Category Archives: Throwback

INVADER – 60’s Show Rods and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty



It’s a funny thing being a photographer, sort of a “Secret Life of Walter Mitty” thing. You grow up dreaming of lives, places, and cars then suddenly one day there they are, in front of your lens. You find yourself instantly time traveling, jumping between the 60’s and the new millennium. Imagine all of those model car kits you built as a kid, slot cars you raced, famous drag cars, Indy cars, and NASCAR championship cars you saw at the car shows and the races your Dad took you to and just how amazing it all seemed to a young American boy. A daydream-inspired life indeed!



Then one day, there they are in front of your lens, not behind some rope, or in the race track pits where you couldn’t touch them. In fact, you can sit in them, ride in them, and sometimes even DRIVE THEM! You can’t help but ask yourself, how did I get here?! Photographing the Invader was one of those Walter Mitty daydreams….…

60’s Show Rods were a trip. Many of them built to attract the show goer, not to actually be driven. But the formula worked and many of them toured for many, many years. The Invader, though, was more than just a pretty face. It was/is a functioning, drivable Show Rod of the period. In fact it was a two time winner of the America’s Most Beautiful Roadster award, in 1967 and 1968. On top of that, it toured shows for over 20 years to 31 countries all over the world. An icon to be sure, and a testament to the imagination and engineering capabilities of its builder, Bob Reisner.

Fast forward to 1998, and after being heavily damaged during shipping (it came loose in its container in heavy seas!) on it’s way back from a show tour in Korea, Ron Martinez then purchased the car and had it beautifully restored by Scott Guildner. Invader made its return debut at the 50th anniversary edition of the Grand National Roadster Show in 1999.

Not just a trailer queen and fully operational, the Invader is a rolling piece of hot rodding history. But that doesn’t mean it’s exactly streetable either. With twin 400 c.i. Pontiac mills feeding twin B&M hydromatic transmissions and dual driveshafts into the two linked Jaguar rear differentials the car has a bit of a mind of its own. First, it’s deceptively wide - in fact, it’s wider than a Hummer. The tires hung over the rails of the flatbed transporter truck that delivered it. Add in two engines propelling two separate rear sets of gears and the least bit of output difference between the engines creates an instant desire for the car to dart in the direction of the lesser tuned engine! A little like pulling the brake on one set of the tracks on a tank.



Ron gave me the ride that I’d dreamed of in the Invader since I was that 11 year old seeing it at a show for the first time. During a ride opportunity I would have killed for (the Walter Mitty moment) Ron gave me an example of just that. Goosing the throttle and making my day, the Invader made an instant kick to the left, hard and quick! Ron gathered it up and we both laughed our asses off as he said, “See, told you so!” Making it even a little more of a handful, those two iron Pontiac V8s are both directed around the road by a Corvair steering box, which is definitely overworked with over a 1000 pounds of Pontiac on its back. With no power assist, Ron worked up a sweat just making 3 point turns, so kicking it sideways for me as he did showed what cojones that guys has! Not to mention allowing me to take it to a sulfur storage facility down near the docks for our “otherworldly” photo location. He just proved it. The smell alone would have caused most men to put it back on the truck and leave!

So in 2002, 35 years after first seeing the car at a show with my Dad and then building the model kit, my 11 year old boy day dream had come true. Walter Mitty never, ever, had it so good.



Words: Randy Lorentzen    Photos: Randy Lorentzen


Flashback in time at Bonneville. Stumbling onto the film set for “World’s Fastest Indian”

It’s was 14 years ago, in 2004 and I was the “official” photographer, ( thanks Pete Charpouris)!, at the Bonneville Salt Flats as part of the join effort between So-Cal Speed Shop and General Motors to set some records with their then new “Eco-Tech” series of 4 cylinder engines. A very successful trip it was for the guys too, with many records set. But that’s a story for another time.


We’d been there the previous year as well with the Eco-Tech program and at some random point there was a call over the PA system announcing that if anyone was interested, there were some folks at the event who “wanted to make a movie at Bonneville” and if anyone was interested they could contact the guys through the tower to speak with them. The announcement seemed to be universally dismissed by the guys in the pits. Just another hokey effort to make another hokey movie, and they were trying to get some free cars to show up. Good luck Charlie. So it faded away…..

The following year we’re back, ( 2004 ) for Bonneville Speed Week in the middle of a toasty hot series of days in August. Off in the distance, (and there’s plenty of distance at Bonneville ), far from the pits and the race courses we could see a bunch of cars and trucks. And a couple of times we saw groups of school buses come on the salt and caravan to that group. Hmmm, curious. About mid day, we saw the buses leaving the salt, again in a caravan. Hmmm, curious-er. Things in the So-Cal pits were at a slow point, so myself and another guy decided to drive over to that area in the distance and see just what the hell was going on. When we arrived, it felt as though we had stepped through a time warp, and it was about 1962.




The cars, the bicycles, the pits, the tools, the banners and advertising, every detail right down to the thermoses, folding chairs and tables, everything was from another time. Including an announcers stand near a huge chalk board with names, cars, classes, and times written on it. There were what turned out to be “extras” guys with slicked back hair and jeans with cuffs, and girls walking around with cat-eye shades, bright red lipstick and Marlyn hairdos. As we just casually started walking around, acting like we belonged there, a guy comes over from the production crew. Busted! Nope he asks what we’re doing here, and tell him about the So-Cal / GM gig.



He says, “You ever do anything with HOT ROD Magazine?" “Ahhh, yeah, in fact I starting shooting for them in about ’80-’81”. “You know so and so, and the guys in the archives”? “Ahhhh, yeah”. I tell him. So he’s got this folder and clip board and he asks me if that chalk board looks right to me, and does it make sense? I tell him it looks awesome, but I was never at Bonneville back in those days. In the folder he has some 8x10 black and white photos he show us that they had gotten printed by the Petersen Archives crew. The chalk board was a perfect recreation, as were the food stands, outhouses, everything. All of it faithfully reproduced from the black and white photos. “What’s with the buses”? “They’re taking the actors and crew to lunch back in Wendover, the rest of us have catering here on site.” “Can we hang out and take a few pictures”? “Sure, just don’t shoot any of the actors, and if you see those buses coming back in about 10-15 minutes, get out of here, otherwise, knock yourself out”.

And that’s how we learned it wasn’t some hokey movie, just trying to scare up a few free cars. We were on set for “The World’s Fastest Indian”!




Words: Randy Lorentzen    Photos: Randy Lorentzen

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