Credit Where Credit is Due
A car feature is a special thing. Someone takes interest in your hot rod and then dedicates the time to listen, photograph and create an article for the world to enjoy. You can then see your car on newsstands and in your mailbox. Need an extra copy? Buy one. Buy two! Show your friends at the local cruise night, car club meeting or wherever else you go. It’s a deal where everybody wins.
What if you did everything right and your car made it into a magazine. You pick up the issue, check the table of contents and you find your machine. “This is gonna be great!” you say to yourself as you tear through the pages, trying not to rip them in excitement. Then you see the article. It looks super! Two pages. And color too! Some overall shots, a few details. All is well.
Then something stops you dead in your tracks. There are no names. Not yours. Not the photographer’s or anybody’s. There’s no extra information to speak of, just a small paragraph full of seemingly last-minute observations. That was the story of this little Model T roadster pickup when it appeared in Popular Hot Rodding in August 1965.
Brilliant blue paint, four-carbed Olds, sweeping headers, a white top and matching tuck-n-roll upholstery all come together to make an unforgettable RPU. But who built it? What’s its story?
The article states that the T was often seen with the Bay Area Roadsters, so I knew where to start my search. I turned to my friend and San Francisco Bay Area hot rod historian Todd Olson (@Hemi32) to see if he recognized the car. After sending him a snapshot of the PHR spread, he reached out to some of his connections. He then asked if Andy Southard Jr. shot the photos.
Although they looked like Andy’s handiwork, his name wasn’t listed anywhere in the issue. Then, less than an hour later, Todd had solved the mystery. On page 37 of Southard’s Hot Rods & Customs of the 1960s, he learned the car was built by the late Donald Kugler of Castro Valley, California. On page 71, he found a second shot.
Using that information, he hauled out the October ’63 issue of Hot Rod Magazine, featuring Andy’s photography—and the “Kugie’s Kar” in all its early-’60s glory.
Other than the wide whites, chrome reverse wheels, banjo rear and various odds’n ends, it isn’t all that different from its mid-’60s form. Now matter how you spin it, this is one of the finest roadster pickups to come out of hot rodding’s Golden Age. I wonder if it’s still around? Maybe with a little digging we’ll find the answer to that question too.
Special thanks to Todd Olson for his investigative work and excellent scans. I owe ya one!