June 10, 2004 in City

Local car buffs to get air time

By The Spokesman-Review
Christopher Anderson/ photo

A film crew from The Discovery Channel gets footage for “Monster Nation” at Tim’s Hot Rods in Greenacres on Wednesday. Tim Stromberger, right, is captured by Jim Swoboda, with camera, talking about the car his crew created for Jack White.
(Full-size photo)

The motor in Mike Bond’s hot-rod yellow ‘55 Chevy is so large that, to the untrained eye, it looks like two engines riding piggyback.

And when Tim Stromberger fired it up Wednesday for a film crew shooting for the Discovery Channel, the noise was enough to make their eardrums bleed.

“Welcome to Tim’s Hot Rods in Greenacres, Washington,” Stromberger said, smiling into a camera that will introduce the Spokane car scene to a national TV audience this fall.

Discovery Channel is launching a new weekday series called “Monster Nation,” in a few months.

The show will profile America’s craze for all things mechanical.

A production crew is spending five days in the Inland Northwest gathering footage for the program, which is a spin-off of two current Discovery programs, “Monster House” and “Monster Garage.”

“Two years ago, everything was ‘extreme.’ Now, everything is ‘monster,’ ” said Brian Coughlin, a producer for Original Productions.

Coughlin and his crew first stopped in Elk, Wash., to film John Rigg and his collection of 2,500 robots, before arriving at Tim’s Hot Rods.

Stromberger made Discovery’s must-see list because of a 1936 Chrysler Airflow the shop built for Spokane hot rodders Jack and Sue White.

The car with a six-figure price tag is only one of four Airflows known to exist.

Stromberger’s shop collaborated with Extreme Customs of Otis Orchards to customize the Airflow, adding a new V-10 Dodge Viper engine, chroming it from bumper to tailpipe and giving it ghostly, futuristic curves.

Another car, a 1938 Lincoln Zephyr, built by the two hot rod shops fetched $432,000 at car auction earlier this year, setting a record price for auctioned hot rods.

It was the popularity of the Zephyr that turned Discovery channel onto the Spokane car scene.

Coughlin said his crew planned to film cruise night at the Steer Inn on North Division in Spokane, crash the local car scene at the Hot Rod Cafe in Post Falls, Idaho, then catch a combine demolition derby this weekend in Lind, Wash.

It’s a lot of footage, but still very short of the proverbial “15-minutes of fame” Andy Warhol once suggested every Americans seemed entitled to.

“All the stuff they did was only seven minutes worth,” Stromberger said. “They said the thing starts this fall and it’s going to be on every day.”

With this turn on the tube, Spokane car buffs will be breathing some rarified exhaust.

Footage gathered from across the country includes the “guitcycle,” a 650 Yamaha transformed to look like a huge guitar that can still be ridden like a motorcycle; a 1972 CB 350 Honda steel-tube dragster converted into a drive-able, gigantic, glossy-red stiletto shoe; and the Alien toy, a hydraulically-operated car that splits into movable pieces.

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