Matt Marble (Spike) lead singer and guitarist for The Hula Girls has been using his 1961 Ford Econoline as his musician-mobil for years, hauling gear from gig to gig. Our Matt, at Anaheim Rod and Custom, recently took Spike's fade to the back flat black paint and brought it center stage with the awesome atomic aqua that it adorns today! We recently caught up with Spike at his 40th birthday party and asked this talented artist/gifted photographer/ writer to contribute to our company's little blog to let our reader's know a little bit about his lifestyle. This article is written from his driver's seat point of view and his experience with cars, guitars and tiki bars. Enjoy!
When I first bought my 1961 Ford Econoline, it was a bit of a mess… The carb was screwy, the trans, sticky, you could see through rust holes in the sides of the body, and there were a whole host of other issues as well… but though those early days of owning the truck, it served me well. Even more than that, it was my daily driver for about 5 years. It was even fine with me when it had rotted quarter panels and chipped black paint… It was meant to serve as a gear hauler. It was cool looking, rough, utilitarian. Let me share with you, a few stories about this truck.
I’ve played hundreds of shows with my band, The Hula Girls, all the while using the Econoline to drag amplifiers and go-go boxes to gigs as far away from Orange County as San Diego, Palm Springs, and Downtown LA. I’ve been under the truck, screwing with the trans linkage just about as much as I’ve been in it, driving. I can’t count the number of flatbeds its been on… There was a moment on PCH where the carburetor got stuck wide open. The truck was just continuing to accelerate until I put the clutch in…. Then it was just revving violently fast. I finally turned the key off and it stopped with a big, loud backfire! Hell, the battery box even caught fire once… and it’s located under the driver’s seat! It’s to the point where I’ve just about replaced anything that can and has failed on it… water pump, fuel pump, rebuilt trans, new carb, custom aluminum radiator, rewired the whole vehicle and a whole bunch of other stuff that I have since (thankfully) forgotten. These days, it’s pretty reliable.
A particularly long journey, brought forth by my tiki collecting obsession, took me in the Econoline, all of the way out to Palmdale. I was in search of a fairly valuable ‘Witco’ tiki bar. Somehow, I stumbled upon this vintage tiki bar on Craigslist. Witco happens to be the same company with which Elvis decorated his Jungle room in Graceland. Palmdale is a long, slow, uphill drive past LA and into the desert. It was during a dry fire season and I remember rumbling past areas next to the freeway that were on fire. My inability to roll up windows while driving, had me making a smoke mask out of my tee shirt. I bought the bar for about $200 and a 1950s fridge was thrown in for another $50. They both fit in the truck, but the tonneau cover that I built for the back, was propped way up in the air. I couldn’t see anything behind or to the right of me. It was a long, scary drive home. I had to pull over a few times on the freeway, just to make sure everything was cool in the back of the truck, the traffic flying by at 80-90 miles per hour…
Another time, in San Diego for the Tiki Oasis festival, I was driving with tiki bar builder, Bamboo Ben. We were exiting the freeway rolling up an off-ramp when all of the sudden, I felt my transmission linkage pop out. That meant that as soon as the truck stopped rolling, I wouldn’t be able to drive it forward, put it in park, or otherwise secure it from rolling. Thinking quickly, I had Ben jump out of the truck and put a mic stand bag behind the rear wheels. While he was using his cell phone light to direct traffic away from running into us, I crawled under the already super low truck, burning myself on the lake pipes. I grabbed the greasy linkage, stuck it back into the slot in the transmission, and tightened it up with a wrench that I carry with me. Hastily jumping back into the truck, I left my favorite hat on the roadside in San Diego. …but that’s part of owning an old car, I guess.
Finally, after all of that, my buddy, Josh, and I decided that it was time to actually ‘finish’ the truck. We created a custom dash from a ’61 Ranchero rear window surround and a ’58 Edsel cluster and speedo. We fixed the big rotted side panels by welding on new patch panels… but lowered them 4”. We made a grill using chromed rebar. Glued up a white faux fur headliner and had the seats upholstered in ‘warp speed white’ metallic vinyl with silver piping. Matt, at Anaheim Rod and Custom, mixed up a custom paint color of candies and metal flake and sprayed the truck. I found some vintage 1960’s ‘Single-Rib Radirs’ to finish off the look. With all that we’ve been through together, she finally looks as good as I’ve always felt about her. -----To learn more about Matt Marble and his band visit their website http://thehulagirls.blogspot.com/ they will be performing at Don the Beachcomber 10 Year Celebration this March 30th & 31st You don't want to miss it!