I was graciously recommended by my friend Trent, owner and photographer of Speed & Kulture Chronicles, to the Sonday family. Paul Sonday is the proud, original owner of an era-correct, 1974 ‘Cuda he purchased at age 19 for just $4500.00. Shortly after he purchased the car, it was famously painted with this eye catching paint scheme created by Hank Z, a well known custom car painter and master metal flake in 1981.
Today, 42 years later, the car remains in pristine condition, with the same owner; a true survivor and absolute pinnacle of the ’70s street machine era.
The custom art I created for the cover of issue #9 of Speed and Kulture Magazine, captured one of Hanks’ gorgeous paint jobs on a original Super Bird. This painting prompted JJ Sonday, Paul’s son, to reach out with an idea for a custom painting of their generational ‘Cuda in a similar style. They’ve appropriately and affectionately named the car, “The EraCuda”.
Together, JJ and I designed an illustration of the car in front of Paul’s high school football field, a sentimental backdrop, in my signature är təˈmō-tiv style.
Thankfully, I had gorgeous photos to work with as inspiration from when Trent shot the ‘Cuda professionally, for a previous feature of the Era ‘Cuda in issue #14 of Speed and Kulture Magazine.
The first thing I had to do was combine two pictures together to create an image to paint from. We took one shot that was taken from the front of the car and placed it over the background from a secondary picture that featured the owners’ high school football stadium.
Next, I created a pencil sketch from that collaged image. Then, I transferred the drawing to a color washed canvas that I had previously built.
The chalk outline allowed me to hand paint all of the details, shadows, and highlights with Alpha 6 automotive enamel and Mack brushes. I always start with the sky being the farthest thing away in the landscape, and move forward in the painting, working in layers. Next was the horizon line with the houses and the football stadium. The clients requested the word “Warriors” on the field stand to personalize the painting further with the name of the high school’s mascot.
After the background was completed, I was able to paint the car, replicating the ‘Cuda’s beautiful paint scheme with my own brushes and paint. The client’s idea was to add the title of the car on the painting somewhere. Together, we came up with the unique idea to have the nickname of the car look as if it was painted onto the asphalt.
The final touch (and one I almost forgot!) was adding the white lettering to the tires. Once that was done, the painting was absolutely complete. It’s in the small, vibrant details where this painting comes to life.
I was pleased to receive a phone call and photo from my clients upon delivery of the work to Pennsylvania. The photo they sent shows the car with its original owner and the Hank Z, the Era ‘Cuda’s original custom painter. They all were ecstatic with the final painting and felt that it captured the essence of car and it’s beloved history; My ultimate goal with commissions such as this!
I was grateful to be a small apart of this standout car’s long standing history. Its originality, from its’ conception until now, is such a testament to the importance of creating and ultimately maintaining something for the sake of passion, history, and overall legacy.
This car has an incredibly unique history that has been thoroughly documented by Trent and his team at Speed And Kulture magazine. I encourage you to check out the beautiful photos by Trent Sherill and the full story of the Era ‘Cuda origins by supporting American made print magazine using this link!
Colors for days! This really made Dad’s day; And to have Hank here at the same time as receiving the painting, Hollywood couldn’t have written a better script. This is absolutely gorgeous. The quality is like looking out an open window.
– JJ Sonday
The Tools I Used to Make This Art (Please note, these are all affiliate links) :