Iconic Hot Rod Builder's Vision Finds a Permanent Home
The 1925/34 "Round Door" Rolls Royce Phantom I Aerodynamic Coupe. Steve McQueen's 1956 Jaguar XKSS. The Batmobile. Ed Roth's Outlaw. What do these iconic cars have in common? They are all part of the Petersen Automotive Museum Collection. The Petersen Automotive Museum houses a collection of over 300 vehicles that rotate through the many themed galleries to give people a new experience every time they visit. A recent donation has added yet another iconic car, "Aluma Coupe", to the Museum's impressively eclectic collection.
Aluma Coupe was built at Hot Rods by Boyd, founded by the late Boyd Coddington, an icon in the automotive industry, and star of The Learning Channel's American Hot Rod. Long before Hollywood discovered hot rods, Coddington had revolutionized the aftermarket wheel industry along with occasional friend and long time colleague "Lil" John Buttera with what was to be known as the "Billet" wheel. Machining forged billets of aluminum opened up the creative minds of the industry who could now produce limited quantities and one-off set of wheels at a reasonable price. Hot rod and custom car build styles were revolutionized by the high tech look that CNC -machined wheels and accessories created, and the "Boyd Look" was born. (Much like Madonna, Elvis, and Prince, Boyd needs no last name when mentioned to any hot rodder.)
Boyd constantly pushed hot rodding to the next level. When it was time to create a forward-thinking hot rod, he turned to then General Motors Designer Larry Erickson who had designed "CadZZilla", another Boyd-built car for ZZ Top front man Billy F. Gibbons. (Erickson went on to design for Ford Motor Company, and now runs the transportation Design program for the College for Creative Studies.) During the design process, the opportunity to work with Mitsubishi surfaced, and the project soon took off in a unique direction.
Aluma Coupe's one-off, slippery shape and transverse mounted Mitsubishi V-6 mounted in the trunk debuted in Mitsubishi's display at the 1992 New York International Auto Show. In the new car show world, the concept car/hot rod garnered much attention from automotive journalists and show goers for its radical departure from the typical concepts of the day. However, for many traditionalists at hot rod events, the aluminum body's radical shape and the Japanese motor mounted "in the wrong end" of the car was pushing things a bit too far. -But isn't pushing things too far what hot rodding is all about?
"The luxurious, scratch-built Aluma Coupe represented a complete departure from typical design practice by combining traditional styling themes with extremely sophisticated engineering. Like a large number of other vehicles in the Petersen Automotive Museum collection, it demonstrates how the creativity and craftsmanship of local builders can influence the course of an entire movement.", said Petersen Curator Leslie Kendall, of the Museum's latest acquisition. Aluma Coupe is now a permanent part of the Petersen Automotive Museum thanks to the Museum Board Member, David Sydorick, who generously donated the iconic coupe which is now on display and will be shown in future exhibitions whenever possible.
The Petersen Automotive Museum Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) charity. The Museum is located at 6060 Wilshire Boulevard (at Fairfax) in Los Angeles. Admission prices are $10 for general admission adults, $5 for seniors and students with ID, and $3 for children ages 5 to 12. Museum members and children under five are admitted free. Covered parking is available for $2 per half hour with an $8 maximum for Museum visitors. Museum hours are Tuesday through Sunday from 10am to 6pm. For general Museum information, call 323-964-6347 or visit the Museum's Web site address at www.petersen.org.