For many young hot rodders growing up over the last half century, seeing plenty of hopped-up Detroit steel parked at the local burger joint, gas station, or main strip in town was as easy as taking a walk on a hot summer day. Being influenced by what you saw came naturally, causing your mind to grasp concepts for ideas you’d want to work into your own car someday.
Now, imagine growing up in France, surrounded by a sea of Citroen 2CVs and Renault Dauphines for inspiration. Sure, there would be a splash of supercar sightings with marques like Ferrari and Lamborghini occasionally tearing up the local streets, but if you wanted more than that, the offerings were real slim. For Fabrice Monceaux, growing up in France and having a passion for vintage American cars required a bit of imagination, especially at a young age. Early in his youth, he lived the dream through countless die-cast models where classic designs took hold of his young mind. The rare occasion of actually being able to see a ’50s- or ’60s-era, American-built car driving down the street always left him breathless.
Fabrice recalls his first issue of Nitro magazine as a big influence, having introduced him to the dramatic styling of the ’53-56 Cadillac Eldorado. From that point on, he was determined to only own American-built cars while living in France, which was easier said than done. At 17, before receiving his driver’s license, he scoured the local For Sale ads, located a ’58 Chevy Bel Air, and started living the dream. A ’55 Buick Century was soon to follow as well as a number of ’69 Camaro RS/SS’s. He later became a partner in an importing business, bringing American cars to France while also going to college for graphic design. One of his best memories is of cruising the tiny back streets of Paris in a pink ’59 Cadillac Sedan DeVille, which is no small feat in itself! A chance stop into a bookstore in Paris one afternoon was a turning point in his life when he came across the book Classic Hot Rods by Bo Bertilsson. His senses were overtaken by images in the book of post-war style hot rods, especially that of Doane Spencer’s Deuce roadster. Not long after, in 2003, Fabrice made the decision to sell off most of his car collection and move to Canada to launch a new magazine called V-8 Passion.