Reclaimed Rust - Custom Car Collection by James Hetfield of Metallica

Reclaimed Rust - Custom Car Collection by James Hetfield of Metallica
Reclaimed Rust - Custom Car Collection by James Hetfield of Metallica

James Hetfield is one of the most iconic figures in the world of metal in American and international music. He, along with Lars Ulrich, were in charge of creating one of the bands that would significantly mark in history; logically this group can be none other than Metallica.

Since 1981, Hetfield has assumed the role of lead vocalist for the band, in addition to displaying great guitar skills and the composition of various songs that Metallica has unveiled through all his years of activity in the music industry. It is more than obvious that all the members of the band share the same passion, which is given through thrash metal and music in general. However, as with all people, you can find different activities that each of them enjoys doing on their own. An example of these additional hobbies or passions can be manifested through Kirk Hammett, the lead guitarist for Metallica. Hammett has quite a fondness for science fiction, horror movies, and collectibles. In fact, he has been creating a personal collection of this kind for three decades, and his next big project is the direction of a horror movie, although nothing has been officially announced yet. However, James is not far behind, as he also discovered his additional hobby to music quite a long time ago: classic cars. But do not be fooled; Hetfield is more classic than modern. Although the Lamborghinis are not among his favorites, he has a collection that will make anyone of any age at least be interested in knowing a little more about each vehicle.

James Hetfield of Metallica performs onstage during the band's 'WorldWired' concert tour in Hämeenlinna, Finland, on July 16, 2019. Photo Credit: Vesa Moilanen / Lehtikuva

In 2016, this facet became popular, which for many fans was new about James, but for him, it would be his lifelong official hobby. This was revealed when he confessed to one of the publishers of the book "Metallica: Back to the front" that not only was music with him in his life, but also that the collection of classic cars filled him deeply. However, there is a detail, and that is that Hetfield has not only been in charge of acquiring each classic vehicle that he has been able to throughout his life, but has also decided to put a kind of personal seal on it.

This signature is not something literal, but each of the cars that are part of his personal project have been restored and personalized by James. That is why you will not be able to find pieces equal to those that he may be keeping in his garage. All the fans of Metallica and the followers of Hetfield, have been increasingly drawn to this hobby, wondering how big the collection of James could be and what would be the style of restoration and personalization that the singer uses. As a result of this, he himself has been releasing clues and some little details and fun facts about his collection since last year. As is the case of a statement in which he stated that repairing, restoring and creating a unique car from a classic part was one of the best ways of distraction to be able to overcome the difficulties, obstacles or confusing moments in his life that could be present.

To this, he added that music and cars have been his best allies throughout his life

James had the opportunity to confess that each car was a different project and there are different feelings at each opportunity. He stated that he treated each car as a song, that is, as if it were a new composition, creating designs that fit the measure of his own style but respecting the classic order in which they could be conceived. Despite the fact that 2019 was not exactly the best year for the Metallica vocalist, he was able to announce two events of great importance for his collection of classic cars and that these could be dated in 2020.

In September of last year, the band gave delicate news, since James had been having problems with alcohol, for this reason, his colleagues, family, friends and by his own decision, he entered a rehabilitation clinic for this type of problem. Even the concerts that had been scheduled for the end of the year had to be canceled, leaving Australia and New Zealand without thrash metal, at least until their main figure could recover. But this was not an impediment to Hetfield making a car donation that would leave all his fans very excited. A total of 10 vehicles from its classic, restored, and custom car collection were loaned to the Petersen Automotive Museum.

This institution was founded by several people, including the metalhead by profession and lover of the restoration and customization of classic cars, so there is a great link between both parties. However, James' cars were not exhibited in 2019; they decided to wait until the singer himself felt ready to show the whole world, a small sample of the work he had been doing outside the Metallica stages and concerts. Before 2020 entered, the Petersen Museum unveiled the opening date of the Hetfield collection display. This could only happen after the institution spoke with the artist to agree on the specific event day.

On January 30 of this year, the Reclaimed Rust: The James Hetfield Collection was inaugurated in one of the multiple galleries of the Automotive Museum, more specifically, in which the Bruce Meyer family belongs.

The main figure of Metallica had the opportunity to be present, being himself, who made this act of celebration official

During this occasion, James was able to answer some questions set by journalists, fans, mechanics and a few museum employees. It should be noted that it was the first time that Hetfield appeared in public after having found himself working for several months on his alcohol problem, which apparently is already being solved.

On February 1, the sample of James' classic car collection was freely opened to the public, with the presence of a 1936 Ford that received the nickname "Iron Fist," also a 1932 Ford Roaster baptized like "Black Jack," a 1937 Ford Coupe or the "Crimson Ghost," a Lincoln Zephyr from the same year with the name of "VooDoo Priest," on the other hand, there are two slightly older models such as a 1934 Packard and a 1936 Auburn that Hetfield calls them "Aquarius" and "Slow Burn," respectively. Finally, there is "Black Pearl," which is a 1948 Jaguar, and "Skyscraper," a 1953 Buick Skylark.

On one side of each of these classic vehicles, you can get several interesting facts about them. For example, the original manufacturer, the region where these cars were built, some curiosities and what really makes the collection come alive, the photos.

Photo Credit: David Ciminelli

This record of images covers since the cars were acquired by James, that is, their initial condition, then continues detailing the restoration process, immediately you can find the customization steps and culminates with the final finish, which of course also you can appreciate it live and direct. Another element that is almost as important or may even steal the limelight, is the video that the vocalist produced for each of these pieces of art that undoubtedly have great charm.

In this footage, Hetfield will briefly but consistently relate what this acquisition means to him, this explanation is displayed next to the information plate, additionally it will tell how the restoration and customization process went from the first moment and until it ended, and he will confess the reason for each of the nicknames that he has given them.

It should be clarified that not only the vehicles have been the owners of the entire scene of the Petersen Automotive Museum, because, despite the fact that this is a passion different from music, rock never ceases to be present in the singer's life. In addition to the Metallica theme, with various designs and the already known logo of the band, you can also see some instruments that at one time belonged to Hetfield's bandmates, and to himself. Logically, each one has its signature, its description, some photos of each musician playing it, and a statement from the former owner. However, there are two elements that stand out from all the others. One of them is a guitar that James also restored and placed some additional details on it; it is an ESP Hollow Body. On the other hand, there is also a sound amplifier that was also rearranged by the same singer, and that may have some characteristics similar to the "Skyscraper" in terms of painting.

Regarding the instruments, the opening day could be complemented with an auction of ESP electric guitars. In total, there were two, a Black Satin Vulture and a Snow White Snakebyte. It is worth noting that the bid was open to the public, so anyone interested and with a reasonable budget had the opportunity to participate and acquire some of these incredible musical instruments.

Photo Credit: David Ciminelli

A relevant aspect that should be taken into account in case you want to visit the exhibition is the current world situation that is being experienced as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, therefore, some government measures may affect the schedule of the visit or even encourage the preventive closure of the Petersen Automotive Museum.

On the contrary, there is an article that can be a tool to view Reclaimed Rust from the comfort of home without depending on biosecurity measures or risking personal health when visiting the exhibition in a physical space.

This article is a book, and it contains the Reclaimed Rust collection that is exhibited in the Museum, but you can also see for the first time all the personal projects that Hetfield has produced in his life. The title of this work is "Reclaimed Rust: The Four-Wheeled Creations of James Hetfield" and has 192 pages of content that had never been revealed by the singer in any interview, it also delves into details of the second passion that has accompanied Hetfield when he's not singing.

As in the Museum, you can view the photos of each creation that James has built from scratch with his own hands and logically complementing this photographic record, the personal opinion of each vehicle.

Photo Credit: David Ciminelli

There you can make a pre-purchase with greater security and with costs that can be around 50 US dollars

The Reclaimed Rust book also has a version that adapts a little more to the demands of the big fans of the vocalist of the heavy metal band. This refers to the limited edition of the work, which is undoubtedly more expensive but has several interesting surprises for those who purchase it.

Among them it is possible to be obtained with that the cover of the book is of synthetic leather and has a metal shield of "Reclaimed Rust" in the center, in addition four lithographs of 4 cars that the client can select in his purchase, these are in a shell case. A workshop towel, key ring, and metal plaque that can be attached to the car complement this limited edition item box.

However, what probably makes this book come at its assigned cost is the card that has been signed by James Hetfield. It is for this same reason that the pre-purchase of the limited edition of Reclaimed Rust is already sold out. So, both fans who want to purchase this version of their idol's book, as well as those who only want to see the regular one, must wait until July 28, which is the date on which Reclaimed Rust: The Four-Wheeled Creations of James Hetfield will be officially launched in physical and virtual stores.

Let the exploration of metal's finest underground acts continue. Our 'Monsters of Metal Underground' playlist on Spotify is your gateway to the genre's best-kept secrets.