Monday, June 14, 2010

Early Chops Stand the Test of Time

One of my earliest chops, the Bentley Blue Train Coupe. I started editing photographs to create my own cars close to five years ago. I first read about 'chopping' while I was a member of the Autoweek Combustion Chamber, an out-of-control chaotic mess of an internet forum, lol. I had worked in Photoshop for years beforehand, for my day job to color correct photographs, add shadows to layouts etc, but had never thought about actually creating my own type of cars with the program. So for that, I'll be forever indebted to that rag-tag group of idiots, and I call them that with the utmost respect, lol.

This Blue Train Coupe is based on the Arnage sedan, and along with it's stablemate, the Excellence Saloon, would have been the flagship of the line. "Blue Train" was, of course, the nickname of the Bentley that famously raced a train from London to Paris in 1930 and driven by Bentley works driver, Woolf Barnato. I took the name Excellence from the historic French luxury car, Facel-Vega's flagship sedan, the Excellence. That early 1960s car was based on the chassis of the used the engines from the Chrysler Imperial, but used a stretched (by 20 inches) HK-500 chassis (not necessarily a great idea with the car's pillarless construction and suicide doors). I thought it was fitting for the top-of-the-line Bentley as well. I scanned one of my late grandmother's bracelets for its layout, as I've done for some of the books I've designed. For the wiki entry of the famous historic race, click here,

Click on each image to enlarge.

U P D A T E — I mentioned above that the Facel Vega Excellence used the Chrysler Imperial's chassis. While it's true it used Chrysler engines, the chassis was the company's own design. The large luxury car used a modified platform from its sportscar stablemate, the HK-500, stretched an additional 20 inches. A former Autoweek Combustion Chamber participant, Paul, corrected me, and after additional research  I confirmed my mistake. I also confirmed the fact that the Excellence used its own platform from my friend Nigel in the UK, a writer for several classic car magazines. A HUGE thank you to Paul and Nigel for this! Here is a bit more about this gorgeous French sedan, which if I could make it happen, would be in my driveway this morning. Additional Excellence info here.


  1. Casey,

    I'm forever indebted to Peter at AutoExtremist for bringing you back to my attention. You were by far the best thing about the Autoweek Combustion Chamber and even though it was riddled with crazies, I always enjoyed reading it and seeing your chops. I was always impressed with your arcane knowledge of cars and your appreciation of history. I think, however, that you are wrong about the Facel-Vega Excellence's chassis having anything to do with the contemporaneous Imperial. I've read extensively about these cars, including a six-way comparison test in Motor Trend in 1965 (Fleetwood, Imperial, Continental, Silver Cloud, MB 600 and Facel Vega Excellence, and I've never seen any mention of the chassis being anything other than an inhouse creation of the Facel company. A Chrysler engine, certainly. One of the British old car magazines recently did a comparison of the Facel Vega and a Bristol and they went into the Facel's development in great detail. I think if it were actually built on an Imperial chassis, it would have had much better structural integrity and the suicide doors would have stayed closed more consistently!

    I remember those Bentley chops from the Combustion Chamber. You are a genius, not only for your chop skills but for you philosophy and sense of how brand identity should be nurtured. Thank you for your excellent work.

    Paul (

  2. Hi Paul,
    Thanks for the compliments and comments! I'll have to do some research into the Excllence. I could have sworn that I read that it used the Imp's windshield and chassis, but I could be totally wrong. I'll shoot an email to my friend Nigel in the UK. He writes for most of the classic car mags over there, and probably knows off the top of his head.

    Hope you check back once in a while now that you know I'm here.


  3. So far, I was wrong about the windshield, so I'm pretty sure I'm wrong about the chassis too, lol. I'll update the entry as soon as I hear from Nigel.