There’s a lot of responsibility when you’re charged with finishing a good friend’s last project. Gary Meyers takes that responsibility seriously.
Even so, he couldn’t help but feel upbeat last week, as the late Elden Titus’ Vibrasonic Roadster sat in the paint booth at Flyin’ Eye Kreations, ready for the first color coats to be sprayed on the radical show car.
"His plans were to use a candy tangerine that’s got lots of aluminum flake in it. We’re going to give it the `Kansas Look,’ the way Elden wanted," said Meyers.
Ryan James began spraying the Carizzma Candy Tangerine Metallic and the grin on Meyers’ face broadened. It was his birthday, so why shouldn’t he be happy?
"I’ll put it this way … this is my birthday cake. I couldn’t have a better birthday present," Meyers said.
Tammy Titus, Elden’s widow, stood and watched, a little teary-eyed.
"It’s been kind of an emotional day," she said. What would her husband say? "Oh, he’s up there smiling. I know he’s got a big smile on his face."
Her husband had designed the wild, ’60s-style show car and began work on it before his untimely death in October, 2008. Knowing how much the car meant to him, Tammy agreed when other customizers urged her to have the Vibrasonic finished. There was no shortage of volunteers willing to help.
Legendary California customizer Gene Winfield, in fact, had planned to do the painting himself, but health issues made that impossible. That’s when Ryan James stepped up to do the honors.
Plans originally called for the Vibrasonic Roadster to debut at this weekend’s Starbird/Devlin Rod & Customs Charities Car Show, going in Century II. But the finishing schedule was set back by other complications, so the car will be unveiled for the first time at the Starbird show in Tulsa Feb. 17-19.
Tammy Titus said she will be there and imagines it will be an even more emotional experience. Will she cry?
"Of course," she said.
As the painting session progressed, other customizers stopped by to check on how it was going. Hub Harness snapped photos, Rocky Burris gave his nod of approval and Mike Buchanan switched out the chromed rear springs for heavier units.
Meyers noted that the roadster had gobbled up an estimated 50 gallons of body filler, with more than half of it sanded off in smoothing and shaping the long, narrow body. "Elden was a sculptor," Harness observed.
There also will be a Wichita debut for the car.
"It’s going to be a feature car at The Chill, where I get to present it to Wichita. I felt like I owed it to Wichita," Meyers said. That show will be held Feb. 24-26 at the Kansas Pavilions.
As the tangerine finish flowed over the white basecoat, the personality of the Vibrasonic Roadster seemed to come into sharper, bolder focus.
"I’ve fretted for the last month -- is it going to look right?" Meyers said. "My whole plan was to keep it true to Elden’s concept. I think we’ve been able to do that," he said.
Tammy Titus summed up the tribute to her husband by his fellow customizers, "It’s been really awesome."