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I grew up just down the road from Shadow Hills where Norm's family had their egg farm. We used to see him quite often, driving the Kookie Kar or the Model T tub, which, later on, became the Porter in "my Mother the Car". In the 60s and 70s, he would be seen riding one of the Corvair powered bikes. I had the opportunity to talk to him a few times. He was a down to earth guy, he spoke to you as if he had known you for years, not like he wanted to blow you off like so many of the people you meet at car events. He will be missed, but he was a legend so he will never be forgotten.

Godspeed Woo Woo

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Guest Dave Bodnar

I am fortunate to own a sample of Norman Grabowski's inventiveness, and also an artifact of a tv series he and one of his creations appeared in--"My Mother the Car". The hero car used to film this series was adapted from the '24 Ford T-tub rod Norm had Valley Custom in LA build to his specifications in 1960. Norm needed a car after he sold his Ford T roadster, featured on the cover of a 1957 Life magazine and introducing the ‘T-bucket’ design that made him famous, and which was seen weekly as the 'Kookie Car' on tv's “77 Sunset Strip”. He tooled around in his new tub with the San Francisco and Bay Area Hot Rod Club, and appeared with it in the movie comedy “Sex Kittens Go to College” (1960; Mamie Van Doren, Martin Milner). Norm sold the rod a few years later to his friend Kaye Trapp, propmaster at the Goldwyn studios, who, together with Norm Breedlove, modified it to add signature '1928 Porter' features for the show's pilot. George Barris' Hollywood ‘Kustom City’ shop was commissioned to produce the stunt car copying this design. Norm, as actor, appeared in at least two episodes of “My Mother the Car”, driving his former toy as 'valet' in the first episode. He also acted in “The Phil Silvers Show” and the Burt Reynolds “Cannonball” flicks.

Norm, with his outgoing and nonconformist personality, was widely liked (known to his friends as 'Normy Poo' and 'Woo-Woo'), and his creativity and body of work was respected. He was energetic, cheerful, friendly and approachable. During a bikes phase in the early 70s, his “Six Pack”, a Corvair-powered Indian, particularly grabbed attention. A talented artist, he became known for his skull sculptures for rod gearshift sticks and dashboards. Forty years after Kookie I, Norm was pulled out of his 'retirement' in Arkansas to produce “Kookie II” ('49 Ford tub), and in 2004 appeared on tv again as member of the team customizing a '54 Chevy on “Monster Garage”.

Norm's irrepressible sense of humour is probably making the angels laugh right now, as they all contemplate just what sort of heavenly hot rod could take them on a tire-smokin' spin around cloud 9 and under the rainbow. No doubt it'll be called “Kookie <st1:stockticker>III</st1:stockticker>” and Norm will be at the wheel. In his final retirement, he is surely missed. RIP.<O:p</O:p


--David Bodnar

Edmonton, Alberta, Canadapost-88993-143139226259_thumb.jpg


Edited by Dave Bodnar
correct name misspelling (see edit history)
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