Old School Americana & Nostalgia


Metallica Frontman James Hetfield’s Car Collection Pays Homage to Punk Rock Roots

Metallica Frontman James Hetfield’s Car Collection Pays Homage to Punk Rock Roots

Metallica’s James Hetfield rocks on stage and the road. His collection of vintage cars is as epic as his guitar riffs. During his formative years, Hetfield was deeply immersed in American hot rod and custom car culture. This is reflected in his collection, which he built from concept to asphalt. Instead of buying cars off the lot, nearly all the vehicles in his collection were custom-made exclusively for him.

Furthermore, he generously decided to contribute his entire collection of cars to the Petersen Museum, allowing automobile enthusiasts to admire and relish their beauty. Hetfield said he loved keeping the cars in his garage, but they didn’t serve any purpose. Instead of auctioning them off, he had a strong desire to keep them together.

Here are a few cars from James Hetfield’s collection that also reflect his love of punk rock and pop culture.

‘Dead Kennedy’: 1961 Lincoln Continental

The 1961 Lincoln Continental, known as ‘Dead Kennedy’, is a resto-mod based on the 4th generation Continental, the same model JFK was in when he was assassinated. Blue Collar Customs was commissioned by Hetfield for the restoration and lowering of the car. It has been updated with new materials while maintaining the retro look. Finished in black with a hard top. Of course, punk rock fans also recognize the namesake tying in with the legendary Dead Kennedys.

‘Iron Fist’: 1936 Ford

After having the 1936 Ford for a spin, James Hetfield thought it deserved a little extra “oomph” in 2006. With some help from the talented folks at Blue Collar Customs, Hetfield took matters into his own hands. Reportedly, he even had a go at welding and shaping some of the car’s elements. The result? A head-turning machine with a bodywork that’s so sleek, it’s practically showing off in its special bare metal clear-coated glory. It seems likely that this hot rod’s namesake is from the 70s era marital arts Marvel Comics character, Iron Fist.

Metallica Frontman James Hetfield’s Most Punk Rock Addition to His Car Collection

The 1937 Ford Coupe, as Metallica’s James Hetfield described it, may have been considered an “ugly duckling,” but he had a deep affection for the car. With that in mind, he sought the expertise of Rick Dore Kustoms to modify the car. While preserving its original design, they skillfully addressed its less appealing aspects. The most significant change was to the rear, where the roof was chopped and given a more elegant curve. The chrome accents were meticulously restored, and the car was adorned with a striking crimson blood-red color. This transformation earned the car its name, ‘Crimson Ghost’.

Of course, music lovers likely caught another probable reason for the hot rod’s name. The Crimson Ghost, skull masked 40’s film serial character, is the mascot for pioneering punk rockers The Misfits.