These "Year in Review" pieces seem to come more and more quickly with each passing year. It's terrifying, to be honest. Just a "few short months" ago, it seems as though 2019 rolled in. I announced 10 successful years of StanceWorks, the dawn of Protomachine, and was fresh on the feet of my latest build, the '31 Ford Model A that debuted at SEMA '18. Has it really been twelve whole months already? I'd vehemently deny it if it weren't for the fact that the calendar doesn't lie, and the undeniable evidence left in the trail behind us. The shop vaguely resembles its former self, having evolved into something far, far greater. Protomachine has reached its stride as we barrel rapidly towards SEMA 2020, and I can confidently say that I worked harder through the last year than any year prior. It feels good. I'm thrilled to keep the pedal down, onwards into 2020, and with that, here are some of my favorite highlights of 2019.
Although we didn't make our formal announcement until March of this year, Riley Stair made the move to Orange County, CA, and moved into the SW HQ on January 7th. It was the start of a new chapter, and one we're excited to say is continuing with greater and greater momentum with each passing day. As always, click the title above to see the original article, or in this case, announcement, about our new business and where we're headed with our future.
With a busy schedule, it's often challenging to seek out the special nooks and crannies of the automotive world, unlike years ago. Still, though, on occasion, I manage to encounter a hidden gem. I joined Riley on a trip to Sacramento, where we took the Trans Am to Motor Machine for its second round of dyno tuning with its engine builder. The shop itself was filled to the brim, not only with engine parts and pieces, but with history and stories too. To date, it's one of my favorite StanceWorks articles, as it represents automotive storytelling to its core. It's everything I believe StanceWorks is, representing the art and the ethos behind 11 years of work so far.
February saw the listing of my E28 "Parts Car" for sale, and its rapid subsequent sale and journey to Seattle, where it now resides. It wasn't an easy choice, but with new projects on the horizon and new goals to accomplish, it was time to move on. After two successful SEMAs, a slew of track days, and some wonderful memories, I cut the cord and set it free.
Although not a photo set of my own, this feature is one I have to share again. Matt Bomer's XF Fairmont was easily one of my favorite feature cars of 2019, and truth be told, one of my favorites of the decade. It's stylistically perfect, exuding tons of attitude, confidence, and creativity. It's an otherwise un-loved chassis, but thanks to Matt, an XF Fairmont Ghia is now on my bucket list.
Although it was an event that technically happened in the middle of 2018, 2019 brought the announcement of my sale of Rusty Slammington. It was something I never anticipated doing; however, the stars aligned, and it simply felt like the right way to start Rusty's next chapter. Hit the link above for the full story if you missed it.
We've attempted to keep a yearly event going at the StanceWorks HQ, and 2019 saw the return of the Open House. The turnout was truly incredible, and reinforced every reason we continue to do what we do. For 2020, we'll undoubtedly host another.
Another favorite feature of mine for 2019 was Jason Whipple's Audi 4000 5+5. Surprise, surprise, I've clearly got a thing for boxy white '80s economy cars. Shocking, I know. Nevertheless, Jason's latest project hit home for me.
A huge milestone for me in 2019, and in life in general, was the acquisition of one of my dream cars: an E30 M3. This one in particular is a former CCA Club Racer, having been pushed to the limits in door-to-door competition through the late '90s and early '00s. It's far from perfect, but it's mine, and best of all, I can beat it up on the race track without worry. In fact, I already have, with recent outings to both Buttonwillow and Willow Springs. I'm sincerely hoping that 2020 brings more free time for track days.
Half-way through the year, Hoonigan released their Build Biology episode featuring a complete breakdown of my Ford Model A. It's always a joy to work with our friends at Hoonigan, and to have them share my hard work is rewarding as always. The episode was a fun one if I do say so, but I'll also admit to having a bit of a bias.
Another feature I enjoyed for 2019 is Joey Seely's "Project Nasty." It's a car we have attempted to shoot on many occasions, but for countless reasons, it continuously fell through. Finally, though, we managed to make it work, and the car was a true joy to place in front of the lens. It's story ain't too shabby, either.
Roddy Turner's 510 wagon stands in contrast, but in parallel the first article in this list. Roddy's 510 wagon embraces everything that makes StanceWorks what it is today. Spending time shooting the car was, in ways, a blast to the past: it was a return to the "good old days" of StanceWorks, and it's a build that celebrates everything I value about cars in one way or another. Give this one a read if you missed it.
We partnered with Turtle Wax to produce a series of videos, all of which turned out great. This one in particular highlights another exciting point in 2019: the long-awaited E36 re-spray. While I've yet to do anything to the car since (I feel terrible about it, worry not), it's waiting with a fresh coat of paint for what comes next.
Our annual StanceWorks Off Road trip was an incredible success this year, with a week-and-a-half spent throughout Colorado and Utah. The story, split into 4 lengthy pieces, chronicles our trip up and over the mountains, and our return to some desert warmth. It was also a great final send-off for my FJ60 project, which I sold a few months later.
One of my favorite historical pieces of 2019 was my dive into the Chevy Monza and its prowess in IMSA racing. I encountered this example at the Monterey Historics, and was fed a heap of info by its incredibly nice owners. I photographed it both on and off track, hoping to share its story. The article came out exactly as I had hoped.
As mentioned, I sold my FJ60, but I like to think it was with good reason. I replaced it with a 1999 Hummer H1, equipped with a 6.5-liter Turbo Diesel, as well as all the goodies the H1 is known for: portal hubs, central tire inflation, 37" tires, and everything in between. Needless to say, I'm beyond happy with it. Last month, I took the truck out for its first off-road adventure, and it absolutely crushed the rocks beneath it.
Another milestone was, of course, SEMA, unique for 2019 as the first year since 2015 that I have attended without a car on display. It was a drastically different experience, although still an enjoyable one. It'll be a sensation soon forgotten, though. Protomachine will be back in 2020 with one hell of an unveiling.
One of the last, but easily the most sentimental piece of 2019 was the discovery of video that accompanied Car and Driver's 1987 "Gathering of Eagles," an event held to find the fastest street car in America. My father attended with his "Keith Black Camaro," and although he didn't win, he took home second place as the ultimate under dog. Finding video of the event was not only a surprise to me, but to him as well, and has initiated a new search for even more.
2019 was an incredible year, proving to be both exciting and rewarding, yet 2020 appears to look even moreso. With this piece, StanceWorks's 2019 content comes to a close. 2020's first piece is an exciting one, and we'll see you then. Thank you all, as always, for the continued support.