“FIRE TRUCK” designer Chuck Miller talks about his works and his career [Special interview for Norton74]

“FIRE TRUCK” designer Chuck Miller talks about his works and his career [Special interview for Norton74]

From the beginning I set myself the goal of bringing original and interesting content, high-level MOCs and top notch photos to my fans. Everything written, built and photographed by myself.
That’s why today I submit you an exclusive interview with an american car designer father of the Fire Truck, the radical Show Rod I built few years ago via LEGO bricks.
His name is Chuck Miller and his nephew, Eric Miller, is a LEGO fan and he follows my FB page. When Eric spotted the brick-built Fire Truck he got in touch with me and he showed the model to his uncle who was really impressed. I was honoured for that and I had the chance to make few questions to Mr. Miller about his career and his famous vehicles.
Miller founded Styline Customs in Detroit in the late 1960s, specialized in building custom and concept cars designed to attract attention and win awards. One of his major successes came at the 1968 Detroit Autorama, where he won the prestigious Ridler Award with the “Fire Truck”. 

You can read the full interview below: ladies and gentlemen starts your engine!

Hi Mr. Chuck Miller and thanks for accepting to have a chat with me. Just few questions about you and your creations.

N74: When your interest in cars and Show Rods started and why?
CM: It started when I was 10 or 11. I would draw in my school books while in class. When I was in high school I was a hall monitor and would sit and draw in a note book the whole time.

N74: Can you tell me a little bit about your background? I mean, are you a self-made car designer or did you study design or something like that?
CM: I have no formal designer education. I bought the body shop I worked at through high school when I was 20 years old. So my education started at an early age. Here the kind of schooling I have is called the “school of hard knocks”.

N74: In a few words, if possible, tell me which are your career milestones.
CM: One of my biggest mile stones were winning the Don Ridler memorial award for the Fire Truck in 1968. There are many more but this is the biggest.

N74: As you know I built the replica of your famous Fire Truck; can you tell me where the inspiration to build it come from and when?
CM: The idea was one that I have had for some time. In 1966 I started working with John Bogosian making some drawings. We would go back and forth with ideas and drawings until I made the final decision.

N74: Did it satisfy your expectations? Did it win any awards? Any curiosities about the Fire Truck?
CM: As with all projects there are always little things you wish you would have done differently. But I was very satisfied with the final outcome. The biggest award was the “Ridler” but there were many others. The curiosities are the fire extinguisher is the gas tank, the first aid kit is the battery cover, and my favorite is the top of the gear shifter is a handle from Miller Beer tap.

N74: Which are your favourite creations?
CM: This is like trying to pick your favorite child…

N74: Have you been influenced by other car designer? If yes, which ones?
CM: I paid close attention to many other builders such as George Barris, the Alexander brothers, Bill Hines, Gene Winfield, and Darryl Starbird.

N74: Are you working on something new or are you just enjoyng your time?
CM: Last year I made a clone of my 1969 Red Baron hot rod that Tom Daniel designed. This year I am working on remaking the set of Zingers I built in the 70’s. Now I work on something when and if I like.

N74: Recently I built the “Paddy Wagon” designed by Tom Daniel. The Fire Truck and the Paddy Wagon look having the same source of inspiration. Is this correct? Have you ever known Tom Daniel?
CM: I did not know Tom Daniel when I was working out the design. I have meet Tom one time in California in 1969 after I built the Red Baron.

Many thanks for your time Mr Chuck Miller, it has been an honour chatting with you and I’m sure LEGO fans will appreciate the interview.
Keep up the good work!

More info about Chuck MIller’s works: chuckmillerstyline.com

General Store in detail

General Store in detail

A few days ago I introduced my latest creation, a classic General Store decked out in bright yellow livery. The diorama features many details and elements and recently I shot them individually to create this photo composition allowing to enjoy them in plain sight. Swipe the pictures, check out all the elements and build them yourself. 
I really like creating this kind of collage even if it’s a very time consuming activity.

General Store: behind the scenes

General Store: behind the scenes

Let’s take a look at some unreleased WIP snapshots of my latest creation, the General Store right from somewhere in the heart of America.
At first I had chosen dark tan/tan as a color combo, then I ventured for an unexpected and unusual yellow/reddish brown combo. And the outcome rocks! The ground comes from my previous Into the Wild diorama but is wider and longer.
The first prototype showed more details and objects but there was also too much confusion; I took something away to make it more enjoyable.
As usual I drew a sketch of the idea I had in mind and then brick by brick I created the General Store.
And a big thank you to my daughter Claudia for the nice drawing of my creation.

General Store: a time capsule

General Store: a time capsule

General Stores were very common in the US back in the 18th and 19th century, especially in rural areas or in small towns. Actually, there are few of them along old nearly-forgotten interstate highways, they are like old treasures to preserve. Their main feature was carrying a general line of merchandise to remote populated places where mobility was limited and a single shop was sufficient to service the entire community. In the early twentieth century general stores often sold gasoline too.
My latest diorama represents a classic general store depicted in a sixties scene somewhere in the heart of America with many elements easy to spot back then.

Take a moment to appreciate all the small details that all add up to this vintage scene; the rusted pump abandoned on the ground, the phone cab, soft-drink dispenser, the gumball machine and many others.
The old white-bearded man sitting in his rocking chair keeps watch carefully who arrives helped by his loyal dog. On the left a little shop for quick repairs equipped with different utensils.
All around I added many details like the water tower, the phone box, the gas pump and so on.
I’m very satisfied with this creation even if it’s much better live than depicted by a photo.
It was very funny building this and even more catching the details to insert via period pictures spotted on the web. Hope you like it!

“This month’s cover photo, from Andrea Lattanzio, brings us this blast from the past with an incredibly detailed LEGO general store. The diorama is littered with items you might find at a remote general store, and luckily Andrea provides a close up look at the details (see below). Candy machines, phone booths, tools, and gas, this general store has you covered no matter your needs.
Here’s that closer look at some of the items you’ll see surrounding the general store. The water tower is a clear standout, but some of the other details like the power pole, the cable holding up the chimney pipe, and the cat going after that bird nest. This entire scene is a delight to take in.” 

(TBB cover photo for June 2020: The General Store with Everything  The Brothers Brick – June 1, 2020)

“The General Store can be the last bastion of civilization before heading out into the wilderness. The calm before getting mixed up in a dark forest, or getting lost in the desert. A scene that has played out hundreds of times on film and television. This Lego General Store is created by Norton74. Inspired by these classic small town and rural American locations. A place where you can find a little bit of everything. You can fill up gas, buy some tools, pick up a soda, and make a phone call all in one place. This Lego diorama has a bunch of fun features. A really creative flag built with Lego 1×1 clips, the old time gas pump with a sea shell on top (shell gas), and the slightly uneven yellow siding on the main building. With a nice old man watching over everything. There is also a collection of Lego animals helping to fill out the scene, you can spy a pig, a cat, two dogs, a bird, a few chickens, and a skunk. This is a very busy store.” 

(Grab A Soda At The General Store, A Lego MOC  everydayBRICKS – May 14, 2020)