All Photos by Mark Kawakami
“I don’t like that surfin’ shit. Rock and roll’s been going down hill ever since Buddy Holly died,” said the young John Milner played by Paul Le Met in his best JD swag impression after shutting the radio off on the young Carol (Mackenzie Phillips) whom was soaking up the surfing boom clad in her Dewey Weber T-Shirt.
“Don’t you think the Beach Boys are boss?” Carol chirps back.
“You would, you grungy little twirp,” Milner chimes in.
Since the “Stamp out Hodad” days, there’s a stereotype especially perpetuated by such “Beach Blanket” movies and those two certain Italian Americans (God rest her soul) of a mouse hierarchy that Oil and water don’t mix.
This is the furthest from that truth as surf industry leaders of the era had some of the hottest rods out there beginning with Dale Velzy and Hap Jacobs (I’m sure many others.) Pre-war iron drenched in layers of Lacquer matched with readily available parts (grills, bumpers, etc) for distinction, a lowered stance, appletons, and/or skirts are just some of the elements of the Kustom treatment. In later years, the Nomad, El Camino, one Gullwing or two, purple Porshes and of course, woodies which more or less was a “field car,” a dime a dozen, might have been rodded out with slick pair of mags. On the other end of the spectrum, “The Surfers,” a top fuel team of the mid 60s who skateboarded around the pits of Lion’s Drag Strip dressed in surfer style with a matching nonchalant attitude attracted a following in the drag scene.
Over the years Tyler Hatzikian has owned quite a few cars, including a 56’ Nomad, 1941 Ford Woody, 1929 Model A roadster, 1950 Mercury Kustom, and a 1941 Ford deluxe coupe chop top sitting in the garage getting restored right now. His background in a city founded on petroleum, El Segundo, lent itself to Hatzikian being no “Renaissance Day Act” dressed in the garb to recite a few lines at a weekend show. Trading a ’28 pick-up model body he had laying in the yard, he first got this 1960 El Camino in 2004 and added a 350 four bolt main from the late 60s and a turbo 350 tranny as well as bags in the back. He eventually got an offer and flipped the ride
Two years ago Hatzikian got word that the El Camino was just sitting on the side of a house. He got it back “for a deal,” did some body work, chromed some bumpers and sprayed on a fresh coat.
Don’t call the “shop truck” a rat rod, as the interior is now dressed in shiny gold diamond tuck stitched by Trim Line and European Upholstery in Redondo Beach. In the future, Hatzikian plans on adding flashier paint and a kustom tonneau cover, something right out of a back pocket size “Car Craft” Magazine circa 1960.