Right before we left Monterey and the Concours d’Elegance last week, a reader named Vitaly reached out to me to let me know he’d be there, too, and not just there, he had an incredible old little magazine/booklet to give me about, of course, taillights. We were finally able to find Vitaly and his family, loitering by the concept cars, and he gave me this remarkable little slim volume, which was actually written by George Barris, the legendary customizer and maker of the Batmobile, among many other cars, and some cars that maybe he just took credit for. But that’s another story. Anway, let’s peek at this book!
The book is part of the Hot Rod technical library, and is essentially a small how-to guide and idea book for making more exciting taillights for your customized car, were you a car customizer around in, oh, the mid 1950s, I think. I can’t find a publication date on this, but it has to be prior to 1967 because the phone number listed is HOllywood 6-2111, and those types of numbers were replaced with seven-digit ones in 1967.
A lot of what the book shows is creative ways to mix-and-match taillight lenses from various automakers, repurpose them, re-orient them, double them up, and so on for some really dramatic effects:
I mean, look at all of these exciting variations! Frenched in, bolt-on, modified lenses, swapped makes, surface detailing, everything. And they even cover some scratch-made taillights, including this example on, of all car, Dean Jeffries’ own Porsche:
Dean Jeffries was a famous car customizer himself, building cars like the Monkeemobile and the Mantaray, and his Porsche work includes doing the painting on James Dean’s Little Bastard Porsche.
Anyway, it’s a fascinating book, and I appreciate it, Vitaly! We may have given Vitaly and his family our press wristbands, too, but shhhh, don’t tell anyone.