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Do we have any traditional rodders on here?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Flathead Youngin', Dec 12, 2005.

  1. Flathead Youngin'
    Joined: Jan 10, 2005
    Posts: 3,589

    Flathead Youngin'

    I'm talking older gents that were there during the 30's, 40's and possibly 50's that were actually involved in hot rodding. Just curious and wanted to hear their stories. I know we all love nostalgia and hearing tales......

    If they are hiding and you know one, call 'em out!

    Dick Spadaro???
    Joined: Jan 13, 2004
    Posts: 2,734


    I have no idea if I'm what your talking about.I really started being interested in 59 or 60. I do remember there were some real deathtraps out there.
    Hemi powered Model A's with mechanical brakes,early Knee action Chebbys with Olds or Caddy's mounted solid that steered like a truck.Nash Metro's with anything shoehorned in.
    A lot of torched front coils,Kitchen Cabinet door pulls for the grill,Reversed rear shackels,Starter soleniods hooked up on trucks and doors(most of the cars were still six volt).
    A friend had a 53 Stude with a Caddy in it ,4 speed hydro and stock rear. He took it to the track in the early 60's and it ran 15 flats. We thought that car was fast!!
    The drill usually was ,buy a car ,pull the trim off the trunk and hood,fill and primer, heat the front coils,get someone to pinstripe or paint flames on it.If you had an extra $ 20 you could buy a Foxcraft or Fenton shift for the floor. Ford guys would change the column linkage so the shifter was on the other side of the column. I even went so far as to run the shift rods up thru the floor and Twin Stick it.
    If you had access to a welder you would cut the head pipes and run some dumps out the fenderwell.
    The custom guys would have skirts and maybe a recessed antenna.
    They were fun times ,but I don't want to go back.We don't remember the bad parts.It seems there were always teens in rollovers or wrecks and most of them didn't make it.Narrow roads and ill handling cars contributed to a lot of tragic times.Bikers were even hit hard.
    AS far as stories go this one is my favorite,it doesn't really relate to hotrods but I like it. My dad was a farmer ,he thought that working hard 16 hrs. a day was fun.My older brothers had trained hime well for dealing with me . At 6 am he would drag me out of bed ,feed the livestock ,braekfast at 7. On the tractor(G john Deere ) till noon, back to the livestock ,lunch and the field again,sometimes putting up hay or fence. Come in at 6 ,livestock again and eat. I then would go to town (bad Mistake) knowing fully well that He would drag me out at 6 the next morning.
    This one night ,I drove my 56 Ford to town ,raised a little hell and was coming out of town when I met the Sheriff on the top of a hill . I saw the brake lights before he disappeared over the hill. I whipped around in the road and was probably doing 50 or so when I again passed the Sheriff. One more time I whipped around . It was my guess he would not do this for very long so I beat ass home.
    It started to rain a little when I got home. About 15 minutes later the Sheriff is knocking at the door. I can hear my Dad talking to him. He is telling the Sheriff I have been home all night. I look at my car and steam is rolling off the hood in the rain. The sheriff feels the car hood as he leaves. I was awake at 6 the next morning and from that day on did not give my Dad a hard time on anything , I didn't realize till I had kids of my own how much you will do for them .

    If your Dad or Mom is still around , call them right now and thank them ,you'll never regret it.

  3. Spadaro??? He's wasn't a hot rodder! Both of our roots originate at a much lower social strata than that. We were ranked someplace below pimps and drug dealers. Originally, we were both "oval track racers".

    But with enough social and economic pressure, we eventually did elevate ourselves to the lofty status of being considered a hot rodder.

    I can't share with ya' too many old hot rodding stories, but I'll sure bend your ear with hours of old oval track racin' stuff :) .
  4. Flathead Youngin'
    Joined: Jan 10, 2005
    Posts: 3,589

    Flathead Youngin'

    I don't know how old a fella he is.....

    Circle track, drag racing, salt flat, street.....anything......kind of a tribute (show and tell) for thost that were there....or a chance to know the real senior members...
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  5. Starting with the thirties, you have to assume that the person would be in their teens when they became involved in rodding as we think we know it. That means they would have to be born in the 1910-1920 teens. The attrition rate being what it is, we are losing our history on a daily basis. WW2 vets are passing at the rate of over a thousand per day.

    I was born in 1940 and started becoming involved in the mid fifties.Rods and customs in the Detroit area during the fifties, Mostly customs there in the fledgling years of the Detroit Autorama. I was there for the first one in 53, I think that was the first, and had a 1946 Lincoln Coupe in the 1959 Autorama. Bill Hines and Dick Dean were also in that show when they both lived in Detroit. Bill Hines debuted his original "Lil Bat" at that show.
    I moved to Florida in the sixties and became involved in drag racing there. I was the flagger at the old Golden Triangle drag strip in Oldsmar, Florida and that was home to Don Garlits in the early days. That is where he did most of his testing and took home $100. almost every week he was in town. Top Eliminator going to Don Garlits was a given. We literally paid his living at that strip. At that strip I flagged off Don Garlits, Ed Garlits, Chris Karamisines, Connie Kalitta, Tommy Ivo, Dragmasters, Art Arfons, Pete Robinson, and my all time favorite, local boy Ed Pantley, plus others that I can't remember. That old drag strip is now the street going into a subdivision. About 5 years back, I went out there and stood in the middle of the street and remembered some great times. Tragedy and death were involved there too. Did a car show in St. Petersburg Florida in 1961 that featured the original Beatnik Bandit that I rented from Bob Larivee and Ron Ekholm of Showcars inc.
    Maybe some more later but I wanted to kick this off, and will let some of the other old timers have a shot
    Thanks for listening.
    Chavezk21, deadbeat and kiwijeff like this.
  6. Hmm, Guess Im to young, was born in the 50's and didnt start driving until the late 60s. Kinda funny, we were cruizers. We all had hotrods, and street raced. (not like them sewing machine rice grinders of today).

    Guess we werent hotroders. bummer.
  7. Yeah....Same here. I didn't get involved 'til the early 60's and that was with my first of three dragsters. After a couple of seasons at the drags I tried my hand at oval dirt trackin'.....MUCH more fun and excitement. This was my last car from the 60's. Got into sprint cars after that.

    Attached Files:

    deadbeat likes this.
  8. Flathead Youngin'
    Joined: Jan 10, 2005
    Posts: 3,589

    Flathead Youngin'

    Oh, I just thought that you guys in the 60's were busy with protesting, free sex and going to Woodstock concerts.......:D

    60's is good too.......would like to hear from our deep roots too!
    trailerpark and deadbeat like this.
  9. BUICKS38
    Joined: Sep 2, 2002
    Posts: 296


    Great story Joecool. Thanks for telling us the way it was.
  10. I grew up in Chicago. In 1963 got my lincese and my first car. 1952 Ply Belveder. Split the manifold, dual glasspacks, milled the head , nosed, decked, and painted it chevy marina blue. In high school there was my freind Pete who had a 48 plymouth 4-door, orange with a de-sota hemi. (called it Peters pumkin). Another freind got a 53 olds 2 door from his grandfather, a 30,000 mile creampuff, with wire wheels. First thing he did was pull the front bumper and grill off, and all the chrome, and painted it grey primer. Ditched the wheels in favor of black steel wheels with pin walls. During the winter of 63, INDOOR drag races were held at Chicagos International Ampitheater. (Anybody remember those?).1/8 mile track set up inside for stock class cars. I won my first trophy there running M/Stock. Quite the thrill for a 16 year old. Mr. Norms cars dominated that event. I wish I would have had the forsight to take pictures.
    Chavezk21 likes this.
  11. dixiedog
    Joined: Mar 20, 2002
    Posts: 1,205


    Now that is cool stuff, where in Oldsmar was that track?
    Went to school with Art's nephew in Bradenton - lots of cool stories they were getting into tractor pulling then
    Grew up in Sarasota and thought the only cool stuff was World of Wheels show at the State Fair Grounds
  12. racer5c
    Joined: Nov 30, 2002
    Posts: 2,218


    woulda been even more fun without that wing (wink wink)
  13. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 26,019


    Johnny, Question on your Lyndwood rail, did Pat Bilbow build it with the twin rollbar hoop supports or did someone modify it? That is the first one I've seen with twin tubes. Found out Pat used EMT tubing in the cowl area on mine.:eek:
  14. Roy....for all the good that Mickey Mouse wing did it might as well not even been on the thing.... :)
  15. 37Kid....The previous owner broke an axle and got upside-down with that car. The roll bar and cowl area, etc. was damaged so it was changed at that time. I think he had seen that cowl on an early Dragmaster chassis and copied the look.
  16. tommy
    Joined: Mar 3, 2001
    Posts: 14,758

    Member Emeritus

    We were too busy holding lye soap under our arms pits to increase the blood pressure so we would fail the physical for the military draft.:D Greetings from the President...

    Anybody that raced in the 40's or 50's would be in their 70's or 80's. Ya think they have many message boards for octogenerians? I think it would have to be an interview with a computer literate person. We did have a gentleman in his 80's display his hot rod at the Jalopy-rama in Nov. He had an ass load of old dirt track racing pictures from the 50's.
  17. Flathead Youngin'
    Joined: Jan 10, 2005
    Posts: 3,589

    Flathead Youngin'

    Yep, most probably don't mess with computers. That's why I was wondering who/which HAMBrs might be from that era.....

    ...and we don't want to hear from the 70's and 80's goobers.....
  18. hotrodladycrusr
    Joined: Sep 20, 2002
    Posts: 20,727


    You and my Dad are about the same age, my Dad's a couple years older, anyway, did you do any racing or hanging out at the Detroit Dragway? What side of town did you live? My Dad terrorized and hung out downriver, Highland Park then Linclon Park specificly. There was a certain gas station they hung out at but I can't remember exactly where right now. Had a lowered '49 Olds with Jimmy Jones skirts. Dad left for the Navy in 1957 and didn't return to live in Detroit till he retired in '77.

    When Dad's in the mood you get lots of street racing stories from him. Dad still acts like a teenager when he's cruzn and still streetracing his '56 on Woodward. We'll hook up this summer, I'll introduce you to Dad and you guys can talk about the "good old days" in the Metro Detroit area in the 50's. :D
  19. dmarv
    Joined: Oct 10, 2005
    Posts: 968

    Alliance Vendor
    from Exeter, CA

    My grandfather, Ollie Morris, was drag racing in SoCal starting in the late Forties. He has ALOT of great stories from the early years. He stopped racing in 1957 to be head engineer for Offenhauser. Almost anything you buy from Offy was designed him. His understanding of airflow and manifold design are second to none He still does machine work in his garage for guys, mainly aviation. But he does do custom ignition work and carb rebuilding and setup. He is currently rebuilding his rear engined dragster for the NHRA museum. He still chats with his friends from time to time, guys like Wally Parks, Bud Coons, Don Gartlis, Tommy Ivo, Bill Jenkins, Joaquin Arnett, and many others! He doesn't use a computer, but I can get info from him if you ever want it.
    Chavezk21 likes this.
  20. 50Fraud
    Joined: May 6, 2001
    Posts: 9,322


    I was born in 1940. Bought my first Hop Up magazine in '51, went to the Petersen Motorama at the Pan Pacific Auditorium the same year. Went to the Santa Ana drags as a spectator in '54, raced my own car for the first time at San Fernando in '55.

    Cars I had in the '50s were a '41 Studebaker coupe, '54 Merc Convert and a '57 Olds stick shift 2-door. All were customized in a very limited way, mostly with bolt-on stuff and paint. I was a member of a car club called the "Block Busters", and we had a 50ish reunion in June of 2004.

    In those 50 years I've done some bodywork, built some engines, raced at the drags and in vintage sports car racing, studied automotive design at Art Center, had some interesting car-related jobs (that was a previous thread) and had 30-some cars, some of them pretty nice.

    I don't think I've done anything that I'd put on my tombstone, but I can comfortably claim to be a lifelong car guy.
    Chavezk21 likes this.
  21. 4tford
    Joined: Aug 27, 2005
    Posts: 1,596


    Being born in 1946 I did not build cars untill early sixties but we would run on Woodward avenue in Detroit and also on Telegraph. You had it all from the hot rods we built in shop class at school and to what we called cake eaters who's parents bought them the latest hot thing out there. You ran what ever lined up next to you at the lights. We hung out at gas stations where we could modify our cars and run them on weekends. We also ran at Detroit dragway and milan with stuff like a 55 chev with built 283 and rochester mechanical injection and a 54 ford 312 with 2x4's and a 55 ford with a 352. We had some choice junkyards back then so parts were cheap and plentiful if you pulled them yourself. The Mid sixtes you saw the muscle cars take over especially on Woodward where the manufactures would put there parts on and test by street racing there. The silver bullit was a 66 dodge hemi that was a legend there and was a test bed for Chrysler. Also Royal Pontiac would do the same with there GTO development. That's when drag racing really took off and many new car dealers had race cars that ran at Detroit. But it also was great when you built an old ford or chevy and beat the latest muscle out there. I had a built 352 Ford in a 55 ford sedan that would hold it's own out there. I liked thumpen the 289 mustangs runnen around then. Then came the Vietnam war and the draft which took me and alot of my buddies and that changed things quite a bit. Oh well life goes on.
    Chavezk21 likes this.
  22. 40StudeDude
    Joined: Sep 19, 2002
    Posts: 9,373


  23. DrJ
    Joined: Mar 3, 2001
    Posts: 9,422


    The hotrodding tradition of the 30's, 40's, 50's and 60's was the tradition of ignoring tradition and tossing out the old and percieved to be slow in favor of the new and hopefully faster.

    Hotrodders hotrodded factory cars and then continued to hotrod the hotrod.

    And then, well, the 70's happened and I look at pictures of it trying to remember any thing positive besides chrome wire wheels with gold letter wide oval tires and Boyd and Lil John shaving off door hinges and other "hickups" but that was during "The Fog" that was described above, so it gets, foggy.
    But part of that era was this stupid but fun American Grafitti movie that came out in '72 about one night after school was out supposedly in the summer of '62, just ten years after '62!, and it seemed to spark all the collecting of "nostalgia" shit that those now considered "graybeards" are still doing.
    It might not have had much affect on guys who were hotrodding at the time but it affected all the rest of the civilian population to the cuteness of '57 Tbirds cruising, and carhops.
    And don't forget the Wolfman preachin' the gospel of rock all night long... "It's 69 degrees in Hollywoooood, California!!"

    Yea, today's graybeards unknowingly kept a semi-imaginary image alive long enough for it to be thought of as a "tradition,"
    but the true tradition of hotrodding was still to toss out the old in favor of the next faster thing, whether it be seconds faster or look faster.
    Boyd and similar builders were the keepers of the hostoric, "change IS the tradition" type of builders.

    People building cars now "the way they used to" are ignoring what hotrodding was about in the era they are attempting to clone.
    The eras you want to identify as traditional hotrodding were eras of anti-tradition and constant mechanical and visual change.

    If you built a 30's style "gow job" Model T in the 50's you were laughed at and told to run off and delve in minutia with the rest of the restorers!

    If you want to see more recogizable eras in those eras though, an adjusted breakdown instead of decades works better.

    Gowjobs up to 1928 and Model A's

    Pre-WW-II Flat 4 era

    1942-1945 WW-II, hotrodding on hold for the duration.
    Model A's got pickup beds stuffed in where their trunk was so they could get the more truck rations of gas. I remember seeing Model A's with those boxes in back still in the early 50's

    1945 - 1955 was the postwar flathead V8 era

    1955 - 1964 was the next era, different because of the SBC and other OHV V8's becoming promenant.

    1964 - The GTO

    then from 1965 to the Psychodellic Disco Doldrums.
    Around here cruising and just about everything social got put on hold by a large number of "carguys" getting drafted and sent to war. Some guys still did cars but they were still doing them "different from last years" and we haven't accepted them into the tradition.... yet...
    Is it because they came after the era of that damn movie?

    (I like the movie by the way, it's fun, but I do think it triggered so many people "collecting" and making damn near everything made a fucking "collectible") :(
    Chavezk21 likes this.
  24. Flathead Youngin'
    Joined: Jan 10, 2005
    Posts: 3,589

    Flathead Youngin'

    Uh, go video him and share it with us! doh!
  25. First to Dixie Dog: The dragstrip was out in Oldsmar in the middle of a cow pasture literally. In between Tampa and Oldsmar out Racetrack road to Mobley road, then a little east and there it was.

    Denise. I left Detroit just before Gil Kohn opened Detroit Dragway. I remember he came into the gas station where I worked and was driving a 1956 Cadillac Conv. with a supercharger on it. He wanted me to go to work at the dragway, but I chose going to Florida. Never regretted that. I was out in Allen Park on the west side and we raced out on the west end of Ecorse. I worked at the Ecorse Monroe gulf station and from that stop light west is where we raced out to the overpass at Telegraph. Hung out many a night at the Lincoln Park drive in and the entertainment was the guys throwing pizza in to the air in the front window. Tell your dad that I had a set of Jimmie Jones skirts also and had them on a 56 Chevy 210 hardtop. If he knows Dave Jenkins in Datroit, I think he has my old skirts. I sold them and the car in 1957. We cruised Lincoln Park in my buddies 40 Mercury Conv. that he bought from Bill Hines whne Bill was still in Michigan.
    I have seen your dad's Olds in the books and it is a nice machine.
    I will maybe meet you guys when I come for the Autorama this year. I am going to make it every year now that I am retired. I still have people in Michigan.
    Chavezk21 likes this.
  26. LiL' NiCk
    Joined: Oct 15, 2002
    Posts: 722

    LiL' NiCk

    WOW! :eek: Modesty is a virtue! As an artist my self, I truly admire the "toy" career you earned!--nick
  27. gas4blood
    Joined: Nov 19, 2005
    Posts: 787

    from Kansas

    I didn't get into until the mid '60's. But I have a picture of my Grandad somewhere, he's driving a car with a tiller instead of a steering wheel. I can remember his attic being full of aftermarket stuff for cars, lots of it still in original boxes. I have an old motoring cap of his, really cool, the visor has an inner liner split down the middle, you flip those two halves down over your nose, and look through the plastic upper visor on dusty roads, back when windshields didn't exist. This was about 1905.

    My dad had a '32 Chevy roadster in HS, he replaced it with a '34 5 window coupe. This was just prior to WWII. I have pics of dad with both cars.

    I guess my family has been into cars for 100 years or so. My teenage kids drive our Model T's. We are hopeless.
  28. Although I wish I had been around in the '40s or '50s, I was'nt:D. My grandfather however was. I cant even begin to list all the cars he had or worked on, mostly in the '50s-'60s. He once got to work on and drive in (with his step-father at the wheel) what I belive was the 1908 Vandebuilt Cup winning '06 Locomobile. (If not the Vandebuilt car it was one very close to it). His first rod was a full fendered '31 Model A roadster with a dual carb full-race four banger. Black fenders, blue body with white sides and red interior. It had a deuce shell, '35 Cadillac gauges, blackwall tires and red wires, and a '27 Chev tank in the rear. Actually my plans are to get a retardedly detailed list of features the car had and build a replica of it at some point;).
  29. Hey,,,who's old? Your only old if you feel old and I sure as hell don't. Born in 44 and racing in 58 at 14. Lucky for me, my dad got into drag racing when I was about 11 or so. He was basically challenged into it. His first car was a dragster "The Red Witch" which was caddy powered with six 2's. He then went to a hemi like many did. However, he soon fell in love with massive cubes (the MEL's) and switched. Been Ford powered ever since. My first car was a 37 Ford with a 332 FE in her. Brakes? What brakes. It had rods for brakes that didn't do too much. Lights? Didn't need no stinkin lights and besides, I didn't know how to make 6 volts into 12 volts...LOL. Thank God my dad said..OUT BOY, and now. From there it was a 53 Ford with a caddy in it. This was even a worse piece of dung that the 37. Me and the boys got drunk one night and actually took axes to it. Made us a convertible right then and there. Again, dear old dad stepped in and OUT BOY, and NOW. Then came a 56 Ford with a 352 FE in it. At least it had brakes and even lights and a hard top...LOL. Dad said, OK to this one. However, like I said, dad was a dragster guy. So, when he was changing cars and offered me his old Reed Witch car, the 56 went bye bye. Then my first dragster, I changed the name to "Moma's Nightmare", cause my mama was pissed that I was doing this. She was even more pissed at dad. This car had a 361 Edsel with three 2's on it. We tried to copy Bobby Langleys Scorpion with this one, but only came sorta close. Then another hand me down dragster came along which we put in a 352 bored and stroked to 428 (this was before Ford had a 428), with six 2's on it. I ran this car on gas 90% of the time, but it was also my first car to use nitro. I had a friend with six carbs set up for 25% nitro that he used and when he wasn't using them we put them on the FE. That engine loved nitro man let me tell you. The speed increase was incredible. Something like 35 mph. We had to switch out the gears cause she would be wound tight at the 1000 foot mark on nitro. Then my dad crashed his potvin blown hemi car at San Antonio. Totaled the car and engine and nearly totaled him. Once he was well, he built a new car. Our first 430 MEL car. 508 CI of blown, injected bad ass Linocln. Mom put her foot down and said no to dad driving. It was one of those "me or it deals". He hated it, but he of course chose her. LOL, but he then turned to me and said, boy, get in. I started driving my dads cars. This car ran in several configurations (changed the roll cage, lengthened it, etc) and changed to nitro. Boy that 430 MEL hated nitro at first. We spit a many a crankshaft out on the pavement getting it used tom the stuff. Never got past about 50% though. We then built a AAG/CC&S car in which we won the AHRA National Championships at Green valley, TX in 1961. Later we put this car on nitro also. My last car was a 544 CI MEL powered dragster that we ran on gas and nitro depending upon where we were running. Then cam Uncle Sam saying,,,psssst, hey guy, we got us a little war going on and need ya. That was the end of my drag racing,,,1965. I spent 23 years in the army and then got back into drag racing in this new fangled class called bracket racing. I built a 56 Ford with a 351 C engine. Ran at 12 flat and about 115 mph. I hated bracket racing so that didn't last long. That was in about 1984. So I been racing a while, with a break in the middle for the Army, but I ain't old. And now I am re-creating the AAF/CC&S car. Just gettin started, but got some of the pieces i need.

    Chavezk21 and deadbeat like this.

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