Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Disaster at Russo and Steele Car Auction

I know it looks like old news, but I had forgotten to post this blog in February, my apologies — sometimes life just takes over.

The folks at the Mustang Magazine, covered the disaster brought on by mother nature, at the Russo and Steele Auction in January. Here's a link to the article on their blog: High Winds Hit Russo Steele’ Scottsdale Auction

Warning: some of the photos are pretty nasty to look at.

A bit of background on this publication .... the brain child of Curt Patterson and other like minded Mustang aficionados and legends in the business, it's one of the nicest Mustang magazines to grace the shelves of convenience stores and bookstores nationwide. Going back to basics, it it dedicated solely to the classic pony car. If you have a chance, visit their website and give it a look-see, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised and even a little bit impressed. — Linda

Life Advice for Partners of Classic Car Buffs

The headline, "Old car crush irks wife," appeared in our local paper last weekend. As you can guess, it was about the amount of money a woman's husband was spending on his classic car (no, no one mentioned the year, make and model). Here's the question and the advice, Sun Media columnist Robin Anderson, had to give:
Dear Robin: My husband is into old cars. The other day, he let me know he is sending a car out for some work -- to the tune of $8,000. I almost snorted my coffee. Why is it he thinks it is perfectly fine to drop that kind of money on an old car, but has a fit when he sees the grocery bill? — Seeing (candyapple) red

Dear Seeing Red: If he is spending the grocery, family vacation or home renovation money on it, you can bet your tush I have a problem with this. But as far as I'm concerned, there are so many worse things he could be doing. If he is home every night, treats you well, loves you, is not addicted to drugs or running around on you, let him have his hobby. If he has a problem with the grocery bill, take him with you the next time you shop and ask him which of his favourite meals he can do without.
— from "School of Life", St. Catharines Standard, January 22, 2010
It's funny, that's exactly the attitude that I share with many wives and partners of muscle car enthusiasts. As the wife of someone who is heavily into cars, I've kind of taken it one step farther ...  "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em — and drag the kids along too!" I'm joking, of course, they come along willingly most of the time! I'm not kidding about joining Michael, though. It's pretty much been like that from the beginning. Like Robin says, of all the things he could be doing or spending our money on, the car hobby is my first choice! And, for the most part, muscle cars and sports cars are a pretty good investment, either increasing in value or at least holding their own.

It's also given us the opportunity to work side by side, and I wouldn't trade that for the world. And, I do like muscle cars, especially their aggressive front ends and all that chrome. I've even worked on the cars alongside Michael. I've detailed interiors and re-upholstered our 1967 Mustang GTA Convertible.
Here's something you might not know: if you look at Michael's painting, Flashback on the Track, you'll see that the 2005 Legend Lime Mustang is reflected in the wall of the Nashville Speedway. But, it's reflected as a 1967 GT Fastback ... that reflection is based on our car. The one I worked on!

So, next time there's a car show, grab your partner, go to the show and treat her to a nice dinner. You never know, she might really enjoy herself. If she's like me, at the very least, she'll appreciate spending time with you and of not cooking or doing the dishes! — Linda

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Muscle Car Barn Finds

Every now and then, you hear stories of old barns either housing, or surrounded by vintage cars, including some pretty amazing muscle cars. Like a couple of years back at the Mopar Nationals in Ohio, I heard a young guy had come across and purchased (at a steal) a real, solid, original, all stock Plymouth Superbird. I know, right? Like lots of folks, you may be skeptical about the existence of these incredible finds. Well, think again. I came across this blog this weekend (Cars in Barns) and just HAD to share it. The cars that author, Ryan Brutt, has spotted and photographed range in pretty decent condition to ... is that one standing on end? There are Camaros, GTXs, Superbirds, Valiants and more. Definitely worth a look-see and read-through.

Hearing about finds like the one in the UK a few years ago, played a part in inspiring Michael to create his first Muscle Car Landscapes' painting (Big Blocks Behind the Barn, featuring a cool assortment of Mustangs) about 4 years ago. The series has since grown to five paintings, with a sixth one on the way, and has become very popular among collectors. For some, they find their car in the scene. For many it's just the thought of the possibility of coming across such a find. For others, it's a reflection of their own collection!

As with many of Michael's works, the paintings in this series are based on fantasy, rather than reality. In Michael's paintings the cars are solid and near road worthy. Like he says, he's done the restoration thing, he'd rather just own 'em and drive 'em! The settings, cars, everything, right down to the leaves on the ground, come from Michael's incredible imagination.

The Muscle Car Landscapes Series now consists of: Big Blocks Behind the Barn (Ford Mustangs, Shelbys, Mach 1s and Bosses), They Came With The Farm (Dodge Chargers, Challengers, Cudas, Plymouth GTXs and Daytonas), Always Room For One More (GM's Chevelles, Novas and Camaros), Bird Sanctuary (Pontiac's Firebirds, Trans Ams and Formulas) and The Goat Farmer (Pontiac's GTOs and Judges). The new one, due to be released any day, is the much anticipated and sought after, "They Came With The Farm, Too" - featuring over 25 classic Mopars including Chargers, Barracudas, Darts, Demons, Challengers, Superbees and more, it's already 25% pre-sold!

Whether there will be more paintings in the series is still undecided. But if there are more, I'm sure they'll be as well received as the first ones. And, as sought after as those elusive barn finds! - Linda

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Author, Editor, Photographer & Friend - Brad Bowling

Being the wife of one of North America's premier automotive artists comes with a few 'perks.' Not the least of which is the opportunity to do a bit of traveling and meeting like-minded enthusiasts across the nation. Every now and again, however, we meet someone that is not only a motohead, but like Michael, has the opportunity to live and breath the stuff! Such was the case last fall, when we met Mr. Brad Bowling and his lovely wife, Heather.

If you're a car guy or gal, you've more than likely heard of Brad or at the very least, read something written by him. Not only has he penned several cool Mustang books (including The Saleen Book - 20 Years of Saleen Mustangs), but he is the Editor of Amos Automotive's "Cars & Parts" magazine. On top of that, he is a photographer, spending a great deal of his time photographing (you guessed it) classic cars! How cool is that?

It's funny, but we actually unknowingly met Brad back in 2004 at the launch of the Saleen book. It was in the evening, after the 40th Anniversary Ford Mustang Show in Nashville, Tennessee. We had attended the show as spectators ... even taking our 4 year old daughter and 6 year old son. We heard about the "Saleen after party" and just HAD to go. Wow. Am I every glad we did. Not only did we meet Mr. Saleen, but we saw his newest concept cars AND we were able to get our hands on one of the Limited Edition Signed Numbered books! After getting home from the AutoFair, I checked the book ... in between two pages I found the original receipt signed by Brad. Small world.

If you'd like to get your hands on the Saleen book or any of Brad's other titles, check out his website: www.bradbowling.com. You'll also find a listing of his most recent articles and photos.

Above is a photograph Brad shot of Michael in front of the Gallery Editon Canvas of his incredible Cuda painting, Feeding Frenzy, at the AutoFair in September 2009. Coincidentally, Michael is speaking with Steve Saleen!

Since first meeting Brad and Heather, we've become good friends. We had a chance to see them in Las Vegas during SEMA (thanks again Brad, for the whirlwind tour!) last October, and are hoping to get down to North Carolina for AutoFair this spring. As always, I'll keep you posted. — Linda

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Michael's Favorite aka World's Greatest Cheesecake

We had a super busy December. With the release of "Service Fit For A King," the shipping of "Marauders of Woodward" (which were co-signed by the Father of the Marauder, Steve Babcock) and the pre-release of the much anticipated, "They Came With The Farm, Too" (which will be completed any day now), I literally planned our annual Christmas Eve dinner on the 23rd! Was I a bit panicky, you could say that!

I usually make an old standby, like a fruit trifle or my famous Tiramisu (don't worry, I'll post that recipe too!), but Michael requested a cheesecake. With two diabetic parents - one with a heavy sweet tooth, it had to be fabulous AND sugar free. According to Michael, I nailed it. He says it was the best cheesecake I've ever made and, quite possibly, the best he's ever had. Now, I don't know about that ... but my dad wasn't complaining, that's for sure! It only takes about 2 hours plus cooling time, so you can make it the same day you serve it. If you do try it, I hope you enjoy it as much as we all did. — Linda

Dulce de Leche Cheesecake
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons butter, melted
3 (8 ounce) packages reduced-fat cream cheese
1 cup Splenda Granulated
2 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 eggs
⅓ cup reduced fat milk
½ cup dulce de leche

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Mix crust ingredients together, and press into a 9-inch springform pan. Place pan on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature. (I put mine on the porch to cool quickly.)

Reset oven temperature to 325 degrees F.

Beat cream cheese, Splenda and flour together until smooth. Add vanilla, mix well. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix for about 2 minutes. Add milk, blend well.

Measure ½ cup of the cheesecake batter and pour into a small bowl. Add dulce de leche and stir until well combined.

Pour plain batter over crust. Top with dulce de leche batter by placing rounded spoonfuls over the cheesecake batter and gently swirl into plain batter with the tip of knife or spatula.

Bake 45-55 minutes or until center is almost set. Remove from oven and gently run metal spatula around rim of pan to loosen cheesecake (this helps prevent cracking). Let cool 20-25 minutes, then cover and refrigerate for at least 4-6 hrs before serving.

Serve on it's own or with whipped cream sweetened with Splenda.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Thanking Everyone Automotive!

It's hard to believe that it's 2010 already. December was a blur and January is flying by. 2009 was good to us and 2010 looks to be even better. I would like to thank those groups and individuals that helped make it happen.

First, let me thank the many magazines that have featured Michael's new automotive art releases. Having press releases included in such publications as the Mopar Collectors Guide, Muscle Car Enthusiast, Mopar Enthusiast, Hemmings Muscle Machines, High-Performance Pontiac, Mopar Muscle and Muscle Car Review, really helps to feature Michael's paintings. It gives readers and collectors a first glimpse and the unique story behind one of Michael's incredible automotive creations.

I would also like to thank our dealers throughout Canada and the United States. It's through them that many new clients have an opportunity to see Michael's work, up close and personal for the first time. Some have been on board for many years, some have just joined us recently ... it's really a pleasure working with them all and I look forward to continued success. If there is a car event in your area, drop me an e-mail and I'll find out if the dealer is going to be there showing Michael's Limited Edition Prints and/or Gallery Editon Canvases.

Finally, I'd like to thank the most important people of all— our clients. You are truly the ones that keep Michael painting. It's through your support and incredible feedback, that Michael finds the inspiration to continue doing what he loves — capturing beautiful automobiles in water color. So, whether you've been collecting Michael's work for a number of years, or just purchased your first Limited Edition Print, Artist Proof, Gallery Edition Canvas or original painting, from our family to yours, many, many thanks.

To everyone, here's to a prosperous 2010.
May the year ahead be full of joy and find you and your loved ones both healthy and happy. — Linda & Michael Irvine