Remember when a show car was show car? The vibrantly painted cars were often built or inspired by iconic cavalier builders like George Barris, Dan Woods, and Ed Roth. These wild, more often than not, wildly themed, and completely over the top show cars were a vehicle that pushed the borders of the imagination.
Carrying names like Excalibur, Red Baron, and Mummy Machine, these cars were impractical, and perhaps even all together non-functional, yet impossible to ignore. Hot Rod art on wheels, a show car’s effectiveness is measured by how many people can be found near it. These people are more often than not wondering exactly what the builder was thinking (or smoking) when the car was built.
It is this free spirited era of car building that custom car builder and renowned painter Fritz ‘Spritz By Fritz‘ Schenck recreated with his bubble top roadster; the Baja Bandeeto.
Fritz is no stranger to the show car genre. In his nearly thirty year career as a custom vehicle builder, he has built and restored several. Completed in 2015, The Baja Bandeeto is the latest show car to roll out of his shop.
Jimmy Smith‘s design work created the initial look of the Baja Bandeeto, and the bubble top is its focal point. Rail dragsters and custom cars of the sixties and seventies are the inspiration for the rest of the design. Because of the unique shape, the body is naturally a one off piece, built entirely out of fiberglass.
Function Over Form
Between the parts-bin-find Ford Falcon tail lights is an aircooled 1600cc Volkswagen engine. Purchased for $100. The poor old bug didn’t have much left to give after mother nature had its way with the sheetmetal. Thankfully, the engine and transmission proved more than enough for Fritz to work with.
Now rebuilt and completely polished, the engine sits at the tail end of a custom frame built of box steel and round tube. At the opposite end, positioned well ahead of the cockpit, is a Super Bell drop axle that has Harley Davidson motorcycle wheels mounted on each end.
Behind the spoked wheels sit precisely nothing, because form takes a front seat to function in this build.
Because Jimmy Smith’s original drawings called for a visually minimalist front end, Fritz got creative with the mechanics. A Mercury steering box was used because it could be hidden within the cars elongated nose.
In contrast to the spoked wheels up front, the rear of the car features thick white wall tires and Astro Supreme style wheels.
Sprayed To Perfection
Happy with the fit and finish of the body – and the stance, Fritz let he is natural talent run loose on the car. A two time House Of Kolor Prestigious Painter award winner, Fritz sprayed HOK colors on the car from front to back.
A base coat of yellow is covered in red line work that resembles a topographical map; rising and falling with the vehicles curves. The inlay forward of the rear wheel is painted gloss white.
Down the center of the car is a patterned red stripe. Pinstriping, murals, and a bit of subtle gold leafing are then used to make this one of the most intricate paint jobs at the Detroit Autorama show.
Draped in albino Bigfoot Fur (white shag) the interior is just as extreme as the exterior. A closer photo would have been nice, but Fritz was never near his car to let us over the stanchions. He was instead taking part in the panel jam in the Autorama Extreme portion of the show.
A Beautiful Companion
An equally stunning two wheeled vehicle shared display space with the Baja Bandeeto. Built as a project for Iron Horse magazine, the Margarita Chiquita ticks all the same boxes that the ‘Bandeeto does in regards to show worthy creations.
The bike, like the car, is made up of largely custom parts. The frame is stock but the sissy bar, gas tank, fender exit exhaust, and suicide shifter are all had made.
A smaller canvas didn’t slow down Fritz’ paint gun, and the number of paint tricks thrown at this bike is nearly equal to that of the Baja Bandeeto.
The flame work that covers nearly every square inch of the frame is detailed and intricate. The right side of the bike features a stylized Rat fink that bursts through the flames.
Emblazoned on the gas tank, beside a custom eyeball shift knob, is a provocative mural of a woman. The Margarita Chiquita herself. An ex girlfriend, or Fritz’ version of the perfect wife? We will let you decide that one.
Fittingly, even the signboard for the custom Harley features more of Fritz’s handiwork with a paint gun, thanking his sponsors and detailing the build in a truly artful fashion.
Show chrome is in no short supply on this Harley, and the generous use of it does an excellent job of complementing the greens, yellows, and purples the bike has been painted with.
Creativity is one of the most important aspects of hot rodding, and both of these builds are excellent examples of its importance. The golden years of the show rod have passed, but that doesn’t mean we are against seeing more!