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Hot Rods Found a car in the for sale section that was a MAJOR part of my life

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Bill Rinaldi, Dec 22, 2017.

  1. Bill Rinaldi
    Joined: Mar 23, 2006
    Posts: 1,863

    Bill Rinaldi

    Buddy of mine texts me--""Is that Phil's old woodie for sale on the HAMB?" Looked it up in the for sale section (page 5 or so)--- 29 Ford Woodie for sale out of Mesa Az. Contacted the seller for info and got proof it was indeed Phil Challis's old woodie. The back story on the car you might find interesting. Phil Challis was a true hot rodder who owned a body shop in Rennssalear Indiana. He tinkered with old cars and modified them into hot rods since he was a kid. Usually built them up and sold them to move on to the next project.
    He built a Volksrod with a glass T body back in the 70's when the first gas crunch hit. The gas mileage was great and the car looked really wild. In about 1975 he sold the car and started working on a 37 Ford humpback sedan. A sedan because they had 2 young daughters. Phil and his wife Colleen went to the Gatlinburg Tn. rod run and they both fell in love with a red 29 ford woodie for sale at the run. Had a 283 and a powerglide trans in it. So much for the Hump back. They drove the car home and Phil proceeded to improve the car, dropped axel, nice set of Kelsey wheels etc. and soon after did his paint thing. John Deere green and It became "the farm truck". A little later Phil had plastic "eisenglas" snap on windows made for the truck (similar to the expensive factory accessory items) except the back window had the outline of a pig sewn into it. After that the farm truck became affectionatley known as the "pig truck". That woodie became pretty well known in his part of the country and won it's share of attention, it even had a Dave Bell cartoon about it in Street Rodder Magazine. Phil built and sold a few other rods but kept the woodie as the "best" car for Colleen and their girls. He did the paint thing again, in about 1981 or 82 he painted the woodie again, this time Corvette red.
    Phil was a forever member of the Vintage Tin street rod club (Chicago Area) and the best newsletter writer the club ever had (and the club will be 50 in 2020) so thats saying a lot. In the 70's and 80's Vintage Tin was a very active group of guys and Phil was sure in the middle of it. He was also my best friend for years. His family and mine were always doing the family rod run thing together.

    In 1985 Phil decided to do an engine swap on the woodie, the old 283 was getting pretty tired. Phil got the engine in the car but he stalled out on "it didn't fit right". Shortly after that Phil started to show signs of "health problems". He must have known something was going on, but wouldn't talk about it and not much about it to his wife. In 1986 Phil suddenly and completely unexpectedly died. Came home from the shop, laid down on the couch and never woke up.
    Needless to say. Everything and everyone in our little world was devastated. Phil left no insurance and some debt when he passed. The local community helped out a lot and the club gave Colleen a check and nicer daily driver also. Shortly after the funeral I took Phils woodie home to put it back together. Butch Pearson another founding Vintage Tin member, took on the job of "fitting" the engine. The engine turned out to be good running Chevy 400c.i. with a 350 turbo. Butch got the mounts made and fitted, new exhaust made, cut the firewall to fit the distributor and got it running. Quite well by the way. Then I got the car back to do some body/paint work and redo the fire wall and in general sharpen the car up.
    Colleen had told us to put the car up for sale for her, so my wife and I took the car to the Peoria Il. rod run in 1987. When we got home from it's maiden voyage we got a good offer and sold it to a guy from Frankfort IL. Before we took the car to Peoria we removed the "pig" back window and I had a new plain back window made. When we received payment on the woodie, we gave the check and the gift wrapped back window to Colleen. The car made the "rounds" for another year or so and just disappeared. Until now. With the exception of the wide whites and the chrome ribs on the top it looks the same as it did in 1987. Sure brings back a flood of memories. Thanks Phil and thanks for our great hot rod family. MERRY CHRISTMAS Bill Rinaldi
  2. Hot Rods Ta Hell
    Joined: Apr 20, 2008
    Posts: 4,370

    Hot Rods Ta Hell

  3. hotrodharry2
    Joined: Nov 19, 2008
    Posts: 706

    from Michigan

    Great Story! Nice way to remember our friends by retelling a story or two when we get the opportunity. Thanks for sharing!

    Sent from my iPhone using H.A.M.B.
    jim32 and lothiandon1940 like this.
  4. spurgeonforge
    Joined: Oct 18, 2013
    Posts: 417


    Thanks for sharing your memories. Phil sounds like he was a great hot Rodder and friend. Glad to see the woodie in such great shape. I’m sure the new caretaker appreciates the history.

  5. low budget
    Joined: Nov 15, 2006
    Posts: 5,563

    low budget
    from Central Ky

    With respect to its history but also with respect to the spirit of Hot Rodding, One of these would also look good with just the rite hair cut too if one wanted.
    ...any connection to this?
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2017
    catdad49 likes this.
  6. gonzo
    Joined: Dec 24, 2003
    Posts: 1,816


    Great story. I'm really digging this car.
  7. I am the "friend" or nephew who first found the ad...

    Mr. Bill married my aunt after my father joined Vintage Tin. The youngsters of Vintage Tin spent alot of time in this woody. Dad always had a rumble seat car... And he would always let the other kids ride between the hotel and the show fairgrounds. So thus we most often hung a ride in the woody. To see it, and nearly untouched in 30 plus years, is absolutely amazing and brings back many memories!
    catdad49, slim38 and stanlow69 like this.
  8. Bill Rinaldi
    Joined: Mar 23, 2006
    Posts: 1,863

    Bill Rinaldi

    Had a lot of response from friends of Phil and myself. The Woodie and Phil touched a tender spot with a lot of people, hot rodders and "civilians". I'd really love to have the car back but It's just not doable for me now. It's a great little car and I'm sure it will find a good home. Bill
    catdad49 likes this.
  9. Bill, what a great story ,...everyone's goal should be to be remembered so fondly.
    ...nice lookin woody...
    pprather likes this.
  10. dirty old man
    Joined: Feb 2, 2008
    Posts: 8,912

    dirty old man
    Member Emeritus

    Good story Bill, and Jay, I bet it does bring back a lot of memories. Cool growing up in a family of gearheads and hot rodders.
  11. Bill Rinaldi
    Joined: Mar 23, 2006
    Posts: 1,863

    Bill Rinaldi

    D.O.M. -----Nephew Jay (since promoted To Uncle Jay) has been a Hot Rodder Since birth----Dad gave him the genes and Jays run with it since then. Dad (Jim Bauch) spotted the ad on Craigs list, Jay made the connection on the HAMB and contacted me also and put me onto the owner. If it were not for family and work commitments, I honestly think Jay would be leading this parade. Great young guy and REALLY knows his Hot Rod stuff. Bill

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