19 September 2012

Digging In The Crates: Ian Etheridges's 'Celestial'

phonetic: [suh-les-chuhl]
1.  pertaining to the sky or visible heaven.
2.  pertaining to the spiritual or invisible heaven; heavenly; divine: celestial bliss.

A description fitting for this car, hence the name. Masterminded by Ian Etheridge with help from others, he built this preposterous Poncho as a follow-up to Venom, his almost equally outrageous Ford Capri. Don't be fooled by the shovel-nosed front; Celestial is based on a 1973 'bullnose' Firebird Trans Am. Normally these have a 455ci (7.5 litre) Pontiac V8, but this engine has been taken out to a round 500ci (8.2 litres) for that extra touch of insanity.

But this car isn't about the engine, it's about that body and that paint.

A product of twelve months intensive labour; the body mods on their own took seven months and are all fabricated from scratch, including the bits to make it look like the '77-'81 models. And as for that paint; well the scans do not do it justice. Ian wanted to do something different than the usual mural and artwork style that was so prevalent at the time. Based on a theme of colours of nature, the paintwork is like nothing else you've seen; it still looks incredible today.

And that segues perfectly into the question we usually ask in these features: where is the car now? The car still exists in it's original customised state; here it is at the unlikely venue of the Lakeland museum in 2003, where it was displayed for over 20 years.

And in 2011, unleashed on the streets. Modern digital photography really brings the fantastic paintwork to life; so much so, we'd love a magazine to re-feature it now.

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