What’s up buddy? How’s everything going?
Alright, another beautiful day in Dirty City. (laughs).
We’ve been friends and working together for over 10 years, you always have some kind of automotive movie playing in your studio. You can’t sleep without one playing in the background, what are some of your favorites?
The foundations, the building blocks are Grand Prix and Le Mans. Those two were always playing in my studio at Ford while we wrier designing the Ford GT. There was no need to watch them one more time, but it was always nice to hear the cars racing down the Mulsanne straight -vrrrrrrrrrooooommm! , we just kept playing them for the inspiration.
There were other greats. Man and A Women by Claude Lelouch has a very good scene where they feature a mustang and a GT40 going around a parabolic track in Europe. I think the film was in black in white but I’m colorblind so it was a very colorful film for me (laughs).
Yeah, he signed that Mustang Art Car you created from our ride through India. The bright yellow fastback you named SWEET LIME after the film The Darjeeling Limited.
Right, I loved that car. Everybody loved that car. It’s just like the one I drive in the streets of Detroit.
Next road trip, dead or alive, who would you take, and in what car?
I’m definitely ready to take off in my next Ford GT Signature Series that I have coming out soon. I’d bring any girl as long as she doesn’t eat or drink in the front seat. (laughs)
Talk about the change happening in Detroit?
I’ve lived in Detroit since the early 80’s when it was at its lowest. I knew with its history, of all the automotive companies, the international border, it’s an important city. So even though it was a wreck, it was going to come back. Now you can’t go anywhere without running into construction.
When did you start to feel the change in the city?
Two weeks ago (laughs).
(Serious) I physically feel the change dude! Jack hammers are shaking my building, from the floors to the ceiling. It’s going on every day. They’re putting some kind of bullet train out my front door (laughs). My place is on Woodward and it needed a facelift.
I’ve been standing here since 1981 looking up and down Woodward wondering when it was going to happen. I was fortunate to be one of the people who invested in the city, I kept the lights on in the Bankle. This used to be the nicest building on the block, then everyone passed me and this was the worst building on the block…now we are up at bat again with everyone else.
You and I had the idea to bring the AutoMoto Film Festival to Detroit when we were in Monterey last summer. It’s all happening, what are you feeling about it?
Yeah, it’s cool. Now everyone can come to Detroit and see it for real. It’s the Motor City. It’s a place with a lot of history. Kind of like a sleeping dinosaur, its got at least one eye open now.
We want to make this an annual event in Detroit. Do you think that’s possible?
Yes, there are a lot of automotive designers in the city, because of CCS – one of the greatest design schools in the world is right now, it’s still the Motor City, Detroit has a lot of talented artists – in music, art and design.
When our festival takes place in May it’ll be warming up here. People will be out on the Detroit river in boats, they’ll have their hot rods and classics out. My building is on Woodward, which is like Sunset Blvd. in LA. Woodward runs from the water all the way till it vanishes way out in Pontiac. We are on the main strip, this is where hot rods have gathered for years.
You know, we chose to have AutoMoto at an intense time in the city. We’re launching the festival during the Detroit Grand Prix weekend. The first Detroit Grand Prix was in 1982 – when Formula 1s were running through the city streets. Like Monaco meets Gotham City.
It’s now at Belle Isle with Indy cars. Penske has come on to the Grand Prix and established a beautiful race event. I can’t think of a better thing to do with Belle Isle than to make it into an open wheel track, whether it’s for Grand Prix or Indy. So it’s going to be a great weekend to launch the AutoMoto Film and Art Festival. Let’s open our doors to the community and go for it. Let’s keep the Grand Prix fire lit and fed.
It’s going to be better than Disney Land (laughs).
What’s going on at your studio during the festival?
A little wine and cheese, screening short-films and an exhibit of several of my latest paintings and some special guests. I’ve also just finished an aluminum sculpture inspired by ocean life and military aircraft, fabricated from Z28 hood blanks. It will be hanging in the main gallery. You can also except some good music from local artist.
Right now I’m finishing up two more Signature Series GTs. They’ll be for sale soon.
I’ve been trying to get out to our studio in LA, but there’s too much going on. Detroit has me locked here. I can’t wait to have everyone back in town. The city is amped up – it’s like it’s been waiting for everyone to come back, and here they come.
Fuel Injected: The Camilo Pardo story by Mark MacInnis