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Author Topic: California Look dead, my ass. Why is it different than other car hobby segments?  (Read 13027 times)
Jim Ratto
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« on: February 04, 2016, 22:14:34 pm »

Sorry to see the recent naysayers, stomping around with their "Cal Look's Dead" message.

It's not. The "revival" as most of us know it, is what, 25+ years old now. That's a hell of a long time for something to be "in vogue", and maybe while the California Look is not "dead", is it possible it's just become too proliferated? Twenty five years ago, the average VW guy couldn't order the prime components at lunch on a Monday, and have the stuff on his doorstep a few days later. Which made the cars that had all the hard-to-get stuff something rare, exotic and super special. When you were at a West Coast event and stumbled across Mason's or Schwimmer's cars, it had a real impact. You have to remember, the pages of the Hot VW's magazines weren't celebrating the comeback-  yet. For a while, you couldn't buy new Weber 48's, Weber had stopped making them around 1991 or 92. Cars which ran them on the street were pretty far and few between, and in most cases, the engines that they sat on, needed 48's to run at max potential.
With the advent of Flat 4 BRM's, soon the style began to grow and grow. Engine know-how went from only a few hard core guys knowing "secrets" to internet articles and soon engine kits available from retailers everywhere. Nothing wrong with any of this, as it helped celebrate the style and move it to the forefront of VW modifying scene.

So, in my opinion, the VW hot rod scene sure seems to be all by itself. I talk to all kinds of car guys everyday, through my job. When you find a guy that is either currently or was once into fast VW's, it's like finding a long lost relative. While the other car guys seem to think we're from a different planet. Just a few months ago I was talking to a pretty cool guy that was displaying his "driver" 1968 Lamborghini Espada and we were exchanging notes on how new gasoline in CA runs so badly in Webers and the fire dangers, etc... and then he asks me "what do you own?" And of course when I told him a VW that had been modified to make 180+ hp, with Webers, it was as if I had turned into a fish or something.
Seriously, before you count the scene out for the count... think about it:  We're still keeping the thing alive that guys over 50 years ago were doing, in fact we tend to worship those guys, right? We're taking these tiny little fragile engines designed to wheeze out 50hp and modifying them (not redesigning them!) to make 4+ times that. And then we drive them on the street and they WORK. One of the slowest, most laughed at little cars, can be turned into one hell-raising and threatening street car. And then there's the friendships. A lot of the people that I am close to and have been close to (including my lovely wife) are thanks to my interest and involvement with VW's. How on earth can you acquire relationships, thanks to a hobby, and then spit on that very hobby and call it dead?

I think part of the problem is the hyper-focus on getting others' approval when it comes to how a car looks. To me that's backwards. I'd rather have the car run like Godzilla and stand out, appearance-wise and get people wondering what in the hell is going on. Much more fun. In the early 1990's, when my '67 was Adriatic Porsche Blue and had a big CC motor in it, it stood out, in a way. The color used to elicit all kinds of questions. In fact my old friend Sheep used to go with me to VW shows and so on, and he'd (half) jokingly answer the question "What color is that car?" .... "F-ck You Blue."

Next time the sun's out, roll your car outside, stare at it so it's in its most flattering light, then warm it up and go enjoy it.
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brmmark
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« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2016, 23:06:00 pm »

Amen!
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Trond Dahl
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« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2016, 23:12:18 pm »

Thanks Jim, good words that hit right at home
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Rocket don
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« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2016, 23:54:50 pm »

Cal looks dead, long live cal look !!
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Larry S
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« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2016, 03:10:45 am »

It's not dead to me! I started with my first bug in 1979, full on cal looked it, had it for 28 years, sold it and bought a Porsche 911 that I kept for a couple of years. I then got a 58 euro rag bug that I kept for a couple of years, sold it and went a few years without a fun car. I now have a 56 oval I am doing a complete pan off resto on, I should have the pan rolling soon. It will be lowered, nice rims, t-bars, and some other cal-look features. When I got this last project 2 years ago everyone who knows me said they knew I couldn't go without a VW. I will continue to build and enjoy my VW no matter what other people think the status of the Cal Look is, it will always be part of me and my car. I guess growing up in Orange County during the 70's and 80's just burned it into me.....
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Martin S.
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« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2016, 04:09:55 am »

It helps to have buddys around that are as enthusiastic as this guy. Here's Steve explaining the machining that he did on my motor, 'It's gonna be awesome!' https://youtu.be/MoJFWVyYAt0
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« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2016, 08:09:29 am »

It is still in my head, so it can t be dead.
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« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2016, 11:55:02 am »

At least when its dead or less interest by people your car stands out more! It is always cool to drive your big cc engine with barking IDAs and whining straight cuts at at meeting with all stock engined cars. Pop the hood and most people whill stop and take a look how all those horsepower is cramped in that small engine compartment.
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thehanz DVK
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« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2016, 12:20:11 pm »

I love my Callook daily driver and my show one, all the friends involved and going to the meetings, my wife is half off me and the other half callook vw, wouldn't miss it for the world AMEN 
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Jeff68
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« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2016, 15:03:18 pm »

Well said Jim, as always! California Look dead...Really?? I don't think so! People need to open their eyes, and ears to what's going on.
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flatfire
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« Reply #10 on: February 05, 2016, 17:00:42 pm »

Great post Jim, for me Cal Look will always be etched in my life.
I live in Scotland and have since an early age loved the Look. Well before the internet came along.
I used to feed off of little bits of information or magazine articles the rest was down to my imagination.
The classic picture from Hot Vws was really the only thing I needed to define what I knew was Cal Look.
In the next few weeks my new Looker will hit the cold rainy streets of Scotland.

Its proper Cal Look  Grin
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Nico86
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« Reply #11 on: February 05, 2016, 17:14:26 pm »

Next time the sun's out, roll your car outside, stare at it so it's in its most flattering light, then warm it up and go enjoy it.

Great words Jim  Smiley

This kind of behavior and controversies completely made-up through "social" medias is mostly what made me step back from that VW scene of some sorts we have over here, especially the online one.
I've read an article talking about something similar a couple of months ago, can't remember where but it was ending with that quote: "Wise men speak because they have something to say, fools speak because they have to say something."
« Last Edit: February 05, 2016, 17:17:31 pm by Nico86 » Logged

ovaldriver56
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« Reply #12 on: February 05, 2016, 18:01:42 pm »

Maybe itīs because cal-look is limiting itself. There are really cool parts and techniques available nowadays that can make a beetle perform and handle much better. Why not use them?

I often read things like: "thatīs not cal-look"...."that ainīt period"...."thatīs not right", from the cal-look-nazis.

I really love the old-school cal-look-style and spirit, but todays cal-lookers look just stupid. Huge tires at the back, narrowed beams, tiny rims at the front, crazy rake. Basically everything you need to make a beetle run like shit Cheesy

Just my opinion  Wink

Greetings Mario
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Jim Ratto
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« Reply #13 on: February 05, 2016, 19:41:00 pm »

Maybe itīs because cal-look is limiting itself. There are really cool parts and techniques available nowadays that can make a beetle perform and handle much better. Why not use them?

I often read things like: "thatīs not cal-look"...."that ainīt period"...."thatīs not right", from the cal-look-nazis.

I really love the old-school cal-look-style and spirit, but todays cal-lookers look just stupid. Huge tires at the back, narrowed beams, tiny rims at the front, crazy rake. Basically everything you need to make a beetle run like shit Cheesy

Just my opinion  Wink

Greetings Mario

I have to agree with you, to a point. Such a fuss is made as to what meets the rules. And in doing so, some of the spirit, whatever, is missed. In some cases, the typical modifications made (to meet "approval") actually compromise performance or driveability. I don't agree it makes the car look "stupid", as by saying that about someone's car is just as harsh as saying "that's  not Cal Look."
I recently made one of the most worthwhile changes yet (in 30 years of owning my car), after years of pain and risk. While driving on DKP Christmas toy drive in 2015, I dropped the map/instructions while waiting at a stoplight, at night. I clicked on my flashlight and bent down to grab the paper off the passenger's floorboard. In doing so, I leaned against the stock 3pt belts that came with my car, and it broke free at latch (jaws must have worn to the point they no longer bit down on hoop). I went face first into my steering wheel, cutting my lip and giving myself a knock on the nose. While stopped at a light. Good thing I wasn't hitting the brakes hard on the I-5 freeway at 70mph!
Anyway, this, in addition to stock seats killing my back after a few hours of driving it was time to make the car safe and comfortable. In late December, I removed the stock seats and belts, and replaced them with Recaro Specialists and Schroth 3-pt belts. And I knew I'd get questioned from the Cal Look "Police", but you know what? It's my car and my back and my life. The car is immeasurably nicer to drive all around now. And in my opinion, it looks light years better inside too. Now I find myself actually finding excuses to hit freeway cloverleaf onramps.

Jim
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« Reply #14 on: February 05, 2016, 20:28:53 pm »

So, one magazine article (Feb '75 Hot VWs) and one club (DKP, of course) dictate the way that VWs should look? That's absurd. I have no idea why so many people should get their arses on fire about a 'look'. Forget trying to please anyone else, forget asking if your car meets the ideology hinted at by that one magazine or that one club. Just forget the whole 'I must build a Cal Looker that meets somebody else's idea of what looks good' deal. Build the car you want and if – IF – it happens to match up to Burly Burlile's drawing a 41 year old magazine, or the requirements to (if you're lucky) be asked to become a member of one VW club out of hundreds (thousands?) in the entire world, then great. If it doesn't, and you feel bad as a result, then you're in this scene for entirely the wrong reasons. Maybe 'Cal Look' is a self-destructive term. If back in the day (early 1970s), turbo kits, Porsche fan conversions, etc etc, had been available, then Cal Look would have an entirely different look to it. I like the old stuff but it shouldn't be the be-all and end-all.
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ovaldriver56
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« Reply #15 on: February 05, 2016, 21:27:50 pm »

I don't agree it makes the car look "stupid", as by saying that about someone's car is just as harsh as saying "that's  not Cal Look."

Jim

Ok, youīre right, stupid is the wrong word, I didnīt want to be disrespectful.
Lets say, performance wise it may not be the best setup Wink
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RobtheManx
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« Reply #16 on: February 05, 2016, 21:33:24 pm »

I personally have never cared wether a scene is dead or not , If I'm into it , and some of my friends are into it ( and you guys on here ) , then its alive as far as I'm concerned .

Also I have never , ever built a car to impress someone else , as long as it looks like the picture I have in my head and I enjoy building it and driving it , thats all that matters to me .  Sure , it feels good when I put up some pictures of my car on a forum and someone compliments it , or a magazine asks to feature it . But I also like the conversations when people say ' why did you do that to your car ' or 'why didn't you do this ?' answer is easy , I like it that way !

Things go in and out of fashion , but fashions have never bothered me in the slightest .

Cheers , Rob
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RIP356
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« Reply #17 on: February 05, 2016, 23:26:19 pm »

Great thread,
In fact of my five best and longest known friends four of them I met through VW's.
My 67 is MY interpretation of a Cal Look style, I dont care what anyone thinks of it.
I am happy and enjoying it and thats all that counts.
Dave
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Bruce67
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« Reply #18 on: February 06, 2016, 04:29:20 am »

Great thread Jim...The California Look is not dead, we here know that...

RobtheManx says it best I think...

One thing though, you guys in California are the heart beat that is everything Cal-look, and those of us outside the "curtain" use you to check the pulse...you know what I mean, right?? Cool Cool Cool
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vwhelmot
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« Reply #19 on: February 06, 2016, 08:38:23 am »

In engineering terms I think it's the Europeans that are leading the way. Smiley
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modnrod
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« Reply #20 on: February 07, 2016, 00:08:30 am »

So, one magazine article (Feb '75 Hot VWs) and one club (DKP, of course) dictate the way that VWs should look? That's absurd..........

Phew! Someone has finally said it, thank goodness!

Yes, IT IS absurd.

I grew up in a tiny town isolated for 1000s of miles from any other, and the only influences we all had here was when we heard about the Beatles touring our eastern states..........usually 3 weeks after it had happened!
And yet, I remember tuning and tweaking my uncles old street racer Bug with him (yes, the "money run" Bug), that would be the one with a slight rake, 185/70-15 rear tyres, lowered 2" all round, no bumpers, all beige with no chrome, and a 78 x 88 cammy motor with a 2-bbl Stromberg on it and 4into1. Sound familiar?
This was when I was 14, so 1978, but he'd been running the car like that for as long as I could remember before that, and he used to tell of getting his bum kicked in a street race by a hotrod Bug like his years before in the '60s (which is why HE got one, and me too later  Cheesy ).

Cal-Look is just a very basic universal hotrod look, done the world over. If you love that particular West Coast US lifestyle and wish to deliberately emulate a bygone era then go right ahead, that's cool too, but bottom line is all the world over for generations now we all just love cammy spitting old Volksies sticking it up the V8s and high-end Euro stuff!
Make it your own.
 Smiley
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Paul Bahnstormerz
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« Reply #21 on: February 07, 2016, 12:31:38 pm »

Who said it was dead? Did I miss that memo?
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« Reply #22 on: February 07, 2016, 13:58:45 pm »

Who said it was dead? Did I miss that memo?

Same here too. Maybe it's because I'm not a lot on facebook and I missed that, but in my real world, Cal look is still kickin'!

Regarding trends, it's always up and down. Something is down with only a few diehards to keep it alive, almost underground. Then it becomes cool again because those guy's know what they are doing building nice cars, putting the trend under the spotlight again...
Then, people build cars in this fashion.  When the trend is a his top, people start to build cars to impress the others guy's and what was cool at the beginning become has been with cars that are more and more grotesque!Exaggerating what made this fashion so cool...
Take the pro street trend. At first it was cool, then it became stupidly grotesque and pro street was declared died. Now, Car craft resurrect the car craft national at Duquoin, putting pro street under bright sunlight again with cars that are much more refined that 20 years ago. Pro street 2.0 is proclaimed... In a few years, it will be out again because you'll need 2500hp and a 5.9sec cars to hang with the cool guy's.

Same happened with cal look. At first a teenager thing, with cars that where wild on the street and strip, build with little money, lot's of work, ideas and friends. 145-15 and 185-70-15 tires, sub 2l engines and lot's of attitude. They did rallies, BBQ, caravans, street raced and drove their cars to works when not broken. Now that's Cal look in my book. 
Now, cars are loaded with expansive period accessories, over powered (not a bad thing though...) thus expansive to build and sometime a caricature of what a Cal look really is. You don't need 215-80-15 light truck tires and a 4" shortened front beam to have a cal look! Build it the way you want and to serve the purpose you plan to do with it, think street machine with an open mind. You want BBS wheels? Hey, I always thought they would look cool on a Cal look and make your car stand from 10 miles from the others with Fuchs or BRM. Another guy will tell you it's not Cal look? Unless he was living in Orange County during the 70's, how could he be so affirmative?

So, maybe yes, Cal look is maybe downhill because the coolness is a bit gone. We will see.
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Nico86
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« Reply #23 on: February 07, 2016, 17:31:21 pm »

Who said it was dead? Did I miss that memo?

Same here too. Maybe it's because I'm not a lot on facebook and I missed that, but in my real world, Cal look is still kickin'!  

Probably something going on on facebook, because I've never heard or read about that until now either. But if you take a look at the german-look or "Autobahn" scene : I think it's been about 15 years I've read on magazines first, and then online, that this scene is dying, that soon we won't see any cars anymore, that it's a trend of the 90s... Your hear this all the time since years and years but hell, they are still there, new projects pop-up online and on magazines regularly and the few cars you see are totally awesome and well engineered. And the fact that you see less german-look cars in a vw magazine doesn't mean there are less of these cars out in the wild. Shops like Remmele are still there and engineering great new products all the time and pushing the technical level of our old VWs always forward.

All of these controversies or anthropologic analysis about this scene or that scene, or all these people on the internet pretending to be die-hards influencing a whole trend because they are the "true thing" and they know better... they exist only if there is people to pay attention to them, like everything else on the internet. It can easily be ignored only by doing your own thing, stop giving attention to it and it dissapears, it's that easy.

What we call "cal-look" here is taking cheap little cars and making them look and perform better. In other places of the world people have always done the same with other cars, for other kind of goals, other kind of racing or competition, other eras, other cultural influences, and they called it with other names. But in the end what we all want to do is to take a basic cheap car, and make it perform better technically and aesthetically, whether we want to drag-race, to race in rallys or on racetracks, or just to have fun on daily or weekend drives.

Cal-look won't die to me because that's what I like about old VWs and that's the goal I always tend to reach about my cars. If some people on facebook like to think cal-look is dead because it's not their taste in cars or because they have found some other trends to follow for their cars, then good for them. But it's not my problem and I don't mind about that.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2016, 18:24:10 pm by Nico86 » Logged

Frenchy Dehoux
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« Reply #24 on: February 08, 2016, 05:36:07 am »


   The Cal Look will never die here to stay no matter what. Matter of fact I am building another one !!!!!!!!!!

  Thanks Jim

  Frenchy
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Doctor Detail ( Retired )
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« Reply #25 on: February 08, 2016, 12:19:26 pm »

Yay, Go Frenchy !!!!!!!! Grin Grin Grin
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« Reply #26 on: February 08, 2016, 17:23:54 pm »

I don't feel right thinking of my '67 as a "Cal-looker" any more. That's just me, though.
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« Reply #27 on: February 08, 2016, 18:58:46 pm »

I've got no problem with the drawing, I don't believe it was suggesting that there is only one way to do it. As long as the car sits right, and the motor is hot, you've got a looker. The rest can be taken with a grain of salt.
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karl h
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« Reply #28 on: February 09, 2016, 08:26:06 am »

for me the term "cal-look" is what brought us all together here, starting with cal-look.com to now the lounge
its a feeling and nothing is set in stone. love to look at every ones different interpretation of what it is.
it will be in my blood forever
....and who is that dorky facebook you are talking ībout?
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Martin S.
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« Reply #29 on: February 10, 2016, 01:28:37 am »

Is Cal Look really different than other car hobby segments though? That question in the original post made me think of a retro car kitsch burger joint that opened last year. It has all the usual trappings of a burger joint trying to re capture the days of yore when cars were cars. And what really caught my eye is the one reproduction (?) metal sign in the quaint collection of fake crap on the wall that said, 'Volkswagen' and then 'Cal Look' and pictured a blue Beetle in Cal Look dress (look along the wall and you can see it in this pic). Is this what Cal Look has come to? Burger kitsch??
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