Photography by David Val Schlink


Vehicles of Expression

In the world of 1950s rods and customs, a different language was spoken : 

Iskenderian, Edelbrock, Offenhauser

Nailhead, Flathead, Hemi

Bomber buckets, T-buckets, tuck ‘n roll

Hopped-up, chopped-down, channeled 

Deuces, Mercs, highboys

Frenched, shaved, raked

Leaded, pearl painted, plated 

Pinstriped, flamed, baby mooned

These expressive terms are from the era’s “kar kulture” lexicon of what we, looking back, like to call Ol Skool —-

As in rodz and kustomz.

This was hot rod jargon of the night school mechanic, the flyboy finding his way post-wartime, the street racer and the lover of sheetmetal curves.

An attitude was at work here, born of a youth culture that could be “in your face,” rebellious and unconventional.

An alternative lifestyle for the period, one with swagger and a drive for self-expression, was on the rise.

Think Elvis in Jailhouse Rock, greasers, rockabilly music, early rock and roll, like  Rocket 88, Blackboard Jungle and James Dean in Rebel Without A Cause. 

An attitude.

Reading eminent hot rod authority, Ken Gross, I got the back story.

After WWII, there were many who craved speed and sensation, finding both in building rods and customizing cars. 

The movement began in SoCal, near LA, but over time spread across the country.

Attitude drove the craze.

But attitude, as a concept, is a difficult challenge to depict visually.

Capturing an expression of attitude is more manageable.   

That’s what I’ve chosen to show here.

In the expressive features of these cars (largely 1950s models, and others from pre-WWII), you will see what fascinates me.

Attitude expressed in form, powertrain and design.

Welcome to the exhibition w/o inhibition, Vehicles of Expression.

Thank you for your interest.

David Val Schlink


Accomplished commercial photographer and automotive enthusiast David Val Schlink, of Morris County, NJ, has had his career's work featured in Fortune 500
 mcorporate publications, as well as in NJ CEO, Design NJ, New Jersey Home and
Style, Hunterdon Life and New York Spaces.