‘The Real Ones’ - A history of G&L


Starting around the mid-1950, Fender started issuing models in opaque colors mainly so it could mask failed Sunburst or Blonde finishes and/or imperfections in the body like glue joint or lack of grain as described by Richard R. Smith in “Fender - The Sound Heard ‘round The World”, pp. 163-164. These colors soon became known as custom colors. George Fullerton relates the story on how he came up with the first custom color, Fullerton Red now better known as Fiesta Red, in his book “Guitar Legends, The evolution of the guitar from Fender to G&L”, p.41 although Fullerton Red being the first color is somewhat contested by Smith. Nevertheless, given the advent of pop culture, soon enough these custom colors were closely related to automotive colors used then with some wonderful examples shown in this post by Tim Page on the Guitars by Leo (GbL) website.

Patrick Krook figures prominently in this chapter. Not only is he a G&L enthusiast, as evidenced by him managing the GbL LE-2 project, but he is also a big fan of vintage muscle cars. In connection with the 2014 Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals show (MCACN) he consulted with Dave McLaren whether another special project could be undertaken. In this case the Detroit Muscle Series, a run of instruments finished in iconic colors associated with high-performance cars by the Detroit Big Three, especially from the latter half of the 1960s, to be displayed at MCACN. Through his contacts, Patrick was able to bring on Mitch Lanzini, owner of Lanzini Body Works, to help G&L obtain the correct paints for the intended finishes.

The first to be announced was the SS Collection, announced in June 4, 2014 post on GbL and shortly thereafter a news item on the (now archived) G&L webpage. The SS (Sport Sedan) Collection focussed on GM, in particular their Chevrolet muscle cars. The referenced (archived) G&L webpage mentions a specific model for each model, a 1965 Marina Blue Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray, a 1970 Cranberry Red Chevrolet LS6 Chevelle 454SS, where ‘454’ refers to the cubic inch displacement (cid) of the engine, a 1969 Hugger Orange Chevrolet Camaro RS Z/28, the Rally Sport version with a Z/28 engine, and a 1969 Daytona Yellow Chevrolet ZL1 Camaro, with the famous 427 cid ZL1 (or ZL-1) power unit. To indicate the popularity of these models, a Hugger Orange Chevrolet ZL1 Camaro of this car sold for more than $1M in 2020. Clearly vintage guitars are not the only thing out there being hunted by a generation hunkering to relive their youth.

Between June 2014 and May 2015, the 4 SS Collection finishes were offered on an ASAT Classic Bluesboy 90, ASAT Special, Fallout, LB-100, the single bass in the collection, a Legacy, and Legacy HB. The same models were used for the R/T Collection with a February 11, 2015 announcement on the GbL website. The R/T (Road/Track) Collection had 4 iconic, somewhat psychedelic Mopar colors used on Dodge muscle cars around 1967. Dodge’s parent, Chrysler, was the only of the Detroit Big Three fully embracing the youth culture of that era. The 4 models mentioned on the (archived) G&L webpage are a Panther Pink Dodge Hemi Charger R/T, with a Chrysler Hemi motor under the hood, a Sublime Green Dodge Challenger T/A (TransAm), a Go Mango Dodge Super Bee, the same color being labeled as Vitamin C on Plymouth models, and a Plum Crazy Dodge Hemi Challenger. These R/T Collection finishes were available well into 2017 and shown in a nice group shot at the 2014 MCACN show. The guitar in the center? That is the ‘R/T Legacy‘, an even more decked out, one-off Legacy HB in Curious Yellow with some extra appointments shown here together with ‘Hemi-500‘, an S-500 Deluxe Special in Go Plum/Vitamin C.

So what about Ford then, the last in the Big Three? Well, G&L created a GT (Grand Touring) Collection consisting of the same 5 guitars and single bass model, now hinting at the (1963-1973) Ford Mustang GT. Or maybe the iconic Ford GT40, winner of the 1966 24 hours of Le Mans race as popularized in the 2019 movie “Ford vs. Ferrari” as well as the next 3 editions. Whichever it is, the GT Collection was never advertised. There is a picture from the 2014 MCACN show showing 3 of the 4 colors: Calypso Coral (here on S/N CLF072144, scroll down or find the S/N), Grabber Blue, and Grabber Green (here on S/N CLF072175). The 4th, Gulfstream Aqua, has been spotted on a Fallout in one of the online marketplaces.

Out of a total of 12 colors in the Detroit Muscle Series, 2 reappeared on the Winter NAMM show in January 2020. The G&L booth displayed a Hugger Orange Fullerton Deluxe Skyhawk HH and a Sublime Green Fullerton Deluxe Legacy HB. Still, although these collections are interesting enough to write about for historical reasons, they do not provide enough incentive for me to chase them down to be added to this collection, even as at the time of writing 6 in 5 different finishes are offered for sale. But I hope the 2 pictures below (courtesy of G&L) and all the references included will show what these collections are all about.


Detroit Muscle Series

Detroit Muscle Series (L-to-R):