and white exterior. Rick’s wife became the primary driver of the 68 and would take their two children to visit Rick at the video arcade that he owned and operated (note video arcades were also very popular at the same time that blue velour was considered cool). The only problem with Rick’s wife driving herself and their children the 7 miles from Canyonville to Riddle, Oregon was that she has never gotten a driver’s license. Oh well, that’s what back roads are for.
The GTO was sold to a guy, then to another guy, until Rick lost contact with it. Then one day, Rick heard of a GTO for sale in the area, so he went and checked it out. Rick positively identified the 68 as being his old car by, you guessed it, the blue velour interior. As fate would have it with the GTO back in Rick’s posession, very little happened with it. After some time of collecting dust, Rick convinced Jon Manilla that he needed another GTO, as he knew Jon had one GTO already, and as we all know, cars are like potato chips—you can’t have just one. So a deal was struck and Jon became the owner of a 2nd GTO. Jon had just finished the restoration of his first GTO in a stock manner, and was discovering that stock was just not his style. So, with a blank canvas in front of him Jon decided to build his new 68 in more of a hot rod /pro-touring fashion with the thought that the GTO would become a promo piece for the shop. This new direction would also allow MetalWorks to build a car the way they wanted to build one, and to show people what is possible.
An Art Morrison chassis and a new GM Performance LS1 were ordered through MetalWorks’ own “in house” Speed Shop, but soon the build began to snowball as many builds tend to. The LS1 was used as a mock up engine, but a custom build LS3 by Wegner Motorsports had already been ordered running a stage 2 cam, and pushing nearly 600 hp. Then, before the LS3 was nestled inside the rails of the Morrison chassis it was topped with an MSD Atomic LS fuel injection system and coils. Initial thoughts of an automatic were replaced with a TREMEC 6 speed manual that is linked to a Ford 9” with a 4.10 Trutrac posi rear end hosting 31 spline axles. With all “go” the GTO needed some serious “whoa,” so 14” Wilwood vented rotors with 6 & 4 piston calipers were ordered. A couple wheel and tire combinations were scratched until Jon found the perfect combo in a set of Budnik “Platnium” series. Thoughts of autocross racing resulted in a Ridetech TIGER cage for an A-body being ordered, then, modifications were performed to work with the Art Morrison chassis. Ridetech 5 point harness seatbelts were also installed to keep driver and passenger secure in the corners.
While the crew was hard at work on the chassis and drive line, the body was striped, then sent to MetalWorks acid dipping facility. Once the body was at ground zero in bare metal the guys in the body shop got busy massaging the body to perfection, then they applied several coats of “MetalWorks Red” paint. The final step was to wet sand and buff the body to mirrored perfection. Once the body was ready it was sat on the chassis, and the assembly process began. The hidden headlights were converted from vacuum to electric to do anyway with any more “lazy eyed” driving. The factory gauges were replaced with OEM styled Dakota Digital replacements, as well as an electronic climate controller from DD. An Alpine head unit controls 2000 watts worth of stereo that are masterfully hidden throughout the GTO’s interior. Speaking of interiors, sadly the blue velour was past its prime and had to be replaced with a custom OEM styled leather interior that was stitched together by Jon Lind Interiors.
When all the dust had settled the crew at MetalWorks had created one wild pro-touring GTO. A comment often heard by admirers is that they have never seen a GTO taken to this level. Another common statement is that it is nice to see a less common GM model get the royal treatment, instead of yet another camaro. The GTO is definitely not just for customers to admire from a distance at the shop. If a customer is looking to have a high end pro-touring car built, or is curious about an LS conversion, Jon will take them out for a white knuckle rip in the 68, which tends to leave customers in a state of perma-grin and reaching for their wallets with still shaking hands.
Above and beyond being an excellent promotion and sales tool, the GTO is a point of pride for the talented crew at MetalWorks who built it. If you spot this red hot 68 cruising the streets of the Pacific Northwest, don’t be afraid to flag them down as you will meet some of the most down to earth and talented builders in the industry…but if you’re looking to race, you may find yourself admiring the GTO’s freshly restored taillights!!!
There is no bitter of a rivalry between auto enthusiasts than that of Ford vs Chevy… both sides have dug in their heels and rarely allow the other an ounce of give or take. When the team at MetalWorks finished the fastback you see before you they had several of their most hardcore Chevy clients stop by, bow their heads and admit that it was one amazing looking Mustang. Ha ha, yes, hard words to speak I’m sure for guys who bleed Chevrolet, but true words none-the-less… and what better assurance that MetalWorks had accomplished a great build than to have a Chevy guy compliment a Ford.
Unlike most vehicles that come into MetalWorks for restoration, Bob Austin’s 65 was a really nice looking car, but Bob was not thrilled with its paint work. So he decided to start at ground zero and acid dip the body. When the body shell came out of the tanks it was virtually rust free. Now, knowing exactly what he was starting with, Bob gave the crew at MetalWorks the green light to work their magic.
Although the body was rust free, and overall in great condition, the rear quarter panels had some old damage, so it was decided to replace them. Though not necessary, the decision to replace the rear quarters worked out nicely as it was decided to run a set of Detroit Speed mini-tubs, along with a custom gas tank that essentially replaced the truck floor. Other Detroit Speed components included their front alloy cradle and suspension, along with a four link set-up out back, with frame connectors tying it all together.
With the extra room from the mini-tubs, massive Bridgestone 305/30ZR19 tires was utilized out back with a 225/40ZR18 up front. BOZE “Autocross” series rims were a perfect choice and are accented by the 14” Wilwood vented rotors and 4 piston calipers. A 408 stroker was supplied by Performance Unlimited which MetalWorks topped off with a MSD Atomic EFI. Linked to the nasty mill is a Tremec TKO600 tranny mated to a Ford 9” with a Detroit Tru-Trac posi unit.
Moving inside the Mustang we find a very unique dash layout. The dash padding was removed leaving the bare metal components exposed. MetalWorks molded and shaped the dash to resemble a stock padded dash, then frenched in functional components. The rest of the Mustang’s amazing interior was tackled by Jon Lind Interiors and includes red french stitched seams and a fully wrapped roll cage.
In the end MetalWorks accomplished exactly what Bob wanted: a Mustang that still looks like it should but with all the modern performance built into it that will allow him to drive fast, all day and anywhere he wants to go. Sounds like a Ford a Chevy guy could love… ha ha.
Recently I was talking with Cliff at Cliff’s Classic Chevys and he mentioned a recent rash of thefts and burglaries that have been happening all over rural Clackamas County here in Oregon. It’s not known if they are related but it seems that many home shops have been broken into under cover of darkness and a myriad of specialty car parts have been stolen. Additionally some cars have been stolen as well as tools, equipment and trailers. I decided I needed to write a little story about this to send out a warning, so I called a half dozen victims of these crimes to learn more.
Apparently these thieves have “cased” their targets seeking the parts, tools and cars etc. One victim told me that they must be very proficient at it and therefore very practiced because he didn’t hear a thing. They may be slipping a thin piece of metal between the door and the jamb to trip the knob lock in some cases. To load out all of what has been taken must take a considerable amount of time too.
It’s unfortunate that others think it’s ok to take things that don’t belong to them.
The 57 Chevrolet seen elsewhere in R&R NW for some time now, has not been recovered or seen since the day it disappeared. The Camaro pictured here was stolen in August. I’m not certain whether this one has been recovered or not, but it wouldn’t hurt to call the police if you see it. Better to be safe than sorry.
Speaking of being safe, some of the thefts took place where no alarms were present… or sorry, years ago I put in an alarm right AFTER a break in. It’s safe to say that getting a monitored alarm BEFORE a break in is much better idea. Security cameras are a good idea too. In some of these thefts these thieves had to have a truck and it had to be close because carrying the stolen items very far would have been extremely difficult. Security cameras with recording devices could have captured a vehicle allow for a description or an identifying number.
I’m trying to encourage you to keep your eyes open for potentially stolen property and for your own security. Look over what you have done to secure your stuff. If locks need to be update, do it. If alarms systems, video security cameras need updating, do yourself a favor and update everything before you’re stuff gets stolen. Also, review your insurance coverage. One victim told me that he thought he was covered only find out his insurance didn’t cover “car parts” “that weren’t attached to a car?” Are you kidding? I’ll do my best to be kind but, some insurance coverage “fine print,” just ain’t right. Check with your agent to make certain your coverage is what you think it should be and correct it if it isn’t. He lost years’ worth of parts he had collected for his projects, that probably totaled $20,000 worth, all uninsured because of one clause in his policy he didn’t realize was there. If your insurance doesn’t give you the coverage you want, go shopping! He did and found Haggerty was just what he wanted. They may be one of only a few companies to offer the right coverage for our hobby.
I heard an unconfirmed rumor that the police had arrested some people and recovered a cache of potentially stolen property in Clackamas County. If you have been a victim of a theft described above, call your county sheriff if you live in a rural area, or your city police department to check the recovered stolen property that they might not be able to identify as yours, but you could if you saw it. You could get some of your stuff back.
As violated as a break-in makes you feel, you can help prevent it by being vigilant about your security. I don’t think thieves ever take a day off.
The GoodGuys Rod & Custom Association show schedule kicked off in mid-March 2015 at WestWorld in Scottsdale Arizona, the first of 22 shows held all over the country, culminating with a final show for the year, back at WestWorld the weekend before Thanksgiving, November 20-22 2015. Many of these events have titles that include in their description things like the “14th Annual” and the “28th Annual,” with some as old as 33rd and new as the 1st.
Many of these shows attract literally thousands of Rods, Customs and others, not to mention many thousands more spectators who come out just to see the spectacularly built machines that are in attendance.
This year I made it, to cover at least, the 28th Annual WESCO Autobody Supply, Pacific Northwest Nationals at the fairgrounds in Puyallup Washington and the 14th Annual Great Northwest Nationals held at the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center in, where else, Spokane.
In both shows I have to give a hat tip to our brethren from north of the border, Canada. Those guys build some absolutely fantastic cars and trucks. In mentioning that fact in conversations with some of them and other friends, I heard several reasons for the high quality builds, one in particular that came up many times was, “Long Lonely Winters.” That might be true but truly, they build very high quality, innovative cars and trucks, for sure. Check out some of the pictures detailing a few.
Chadly Johnson was fortunate to be able to make it to some of the GoodGuy events in California this year. Like I said, there were 22 events from corner to corner all across the US. He shared his pictures with R&R NW and some of those are represented here too. No matter where you live in this great country of ours, if you’re a car guy or gal you can travel a little or a lot visiting new destinations and taking in a premier event like the ones the GoodGuys’ put together
Look for the GoodGuys 2016 Schedule in a future issue of Roddin’ & Racin’ NorthWest. These cars are fun to build and to drive. Enjoy!
Rarely did I receive Gregory’s undivided attention. He was four years my senior and in all honesty, a closer friend to my older siblings. From birth until I was ten or so, he lived right next door to us. Gregory was smart, creative and extremely motivated. And he could build stuff. I mean; he could build anything it seemed to me when I was a kid, from robots to rocket ships. His parents forbad him from removing the engine from their lawnmower so he simply incorporated the whole mower in his design! He was building crazy bicycles by the time we moved away but customizing cars was in his future.
I think Mark Brislawn had to have been a kid like Gregory. He bought his first vehicle when he was fifteen—a 1930 Model A pick-up. Fifty years later, he’s still at it. Smart, creative and also extremely motived, I doubt that there is a project or build that Brislawn would shy away from. Everything is “do-able.”
The Vancouver, WA native was able to parlay his knowledge of all things mechanical into a career with a company called Precision Equipment. Brislawn spent twenty years as an estimator and sales manager for the outfit that specializes in hydraulic and mechanical repair.
But of course the founding of Briz Bumpers in 1985 is what most people identify with Brislawn. “I picked up a set of 1937 DeSoto bumpers at a swap meet in Chehalis (WA),” he relates. “Before I left, I had three guys trying to buy them from me!” So the demand was pre-existing. Next Brislawn took the beveled bumpers to one of his fab shop customers to find out how difficult they would be to duplicate. He was told: “No problem.”
Brislawn decided to have a few sets made up. “Initially, I just wanted to make my investment back,” he explains. But when hot rod guys saw them, they went nuts! Clearly he had a hot commodity on his hands. Brislawn chose a marketing expert as his business partner and they were off and running. They set up a table or booth at all of the relevant swap meets, cruise-ins and car shows throughout the Northwest. They utilized print advertising extensively to reach potential customers outside of their area (Remember that the internet would not be viable for another decade or so). Soon Briz Bumpers were being sold internationally. Over the years other products were introduced but the original DeSoto knock off remains the cornerstone of their business to this day. In 2002 Brislawn sold his share of the company to his partner. In 2015 Briz Bumpers is a one man operation, providing a second income for the ex-partner’s son. Meanwhile, Brislawn has moved on.
In his shop there are several projects at varied states of completion. Brislawn gets to choose what he works on next. “My grandson is really into this show called Forged in Fire,” he tells me. “The other day he turned to me and asked why don’t we make a knife?” Predictably Grandpa didn’t have to be asked twice. Within a few hours Brislawn had roughed out the blade and his grandson was grinding on the wooden handle. Regardless of the outcome, it’s the process that’s important. This is quality time together creating something from an idea. It is an experience that his grandson will probably always remember. Mark Brislawn is his “Gregory.” He’s a lucky kid.