20 Easy Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Appetizers to Put At the Top of Your Must-Make List

Of course, we go to parties to see our friends, but let’s be real: We’re also pragmatic play there for the apps. Snacks are a highlight of any gathering, especially when they can be enjoyed by everyone. But in today’s world, there’s a pretty good chance that you have at least one friend who doesn’t vibe with grains or another who’s strictly plant-based. When hosting, it can be tough to keep up with your guests’ dietary preferences, which is why we’ve rounded up the best gluten-free dairy-free appetizers to share with friends and family.

A grazing table is a perfect opportunity to mix and match a variety of different cuisines, flavors, and textures so people can personalize their plates however they please. While there can be so many options to choose from when it comes to starters, I have a fool-proof list of favorites I return to time and again that are safe for most types of eaters. The best appetizers are easy to prepare, taste great at room temperature, and are just as nourishing as they are delish.

Most of the recipes in this list only require a few ingredients, can be prepared in 20 minutes or less, and are all gluten and dairy-free, so they’re a safe bet for whoever comes your way. Scroll on for our list of the best gluten-free, dairy-free appetizers for your next party.

Featured image by Suruchi Avasthi.

Salads and Platters

White Bean & Raddichio Salad

Why We Love It: Sure, the garnish of Parmigiano Reggiano might take this app out of the dairy-free category, but one of our favorite things about salads (other than the fact that they make it super easy to get your greens) is that they’re entirely customizable. This salad balances a slightly bitter bite with a creamy texture. It’s proof that you should always ask more of your salad.

Hero Ingredient: Raddichio is the most underrated leaf vegetable in the game. Not only does it give this salad gorgeous color, but it makes it feel substantial while still, you know, being a salad.

Spring Crudité with Green Goddess Dressing

Why We Love It: If you’re craving color, fresh flavor, and veggies, this spring crudité platter delivers on all counts. You’re welcome to serve the vibrant, verdant green goddess dressing with any mix of raw and/or roasted veggies of your choosing. Need a little guidance? The more your platter mimics the rainbow, the better.

Hero Ingredient: To make this recipe dairy-free, we swap in plant-based yogurt in lieu of whole milk Greek yogurt. We love Cocojune, which gives a slight edge of coconut that’s nice with the lemon’s acidity and herby additions. Or, you can try CocoYo that’s wonderfully rich and a good source of probiotics.

Mango Salad With Rhubarb Ginger Dressing and Chili Almonds From The First Mess

Why We Love It: Mangoes are an ingredient I always like to throw into any salad-type dish. While some might think the fruit operates best in desserts and sweet dishes, we’d argue that they deserve their place in veggie-forward apps. Case in point, this stunner of a salad. The colors are bright and the entire dish delivers a whole lot of flavor.

Hero Ingredient: Chili almonds? Chili almonds. Pro tip: Double your batch so you have enough for spontaneous snacking.


Bhutta Street Corn Guacamole

Why We Love It: There’s always room for guacamole on the menu—particularly one that brings a whole host of flavor to our favorite classic app. Healthy fat-filled avocados, roasted corn, fresh cilantro, lime juice, and a blend of just-hot-enough spices. What’s not to love?

Hero Ingredient: The corn in this recipe adds a delicious heft to the texture and a satisfying charred flavor to this crowd-pleasing dish.

Carrot Turmeric Hummus

Why We Love It: While you can (and should!) feel good about snacking on any and all bites you put on your plate, this is one that’ll send your serotonin skyrocketing—especially when served with an array of colorful veggies. This hummus is also bean-free, so it’s a safe bet for anyone who might be sensitive to legumes, too.

Hero Ingredient: Turmeric does double duty, giving this dip both vibrant color and warming spice.

Edamame Dip With Mint, Jalapeño, and Lime From The First Mess

Why We Love It: Is it enough to call a recipe one of the best gluten-free, dairy-free appetizers based on visuals alone? Well, the good news is that this dip is aesthetically pleasing while also satisfying all your gustatory needs. Sweet? Savory? Spicy? Check, check, and check.

Hero Ingredient: Edamame is surprisingly buttery, and its sweet/nutty pairing is unmatched.

5-Minute Vegan Cashew Queso From Minimalist Baker

Why We Love It: Delicious and creamy, this dairy-free queso might even win over your cheese-loving friends. It uses cashews, nutritional yeast, and hot water for the “cheesy” base, with a mix of delicious spices for some added flavor.

Hero Ingredient: I alluded to it above, but nutritional yeast deserves a spotlight all to its own. It’s key to making any vegan dish super cheesy. Minus the cheese, of course.

Cheesy Vegan Spinach & Artichoke Dip From Minimalist Baker

Why We Love It: Let’s be real—any gathering is really just another opportunity to make spinach and artichoke dip. Rich and creamy, this healthier take on a classic dish is sure to cure your comfort food cravings—minus any post-indulgence discomfort.

Hero Ingredient: Artichoke hearts give this vegan dip heft and body while supplying a briny bite that perfectly balances out the creaminess.

White Bean Dip From Love & Lemons

Why We Love It: This recipe requires just four ingredients that you likely already have on hand: cannellini beans, lemon, olive oil, and garlic. Does cooking get much easier than that?

Hero Ingredient: Your lemons are the MVP of this dish. Using both zest and juice lends this dip insanely good flavor.

Sweet Potato Black Bean Dip From Minimalist Baker

Why We Love It: This is not your average bean dip. Starring sweet potatoes, black beans, and avocado, this appetizer is basically a mash-up of all of my favorite flavors in one bowl.

Hero Ingredient: Minced jalapeño may be optional, but if it’s that authentic kick you’re after, I’d encourage you to go all in.


Baked Sesame Chicken Wings From The Defined Dish

Why We Love It: Sweet and savory, these baked sesame chicken wings are gluten and dairy-free… and they’re packed with flavor. You’ll find yourself coming back to this recipe again and again.

Hero Ingredient: You can thank the fish sauce for the aforementioned flavor. Trust me—it ties the spice and sweetness together beautifully.

Chorizo-Stuffed Bacon-Wrapped Dates From The Defined Dish

Why We Love It: You need this appetizer at your next party. We consistently make a batch of these chorizo-stuffed bacon-wrapped dates for large-scale gatherings, and they’re always the MVPs of the night.

Hero Ingredient: I’m drooling equally over this recipe’s chorizo and bacon callouts. But honestly, with the welcome spice it imparts, the chorizo wins out.

Smoked Salmon Carpaccio With Fried Capers and Herbs From The Defined Dish

Why We Love It: Salty yet refreshing, this smoked salmon carpaccio with crispy capers will transport you to Italy after just one bite. Elevate your next grazing table with this beautiful, nutrient-packed dish.

Hero Ingredient: Capers are the briny, salty, flavor-packed gems that’ll make any savory recipe all the better.

Arrowroot Fried Chicken Nuggets From Megan Nash

Why We Love It: What is it about chicken nuggets that make them a necessity at every party? This chicken nugget recipe (created by my sister) is on the regular dinner rotation at our house, so trust me when I say these nuggets are simple, healthy, and hit the spot every time. Turns out, there’s no breading required to get that crispy-on-the-outside, tender-on-the-inside texture that makes chicken nuggets such a hit.

Hero Ingredient: The secret to that crispy crust? The genius of arrowroot flour knows no bounds.


Blistered Padrón Peppers From What’s Gaby Cooking

Why We Love It: Blistered peppers are one of those appetizers that are best kept simple. Just heat up some oil in a pan, sauté the whole batch, and you’ve got a restaurant-worthy appetizer ready to go in minutes.

Hero Ingredient: Out of all the gluten-free, dairy-free appetizers on this list, this has to be one of my favorites. With so few ingredients in the mix, it has to be the Padrón peppers themselves. Their spice is subtly intense (it’s possible!) and slightly sweet. If you’ve prepared a similar dish with shishito peppers, expect a relatively similar result.

Crispy Baked Buffalo Cauliflower Wings From Rachel Mansfield

Why We Love It: When I whipped up a batch of these cauliflower wings for a football-watching party, they were gone in seconds. (Don’t worry, I guarantee they’ll be a hit served for any and all occasions.) They’re flavorful, easy to make, and best served with the yummy dipping sauce of your choice.

Hero Ingredient: This recipe is just another example of the universal truth: Cauliflower can really do it all.

Why We Love It: You truly can’t go wrong with sweet potato fries. If you have a knife and an oven, you’re already well on your way to making this standout recipe. These are crispy oven fries, mastered—and it’s a recipe that’s always a go-to when my fry cravings hit.

Hero Ingredient: Cornstarch is key to getting your fries extra crispy.

Summer Fruit Salad From Love & Lemons

Why We Love It: How gorgeous is this salad? Sometimes there’s nothing better than all of your favorite seasonal fruits on a platter drizzled with a refreshing vinaigrette.

Hero Ingredient: Upon first glance, this is a simple, humble dish. But incorporating grated ginger into your dressing plays up its sweetness while also weaving in a little welcome spice.

Game Night Crispy Potato Bruschetta From Oh She Glows

Why We Love It: This crispy potato bruschetta is the gluten-free version of your favorite Italian starter. By swapping out the bread for equally delicious crispy potatoes, you’ve made this dish plant-based in a snap without sacrificing flavor.

Hero Ingredient: A marinade that leans on balsamic vinegar for a figgy, complex flavor is always a winner in my book.

Grilled Vegetable Platter From Damned Delicious

Why We Love It: Last but definitely not least, a grilled vegetable platter is a simple way to healthify your next feast. Just throw your favorite veggies on the grill or in a pan and wait until they’re soft and slightly charred. You can’t go wrong!

Hero Ingredient: When it comes to a vinaigrette whose purpose is to coat your favorite veggies with plenty of herby, charred flavor, good, fruity olive oil is key.

This post was originally published on June 25, 2021, and has since been updated.

Creating The Perfect Paint Job, Step 8: Sanding & Buffing

Welcome to this next post in our “Creating the Perfect Paint Job” series. If you haven’t been following along and want to get caught up, head back to the first post in the series, “Nine Steps to the Perfect Paint Job“. This month, we tackle the final phase of the paint which is coloring, sanding and buffing. With a little patience and technique you can take a good paint job to a master piece. Before we dive in though, I want to make a note that we will cover runs and paint repairs (in next blog entry after next month’s final entry on the 9 part series).

Getting Started with Sanding and Buffing

Ok, let’s begin! In the last post, we left off with the car/truck that has been freshly painted. You want to wait several days if not weeks to allow the clear coat to fully cure. My preference is the good old sun baked, now with special candies. Day-glow colors would not be a good idea, but for our set up we choose a solid color.

First thing to do is to remove all the masking, within 24 hours after the paint has been applied. Some guys like to keep all the paper, tape, etc. on to keep the polish, and debris from going inside the vehicle; however the longer you leave the take on the harder it will be to remove it and we do not want to tear the paint!

After the masking paper is off, we let the car sit out in the sun for 10 days. It’s been in the hundreds lately in Van Nuys, so I’ve taken full advantage of the weather; the first thing to do is prepare a bucket of clean water with dish soap this will allow the wet sanding to glide and not catch causing tears in the paint. Use sand paper starting off with 1000 grit, and working our way up to 2000 grit.

Quick Tip: you will need to stay away from using sanding by hand only. This will create waves which will show up after buffing and we don’t want that. A block, a small section of a paint stick is what I recommend. I like to use a section of radiator hose when hitting the couture spots of the fenders and rear quarter panels, or anything that has a flat surface which will help cut down on the orange peel (small ripples in the clear coat).

Use the cross hatch method of sanding (north to south then coming back and hitting east to west direction). Once you start to create a milky substance, you know you’re knocking down the clear coat. Between each sanding, you would want to stop and remove the sandpaper and allow the block to squeegee the water and debris off.

Sanding and Buffing


Inspecting Your Sanding Work

Afterward, check the surface; what you’re looking for is a soft matted finish void off any orange peel or runs. Start in the back of the vehicle – the trunk lid is my go to place. Every so often I’ll stop sanding, and using my block to clear away most of the water, I’ll go back over with a dry cloth, allowing the surface to be dry.

I then start to look at it from every angle to see how I’m coming along. Once I’m satisfied with that section, I move on until the entire car has been sanded. Key note: stay away from any ridges or tight spots where the buffer cannot reach. Now don’t freak out if say you sanded the car down and began buffing only to discover that there is a section that still has orange peel. Stop immediately and bring back the sandpaper and sand that section again.

Don’t be afraid to go through the sandpaper, you want to allow the paper to do the work of cutting the clear coat. No need to push down too hard, doing that  will cause waves, and in some cases you’ll burn through the clear coat!

Buffing it Up

Now it’s time to use the rotary buffer, want to set it on the lowest speed, this process comes in three stages:

  1. A heavy polish for taking out scratches.
  2. A medium polish that will remove fine scratches and imperfections.
  3. Glazings polish to give you a mirror like finish.

Using a wool pad (you can use foam, although I prefer old school), apply the first phase of polish small amount; most polishes come in large bottles. I like to transfer each of the three polishes into small hand held bottles for easy application during polishing. I also apply the polish to the surface first then allow the wool pad to catch it moving in a left to right motion, all the while not stopping for fear of burning the paint.

Use a generous amount of each polish and take a small section of the car at a time between each polishing stages. I wipe down the paint with a clean rag, each phase of polish will need its own pad.

Sanding and Buffing

I like to use a double sided wool pad, then for the medium stage a black foam pad, and for the last part a light blue foam pad to finish up with the glaze. If you have removed the fenders, hood, and trunk for paint, you want to tackle each piece separately using a saw horse that will not allow the piece to slide around or chip the paint. Sanding and Buffing

Remember there are several ways to go about the sanding and buffing stage of creating the perfect paint job, and this is mine; however we can all agree that the end result should be a mirror finish we are looking for.

Sanding and Buffing

Next month we finish out this series with the final phase of fit and finish, so until then, Happy sanding!


Fit And Finish | Paint Job | Classic Cars

So  here we are ladies and gents, the final step in my nine part series on “Creating the Perfect Paint Job”: fit and finish. For those of you who’ve read each of the prior eight posts and you should be prepared to tackle this last step no problem. For those of you haven’t, you may want to go back to the first step and take it from there. You don’t want to cut any corners.

Get Your Fit and Finish On

It’s been a long road, a considerable amount of time and energy has been spent. Now it’s time to slow down and take your sweet time with assembly. This is the time to order the weather-stripping; a few of my favorites are Steele Rubber and Restoration Specialties. It’s so important to buy top quality weather stripping. This will save you the headache that comes with using aftermarket weather-stripping, so it pays to use the good stuff.

Round Up Your Hardware

Preparing for the final fit and finish – it’s important to get all your hardware ready. Quick tip: if you have any rusty old bolts, nuts, washers and the like, go to Home Depot and pick up a case of Muriatic Acid in the Pool section. Soak all your steel hardware overnight. For any aluminum pieces, I would only do a quick dip, as this stuff goes through it like butter.

Upon completion your hardware will come out clean and rust free. The minute I remove my hardware from the acid I rinse it off, then apply WD40 to protect them which also helps with installation. Any tools I use, screwdrivers, pliers, wrenches, you name it – I wrap the ends with masking tape to help prevent scratches from a quick slip, etc.

Get Soundproofed

The next step depends if you removed the interior; if you did I highly recommend installing sound proofing material.

Fit and Finish

There a several products to choose from and I myself, like Dynamat Xtreme, you can’t beat the quality. There are some less expensive products out there, but you get what you pay for.

Installing the Headliner

Once the soundproofing is in, it’s time to install the headliner before the front and rear windshields go in. Most vintage vehicles require the headliner first, this due to it being wrapped around the window frame as the windshield rubber keeps it tight and secure.

Fit and Finish

As for your chrome, it’s now time to bring drag it out and make sure you’ve got everything you need. Make sure you have your clips, fasteners everything ready before you begin. If you’ve decided to leave the old chrome or stainless alone, you can get some ultra-fine steel wool and a mild rubbing compound to go over those pieces to bring them back to life.

Fit and Finish

Those of you’ve who’ve followed this series know my mantra has always been to “take your time” and the fit and finish step is no exception. You’ve worked so hard to get here and it’s time to slow down and enjoy that last clip to the finish line.

Fit and Finish

And There You Have It

Assuming you’ve faithfully followed each of the nine steps I’ve outlined in this series, you should have something closely resembling perfection and I applaud you for having gone the distance. If not, you may want to go back and determine where you went wrong and apply that lesson the next time you tackle such a project.

And with that, this series is a wrap. Thanks again for reading, if you have any questions feel free to drop me a line. Next month I’ll talk about tricks to save your paint job from drips, etc.




How To Recover From The Runs • DH Automotive, Inc.

This month I’d like to touch upon one of the common horrors that’s plagued many an automotive painter, I call it, quite literally: The Runs.

The Runs have happened to all of us at some point. They seem to show up long after the paint booth has been vacated.

Typically they occur when the wrong reducer is used or the air pressure in the gun isn’t right, but the most common cause is keeping the spray gun in one spot for too long.

Although there’s no failsafe cure I’m going  to show you how to recover from The Runs by sharing two different remedies that have worked well for me over the years

An Example of The Runs

A few years ago I had the privilege of restoring a 1967 Chevy Impala SS Convertible. When the car arrived it was painted Bolero Red, General Motors Color Code R.

The client expressed interest in going back to the original color which was Tahoe Turquoise GM Color Code L.

As you can see above I created The Runs using the Tahoe Turquoise color on a patch panel by holding the gun for 10 seconds with an air pressure of 20 PSI.

And though the result was entirely expected I experienced nothing less than an acute and unmistakable case of The Runs.

How to Avoid The Runs

The first step is the most difficult one of all: you have to wait and allow the clear coat to fully cure.

Although wait time varies depending upon the weather, in general I’d say from a week to 10 days in the sun, longer if you live in an area that’s often overcast.

If you don’t give it a decent amount of time the clear coat will tear like Jello once you begin to sand it down. Trust me you don’t want that.

Also one other thing I need to mention: these tricks of the trade are designed for you to sand down the high spots without sanding through to the color or base coat and damaging paint.

This is easier said than done of course, but with the right technique and a little luck you stand a chance of pulling it off.

I’ve come up with a couple of reliable methods that will help you avoid sanding too far down to the paint leaving little to no clear when it comes time to polish.

Before you attempt either method I strongly suggest that you get into a Zen state of mind so that you’re fully present as you begin the process.

The Dry Rub Method

Although there’s no water involved you’ll be using Wet/Dry 1000 Grit sandpaper. You can use a small flat block or a paint stick.

Use one that’s wide enough to see what you’re doing, and long enough to cut down to the size of the paper. Personally I like to use the whole stick which is easy enough to handle.

Using the cross hatch pattern I mentioned in the Perfect Paint Job series you’ll want to begin hitting the high spots.

The actual clear coat drops turning the paper and using a fresh section with few strokes. Like it or not you’ll go through a lot of paper as the clear coat builds up quickly.

Fortunately you can minimize this if you slap it against your knee to clear away some of the excess. You can then go back to sanding before having to replace the paper.

After about a dozen strokes flip the paper over and use a fresh section. At this point you’ll begin to see the pattern or waves in the clear.

The idea is to get to a place where there is a smooth matted surface. Once you do so you’ll want to periodically wipe away the excess clear coat to see the full picture.

This is very time consuming but it’s a surefire way to control the amount of layers you have to remove.

The Putty Rub Method

This method takes less time and material but takes a little more skill. You want to first apply a generous amount of spot putty over the areas that have The Runs.

Don’t worry about making it smooth, you just want to cover the area. Just channel your inner Julia Child spread it on like frosting and move on to the next section if you have multiple trouble spots.

You want to allow ample time for the putty to dry. When in doubt locate the cure times on the back of the putty label.

However don’t allow the putty to stay on the surface over night. This will cause a surface reaction which will stain your paint job.

Once the putty is dry get yourself a bucket of water and some mild dish soap. The soap acts as a lubricant and cleaning agent which will allow you to cut through the clear coat faster.

You’ll be using the same 1000 grit wet/dry paper. Before you begin allow the paper to soak in the bucket for about 10 minutes. Use the same crosshatch sanding pattern.

In a few minutes you’ll notice a pattern will appear. It should look very much like a Rorschach test. The high spots will bleed through the putty alerting you of the depth of the run.

Keep in mind you want stay away from the putty edges. Only concentrate on the clear coat patterns and let the putty be your guide.

Eventually you’ll have sanded off all the putty leaving a smooth flat surface ready to be polished. Remember to wipe frequently so you can get a clear picture.

As with so many other areas of vintage auto restoration this will take time and practice but it’s entirely possible to recover from the runs provided you apply the above steps.


Iconic Cars In Film, Part 1 • DH Automotive, Inc.

Looking back, a huge part of why I love classic cars has to do with the impact of seeing stylish rides in movies.

As a result I’ve always wanted to pay homage to my favorite cars in films with a series for the blog.

That being said, this post marks the first of a series of posts I’ll be doing on some of the most memorable cars in the movies.

To that end I’m starting off with one of my favorites, a true diamond in the rough.

A vehicle that I had no idea would evoke so much emotion in these stark circumstances.

I was so caught off guard by the minimalistic little gem of a science fiction film that it appeared in.

Daft Punk’s Electroma, which was made in 2006 and directed by the French electronic music duo Daft Punk (the band members, played by Peter Hurteau and Michael Reich).

The story revolves around the quest of two robots who have a desire to become human; a form of self-expression you might say.

However, their quest utterly fails, with a society that surrounds them with their cruel intentions which leads to shock, acceptance, and ultimately the robot’s demise.

The film opens with a variety of still views of what seems to be cliff dwellings that have eroded over centuries.

The first thing I notice is how long they held the shots, and I must admit, I started to get nervous.

I’ve seen plenty of art films and was warned that there is absolutely no dialogue and no emotion – just robots doing their thing.

But then roughly two minutes into the film stood this impeccable glossy black coupe, stripped of any identifiable badges, just sitting there.

Moments later it was being entered by two robots, one with a chrome shape batters helmet; and the other, a gold phallus with a black onyx dome.

The second I saw the door handle I thought this is an Alfa Romeo, but no something more – much, much more.

The lustful obsession grew with every moment, and the next thing you know, you’re in the back seat.

You are being surrounded by creamy buttercup leather, looking out at a clear sunny desert sky, cruising at a good clip down the landscape.

The long silence is broken ever so slightly by a strange hum, which begins ever so softly.

You are introduced the open road Freedom, but my anxiety started to ratchet up a notch, and I braced myself for some kind of Kubrick/Lynch scenario – but nothing came.

Various continued shots of the car moving down the highway, and over time, the hum becomes louder and more ominous until this chaotic burst of synthesized thunder erupts.

Now I’ve never had that love at first sight with any car, it’s always been over time that I fall in love with a particular vehicle, but this car got to me.

The sun dancing off the door and rear quarter panel as it was floating by the blurred landscape.

The sleek luxurious lines silver star-like wheels rotating in a dream-like slow-motion movement.

And when it the perfect interlude into Todd Rundgren’s “International Feel” song began to play, I was smitten.

I felt a sense of hope and began to listen to the words searching for some hidden meaning something to give me a clue to what is to come.

“Here we are again, the start of the end,

But there’s more

I only want to see if you’ll give up on me

But there’s always more

There is more, International Feel

And there’s more, Interplanetary Deals

But there’s more, Interstellar Appeal

Still there’s more, Universal Ideal

Still there’s more, International Feel

I swear…”

I was
experiencing the hopeful ambition of these two machines I knew that familiar
feeling of being inside a sexy car heading to the promised destination. The
film is worth viewing.

The car is a
1987 Ferrari 412.

About The 1987 Ferrari 412

The Ferrari 412 is like no other designed four-seater coupé. Introduced in 1972 as 365 GT 2+2, it evolved into the 400 and finally the 412 – which was produced until 1989, bringing to an end Ferrari’s longest ever production series.

The 412 was the most sophisticated and luxurious model with a 5.0-liter V12 engine producing 340 hp.

Ferrari made 576 examples of the 412, making it one of the very rare models in existence.


Iconic Cars In Film, Part 2: 1938 Plymouth Deluxe Coupe

This month’s post in my “Iconic Cars of Cinema” series is none other than the 1938 Plymouth Deluxe Coupe from The Big Sleep.

This Film Noir classic directed by Howard Hawks was the first film version of the 1939 novel of the same name by Raymond Chandler.

The film stars Humphrey Bogart as the iconic private detective Philip Marlowe and Lauren Bacall as Vivian Sternwood Rutledge.

The story is all about how these two navigate the seedier side of Los Angeles in the 1930s.

The film itself is confusing and difficult to follow, as they had to work their way around such taboo subjects as pornography and homosexuality, etc.

It was originally finished in 1945 but was shelved by Warner brothers for another year, which is a whole other story I won’t get into.

The re-shot, re-edited, and revised The Big Sleep was finally released on the 23rd of August 1946.

The cinematic release of The Big Sleep is regarded as one of the more successful Noir films of its time.

This black and white film is one of my favorites. Wickedly clever, dripping with sexual innuendos, funny at times with quick hard-boiled lines.

And of course, to see Bogart and Bacall (only their second film together) go at it on-screen is nothing less than cinematic perfection.

Chandler’s dialogue with the help of Brackett, Furthman, and Faulkner screenwriting makes this Noir film go down in Legend history.

The Plymouth’s first appearance is when Marlowe drives up to through the hills.

It’s cold, dark, and raining like cats and dogs – we know he is trailing The blackmailer Gieger due to the headlights being not illuminated.

The Plymouth is slicked with rain, and the house is located on the corner of Crest Drive and Laverne Terrace.

The moment he stops the car and pulls the emergency brake, he crouches down in time to see another fancier convertible Plymouth pass him, only to pull into the driveway of the original tailer.

Marlowe jumps out, puts on his trench coat, and walks over to the 39 Plymouth.

He opens the door to check the registration (which is Carmen Sternwoods’ ride) before he saunters back to his Plymouth to hunker down for the late-night stakeout.

To keep him company are his trusty chesterfield cigarettes. This is not the first time we see Bogart in a Plymouth.

In one of his earlier heist films High Sierra, he drives a 38 Plymouth Deluxe coupe.

I’d kind of like to think Bogart had a preference for Plymouth’s, the salt of the earth, no pretentions here as your everyday shamus driver.

Among the notable items was the secret revolver compartment as well as the windshield sticker “B”, located on the lower ride side.

During the war era, commodities including fuel were rationed – the “B” sticker allowed only 8 gallons per week.

Can you imagine that? That’s hardly enough to get around town let alone get anything done!

Interestingly enough, law enforcement was allotted an “X” sticker which allowed them unlimited fuel consumption.

However, if you were truly undercover, it would be a dead giveaway that you were a copper given that it was common knowledge.

The real reason why I choose this particular car is because of a single scene that takes place inside the Plymouth 2/3rds of the way into the film.

Bogart offers to give Bacall a ride home in the Plymouth. From the tone of their conversation, it’s clear where things are headed.

At the decisive moment, Bogart kisses Bacall (and she is on board with the romance).

But more importantly, he finds out the truth about what’s really going on between the two of them.

I couldn’t help reflect back on important conversations I’ve had with friends, family, and lovers – while inside of a moving vehicle.

In that context, the car becomes a kind of moving truth chamber, inspiring intimacy that otherwise might not occur.

It provides quite a contrast with this day and age, where the truest intimate conversations are lost in the swift pace of technology.

This Plymouth was not considered a cool car back in 1938, not my any stretch of the imagination.

In fact, the previous year Plymouth experienced a record year of sales 566,128 vehicles but in 1938 they had dropped to 285,704 vehicles.

It was a milder version of the ’37 coupe, but people, including the dealers, were not happy with this car.

It was pudgy, the grill bloated, together with short headlamps that would protrude like bug eyes mounted high on the sides of the radiator shell.

But you wouldn’t know this Bogart behind the wheel, which made it as cool as can be and an ideal candidate for this series on iconic classic cars.


Iconic Cars In Film, Part 3 • DH Automotive, Inc.

In this month’s edition of my “Classic Cars of Film” series I decided to bring out one of my all time favorite films, The Blues Brothers, released in by Universal Pictures in 1980.

The film was directed by John Landis, who also co-wrote the script with Dan Aykroyd, who starts in the film along with John Belushi.

With a host of heavy hitters from the R&B & Soul realm, such as James Brown, Cab Calloway, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, and John Lee Hooker, this is among my favorite films of all time.

It also features non-musical supporting performances by Carrie Fisher, Henry Gibson, Charles Napier, and John Candy.


This film held the Guinness Book of World records for the most cars destroyed in a film, up until its sequel took the top slot in 1998.

The beloved Bluesmobile was described as a decommissioned Mount Prospect police car purchased by Elwood (Aykroyd) at an auction.

It’s a 1974 Dodge Monaco with a 440 magnum engine with the full police package. Director John Landis has claimed that the portion of the final chase sequence beneath the elevated train tracks (which briefly showed a reading of 118 miles per hour or 190 km/h on the car’s speedometer), was actually filmed at that speed; a testament to the Monaco’s police car heritage.


He has also stated that he re-shot some of the scenes with pedestrians on the sidewalks, so viewers could see that the film had not been sped up to create the effect of speed.

The film used a total of 13 different Monaco’s to portray the infamous Bluesmobile. Over 60 police cars were purchase for the film’s chase scenes and the production house kept a 24 hour body shop busy, which did the necessary repairs as they encounter them.


This film had such a huge impact on my life as a kid. Not only for the spectacular Bluesmobile, but for the incredibly realistic chase scenes.

It’s funny how I found myself purchasing a decommissioned P71 Crown Victoria a few years ago for $340 in which I later received a speeding ticket (doing 120 in a 65 mph zone).

I kept telling the cop that pulled me over that I had no idea how it happened – cars just kept getting out of my way until I had open road (they must have thought I was a CHP).

Up until that time when I first saw the film, I was listening to 70s rock and roll and had no idea what Rhythm and Blues/soul sounded like.

The music got to me in a way that I had never experienced before; my soul was moved in a visceral way that’s hard to describe to this day.


Iconic Cars In Cinema, Part 4 • DH Automotive, Inc.

This month’s film is sort of hard to watch. In fact, it’s actually my least favorite off any film I’ve previously covered.

That having been said, the uncertain times we find ourselves in make such a film worth discussing.

The fact that this film features iconic cars like the Lola T70 race car makes this discussion a little easier to have.

The film I dread discussing is THX 1138. THX 1138 was George Lucas’ first film, made in 1969 and released two years later, the same year my kid sister was born.

Lucas brought on his friend Francis Ford Coppola to produce the film while Lucas would direct.

American Zoetrope and Warner Bros were also involved in this thought-provoking film that still manages to remain relevant in these trying times.

THX 1138 is set in the far future, where humans toil away in service to chrome-faced robots who wear nothing more than leather jumpsuits and helmets.

We even see that the humans are all shaved bald and only allowed a white smock for clothing.

This is a very utilitarian society that affords its members no means of creativity, individuality nor any emotional or sexual outlet.

In fact, the only thing keeping the humans from revolting is a pharmacy’s worth of narcotics to keep them content.

All of this dehumanization is exactly what the robots want. Since the robots only desire optimal productivity, things like emotions just get in the way.

As to what the robots enslave humanity to produce, they use the human to make more robots.

Thus we have a world where humans endure endless toil to add more and more entities to the dominant force in the lives of humans like the titular THX 1138, played by Robert Duvall.

Duvall’s character has been rethinking his future with Magge McOmie’s LUH 3417, he decides to flee his circumstances.

He then runs into the suspicious duo of Donald Pleasence’s SEN 5241 and Don Pedro Colley’s hologram entity SRT 5752.

While THX 1138 and SRT 5752 flee on a pair of stolen iconic cars, specifically Lola T70s, SRT 5752 crashes his car into a pillar of concrete during his first time driving the vehicle.

Now on the run from robotic law enforcement, which are in nothing that even approaches the class of iconic cars like the Lola T70, THX changes course to escape the borders of the robot city.

After eventually discovering a ventilation shaft and seeing it as a true escape path, Central Command orders the pair of police robots to call off their pursuit.

CC’s reason for ending the reclamation efforts are strictly financial: capturing THX would cost more than an acceptable amount of money to carry out.

As the robots are still within speaking range, they caution THX that while the shaft will take him to the surface, the surface is not suitable for any living creature.

Choosing to take his chances in the wilderness, THX ignores the advice and continues his path through the air shaft.

THX eventually makes it to the surface, discovering that the robotic city happens to be entirely underground.

The first thing THX encounters upon surfacing is a sunset, followed by the glimpse of a living bird flying off in the distance that hints at how life can survive topside.

Considering just how gorgeous a vehicle like the Lola T70 is, it seems hilarious that their natural beauty would be uglied up with a bunch of kibble and junk to sell the illusion of being set in the future.

That said, the Lola T70 was considered a junk car by 1969 and Lucas was able to score these cars for a steal.

The most amazing thing to me about these particular Lolas would be their noise. Lolas used an American V8 engine but Lucas decided to use the audio of an F86 Sabre Fighter jets making a landing.

Another important factor to this sound would be the fact that Lucas filmed them within the San Francisco Tunnels.

Because the only way to get a closed shoot would be to film at night, the sound would be amplified by the natural acoustics of the tunnel, helping to sell the idea of a car that sounds like a spaceship.

The Lola T70 was a sports car developed by Lola Cars, a British company, in 1965. Lola built the chassis, which was usually powered by the previously mentioned American V8.

Lola T70’s remained a popular example of iconic cars until the late 1960s, with over a hundred examples existing in three varieties:

  • An open-roofed Mk II Spyder.
  • A Mk III Coupé.
  • The Mk IIIB

The Lola T70 was eventually replaced by the Lola T160, part of the Can-Am series.


Iconic Cars In Cinema, Part 5: Herbie The Love Bug

This month’s pick in my Iconic Cars of Cinema series is a car that’s near and dear to my heart as it’s responsible for my lifelong obsession with air-cooled rides.

I’m talking about The Love Bug, as featured in the 1968 American adventure comedy directed by Robert Stevenson and produced by Disney.

The film is based upon the 1961 Book “Car, Boy, Girl” by Gordon Buford. The star of the film is a 1963 “rag top” Volkswagen Beetle who that has a human-like ability to express emotions and an astounding ability to out distance big exotic race cars.

Bitten By The Love Bug

I was first bitten by The Love Bug as a kid, when my my mom took me to see the film at a drive-in movie theater, and I was instantly smitten by The Love Bug, the little car with the big personality.

The plot opens with a down-and-out race car driver, played by Dean Jones, who’s headed for the skids.

In a chance encounter, he and his love interest, Michelle Lee, stumble upon this lively little VW Bug that will change their lives forever.

With the help of Herbie, Dean revives his car racing career although at times thwarted by the evil Villain played by English actor David Tomlinson.

Buddy Hackett rounds out the cast as Dean’s lovable sidekick who communes with the VW Beetle.

I vividly remember bursting out in uncontrollable laughter as Herbie skipped over the water.

The opening footage of the demolition derby is breathtaking. At that time, it truly was a one of a kind film, considering there were no computer-generated images back then.

The Birth of The Volkswagen Beetle

The original design for the Volkswagen Beetle was conceived by the Hungarian inventor Bela Berenvi in 1925.

In 1934, Adolf Hitler gave the order to Ferdinand Porsche to develop a vehicle that could transport two adults and three children while not using more than 7 liters of fuel per 32 mpg.

The engine had to be powerful enough for sustained cruising on Germany’s Autobahn. Everything had to be designed to ensure parts could be quickly and inexpensively exchanged.

The engine had to be air-cooled because, as Hitler explained not every country doctor had his own garage.

Antifreeze was only just beginning to be used in high-performance liquid cooled air-craft engines.

In general, water in radiators would freeze unless the vehicle was kept in a heated building overnight or drained and refilled each morning before commuting.

The Beetle featured a rear-located rear wheel drive, air cooled four-cylinder engine in a two door body work featuring a flat front windshield providing luggage storage under the front hood and behind the rear seat.

The shape of the beetle streamlined due to the tapered rear end, attached with 18 bolts to its nearly flat chassis which featured a central structural tunnel.

Front and rear suspension featured torsion bars along with a front stabilizer bar providing independent suspension at all wheels.

Its engine, transmission and cylinder heads were contracted of a light alloy engine ensured optimal engine operating temperature and a long engine life…

While the overall appearance of the Beetle has changed little over the years, it received over 78k incremental changes during its lifetime production.

It’s worth mentioning a small list of other very cool cars that were featured in the film.

  • 1963 Apollo 3500 GT
  • 1966 Chevrolet Corvette
  • 1957 Chevrolet 210
  • 1956 Ford Custom line
  • 1929 Ford Model A
  • 1960 Ferrari GT Berlinetta
  • 1963 Ford Galaxie
  • 1923 Ford Model T
  • 1961 Jaguar XK-E
  • 1955 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith
  • 1963 Triumph Spitfire

The Beetle: My Favorite Volkswagen

At any rate, it would be a few years after seeing The Love Bug before I had my first actual encounter with a Volkswagen.

The year was 1984. When I was given a choice to purchase my first car, a 1962 Beetle or a 1971 Super Beetle from my high school auto body teacher.

I ultimately choose the 71 Beetle. It had a rebuilt 1600 Dual port motor and at $250.00 it was a great first project that took my two and a half years to complete.

I had many good times in that Bug. Since then, I’ve owned over 25 VW’s of various models, but the Beetle will always be my favorite.


How To Overhaul Your Classic Car Brakes • DH Automotive, Inc.

Going into the New Year, I thought it would be a good idea to go over brakes. This subject is one of the most important aspects of dealing with classic car restoration.

This is not necessarily a how-to piece, but more like an overall view of what to keep in mind when venturing into the DIY world of brake upgrades.

A Tale of Braking Gone Bad

A few hundred years ago I was cruising down a winding road in Mission Hills, I had the AM radio blasting in my 1966 Ford Galaxie.

I took several turns that I haphazardly did not calculate speed, sharpness, or grade – and in turn, did not see the 1985 Pontiac Ferrero rapidly approaching on the left.

By the time I hit the brakes and correct my position, I had already taken out a 2-foot-long gash on the side. Needless to say, this all could have been avoided with a few upgrades on my part.

In 1967, Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 105 set specific performance tests, which led to the widespread introduction of disc brakes on American cars in the early seventies.

Before then the single port “honey jar” or death pot as I like the call it (due to the fact that if any part i.e. hard lines, soft lines, wheel cylinders or master cylinder were compromised the whole system would fail), several car lengths need to be taken into consideration when driving an all-wheel drum car.

Before You Convert Your Brakes

Before we dive into the brake conversions there are some major key elements you want to keep in mind when converting your brakes.

The first and most important is determine if you are going to use your stock wheels. Most 50s, 60s, 70s, vehicles have 14 inch or 15-inch rims that will limit the size of rotors and calipers you use to convert your front drum brakes to disc.

The second thing to take into consideration is the Prop valve or proportioning valve. This will allow full flow of brake fluid to your front disc brakes, and constricting the flow to the rear drums.

Without the prop valve, your rear drums will have a tendency to lock up on you when you brake hard, thus causing the rear end to fishtail. The third thing to keep in mind is if you are going to use a brake booster.

You will need at least 18 psi of vacuum coming off the engine intake manifold in order for the booster to work properly.

If you are running a performance cam you will need to go with an electrical vacuum assist and canister, in order to get the vacuum you need to make the brakes work effectively.

The fourth is choosing a conversion kit that is right for your budget. There are literally dozens of kits out there ranging from moderately expensive to extremely expensive.

You want to keep in mind that you want to go with a company that will have your parts readily available to you down the line; especially when you are replacing pads, rotors, etc.

I found one company that makes the kits that will allow you to use modern vehicle parts to complete your conversion – the company is called Scarebird.

Here is an excerpt of the set up for 49-53 Ford’s.

Convert your classic 1949-53 Ford to front disc brake with these brackets (made in the USA). They are AutoCAD designed and CNC laser cut for excellent tolerance.

These brackets use common and inexpensive rotors (1970-73 Mustang front, 11-1/4″) and calipers/pads (1988-91 Chevrolet or GMC 1500 work truck) available from your nearest NAPA, O’Reilly’s, Autozone, etc. or even your local boneyard.

Unlike other designs, this setup will allow you to retain your stock drum 15″ rims as shown by the picture below.

Also note that the brackets are machined to allow the use of the original attachment hardware and by doing so retains your Ford’s alignment setting.

The Mustang rotor also has the same pilot diameter (2.43″) as your OEM rims – making your rims properly centered by the hub, not the lugs. Offset is within 1/8″, preserving your original stance.

This is what I love about these guys is the use of modern components which are readily available at your local parts store, plus the price is very reasonable compared to other disc brake conversions.

There are 3 most common upgrades that will work well on your classic vehicle. I will give examples for each conversion.

1. Convert the single port master cylinder to a dual port master cylinder, then adding a brake booster to your all drum set up.

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to work on a 1964 Oldsmobile Dynamic 88. This was an all-wheel drum set up with a “death Jar” single port master cylinder with no power brake set up.

Now this car looks very similar to the Impala of that year, and I thought this is going to be a piece of cake. I will find an Impala brake conversion which will allow me to keep the stock wheels.

Well to my horror after purchasing the kit, I was attempting to mock up the rotors and calipers to the spindle. I found that they were very different, and I was devastated.

After several go-arounds, I contacted the owner who was disappointed to hear that there was no kit out there that would work with the stock wheel set up.

That day I went home determined to find some way I could improve the Olds’ braking power. After several days of research, I had finally came up with a plan.

If I could not alter the brakes themselves, I could change out the master cylinder (with which I did purchased a 1966 Cadillac dual master cylinder with brake booster, which was literally a bolt in application).

This would separate the front wheel lines from the rear wheels, thus giving added safety in case one or the other failed.

I did have to run two new lines to the front wheels, but wow! What a difference with the brake assist, it came out better than I had expected.

2. Convert the single port master cylinder to a dual port set up swapping out the front brake drums to disc brake set up.

Several months ago, I did this disc brake conversion on a 1965 Mustang. This kit is different in the aspects that the car has a manual transmission.

The owner wanted to keep the stock steel wheels, but did not want to cut up the support beam in order to fit a dual master cylinder with a brake booster.

Luckily I found the perfect kit, and using a modern plastic brake reservoir for the master cylinder; routing it to a later model of a Mustang proportioning valve.

3. Convert the single port master cylinder to a dual port set up swapping out front and rear wheel drum set up with disc brakes.

This last conversion I did on a 66 Chevy C10 a few months back. Spare no expense, the owner wanted to go with drop spindles the whole nine yards.

I knew immediately Wilwood was the brand to use. This is a high-performance Truck we needed the very best to slow down the Ls1.

I have had nothing but great experiences with this company over the years, the only drawback is they can be quite expensive.

In conclusion, it’s up to how much you want to spend. These are some of many examples you can use as a reference. In the end you will be relaxed and confident that your classic will stop on a dime!


6 Tips On How To Rent Your Classic Car • DH Automotive, Inc.

Let’s face it: with COVID-19 having taken center stage the past year and a half, times have been tough. Most of us have been cooped up in the house. Fear is running rampant, and with good cause.

However, we are slowly turning a corner; things are starting to open back up again. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel: summer is fast approaching.

People who have experienced financial hardships are turning to other creative ways to make money to supplement their income.

If you own a classic vehicle or any vehicle that is 25 years or older this blog is for you. Now I must admit I was rather hesitant to write anything on this matter.

I’ve seen first-hand cars that have been damaged after the director allowed the principal actor to take the car for a leisurely stroll.

I’ve heard horror stories about how the production company lied about having the proper insurance to cover the 2-inch-wide scratch that ran the length of a 1958 Lincoln.

Fortunately, times have changed. I recently had a conversation with a past client who had his 1954 Plymouth Savoy used in a Movie and what a positive experience he had.

Classic Car Rental Services

These days there are several websites where you can register your vehicle to be rented out for movies, TV shows, commercials, photoshoots, and special events:

Drive Vinty

Book A Classic

Cinema Vehicles

Movie Time Cars

Drive Share

Also, a lot of people are turning to other avenues to list their classic for rent i.e. weddings, proms, promotional events, etc.

In order to ensure that you have a pleasant experience with renting out your classic, I’ve written some simple guidelines to keep in mind before, during, and after your vehicle has been rented.

Check In With Your Insurance Provider

Check in with your insurance provider and let them know that you plan on allowing your classic car to be used for movies, tv shows, or special events.

Take Pictures

Take extensive photos of your vehicle before you rent it out. I had a client go so far as printing the photos and have the production company sign them to understand that the vehicle was in good condition before the event.

Review The Renter’s Policies

When your vehicle does “get hired”, make sure you check over the production companies’ insurance policy.

Keep An Eye Out

When your vehicle arrives on set, keep a close eye at all times on your vehicle. If the production team wants a shot of the vehicle moving, you would want to be the sole driver at all times.

You Call The Shots

Remember: it’s your vehicle, and you set the terms of the agreement. If the production company decides they want to remove the trunk lid to capture a better overall shot of the principals, they will have to pay extra, etc.

Wrapping Things Up

In conclusion – it’s all about having fun while making some extra cash. You’ll get a chance to talk shop with other classic car enthusiasts; find out the best spots for maintenance, parts location, and restoration needs.

You’ll also get to meet amazing talented individuals, and come away with a sense of pride knowing that at the end of the day it was a win/win situation for yourself and others.