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History L.A. Hot Rods at the beginning

Discussion in 'Traditional Hot Rods' started by Back to Thunder Alley, Feb 4, 2013.

  1. quickchangeV8
    Joined: Dec 7, 2010
    Posts: 415

    quickchangeV8
    Member

    Thanks for posting these pictures. It is great to see what early hot rodding was really like! Thunder Alley did your dad or uncle ever do any pattern work on any flathead intakes? I have heard of an Athans intake manifold and I was wondering if it would have been cast by John Athans? Would your dad or uncle have helped in the design? Thanks again for sharing those pictures. - Garney
     
  2. FOURTYDLX
    Joined: Feb 22, 2006
    Posts: 718

    FOURTYDLX
    Member

    Great story ,great shots,thanks for sharing.
     
  3. Awesome post keep the photos and history coming.
     
  4. The best thread on the HAMB in a loooooong time!! The true roots of the hobby.
    Thanks very much for sharing them. PM sent on the poster.
     
  5. bowie
    Joined: Jul 27, 2011
    Posts: 2,701

    bowie
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Thanks for posting your excellent personal historic pic`s and info. Its always great to see fresh images from back in the day;that have not already been made public.
     
  6. Back to Thunder Alley
    Joined: Dec 1, 2011
    Posts: 80

    Back to Thunder Alley
    Member
    from Dallas, TX

    First I want to express my appreciation to everyone that has responded to my thread; L.A.Rods at the beginning. I truly enjoy sharing the treasures of a true and family based history of L.A. Hot rods, the dry lake shown in photos and stories, and in fact the birth and growth of most of the iconic names spread throughout most forms of the racing industry for the past 75 years.

    My Dad (Don Nairn) and my uncle Jim Nairn grew up in west L.A. in the 1930's and 40's and along with many of their lifelong friends, Stu Hilborn, Ed Iskenderian, Phil Remington, Dick Teague, Jack Engle, Vic Edelbrock, John Athan and later famed engine builders, Jim Travers and Frank Coon, and many others were front and center during the glory days of hot rods (before they were called that) building there racers from the ground up and constantly tweaking everything in their quest for speed and performance. They were among the first car club members and lit up the streets and then the dry lakes at Muroc and El Mirage before getting to the big time as members of the two time winning Bill Vukovich Indy pit crew in the early 1950's.

    Don and Jim Nairn became master pattern makers and designers as they made patterns (wood and metal) for Hilborn injectors and Isky and Engle cams and many other components. Dad, established his Speedway Pattern shop from the garage of our house in the 1950's before expanding to larger buildings in the 60's, 70's and 80's. Uncle Jim moved into his Nairn Machine Company (actually returned there) in 1962 at 11930 Jefferson Blvd, Culver City, after Lance Reventlow left and Carroll Shelby occupied the building for a short time.

    The Jefferson Blvd site was of course nick named Thunder Alley during those days because that block and area was inhabited by many legendary figures, such as, Dick Guldstran, two doors down and Jim Travers and Frank Coon of Trayco Engineering, right next door. It was truly a hotbed of racing history.

    [SIZE=2]As an aside, I recall that I learned to water ski [SIZE=2]in about 1957 behind a boat driven by the one and only [SIZE=2]Stu Hilborn when our families used to vacation at Davis dam. My Dad and I used to play golf with Stu every week in the early 1960's. Ed Iskenderian gave me my first racing cam for my '60 Chevy back in 1965 during my own street ra[SIZE=2]cing days.[SIZE=2]

    [SIZE=2]I hope you enjoy the photos and I will be posting more soon. I'm working on getting posters [SIZE=2]made of [SIZE=2]a great group scene photo taken at El [SIZE=2]Mirage dry lake in about 1946 or 1947. [SIZE=2]I am also thinking about [SIZE=2]putting together the whole collection of first hand photos (my Dad's treasure) into book or ca[SIZE=2]talog form along with stories [SIZE=2]as I can recall them.

    [SIZE=2]After my Uncle Jim pass[SIZE=2]ed away in 1997, my D[SIZE=2]ad [SIZE=2]moved his Speedway Pattern operations into the two buildings at 11922 and 11930 Jefferson Blvd. In 2005[SIZE=2], by brother Scott, who had worked for U[SIZE=2]ncle Jim and Dad for over 30 years, took over Speedway Pattern. I just sold the b[SIZE=2]uilding last week bringing to an end over 50 years of Nairn business along the famed Thunder Alle[SIZE=2]y.

    [SIZE=2]Look for more photos from the early days of racing.

    [SIZE=2]Regards[/SIZE]
    [/SIZE]

    [/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE]


    Don Nairn big dreams.jpg

    001.jpg

    Don Nairn's Ariel.jpg

    Ed Iskenderian.jpg

    Phil Remington.jpg

    003.jpg

    004.jpg
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2013
  7. So-cal Tex
    Joined: Aug 24, 2005
    Posts: 1,377

    So-cal Tex
    Member

    [SIZE=2][SIZE=2][SIZE=2][SIZE=2][SIZE=2][SIZE=2][SIZE=2][SIZE=2][SIZE=2][SIZE=2][SIZE=2][SIZE=2][SIZE=2][SIZE=2][SIZE=2][SIZE=2][SIZE=2][SIZE=2][SIZE=2][SIZE=2][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE][/SIZE]
    That is Phil Remmington on the bike that had his recreated modified on the current cover of TRJ.... very cool to have read the article and now see these pictures


    View attachment 1860032

    View attachment 1860033

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    View attachment 1860037

    View attachment 1860038 [/QUOTE]
     
  8. Angry Frenchman
    Joined: Feb 12, 2006
    Posts: 1,755

    Angry Frenchman
    Member

    thank you for sharing all these amazing pics and info!
     
  9. The treasures continue, putting these images into a book is a great idea.

    Great shot of Fred Larsen's A-V8
    [​IMG]

    Ken Lindley modified 1946, Emil Dietrich bought it in 1947, car still exists in private collection.
    [​IMG]

    1949 Bonneville.
    [​IMG]
    Emil-Dietrich by Jimmy Bs 1925 Chev, on Flickr
     
    kidcampbell71 likes this.
  10. Great pictures. Keep 'em coming.
     
  11. incogneto
    Joined: Nov 25, 2012
    Posts: 26

    incogneto
    Member
    from Australia

    This has to be one of, if not, THE BEST threads ever on the HAMB.

    Its for threads like this that I visit this place.
     
  12. BrerHair
    Joined: Jan 30, 2007
    Posts: 4,682

    BrerHair
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Real treasure trove, thanks for sharing with us!
     
  13. 50Fraud
    Joined: May 6, 2001
    Posts: 9,877

    50Fraud
    Member

    I would think that people looked at that car and said "Yeah, that's it. We'll do it like that from now on."
     
  14. cw
    Joined: Jul 13, 2008
    Posts: 104

    cw
    Member
    from Midland

    awesome - keep it alive - publish the book
     
  15. Not wrong, definitely one of the better A-V8s, up there with Jack Calori's and Charles Scott's. All 3 were quite radical for their time.

    A couple of rear shots of Fred's A-V8.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  16. Back to Thunder Alley
    Joined: Dec 1, 2011
    Posts: 80

    Back to Thunder Alley
    Member
    from Dallas, TX

    RuFFDaWG; Thanks for your comment and interest in the great group photo. I'm working on the poster project now and will keep you informed. I'm not sure about the price yet as I don't know the cost and estimated shipped but I should soon. I'm trying to bring back my Dad and Uncle's incredible story and history of many forms of racing through the photos I found among my Dad's things. I have so many now that I may end up putting them into book or catalog form so that all you guys might enjoy them too. Updates to come.
     
  17. Steelworks
    Joined: Oct 26, 2008
    Posts: 8

    Steelworks
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Indeed, one of the best threads I've ever seen. Can't thank "Thunder Alley" enough for posting these great shots from his family's history. The more I learn about the small collection of guys that were the Isky, Athan, Don and Jim Nairn, Hilborn, circle, the more convinced I am that this was one of the all time most important pockets of activity and innovation in the history of hot rodding. To consider what came from these guys' minds, focus, and bravery, is staggering. I don't think it is a stretch to say that, had these guys never existed, hot rodding ( as we like to think of it ) would not look like it does today or have taken on the look that it developed in the 1940s. Not to mention the speed achievements, which would have surely moved along at a more glacial like pace if not for them. BTW, in an earlier post I suggested that it was a young Ed Iskenderian who was riding a 19th century bicycle in what looked to be a parade. I clearly didn't look at that photo long enough. Though it does look like Isky, the photo is much too early to have been him. I'm leaning toward that person being an older Iskenderian family member.
     
    kidcampbell71 and volvobrynk like this.
  18. Back to Thunder Alley
    Joined: Dec 1, 2011
    Posts: 80

    Back to Thunder Alley
    Member
    from Dallas, TX

    Jimmy B; Thanks for posting the pic of my Uncle Jim's roadster. All the "boys" worked from the ground up to create their own rides. A very cool time in racing history indeed.
     
    Stogy likes this.
  19. Harms Way
    Joined: Nov 27, 2005
    Posts: 6,869

    Harms Way
    Member

    Fantastic History ! Thanks for posting these .......
     
  20. I really love all your Dad's old photos !
    Thanks for taking the time to post here on the HAMB.
    cw.
     
  21. Back to Thunder Alley
    Joined: Dec 1, 2011
    Posts: 80

    Back to Thunder Alley
    Member
    from Dallas, TX

    Steelworks; Actually you are correct about the person on the bike. It is, in fact Ed Eskenderian and was taken during a Golden Jubilee parade in 1946 in Detroit honoring all forms of transportation.

    The group of pioneers that sprang from curious minds of teenagers and from ideas sparked from training in the service during WWII, surely did revolutionize the entire racing industry. I recall my Dad always challenging me to make things just a little bit better or to think of a different way altogether. Uncle Jim was the same way as were all those legends that they shared the scene with in those great days in the 30's, 40's and beyond. I was in awe growing up around it for sure.
     
  22. Back to Thunder Alley
    Joined: Dec 1, 2011
    Posts: 80

    Back to Thunder Alley
    Member
    from Dallas, TX

    To Steelworks; Thanks for your posting. I put a few pics of a set of Nairn heads on this thread. Do the ones you guys found look similar? Dad and Uncle Jim only made a few sets. Their new design actually worked great but they didn't have the money at the time for production and marketing costs so they ended up "loaning" the design to someone else and the rest, as the saying goes, is history. The photo by the lake is John Athan and I think it was Lake Arrowhead. The man sitting on the frame IS my Uncle Jim.
     
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  23. dana barlow
    Joined: May 30, 2006
    Posts: 4,396

    dana barlow
    Member
    from Miami Fla.
    1. Y-blocks

    Very much enjoyed seeing your photos and reading about your Dad ect.
    Brings me back to my Dad's storys about mid state NY just be for WW2 with his Wippit Rod and right after,in the war my Dad worked on Bell XP77 top secrit at the time,point ready is that guys like your Dad and those around him is why we came out ahead then.:cool::D
     
    Stogy likes this.
  24. Back to Thunder Alley
    Joined: Dec 1, 2011
    Posts: 80

    Back to Thunder Alley
    Member
    from Dallas, TX

    Ah, the Dry Lakes....when the word spread they all showed up! Check these out.... 015.jpg

    040.jpg

    045.jpg

    035.jpg

    052.jpg

    070.jpg

    012.jpg

    021.jpg

    071.jpg
     
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  25. Harms Way
    Joined: Nov 27, 2005
    Posts: 6,869

    Harms Way
    Member

    Unbelievable !!!!!!!! Keep them coming,.... Awesome pictures !
     
  26. This is awesome, great story and amazing photos. Thanks.
     
  27. Harms Way
    Joined: Nov 27, 2005
    Posts: 6,869

    Harms Way
    Member

    Unless my old eyes are deceiving me...... This is Veda Orr.

    [​IMG]
     
  28. OLLIN
    Joined: Aug 25, 2006
    Posts: 3,076

    OLLIN
    Member


    Wow! I always thought that was a cool little group of buildings..I knew there had to be history there! I think the quonset hut one is like an antique furniture place now.

    here is one of my favorite pics of my old T, taken down the street from there
    :)
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Feb 8, 2013
  29. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 28,171

    The37Kid
    Member

    Is this a Tommy Lee car? I like that fender treatment. Bob [​IMG]
     
    Stogy likes this.
  30. Eugene Von Arx Riley OHV V8 powered custom built by Frank Kurtis
     
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