Saturday 4 May 2024

Chad Hiltz: Customizer Extraordinaire

While a friend of mine Peter and I were making our way to Nova Scotia’s famous Look Off in the Annapolis Valley, we stumbled on to a talented automotive customizer by the name of Chad Hiltz.
This is his story, as told by his partner:

Chad knows how to decorate his digs; note the cool Coop-inspired tattoo.

Chad Hiltz was born on August 31, 1971, to Patricia and Doug Hiltz in the small community of Kingsport, N.S. His father owned and operated a White Rose gas station in the early 70's when his passion began as a young boy. He loved seeing the old cars come in for fill ups'. One in particular was his uncle Freddy's 1956 Ford Crown Victoria.

His father usually had old cars and his mother drove a '46 Dodge 1/2 ton, which at the age of 14, Chad drove to school because back then you could. At the age of 16 he found a '34 Ford 3-window coupe. He somehow talked his father into selling a hockey card collection to acquire the car (I think the movie American Graffiti helped to persuade his father). He spent many nights with his Dad in the yard helping to fix up the car.

His first daughter was born at the age of 16. He then left high school to provide for his young family by working at a grain mill. Chad took an auto-body course at the local college but ended up leaving early due to fist fighting. He started a job at a chicken processing plant all the while tinkering on old cars in his spare time. Years passed and he went through a number of muscle cars. Some were sold and some ended up in ditches. He remarried at the age of 27 and spent most of his marriage in the garage customizing his mother’s '46 Dodge; first as original than pro-street and finally settled on rat rod. He had a son Colton on April 10, 1998 then divorced a year later.

In 1999 he finally met me, Mandy Mosher. Since that point he left the chicken plant business and started his own shop at our ocean front property in Kingsport, NS. The neighbors didn't like us in Kingsport. With the 4 cyl sandblaster running until dusk, the old parts cars hanging around and the grinder running all hours of the night, the municipality visited us often. Most of the community thought we were ruining the view of the ocean; we thought they were ruining our views of classic cars and nostalgia …

Our daughter Harlee was born on August 15, 2004 and we left Kingsport and never looked back. We bought a house on Hwy 358 in Canning and Chad built his own shop where he happily restores/customizes old cars and hangs his signs freely. As most enthusiasts go through phases so did Chad. His first passion was muscle cars, then 50's classics, onto rat-rods and now customs. He welcomes all spectators and visitors to the shop and takes the time to talk with all. He owns a 1956 Mercury much like his uncle Freddy’s. He also loves his latest creation the "Bat out of Hell" which used to be a '60 Chrysler Windsor.

He took a metal workshop with legendary customizer Gene Winfield last spring and now it's customs all the way. He was reunited with Gene Winfield at the Atlantic Nationals this summer where he won the special interest award as well as the Reps Choice from the Right Coast Association. Keep your eye out for Chad (The Green Goblin) and we'll hopefully see you around. Thank You.

Sunday 12 May 2019

100 Years of Zagato

The famous Italian coachbuilder Zagato celebrates it's 100th anniversary this year.

They have designed some of the worlds most beautiful sports cars for companies such as Alfa Romeo, Aston Martin, BMW, Ferrari, Fiat, Jaguar, Lamborghini, Maserati, Mercedes, Porsche, and many more.

Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato

Some of their more memorable designs are the Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato, the Lancia Hyena, the Lancia Aprilia Sport Zagato, the Fiat-Abarth 750 GT, Alfa Romeo 1750 GS Zagato, Alfa Romeo 1900 SSZ Double Bubble, and the Alfa Romeo Giulia TZ1.

Alfa Romeo 1500 GS Zagato and the Alfa Romeo Giulia TZ1

The design house is being honoured at the upcoming Greenwich Concours d’Élégance, an event always worth attending.

I hope to see you there!

Monday 14 January 2019

1929 Grand Prix de Monaco

The very first Grand Prix de Monaco took place on April 14th, 1929.

It was created as to bring international prestige to the Principality.

Sixteen drivers participated in that inaugural race, including Rudolf Caracciola, René Dreyfus, Philippe Étancelin and William Charles Frederick Grover-Williams.

That first race was won by Grover-Williams racing a Bugatti Type 35B.

Pen&ink, paint markers and markers on 18"x 12.75" (45.5cm x 32.5cm) blue archival paper © Paul Chenard    

I decided to create an artwork showing him in his Bugatti, and had a B&W photo as reference. I did the art on blue paper, as most often Bugatti's were in French racing blue.

After starting the art, I found out that he was racing in British racing green, so I used a yellow marker on the blue paper to get the green.

A happy mistake!

Tuesday 2 October 2018

Sketching here and there at Lime Rock

I’ve so wanted to return to the Lime Rock Historic Festival, and with the encouragement and support of fabulous artist Chris Osborne and Michael Ricciardi of European Motorsports, I made the journey. Over 2,100 miles of driving later, I still can’t believe the amazing time I had there.

Michael Ricciardi of European Motorsports

Chris Osborne and her amazing art

With the help of the Lime Rock Park marketing staff, including Mitchell Conroy, Mike Distefano, and Nicholas Leone, I got to live-sketch dream cars.

Me sketching the Bugatti Atlantic - Photo Christopher Carveth

The first was the Mullin Automotive Museum’s famous Bugatti Type 57 SC Atlantic. As I sketched away, I met old friends, and made new ones, including Peter Mullin himself, who came to see what I was hatching. He is in fact buying the original art, with the proceeds of the sale going to the supported charity The Michael J. Fox Foundation.

Peter Mullin and I - Photo Christopher Carveth
1936 Bugatti Type 57 SC Atlantic

The next day, I pinched myself … there was the 1937 24 Heures du Mans winning Bugatti Type 57G from the Simeone Museum! Another stunning subject to sketch!

Me sketching the Bugatti "Tank" - Photo Dom Miliano

Of course, it was all part of the largest North American gathering of the Bugatti marque, with 60 + examples assembled! So much French rolling beauty in one place!!

1936 Bugatti Type 57G "Tank"

Over the weekend, I was so happy to connect in person with Lyn St.James, a real racing hero of mine, plus the wonderful Tom Cotter, writer, racer, and TV personality.

Me live-sketching the Cunningham C-4RK recreation - Photo Brian Koch

On Coucours car show day, I chose to sketch Chuck Schoendorf’s brutish Cunningham C-4RK recreation. I love the purposeful lines of that racer … it just shouts, “Get out of my way!”

1952 Cunningham C-4RK

On the last day, I wandered around to say hello to friends Phil Lamont and Michael Gans, stopping at Tom’s stand to check out his Cunningham C-3 when he requested a sketch of it. No problem! The barn-find racer still has its patina, making it a challenging subject to sketch.

1952 Cunningham C-3

I sold 3 of my 4 sketches, allowing me to more than cover my costs, while also providing a bit of a show for the spectators. I was made to feel so at home at Lime Rock Park, I can’t imagine not returning for next year’s Historic Festival.


Monday 25 June 2018

2018 Greenwich Concours d’Élégance

The Greenwich Concours d’Élégance is a premier event in North America that I’ve had the honour of attending previously in 2014 and 2015.

Interestingly, a client from New Jersey ordered 2 prints this past Christmas from me because she remembered me live-sketching at the 2015 edition.

This stirred me into considering a trip to the 2018 Concours when out of the blue, I received a text from my good friend Michael Ricciardi inviting me to join him there.

Michael owns European Motorsports in Lawrence MA, and he had two cars at the Bonhams auction being held at the Concours. One was a stunning, low mileage 1986 Lamborghini Countach and the other was an equally stunning low mileage 1986 Ferrari Testarossa “Flying Mirror”.

Michael Ricciardi with the Countach and the Testarossa.

While Michael was prepping the cars for auction, I decided to do custom license-plate art for each. I think that it really added some spice to both cars.

Our sometimes dinnertime wheels was a stunningly beautiful front-engine, 12-cylinder Lamborghini Espada … even I felt cool in that car!

Lamborghini Espada ... so so cool!!

Once we arrived in Greenwich, we were invited to a Friday evening cocktail party held at the Malcolm Pray Achievement Centre, the event being hosted by his daughter Melanie Pray. It was so good to meet Melanie, an incredibly dynamic person! My art was also on display there, which was a real treat, but the biggest treat for me was seeing my dear friend Deb Stearn Pollack, who had come in from Los Angeles to see a close friend and take in the weekend’s event.

Deb and I beside my art on display.

Deb is an automotive PR guru who also puts together the “Drive Toward a Cure” Tours, a major fundraising event for Parkinson’s Research, which I have supported through donations of original art.

I gave Deb one of my VIDA Design scarves.

My appearance at the Greenwich Concours d’Élégance was kindly supported by the event organizer Mary Wennerstrom, Event Chairman, and her team. They were amazing!

This year’s Concours celebrated the cars of Briggs Cunningham and of John Fitch, and was attended by David Hobbs, signing his new autobiography “Hobbo”, and Wayne Carini, host of TV’s Chasing Classic Cars.

Me live-sketching the Cunningham C4RC - Dom Miliano photo

I managed to get one sketch done per day. On Saturday I did a live-sketch of the beautiful Cunningham C4RC #5222, owned by the wonderful Larry and Jan Pfitzenmaier, and on Sunday I live-sketched Peter Sach’s 1957 Ferrari 335 Sport Scaglietti Spyder, which also happened to win Best of Show Sport.

Me live-sketching the Ferrari 335 Sport Scaglietti Spyder Robert Brodowski photo

Over the two days, I met countless great people and made new friends. I was thrilled to be visited by my dear friend Chris Osborne and her lovely friend Melanie. Chris is a premiere automotive artist, and it was just so great to see her again.

Me with Chris and Melanie Ed Hyman photo

Needless to say, I had an amazing time in Greenwich!

Once back in MA, I hung around a few days more with Michael, live-sketching one of his cars, and changing the entrance wall at European Motorsports by putting up my art. It was nice to see my art displayed in a proper way in a proper place; hopefully there will be a better chance of selling it there!

My art at the entrance of European Motorsports

I’m itching to get back to see my New England friends!

Saturday 19 May 2018

1949 24 heures du Mans

The 1949 24 heures du Mans marked the return to racing at the Circuit de la Sarthe after World War II.

There were 49 starters for the race, driving Delages, Frazer Nashs, Bentleys, HRGs, Aston Martins, Healeys, Simcas, Talbot-Lagos, and for the very first time, Ferraris.

Two Ferrari 166 MMs were entered, one being driven by the team of Luigi Chinetti and Peter Mitchell-Thomson (Lord Selsdon) and the other by Jean Lucas and Pierre Louis-Dreyfus.

The Ferrari of Chinetti and Lord Selsdon kept a stead pace near the front while the Ferrari of Lucas and Louis-Dreyfus crashed out early on lap 53.

Lord Selsdon was feeling quite ill at the time, managing a total of only 72 minutes of racing, so Luigi Chinetti did the lion’s share of the driving for the race.

Eight hours in, Chinetti pushed the Ferrari into the lead, which he kept to the end, nursing the car with a slipping clutch.

Amazingly, it was Luigi Chinetti 3rd Le Mans win, having also won in 1932 with Raymond Sommer and in 1934 with Philippe Étancelin.

It was also a landmark win for the fledgling Ferrari company, and a hint of the future domination that Ferrari would have on the race through the 1950’s and the early 1960’s.

Tuesday 3 April 2018

Ayrton Senna da Silva

In each time-period of Grand Prix racing, there are stars that shine brighter than others … Nuvolari in the 1930’s, Fangio in the 1950’s, Clark in the 1960’s, and so on ...

In the late 1980’s/early 1990’s, Formula 1’s brightest star was Brazilian driver Ayrton Senna.

Born on March 21st, 1960, Senna started racing karts at a young age, then moved into open-wheeled Formula 3, winning the 1983 British Formula 3 Championship.

He entered Formula 1 in 1984, driving for Toleman-Hart, before moving to Lotus-Renault for 1985 and winning his first race in the Lotus 97T at the rainy Portuguese Grand Prix.

After his three seasons with Lotus, in 1988 he moved to McLaren, joining teammate Frenchman Alain Prost.

A very strong rivalry developed between Prost and Senna, yet Senna won 8 of 16 races in the McLaren MP4/4, and took the Formula 1 Driver’s Championship. This, combined with Prost’s 7 wins, gave McLaren their 4th Constructors’ Championship.

Senna stayed with the McLaren team through to the end of 1993, winning 2 more Championships (1990, 1991) before moving to the Williams team for 1994.

The 3rd race of the 1994 season was held in San Marino. Sadly, in the Saturday practice session, Austrian driver Roland Ratzenberger died in the crash of his Simtek-Ford.

During the Sunday May 1st race, Senna crash his Williams, hitting the wall very hard on the 7th lap, and never regained consciousness.

The legend was no more …

Saturday 3 February 2018

Ferrari – A Heritage of Racing

Any automotive racing history artist documenting racing history through their art will be asked why there are so many Ferrari subjects featured.

A quick look at the Formula 1 history quickly explains the reason; Ferrari has been the Formula 1 Constructors Champion for a total of 16 times!!

The 2nd most wins comes from the Williams Team with 9 Constructors titles.

Ferrari also dominated sports/GT racing from the late 1940’s into the mid-1960’s.

Enzo Ferrari’s passion for racing is well-documented; his primary reason for selling road cars was the finance his racing endeavours.

That Ferrari passion runs deep in the hearts of us automotive artists too!!