Category transportation

Surfers’ transportation of choice

I’ll address the vehicle to the left up front. It was built by Jay Nelson.

I love it.

The front windshield by itself won me over. The singlefin on top pushed it into a another category.

Looking at this vehicle made me think of the choices surfers make regarding their transportation. Another piece, best surf vehicles of all time, made me want to… create some kind of silly infographic to make sense of it all.

Contrary to popular opinion (and pop culture) I don’t know a single surfer who drives a VW microbus. As much as we might love to have a microbus, they have become so highly collectable that they are essentially out of the reach for the common surfer.

As I thought about surfers vehicles it occurred to me that there isn’t a single vehicle of choice for surfers. We’re all over the map. Also, this graphic definitely has a Southern California bent to it.

Here is my take.

a. Puritans. The purest surfer walks to the beach and bodysurfs. Since that’s not easy to do (cost of housing is high close to the beach) and not every wave is suitable for bodysurfing…this group is tiny. Still, in my mind these are the true greenies.

b. Greenies. The truth is that this group really isn’t that green but they’ve got a Prius so they perceive themselves as green. Being the early adopters (they’ll be the first to jump to full-electric cars) they also dabble in experimental shapes… and probably have an alaia in the garage. Board of choice is a sub-six foot quad (with a five fin box setup of course).

c. Professionals. In the old days this group was called yuppies, by the people who eventually became yuppies themselves. They drive German sedans, surf mostly tri-fin shortboards and think fishes are somehow cheating. If fishes aren’t cheating this groups sees them as lame nonetheless. They own more than three suits.

d. Workers. Contractors, teachers and the like. They live simple lives. They drive simple trucks. They surf simple, proven shapes. They haven’t bought a board in the last twelve months. This group, perhaps after the Purists, are perhaps the most “true” surfers. All these things said, they tend to be a tad older and noticeably grumpier.

e. $100+ fill-ups. There is a distinct group who drive the largest vehicles available to consumers. They tend to ride larger, longer boards. This group might also be dubeed “most-likely-to SUP.” Due to gas station credit card cut off restrictions (stop pumps at $75 or $100) many times they have to go to two stations to actually fill their trucks.


Series 1

Go ahead, try and point to another vehicle this utilitarian, I don’t think there is one.

Sure you could point to a Unimog, (original) Hummer, a pared down CJ or pickup. As much as I love those… I think they all fail. The Land Rover Series 1 (the first in the Series 1, 2, 3 models) is as much of a utility vehicle as is possible.

They started production of the Series 1 in 1948, a few years after the war ended. Fifty years later a stunning 70% of all vehicles created are still in use.

Me gusta.

Everything is a remix

Intellectual property is the new Lego blocks.

Everything is a Remix Part 1 from Kirby Ferguson on Vimeo.

Everything is a Remix Part 2 from Kirby Ferguson on Vimeo.

Everything is a Remix Part 3 from Kirby Ferguson on Vimeo.

Everything is a Remix Part 4 from Kirby Ferguson on Vimeo.

The Civilian Jeep

There is something about a vehicle that is stripped to it’s core.

When one takes away the modern lines, the hipster rims, the leather interior and the killer sound system. When you take away everything possible off a vehicle.

What remains is utility.

This is why I’ve loved the Jeep for as far back as I can remember.

This is also why I stopped loving the Jeep in 1987. They stopped making the CJ models in 1986 and the next year introduced the Wrangler and in doing so… they jumped the shark.

Jeeps aren’t cars.

When they try to be cars they fail.

They are utility vehicles.

Sure, they can be used as cars but at some point when you push an idea past it’s essence and try to evolve it into something else… you lose the core idea.

The first car I wanted to own was a Jeep CJ7. Today, I have one sitting in my garage. The oxymoron is that my CJ7, even with it’s bare bones minimalism… is a third car. It’s a luxury item. However… how things shift categories as time passes is a separate post. In the mean time I’ll simply appreciate the minimal, crude and militaristic simple lines of the Civilian Jeep.



Mass produced nothing

There is an… organization (I’m searching for the right word) based in Indonesia that has become a mico-movement.

Deux Ex Machina (God in the machine) is a group of people that make stuff.

The image to the left is one of their motorcycles. Regarding motorcycles they tear down local motorcycles and creatively rework them. In a way this part of their organization/business/collective is kind of like Orange County Choppers… but with a less cartoon-esque aesthetic.

What makes this group interesting is the fact that they also have fairly involved other segments to their compound. I’m not sure I could logically suggest something they wouldn’t do.

They design and make surfboards. They design and make fins. They design and make bikes. They design and make art of all types. They have a photo/fashion studio. They design and make instruments. They have a stage, a restaurant and sell a fair amount of soft goods (clothing).

Everything seems like it’s custom. Tiny runs, mostly one-of-ones.

Here is a quick run through the Indo compound.


Volkswagen Type 1

Some would point to the Model T as the most significant car in history as it was the first mass-produced car (it wasn’t anywhere near the first car… that happened more than 200 years prior).

I pick the Volkswagen Type 1 (commonly known as the Beetle).

The Volkswagen Beetle is the longest-running and most-manufactured automobile of a single design platform anywhere in the world.

That time span alone gives this vehicle an extremely colorful history. It was kicked off in 1933 with Adolf Hitler giving the order to Ferdinand Porsche to make a car. Porsche had already been working on a concept which would be an “auto für jedermann” (car for everybody, complete with savings/financing options).

But the fact that it was the longest running production isn’t enough. After all, Cats ran on Broadway for as long the Soviet empire stood… ok, almost. My point is that neither proved to be that relevant.

Production on the Type 1 went from 1938–2003.

A stunning number, 21,529,464 Beetles were built over those years.

To put this cars emergence into context check out what other people were driving, look at it’s competition, cars circa 1940s.

The Beetle Type 1 was like the original releases from Olivetti in Italy, Braun in Germany or Netscape in Mountain View. All were about simple, pared-down utility. This car was made for as long as it was, embraced by as many people as it was and will always remain iconic because it did few things well… and it did those things in a simple, pared-down package.

Los Angeles

California Car Culture

I’m not the first person to suggest a deep connection between the people that live in the state of California (really Santa Barbara and south) and the automobile. Some see this as one more element to the argument that Southern California is a cultural wasteland.

I think that misses the point; a region’s culture is based on indigenous characteristics that set it apart.

I remember living in Brooklyn at the tail end of the wild style graffiti era. It felt like it’s own little universe complete with it’s own evolving aesthetic. You’d be waiting for a train and an eight car work would fly by. It might have been painted the night before and it might not make it to tomorrow. Since then street art and graffiti have been exported all over the world but they made the most sense where they started, in NYC and Philadelphia.

California is a new country. It’s (acknowledged) history is millimeter-shallow compared to most places on the globe. Cars are a central figure here. Thus the ongoing love affair with vehicles from the last 50 years makes perfect sense.

The funny thing for me is explaining this to my daughter Allie. She’s traveled around quite a bit but her worldview is based on a Southern California perspective. As I drive her to school every morning I find myself pointing out a car, maybe it’s a pristine Citroen like my uncle used to drive, and explaining that one doesn’t see cars like that in other regions… it’s a California thing.