All of this started with a Craigslist ad for a major project. We usually do get carried away in the comments a bit, especially on obscure cars and great movies. And after we found out one of us actually had a diecast on the Corvorado a deal was made quickly for this little intercontinental collaboration to celebrate the 4th of July in a special way. So this post you see here is a joint effort between Jonee and Jobjoris. Fasten your seatbelts: happy 4th of July to all of you!
As long as there have been cars, people have been customizing them, turning the mundane into rolling personal statements. Often this means doing what someone else did first. But, obviously there have been pioneers. From George Barris to Xzibit, each decade saw a visionary start a new fad. And no customizing fad better epitomizes the 1970’s than the Pimpmobile.
The great state of New Jersey’s Les Dunham began customizing cars in the late 50’s. Les was pretty well known in the east coast customizing scene as a maverick working on both cars and motorcycles. He created a pretty famous Barris-esque car called The Scorpion that had a unique asymmetrical design.
One thing that set Les apart was that he was one of the few white customizers who would build cars for black customers. There was a definite racial divide in the car community which had never really been all that diverse to begin with.
Well, that all changed on a fateful day in 1971 when a gentleman of questionable employment named “Snake” drove his ’69 Fleetwood into Les’s shop. He had seen a chrome radiator cap on another car, one of the first pieces of automobile bling available. It turned your run of the mill grille into something approaching the grandeur of a Rolls.
Les had installed many of them and Snake pointed at one and told Les, “I want my whole car to look like that.” Les then took a large roll of small bills and went crazy, sticking chrome on every edge and corner on that mile long Caddy. And, so Mr. Snake got the world’s first Pimpmobile.
Soon, Les’s shop was filled with Cadillacs all getting the same treatment. One addition Snake requested to that first car were headlights like on an old brass era Rolls. Les achieved the effect with those distinctive chrome goggles called “Fly Lights” that soon every tricked out urban land barge sported.
Things really exploded, and Les’s legend was solidified, when Gordon Parks, the director of Superfly, spotted one of Les’s customer’s cars parked in New York. It was owned by a pimp named K.C. who agreed to rent the car out for the movie in exchange for cash and a cameo. The car was as much a star as Ron O’Neal’s Priest character and carriers full of Les Dunham customized Cadillacs started leaving Boonton, New Jersey. They were seen not only as status symbols for wealthy blacks, but also as a fuck you to conservative wealthy whites who, to this day, are disgusted by their shiny opulence.
A couple years later, huge cars were starting to fall out of favor. Plus, an Eldorado or Deville loaded with chrome wasn’t exactly an exciting performer. So, Les came up with the idea to stick a cutdown Eldo on top of a Corvette. And the Corvorado was born.
He used a lot of fiberglass to finesse the body which kept the weight reasonable. It was obviously much heavier than the C3 body it replaced, but it was still a pretty capable car by all accounts. It had all the extravagance of Les’s other cars, but wasn’t the size of a super tanker and could get out of its own way.
When the Broccoli’s wanted a Pimpmobile for Live and Let Die, Les rented them the very first Corvorado hoping for the same reaction that the Superfly car got. But, the Corvorado cost almost 50 grand and he only ended up building 6 more. Today, they, like original Pimpmobiles, are highly prized collectibles, and Les is back to customizing Caddys just like he was 45 years ago. This time it’s, of course, hip (white) yuppies buying them.
The model is from Eaglemoss Publications and is a 1/43 from their James Bond Car Collection. The cast itself was made by Universal Hobbies. It comes with a little diorama covering a New York scene of Fleming’s James Bond movie Live and Let Die.
It wouldn’t have found it’s way into my collection if it wasn’t for the fact I got a significant part of that Bond collection (which consists of 134 casts in total!) in one hawl. It certainly has it’s flaws, just look at the front wheel/arches: the left wheel arch is positioned way up higher than it’s right companion.
Nice touch is the fact Whisper, one of Kananga’s men and a huge threat for Bond, is positioned behind the wheel. He doesn’t appear to be that huge but the car was a big thing, probably one of the bigger 1/43's I got. It barely fits my small dioramas. But I could imagine the side where the driver is positioned to be a bit lower, not the other way around.
That could have got something to do with the rockers as well: the one on the left seems to be out of place. Totally. So it’s probably just a quality control thing as I got this one still in it’s blister. I’m not sure what the magazine and car would have cost back in the days when you could subscribe to these but it pr0bably wasn’t over 10 euros so you can’t expect Minichamps, Matrix or Ebbro quality anyway.
That’s it for this little co-operation. We hope you enjoyed it and now go start enjoying that Independence Day! LaLD/Oppo-out!