Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Custom Flame-Work of Tim Phelps, Part 4: Deliveries...

Once again we are very proud to feature the amazing work of our good friend and regular contributor Tim Phelps.  Tim takes on deliveries in this article, and as always the read is as enjoyable as the models.

Oh, and Tim will be one of the judges for the upcoming Lamley BMW E30 Custom Contest, so we will be hearing a lot more from him soon...

See Tim's other articles here.  And let us know what you think here or on the Lamley Facebook Page.

(Thanks Tim.)

Delivering the Goods by Tim Phelps

Deliveries have been around since man created the wheel. When he figured he would be on the move (No, he was not mad he had become a Nomad) he had to come up with a way to haul his stuff around from here to there: Bare-foot pushed and pulled, animal-driven and then “horse-powered!” What distinguishes "panel" from a "sedan" delivery is that a panel has two rear doors while the sedan has just one.  Panels are generally truck-based while sedans are primarily passenger-car-based. Early car and truck-based deliveries were used as a mode of transportation for a variety of goods and services delivering coal and ice and for sure, bootleg firewater. They make the perfect cruising canvas for scallops and flames! I am including Mattel products only in this Blog offering primarily Hot Wheels with a couple of Matchbox parked in the mix in 1/64 scale (about 3 inches long).

This entry shares some of my recent efforts in pyro painting on some delicious delivery canvases. This truck and sedan style has been ever popular with rod builders and flame painters for at least 50 years. If you are like me, you like your deliveries in a speedy and efficient manner; so that being said I will try to keep the “verb’age” to a minimum and deliver my goods in pictures! A recent history of the mystery behind my rod-ness follows.

1939 Chevy Sedan Delivery & Coupes

Its first trucks were offered in 1918, and Chevrolet produced its 2 millionth truck in 1939, finally topping Ford. It held this top rank for three decades until 1970. The '39 is styled after the '36 Chevrolet Deluxe coupes and the '37 Cadillac LaSalle. Headlights are still attached to a skinny pinched-in, horizontal grille by floating pods.  They would be mounted in or on the fenders in the years to follow. These mini haulers were advertised with high bulky-bodied "Diamond-crown" styling that looked rather clumsy next to streamlined Fords of the day.  With a "stovebolt" 6-cylinder engine, the '39s priced out at about $685. Options included a radio, first offered in 1935, a clock and dual windshield wipers.

Given the opportunity, who wouldn't love to have devilish drag deliveries demonically decoupaged like these? I have flamed many of mine in a variety of traditional colors and have included a black beauty with red tribal, painterly, stylized flames and a luscious Lowrider with metallic paint riding on some mini-spoked Daytons!

1952 GMC Bus (Hot Wheels’ School Busted)

I grew up in a small town in Indiana. Richmond was famous for its Wayne Works, a builder of farm implements and later school buses. Wayne Works began making carriages and horse-drawn “kid-hacks” in the mid 1890’s and then built its first school buses in 1914 becoming a major supplier of bus transportation for the next 70 years. It was also one of the first companies to offer glass windows instead of canvas curtains in the early 1920’s. They were also a “second-stage” manufacturer of delivery vans, ambulances, and hearses. The company was associated with Divco (can you say Dairy Delivery?) from 1957-1968.  Federal standards dictate that all school buses must be painted yellow (ok, I have deviated from that regulation in at least two cases!).

Based on an early GMC ‘50s shortened bus body, this hot wheels entry was designed by Larry Wood.

1956 Ford F-100 Panel Delivery

Like other deliveries, these trucks were used for making the daily rounds before their rebirth in the hot rod show world of the '70s and '80s. Delivery trucks have also been named grocery getters, hay haulers, widget wagons, cream carriers, medic movers and pokey patrol panels. Like its pickup twin, it has a brutish and muscular look! This heavy-duty truck had a V-8 power plant under the flip forward hood.

I am paying homage to all of the original flame painters who performed their magic without or with limited use of a spray gun. Early flame painters and pinstripers in the late ‘50s,like Don Varner and Andy Southard, Jr., on a few occasions, pulled out house paint and brush, and in an almost impressionistic approach, lathered on delightful swirls of fire. More than a couple of Ford coupes and sedans, back in the day, were treated in this manner. After the brushwork or minimal spray work, the designs were then hand-rubbed, creating beautiful color blends. Because of increased restrictions on paint use and the current retro rod movement, this method has become quite popular again today. With that in mind, a few of my puny panels were painted with pyro without the aid of my miniature spray gun, the airbrush-- the flames were hand-painted using a small brush.

1956 Ford Parklane Sport Wagon

With around 15,000 produced and selling for approximately $2500, this wicked wagon was developed and marketed to spar with the Chevy Nomad outselling it 2-1 in ’56. An elevated version of the Ranch Wagon, it was the most expensive Ford produced that year. One of its endearing features is its “dipping V” chrome beltline dividing different colors above and below. With this two-tone paint scheme primarily white paired with another color, the Parklane carried forward Thunderbird styling including skinny tail fins, an egg crate grill, dual exhaust and the new Y-8 engine so named for its “Y” shape in cross-section. Ads called this wagon a “tote-‘em” and “Do-it-all” and “luxury liner.”

Developed by Robert McNamara and Cornell University, an advertised “life-guard safety package” offered: deep center steering wheel with flexing spokes and double-grip door latches to prevent passenger ejection during an accident. Further options included lap seatbelts, padded dashboard and sun visors and a rearview mirror.

Speaking of hits, the Parklane became one-hit one-year wonder with its downfall due in part to having only two doors. To serve two masters, having to haul goods and products during the day and the wife and kids in the evenings and weekends made practicality difficult. Ford previously had two-door wagons in its 1949-51 line up, adding new models with 4 doors in ’52 and returned to the 2-door styling in ’56.

Phil Riehlman designed the 8 Crate for the Hot Wheels lineup beginning in 2003. I include wagons and panels with and without roof modifications in high brow, rod style and lowrider versions.

1959 Chevy Sedan Delivery

In all of its over the top glitz and glamour chrome and styling and beckoning its “last” to a brave new subdued 60s’ automotive world to come, I still love this 2-door low-slung delivery wagon. The 1959 Chevy sedan panel delivery was based on the Biscayne wagon styling; 5266 were built and sold for about $2200. It was advertised as a “handsome hustler” and was equipped with a V6 or 2 versions of the V-8 Turbo-fire or Super Turbo-fire. While sitting in its “cushy interior” you could look at the world through a windshield that offered “1,740 square inches of panoramic glass”! With its batwing taillight styling, for sure, Batman would have had one of these in his cave!

I include 8 versions of my personal panel pounder with additional cruiser skirts, exposed engines and lots O’ fire.

1970 and 71 El Camino

Chevrolet’s El Camino began in 1959 as heads up competition for Ford's Ranchero. After a brief entry of only two years, it went on hiatus, not returning until 1964. Its final model year was 1987. In Spanish, “El Camino” means the way, the path or the course. Originally, the name was found on a prototype Cadillac in the 1954 Motorama.

With a 396 V-8, the '70 and ‘71 models were considered the true muscle trucks of their time. An optional 454 V-8 was also available for even more giddy-up-and-go horsepower! Quad headlights were on the ’70, singles on the ’71. The squared-off taillights were integrated into the rear bumper. Like the Ranchero, El Camino body styles changed with the ebb and flow of current model passenger car platform offerings. Based on Chevelle styling its first year was 1964; its last would be 1977. If driveway painted flames were not your thing, you could dress up the exterior with the optional factory-supplied simulated wood graphics or racing stripe package.

My flamed versions are treated traditionally with one modified with rear fender skirts.

Thank you for reviewing my miniature molten masterpieces, as always feel free to contact me to discuss and share your flame efforts or if you need any assistance with building some fire! My next blog entry will concentrate on some traditional Rods and Customs!


  1. These are fantastic! All of them just great work...

  2. Absolutely Beautiful work. I love each one of them.
    Just a couple of corrections. The School Busted is based on Ford bus, not GMC. The grill area and headlight positioning would be completely different for a GMC.
    The 59 Chevys did not have a V6. It was an inline 6.
    Fords had 2 door wagons in their line up from 1949 through 1960. They were joined by 4 door wagons in 1952. The 1952 -1960 2 door wagons were base model wagons except for 1956 when you could get either a base 2 door wagon or an up-scale Parklane Sport. The upscale Country Squire was the wagon of choice for families, as you said it was more convenient to have 4 doors.

  3. I appreciate your input on my auto facts, Best, Tim