Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Think Tank: An Extra Degree of Era Correctness

Even the mosaic noticed a change. 

The title may not be entirely true, because there was rust in nearly every era we seek to recreate. Like Neil Young famously put it, “Rust never sleeps,” but I’m proud to say I’ve finally put it to rest on my longest-standing motorcycle project. When I bought my CL125 in 2013, it was in barn fresh condition with a mere 103 miles on the clock. There was a little rust and a lot of dust, but it was a running 1974 model and I couldn’t be more excited to bring it home. Everything on it was perfectly worn and featured excellent patina—but the gas tank had lost a great deal of paint through the years. That didn’t stop me from riding the bike as-is, racking up close to 2,000 miles on the East Coast, in the Midwest and finally out West. It saw everything from Virginia sands to Michigan mud to San Francisco’s hilly terrain—and it handled them all with ease.

A few weeks ago, my brother alerted me of a SL125 tank for sale on eBay. The color was right (metallic red), the price was fair and I pulled the trigger. Just as I had hoped, it slid right on and had my 125 looking much like it did more than 40 years ago. And because I can never leave well enough alone, I also fixed the clutch handle, damaged foot peg and gave the bike a thorough cleaning. (The chrome CL100 exhaust pipe that I had gotten as a graduation present also helped clean up the look.) Like I said, good as better than new.

The CL125 is the perfect bike for ripping around downtown San Francisco. Now I’m glad that it looks the part.

Before, feat. San Francisco  
What year is it? 
SL on a CL 
In the Haight. 
Beep's Burgers, Ocean Avenue, San Francisco, California. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Great gifts galore!

A few weeks ago I celebrated my 28th year as a real life human being. I have been quite fortunate throughout the years, having many amazing birthdays. This year was no exception. I spent the weekend of my b-day with family and friends. That alone would have been enough of a birthday present for me, but my parents, sister, brother-in-law, and girlfriend got me some really cool gifts. I think they are cool enough to share here.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Indy Motorcycle Trip: Clam Jam and MotoGP!

Frigid winter weather can drive a fellow crazy. It's bad enough when it's too cold to ride a motorcycle, and even worse when the temperature drops to the point that you can't even work on stuff in the garage. That is what led me to Netflix to get my motorcycle fix. I watched a couple documentaries about MotoGP, the top class of motorcycle road racing. I'm not a very big fan of racing, but this motorcycle grand prix stuff was pretty exciting. After a little bit of research and yearning for a summer trip, I decided that I was going to head to Indy in August for the Red Bull MotoGP race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Westward Motion: An Update from Joey

The last few months have been an absolute frenzy. In the middle of May, I graduated from the University of Missouri in Columbia with a degree in Magazine Writing and a creative writing minor. One of the highlights of the weekend-long festivities came when I spotted a bearded figure next to a readheaded girl in the crowd at graduation. Low and behold, it was Nick and his girlfriend Meg! I couldn’t believe that they had coordinated with my parents to come to cheer me on as I made my final steps as a college student. We later celebrated at the excellent mid-century Country Club of Columbia. The night makes me smile, as I know it will for the rest of my days.

You can tell by my slacking here on AAA, I haven’t had much time for anything. While school was winding down, I also landed my first full-time job. I couldn’t be more excited to say that it’s not only in my field, it’s a staff position at The Rodder’s Journal—one of the top dogs of hot rod and custom car publishing. Glossy photos, long-form writing and a wealth of historical information are mainstays.

With the change of job came a change of scenery. Rather than moving back to Michigan or staying in Missouri, I moved west, very west to the city of San Francisco. The trip started with visiting my brother, Andrew, for his Army graduation in Lawton, Oklahoma, and took me across the country. I traced as much of Route 66 as I possibly could. Although TRJ is based in South San Francisco, I am not only living in the Bay Area—I’m living in the Bay on Yerba Buena Island. (There are tons of interesting, abandoned buildings on the island that I plan to photograph to some extent in the near future.)

For the past few weeks, I have been working, exploring and wrenching on some motorcycle projects. From ripping around the Island on a CafĂ©-style Honda CB450 to hanging out the van window on the 101 Freeway shooting video of a hand-built 1938 Cord, it has been the most action-packed month of my life. I’m looking forward to what the future holds.

-Joey Ukrop 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Guest Post: Custom Car Revival

Indianapolis, IN played host to the 3rd annual Custom Car Revival on Saturday June 13, 2015. Our good friend, Wesley Wren, offered to take some photos and write about the show for us. You might be seeing more from him in the future, and we are really happy to have him lend us a hand. Take it away, Wes!

Hey Atomic Age Alchemy faithfuls. I’m Wesley, you might remember me from the awesome pictures that Nick took on his trip through my wonderful state. I’m a new staff member/intern/nepotism coordinator at AAA. I like flowers and hashtags.

Anyway, this is actually about something near and dear to my heart—Custom Cars. I recently attended my third Custom Car Revival. A car show dedicated solely to the dying art of customizing full sized cars. The criteria for attendance was that the vehicle had to be newer than 1934 and older than 1964 and needed to have at least three modifications. Note that this eliminates all of the popular hot rod bodies. That is by design. There are 0 hotrods allowed at this event. This stems from the problem that lead sled fans have had over the past few years. Even events that were designed to cater to customs (KKOA and KOA events) would only have spatters of customs in a sea of hot rodded early fords. Which is pleasant and fine in its own right—but it isn’t a custom show.

The show was limited to 200 entries, which it hit this year. This isn’t really even a problem, as there is a lot across the street that will eventually be a show in its own right. The gloomy clouds hanging overhead didn’t deter anyone from rolling their prized possessions out to the Edward’s Drive-in parking lot. The quality of cars was through the roof. This event is basically a museum showroom that has been placed in the parking lot of a small Midwestern diner. My favorite car of the weekend was The Golden Indian, 1960 Pontiac, built by the world famous Alexander Brothers of Detroit Michigan. The car was restored by Old Stillwater Garage of New Jersey, and was presented by Lou Calasibetta himself. Though, that wasn’t the only car of prestige there. The Johnny Zaro Mercury was present, with its current caretaker Kurt McCormick. Though, the cars may have been amazing, the best part of show was the people. Smiling faces from both coasts came together to see old friends and make new ones.

If you’re thinking about coming next year—do it! Even if you don’t have a custom car, you’re very welcome to join the reindeer games. The best part of this gig is that all of the proceeds go to an Alzheimer’s Association to help with research. I’m sure in sixty years, this little parking lot car show will be looked at with the same nostalgia that we fondly gaze at pictures of football field and parking lot car shows of the 1950s.

-Wesley Wren