Subscribe Twitter Facebook

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Sweet Sickness

When I think of what a hot rod is and where it came from, there are a few images that come to mind-- a pre-war Ford and a flathead. They are like peanut butter and jelly, both great in their own right but together they're iconic. With the growing popularity of the traditional style, the flathead experiences a revival.

Filmmaker and car builder Brian Darwas set out to explore the Ford flathead in his most recent documentary, A Sweet Sickness (The Flathead Movie). In the film, Brian talks to Vern Tardel, who has literally wrote the book on the Ford flathead, as well Mike Herman of H&H, which is one of the go to flathead resources these days. He also visits Ryan Cochran of the Jalopy Journal and H.A.M.B, the internet home of traditional rods, and Verne Hammond of the Burbank Choppers club, who are some of the most well know purveyors of the traditional cars.

The filmmaker Brian Darwas was nice enough to answer a few questions for us about the film and his projects....

Dan Weimann - With this being your third hot rod documentary can you give us an insight into the origins and inspirations of the project?

Brian Darwas - I've always been into flatheads, and vintage motors in general. I love the simplicity of the internal design, as well as the way they look on the outside. Anytime I drive a flathead powered car there's always at least one person who says to me "wouldn't you rather have a motor that was reliable with more power?" . . . so I wanted to make a movie that would show the world that a flathead is just as good as any other motor, in fact it's even better in some ways.

DW - What was your favorite part of putting the whole thing together?

BD - My favorite part of the process is going out and shooting. I love to travel and interview people that I both respect and admire. I've made a lot of really amazing friends, and I've learned a lot of really amazing things.

. . . but I also like to edit, it's really exciting to see your footage become a movie, knowing that someone somewhere is going to be inspired by what you've created. I guess I like every part of the process.

DW - Whats next for the film and what is your latest project?

BD - I've got a film "in the can" so to speak. Last September I filmed a vintage, cross county motorcycle race. The race was deemed the "Motorcycle Cannonball". It featured all pre-1916 motor cycles. It started in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina and ended eighteen days later in Santa Monica, CA.

There was a lot of break downs, late night fixes, motor rebuilds in hotel parking lots, etc. . . all the makings of a great road trip film.

(I cannot wait for this one! - DW)

DW - And finally what are you driving these days?

BD - A 1932 Ford, 5 Window Coupe.

Brian has also put together two other hot rod documentaries, The Devil at Your Feet and The Road to Bonneville. All three can be found at his website, Atomic Hot Rods.

While you're at it, I would also highly suggest getting over to the H.A.M.B forum pronto and check out all the builds and happenings in the traditional hot rod world.


  1. Very cool, I can not wait to see this movie. Brian makes some quality hot rod films, and I'm sure this one will be no different.

    It has some of the biggest and most important names in not only the flathead game, but the hot rod game in general.

  2. Looks like it's going to be a great film, can't wait.