9:30am - 5:30pm EST


11 Classic Car Features that Millennials and Gen Z Will Never Understand

One of our staff members used the pandemic to teach his grandson how to drive shift in his 1966 Pontiac GTO. This was his first time getting to sit in a car older than 2008. Instead of being puzzled by the best column shift around, he focused his attention on trying to work the cassette player and choke.

Younger generations know all the great photography hacks and their way around every social media. However, if you ask them about a crank window, they might start scratching their heads. Thankfully the number of automotive projects increased during the pandemic, giving a good deal of twenty-something-year-old car enthusiasts a chance to take a deep dive into car history. Here is a list of throwback car features young folks can never appreciate.

Crank Windows

On a hot day driving down the highway, crank windows can be a pain to use. They require a firm grip and some serious elbow grease. Crank windows were standard up until the late 1980s. By 2008, power windows became so common that automakers stopped making crank windows. With the rates people spend on their smartphones while driving, we can only imagine the decimation we would cause if crank windows still exist.

Manual Door Locks

Another member of our staff recently bought his daughter a 2017 Chevy Cruze. When the battery died in her key fob, she called him in a panic, thinking she was stranded. He had to explain to her that you could use the key to unlock the door manually instead of using a button.

Younger generations may not know how to manually unlock a car. Way before the keyless entry was invited, door locks were also manual. You would have to unlock a driver’s door with a key, then climb in and reach over to open the passenger door before automatic locks. The struggle was real.

Manual Door Mirrors

Remember when you had to ask your passenger to adjust the door mirror on their side? Move it to the right, down, now to the left. Perfect. Now the convenient electronic joystick makes life a little easier.

Cassette Player

If you were to ask any twenty-something what a cassette is, most of them probably don’t know or have never used one. Here and there though, some millennials enjoy collecting records and even cassettes.

Smaller cassette tapes were paradise after eight-track tapes, let alone a cassette inside a car. By the 1990s, most cars offered a radio that played both cassettes and CD. The last vehicle model in the United States that included a factory-installed cassette player was the 2010 Lexus SC 430.

Although they were a pain to rewind, showing a box of cassette tapes to your friends has the same impact as a millennial sharing a playlist. A little piece of your soul sat in that box. The younger generations definitely are missing out on that feeling of opening a cassette and taking out the album art for the first time.


Most car manufacturers stopped using carburetors in the late 1980s. Newer technology such as fuel injectors proved to be more efficient whether it was Quadrajet, Tri-Power, Stromberg, Holley, three-barrel, or four. No matter the type, they all required adjustments eventually.

Many of Original Air's upgrade kits include mounts for a standard, single-barrel carburetor (non-Shaker Hood) Small Block engine that was originally equipped with factory A/C.

CB Radio

CB or citizens-band radios quickly grew into popularity in the late 1970s. Many of the classic car movies heavily influenced its rise to fame. Although a trend, some CB radios became the factory options on some models such as Cordoba. As the Bandit would say, ten-four.


Many of us remember using the choke on a cold morning to get the engine running. The choke valve restricted airflow to enrich the fuel-air mixture while starting the engine. Once the choke restricts air from the carburetor, it reduces pressure causing more fuel to be pushed from the main jet into the combustion chamber. When the engine is warm, reopening the choke valve restores the carburetor to its normal state. Later carburetors in the 80s started to do this process automatically until carburetors phased out entirely.


As another 70s trend popularized by Smokey and the Bandit, these stylish removable roof panels became the standard on every Corvette coupe from 1968 to 1982. Ford and Chrysler copied Corvette shortly after.

Once guys named Vinny cruised up and down the Jersey Shore with their T tops down all throughout the 80s, we’re somewhat happy they died off with the fourth-generation Camaro and Firebird.

Velour Seats

In the 70s and 80s, you could find velour seats in anything from Honda Preludes to Cadillacs. Sitting on this stuff was like sitting on sponges. Regardless of the temperature outside, it only takes a couple of minutes to start sweating, and only a couple of minutes later would it take for the velour to absorb it all. Gross.

Track Seat Belts

The 1990s seatbelt regulations invited these manually buckled lap belts paired with a motorized shoulder belt beauty. After you closed the door, the shoulder belt motored up a track next to the door opening and against your middle. They became a laughingstock in pop culture because they were prone to breaking. These irritating belts marred some pretty good cars like the Mitsubishi Station Turbo and the Ferrari Testarossa, so the whole idea was scrapped not too long after.

Car Phone

You were a nobody in 1987 if your car didn’t feature a mobile phone between the center armrest or next to the shifter. Most Gen Zs and millennials are finally cool once they get their first phone, regardless if it was smart or could flip. In 1946, the first car phones connected to the public switched Telephone Network in the United States. Not until the 1970s through the 1990s the car phone became popular. Most of the time, the phone didn’t work. But you still donned the Yuppie or Preppie uniform.

Every car has a story. Did your classic get stolen during its restoration? Did you almost total the car back when you were learning how to drive? Do you have memories of using certain car parts that are no longer used today? Share your story with Original Air today by commenting below or submitting a reader ride. You might even get a chance to be featured in our newsletter.

April's Cool Ride: Mats' 1968 Mercury Marquis 390

I purchased this unrestored dreamboat in the spring of 2015. My wife was suffering from cancer and passed away just a few months later but we got the opportunity to drive it to a big car meet before that. After that, I overhauled the engine, refinished the paint, and did some detailing. Now, I will try to get the factory-installed air conditioning working with some help from Original Air.

The Original Air components I have in my care are the condenser, hoses, compressor, switch, drier, expansion valve, evaporator, and control.

The Secret Solution to Old Car Smell

As classics slowly begin emerging from their winter nap, you may notice a certain musty odor. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s your AC. The older the classic and the longer the storage stay, the likelier your car can smell. These smells can range from cigarette smoke back from the 70s to mold spores due to poor storage. Here’s how ozone generators can fix the stench.

If it’s not the AC

To understand how these can fix the stink, we’ll have to explain how ozone generators work. They basically bleach the air. Ozone generators break apart oxygen molecules using electric discharge. These single atoms then attach to oxygen molecules making them O3 or ozone.

Because these generators can break apart oxygen molecules, they can thus break apart organic compounds suspended throughout the air. In other words, ozone reacts with odor molecules by transmitting the extra molecule. Once the molecule is transferred, its chemical makeup changes thus changing the compound that once smelled.

If you choose to use an ozone generator, please remember to evacuate the space. Ozone is not oxygen which means it can harm you once inhaled. Give it enough time for the ozone to revert back to oxygen before using the car which generally means a couple of hours.

Many sources discuss the dangers of using ozone. However, those taking the right precautions can avoid any negative consequences. To give you better context, we consider carbon monoxide to be dangerous and rightfully so contributing to 2500 deaths a year. However, we don’t think about it much when we walk down the street next to running cars.

If it is the AC

Common smells coming from the AC include gas, mold, dirt, and sweet scents. If it smells like gas and you think it’s coming from your AC, it should be a strong smell. Gas-like smells from the AC can be minor or major issues. Sometimes the gas can be leftover from filling up your car or it can be anything from a gas leak to an engine issue.

If it smells moldy, it could just be because of your car’s age. Over time, as air goes through the system, the water that is used can turn into mold. To prevent this, make sure you don’t blast your AC. This way, you produce less water. Lastly, check your AC to confirm no leaks or other issues exist. Older cars can smell dirty. If the scent comes from your AC, you may have neglected to clean your air filters. Filters can collect harmful pollutants, mold, dust mites, and other dirt that cause foul smells.

Although sweet smells can bug you less, they can mean more damage. Many times, these smells are an issue with the cooling system since it uses coolant and antifreeze. This sweet scent can be toxic and should be addressed immediately.

If that old smell can't seem to go away you may need to think about restoring your car's AC. If you need help with your restortation of your AC, Orginal Air can help.   Original Air can restore nearly any car air conditioning part from your 1950's through 1990's classic car plus newer models. If you don't see the serivice part you need, contact us! We'd like to help.

March's Cool Ride: Michael's 1965 Mercury Parklane 390

I found the car for sale on Craigslist in Northern Indiana. I took the front end of the car a part rebuilt the engine, transmission and sent the stock AC parts to Original Air for a rebuild. They did great work!

Original Air components I have on my car are the condenserhoses, compressor, drier, and expansion valve. 

4 Graphs Showing Why You Should Pick Synthetic Oil Over Conventional

The decision between going with synthetic versus conventional oil is an age-old debate. But what’s the real difference between them when it comes to your engine? Synthetic oil is made up of artificial chemical compounds while conventional is refined crude oil. We’re breaking down the explanations behind why you should pay more for synthetic.

Viscosity Index

In physics, viscosity describes a fluid’s resistance to flow. When an object flows through oil, for example, the oil resists the flowing object and the velocity the object is creating through its motion. Several different factors can affect the flow and resistance such as particles suspended in the liquid. The change in the viscosity due to a temperature change is called the viscosity index (VI).

Today, we’ll be looking at how the viscosity of the oils changes with temperature. Something with a low VI changes a lot with temperature while something with a high VI has less of a change. The lesser the change, the better.

If we look at the molecules that make up the conventional oil, we notice that these molecules vary in size, shape, and weight compared to the synthetic. This results in a low VI. At low temperatures, the larger molecules resisting the flow cause conventional oil to be thicker. However, due to their varying sizes, smaller molecules exist as well that make conventional oil thinner at higher temperatures.

Synthetic oil molecules are much more uniform which causes a higher VI. This means less change with temperature. So, at low temperatures, you have better flow due to less thickening, and at higher temperatures, you have a better flow due to less oil thinning out. Ultimately an oil that maintains its viscosity at higher temperatures means better wear protection.


In chemistry, volatility describes how readily a liquid vaporizes. Some oil can evaporate once it is heated and thus lost. You want as much of that oil to remain a liquid as possible. There is an industry standardized test called the Noack Volatility test that heats oils at 250 degrees Celsius for one hour. Air flows over oils catching any particles being vaporized. After the hour, the liquid’s mass is measured.

With conventional oil, due to its many smaller molecules scattered throughout the liquid, it’s more prone to evaporation and thus losing mass. Plus, what you’re left with is many larger molecules making the oil very thick at lower temperatures. With synthetic, not as much is vaporized, so at lower temperatures, flow remains mostly the same.

So what? This is a quite the afternoon experiment all to buy some crummy oil. Fortunately, this test is on the back of oil containers. Look for ILSAC GF-6 which indicates it passed the volatility test and didn’t lose more than 15% of its mass.


Additives can change the VI. To thicken the oil, you use viscosity modifiers. With synthetic oil, you use fewer of them than for conventional oil because your viscosity baseline begins lower. With these additives, you can get your conventional IV to line up equally to synthetic.

However, viscosity modifiers have very large molecules – 200 to 2,000 times the size of what is considered a large molecule in conventional oil. These are susceptible to creating deposits in the piston rings causing them to lock in place. Locked pistons can cause oil control loss, blowby, and cylinder damage. Because synthetics use fewer additives, they are less susceptible to deposits forming in these high-temperature areas.

Classic car owners can worry less about small, turbo-sized engines, a new trend in the industry that cause more heat in a smaller area. While they may be all rated for the same viscosity, synthetic still can remain thicker at a higher temperature.


A couple of months ago, we talked about how automakers fought corrosion. Rust happens when a metal gives up its electrons to another piece of metal willing to receive it. Typically, a liquid, otherwise known as an electrode, facilitates this transfer. This is also known as oxidation.

Something similar happens with motor oil: oxidation will react with it and change it. This forms a sludge-like substance and makes the molecules heavier. Heat accelerates this oxidation process. When looking at conventional oil, you see more unsaturated molecules.

These molecules have ring structures and double bonds that are susceptible to oxygen coming into higher temperatures, attaching to the molecule, and growing them in size. This causes the oil to become thick forcing you to change the oil.

With a synthetic base oil, its saturated molecules do not have ring structures or double bonds which remain stable at high temperatures. Although not impossible, it’s much more difficult for oxygen to get into them. To prolong this process, you either need a stable base oil as with the case of synthetic oil or antioxidant additives that fights the oxidation.

February's Cool Ride: Dennis's 1982 Chevy Corvette 350

I purchased it in 2004 and wanted to take this car on long road trips without breaking down. I really wanted a 1981 because it was the last year for the stick shifts.

I ended up replacing the motor with a crate engine, 5-speed transmission, and changed the rear end gear to a 3.55. The car was originally a cream color, but I repainted it black. I also placed ZO6 wheels on it and many other upgrades. And I actually just gutted all air components and replaced everything new.

Original Air components I have on my car are the condenser, compressor, switch, accumulator, and evaporator.

The Best Fuel Stabilizers: the Good, Bad and Ugly

A year ago, we wrote some winter car storage tips on six ways to kill your classic. One of our points was that nonuse is abuse. For those of you who live up north though, this is easier said than done. Many of you may feel that a fuel stabilizer is necessary and use it to keep the gas intact during the winter. Fuel stabilizers are supposed to leave your gasoline fresh after winter sitting. Some prove to do just that while most prove to do nothing. However, some cause harm to your car’s engine. So how can you tell the best fuel stabilizers apart from the ones that are as good as poison?

To start breaking down the question of what can kill your car while it sits and how, we’ll start by looking at what’s in gasoline. Or rather, what else is in gasoline. The EPA legally allows endless amounts of other chemicals and additives in gasoline which all evaporate at different rates. Thinner compounds tend to go first, then the heavier additives. This can clog up your fuel system.


Although this is something to make note of when storing your vehicle, fuel stabilizers are anti-evaporative. At least, they claim to be. Researchers found when testing popular stabilizers such as Sta-Bil, StarTron, SeaFoam, STP, K100, and Ipone, this wasn’t the case.

Test and video by FortNine.ca
Image from video by FortNine.ca


Even so, this doesn’t necessarily mean that all fuel stabilizers are the murder weapon. Modern gasoline is partially ethanol, an alcohol that lessens gasoline’s negative effect on the environment. Ethyl alcohol is also hygroscopic meaning it tends to absorb moisture from the air. After it absorbs too much, the particles will no longer be suspended throughout the liquid and sink to the bottom.

Image from video by FortNine.ca

This is why fuel stabilizers claim to be hydrophobic; to prevent the attraction to water in ethanol. When treating popular stabilizers with ethanol, K100 and StarTron actually drew more water. But stabilizers also contain methanol, a water-soluble fuel. If they blend instead of creating layers, they can help it burn away. In another test, researchers soaked paper in the ethanol and stabilizer solution and tried burning it. Every one burned except Ipone, which fizzled out.

Image from video by FortNine.ca


Another issue is that water can freeze. Stabilizers also have anti-freeze properties. To put these properties to the test, researchers froze the ethanol stabilizer samples. Ipone and K100 froze within five hours while the rest stayed liquid.

Image from video by FortNine.ca


Of all of the ethanol's faults, oxygenation is the worst. On one hand, you want an oxidizer in your fuel because oxygenated gasoline burns more completely leaving fewer emissions in the environment. On the other hand, the quicker the fuel oxidizes, the quicker the fuel goes bad. Fuel stabilizers have antioxidants in them which prevent redox reactions from eating away at the engine.

So in another test, researchers dropped a small piece of metal in the ethanol stabilizer solution to see any deterioration. Every solution saw deterioration except for K100. Ipone and Sta-Bil saw smaller amounts of erosion while StarTron and SeaFoam were easily the worst.

Image from video by FortNine.ca

Although there are many ways an engine can go bad during winter storage, it is this oxidation that we see most typically kill cars.


In conclusion, ethanol is an accomplice to pretty much every storage crime. If you can fill your car with ethanol-free gas, you’re more likely to have fewer storage issues. However, we know that’s easier said than done. If you can’t get ethanol-free gas, fuel stabilizers don’t generally help much. The only exception is oxidation protection which only K100 does best. Just keep in mind is also freezes fast. Stabil is another tempting choice limiting water ingress.

January's Cool Ride: Charles' 1967 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme 442, 455

I've owned this car for more than 15 years and have spent the best part of that time restoring it a little at a time. It's not a factory number matching car, so I've taken some "liberties" with the restoration to make it more enjoyable to drive, including upgrading suspension, brakes, and driveline.

The Original Air parts are the hosesdrier, and expansion valve.

Together Again: A 1973 Grand Am's Story of Theft and Restoration

My Father passed away when I was in high school. I decided that I would pursue an auto mechanic career. To gain experience, I restored a 1968 Camaro. I purchased the car in pieces without a motor. By the time I graduated, I had a mint condition Camaro with a 1963 corvette motor. It was an incredible car. The local police also had it on their “radar.”

As it turned out, I was in love with my high school sweetheart. However, her father was transferred to Santa Fe. Of course, I had to follow her, so I found a college in Santa Fe to attend. I also planned on taking my Camaro. My mother had different plans for my Camaro. Unfortunately for me, I was not 18 when I purchased the car; the title was in her name.

My father was a salesman and every two years he would take the family to Eddie Ruch Pontiac in Wheaton Illinois to order our new Pontiac Catalina. Harry Toft was our “family” salesman. Because my Camaro was popular with the local police, my mother was not going to let me take it to Santa Fe. Instead, we were going to see Harry to purchase a car she would consider safe for me. My grandfather had passed away and I had inheritance money. My mother insisted I would use this money to purchase a new car. She also informed me she did not care if she only got a dollar for my/ her Camaro, I was simply not taking it.

I had two weeks to sell my Camaro! You can imagine I was not a happy customer. Harry showed us a Grand Am and bragged that it was a “sporty” car for me. My mother made me buy the car just a few days before I was to leave for Santa Fe. I was very angry. My Grand Am was in both of our names. My mother passed away many years ago and it wasn’t until last year that I finally obtained a title in my name.

To make things worse, my mother insisted on riding with me to Santa Fe. A few days prior to departure, I decided to actually give the car a chance and started to check it out. Whoa! I discovered it had a 4 barrel 400 ci engine. I could easily get a 2nd gear scratch. And it was an AUTOMATIC!

During the drive to Santa Fe, I discovered my Grand Am had many “deluxe” accessories. It had fully reclining seats with lumbar adjustment, awesome dome light, headlight bright dim switch on the blinker arm, excellent stereo 8 track, cockpit-style seating and great console, full gauges, tilt steering wheel, and incredible handling (RTS was new). But most of all, the car was fast. I buried the speedometer many times on long stretches of I 40 (old 66 from Chicago to Albuquerque). The car was so smooth, my mother had no idea. I LOVE THIS CAR!

My fellow students at the College of Santa Fe loved it also. More importantly, my girlfriend and her parents loved my Grand Am. I still maintain close contact with her parents (I did not marry their daughter) and they still love my Grand Am 47 years later. Below is a photo with my college friend Rubin at a rest stop at Tucumcari New Mexico. l wanted to look like Hank Williams, Jr. The other is a picture of my car at a stream in the Pecos. Yes, I did drive the car into the stream. I paid a price for doing it. I crunched in my gas tank. To this day, my gas tank wears the patch from this adventure.

Other stories significant to the car's condition you ask? I fell asleep on the enchanted trail outside Albuquerque and smacked a guardrail hard. The car's solid frame took the blow well, but my rear-view mirror flew off and cracked. Every time I look into my rear-view mirror, I still see the crack. Last story- I was driving down Cerrillos road in Santa Fe very early in the morning. A 1969 Pontiac GTO ran a red light and I T-boned it. Again, my Grand Am came through ok, but it needed a new hood. The only hood the Pontiac dealer in Albuquerque had was the hood with the vents. Damn the luck. The GTO was sadly decimated.

The car served me well while I served twenty years in the Navy. The pictures are of me at Officer Candidate School (OCS) in 1979 at NAS Pensacola. Shortly after school, I painted the car black. The car could not get any cooler!

In the mid-nineties, I decided to paint the car white. Not as cool as black, but I still loved my Grand Am. At over 200,000 miles on the motor, my Grand Am showed no signs of slowing up. With pride, it could still deliver a second gear scratch. I guess changing the oil frequently works for keeping the motor healthy. The car moved to San Diego in 1982.

In 1998, I decided to perform a frame-off restoration and rebuild the motor. All mechanical parts were rebuilt as well as all fluid lines. The car was nearly 80 percent complete. I was getting very anxious to drive the car again. Attached are photos during the frame off restoration.

I returned from an extended Navy deployment. My new girlfriend was anxious to see my Grand Am, so we went to the body shop to see it. Hopefully, the car was completed. To our horror, the shop was abandoned and there was no sign of my car, as well as the other classic muscle cars that were also in restoration. None of the neighboring stores knew where the cars went. The sheriff’s department was not any help. My Grand Am was gone!

I married this girlfriend and was living a great life. When I was approaching my 55th birthday, I decided I was going to spend much time looking for my Grand Am. I canvased many neighborhood auto body shops in East San Diego. Bingo, I found the shop owner working at a small body shop.

Needless to say, he was surprised I found him after 13 years. Tom, the man who stole my car, told me he had my car and its parts in storage all these years. He had a terrible excuse that he could not contact me by phone. To this day, I still have the same phone number. You can see I keep things for a long time. The owner of the body shop had much sympathy for me and offered me one of his bays.

For Tom, storing the car all those years was partially true. I met him at Ace towing in east San Diego to see my car. The Ace owner, Tom, and I walked to a remote area in the desert lot and found my car. Attached are the pictures of my Grand Am in the wrecking yard. The owner told me Tom had run out to put the blue tarp on before I arrived. As you can see, the car was in horrible condition. I was saddened as I thought I was saying goodbye to my Grand Am. Tom had not paid any fees. I was amazed the owner kept the car. Thirteen years of storage fees added up to thousands of dollars.

I decided to go for it. I wanted my car. I stuck a deal to have the car delivered to the body shop for $1800. The owner made Tom perform much of the work after hours. And for free.

The motor that was rebuilt was now rusted solid. My motor was on the limits of not being able to be rebuilt. However, it made it back to my Grand Am. Attached are pictures after it was painted. I decided to restore my Grand Am the way I found it in the showroom. That was late 2011. I worked on the car until late 2013.

You can get every part for a Pontiac A body for 1972 and prior. Obtaining parts for my Grand Am took years of phone calls and internet search. The great news is that Tom had most of my interior parts at an indoor storage facility.

During this 2nd restoration, I ran out of money and time and the car sat in my garage for 6 years. Reenergized with money and time, about a year ago I decided to finish the car. Last June, I drove the car for the first time since 1998. Oh yeah! Baby is back! My car’s nickname from my Navy buds was the “Mag.” Short for magic. The car really is magic. I loved to hear, “How’s the Mag doing?”

I was delighted to find Classic Air to restore my air conditioning system. I look forward to installing the system when the restoration of my AC parts is completed. I also look forward to working with their technical department folks to help me with the install. They are super.

Attached are pictures of my car in front of my house. I have to finish the wheels, emblems, and chrome. My goal is to take a road trip back to the places significant to the car's past as well as visiting friends that have “history” with the car. I also plan on attending car shows when the care is complete.

I have to install the interior panels of which I have. Plus, there is much detail work like getting the clock to run, the horns to work, or the windshield wipers and washers to operate. The electrical system was a nightmare to restore with all the damage to the fuse boxes and wiring. It all works and with nearly all of the original wiring.

I am truly amazed I still have this car. My daughter is 17 and she is discovering how great it is to have this car in the family. She is probably the only student in her school that knows what a carburetor is and has actually seen one get rebuilt and working. Not to mention hear the secondaries open and feel the car lurch.

October’s Cool Ride: Jim and Diana’s Custom Nova Featuring Mike LaVallee

We are very excited to show off a cool custom Nova owned by Jim and Diana Workman. This car has a solid deck lid cover. We love to see one upholstered this way that really compliments a beautiful car. This one is unique because it features not only custom stitching, but custom air-brushing by the one and only Mike LaVallee. It is when we received these photos that we learned of Mike's passing.

A Short History on Mike LeValee

Mike began drawing dinosaurs at the age of two. Later while in high school and moving on to sketching other animals, one of his teachers recommended he enter a national art competition. After winning, he decided to pursue a career in art and attended Butera School of Art in Boston.

Initially, he learned how to paint signs. He got a job at a sign-producing company and stayed there for about a year. LeVallee decided the job wasn’t for him and instead set up shop in his parents garage. There, he learned airbrushing from his father who used it for his taxidermy business. Instead of using dead fish as a canvas, Mark chose motorcycles and cars.

A friend saw his talent and suggested he ply his new trade at the Laconia motorcycle rally up in New Hampshire. He ended up making more money in that single weekend than an entire month of working in the sign business.

The motorcycle rally was the spark LeVallee needed to find his success in the airbrushing business. He traveled like a gypsy from show to show until he eventually settled down in Washington State. While attending a show in Seattle, Mark came up to a black ’32 Roadster. He mentioned to the guy working underneath the car that he could fix the scratch for 20 bucks. Mark fixed the scratch the next morning and met the owner of the car who was none other than Chip Foose of Foose Design.

Foose was so interested in LeVallee’s work he flew him down to Southern California where Mark painted his flames on the side of a ’51 black Chevy pickup. It was later featured on the cover of Classic Truck Magazine turning LeVallee’s work into an international sensation.

Mike passed away April14th, 2020 from complications of a stroke at 60 years old. Mark’s airbrushing techniques have changed the automotive industry. He called his technique True Fire which as since become the industry standard for airbrushed flames.

See some of Mike’s artistic process here: