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Looking for any info on "Big Bill" Edwards

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Deezer5150, Apr 3, 2011.

  1. Deezer5150
    Joined: Mar 20, 2011
    Posts: 11

    Deezer5150
    Member
    from Socal

    Hey Guys and Gals,
    I'm new to the H.A.M.B. and I am in search for any info you folks may have about "Big Bill" Edwards. A good friend of mine bought a 1953 Ford F-100 in milk crates about 18 years ago. As he started going through all the parts he started to notice some quirky things like the front bed corners being radiused (for exhaust stacks) and a factory speedometer that went to 140 m.p.h. The windshield had the remains of Bonneville Participant stickers on it and the rear roll pan had these horrid Pontiac tail lights in it. The biggest find was a brass Bonneville plaque on the glovebox door stating that it had run Bonneville at 151 m.p.h. After some research we discovered that it had belonged to Bill Edwards. He has the September 1955 issue of Hot Rod that features the truck but we can't seem to find anything else about him. We are trying to find out anything about him, the truck and any of his other projects. Any stories or information any of you may have would be greatly appreciated. I have attached some pictures from the 1955 magazine and some of the parts now. The truck has not been finished due to a workplace injury some years ago and lack of funds. He hopes to get started again on it in the next year but only time will tell.
    Thanks, Darin
     

    Attached Files:

  2. mtkawboy
    Joined: Feb 12, 2007
    Posts: 1,212

    mtkawboy
    Member

    I think I read that he was the mayor of Wells or Elko Nevada. I used to have that magazine at one time, maybe I still do. I know the truck was really fast in its day
     
  3. Deezer5150
    Joined: Mar 20, 2011
    Posts: 11

    Deezer5150
    Member
    from Socal

    I'll try a search based on that. Thanks
     
  4. bangngears
    Joined: Aug 30, 2007
    Posts: 872

    bangngears
    Member
    from ofallon mo

    He was on the cover of June 53 issue of Hot Rod with a 40 standard coupe that he drove to Bonneville with a bloan Caddy in it.It also went 150.I buildt a sort of tribute coupe using his as inspiration.Mine was with a bloan Hemi in June 05 Street Rodder.One of his relatives called from California and we talked for some time,then lost contact.:D
     
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  5. Deezer5150
    Joined: Mar 20, 2011
    Posts: 11

    Deezer5150
    Member
    from Socal

    Thanks for the info. I'll have to look for a copy of that issue.
     
  6. Deezer5150
    Joined: Mar 20, 2011
    Posts: 11

    Deezer5150
    Member
    from Socal

    Anyone else care to chime in?
     
  7. Big Bill was the "Mayor of Wells" because, confirmed bachelor that he was, every year his annual trip to the salt began in Wells, where he selected a "companion" for the week. :D Bill was the machinist at Bell Auto Parts for years. He loved blower and later, turbo set ups. My old RPU ran a 4-71 blower that Bill built. The pulleys were pure art. When Bill left Bell, he went to work for Ak Miller's new turbo shop. Bill got in with the engineers at Air Research, and built some amazing engines with monster turbos. His last Bonneville car was a '61 Falcon Ranchero. He built a twin turbo 301 SBC that pumped out over 800 horses on gas in the late 60's. Every year Bill would spend the entire year improving the engine combination on the dyno, then take the Ranchero to Bonneville and disintergrate the engine. He was running on a record around 170 or so, and he made runs in the little Falcon well above 200mph. He was pumping over 50 lbs of boost into the little Chevy, and the bottom end just couldn't take it. Many of us suggested he dial the boost down a bit, set the record, then go balls out. Bill would look at you with that famous Big Bill scowl, and say " I ain't no chickenshit, I didn't come up here to run half assed!" Bill was the original "go big, or go home" racer. If Bill liked you, he was a great guy to know. If he didn't, he could make life miserable. I was fortunate, he liked me.
     
  8. FiddyFour
    Joined: Dec 31, 2004
    Posts: 9,008

    FiddyFour
    Member

    awesome thread, and awesome find! keep us posted on its progress...
     
  9. Very neat thread.

    I would commit mayhem for one of those speedometers...that is, if there were more than one.
     
  10. Deezer5150
    Joined: Mar 20, 2011
    Posts: 11

    Deezer5150
    Member
    from Socal

    Dean, I thank you. So far you are the first person, online or in person, that actually knew Bill and was able to tell us anything about him. If I may, how did you end up meeting him? In and around L.A. or out at Bonneville? Any other stories or information you may have would be appreciated.
    Thanks, Darin
     
  11. I met Bill through Jack Lufkin. Bill had the 4-71 blower set up for sale, and Jack was interested. Dad and I went with Jack to Bill's home in Downey, and Jack decided to pass on the blower, so we bought it. This was in '61, and Bill was starting the build on his Falcon Ranchero. He was mounting an Econoline straight axle under it. When we ask why he was selling the blower, he said "those things are antiques. If you want efficient boost you need a turbocharger". He then lifted the cover on the twin turbo SBC that was to go in the Falcon. We stood there with our mouths open. It looked like somethnig out of an aircraft. The manifolds and plenum were like fine jewelery. I have never seen aluminum welds like that before, or since. Later, when Ak Miller started his turbo shop, Bill went to work there as a partner. He designed all the components for Ak's turbo kits, and made the jigs and fixtures for all the plumbing in the kits. Ak's garage was just across the alley from the turbo shop. Lufkin was the manager, and still runs the garage. Bill and Jack became good friends. Every morning Bill would be at the garage around 8 AM. He and Jack would have coffee, and Bill would do the daily crossword puzzle in the local paper, then walk across the alley around 9 and go to work. Bill never married, and died in the little house in Downey that he bought when he got out of the Navy. The thing I remember most about Bill was his arms. They were like tree trunks. He used to like to tell about his Navy days, and the dingy races. The crews on the various Navy ships would have one man dingy races, and bet on them. Bill claimed he was never beat, and made his pals a lot of money. Seeing those arms, I didn't doubt him! The only interest he had, other than Bonneville was ham radio. His house was full of ham equipment, and he would love to tell you about all the countrys he was chatting with at night. I don't believe Bill had any living relatives. Jack took care of his funeral, and cleaned out the house, sold it, and I believe donated the proceeds to the SCTA. Of course, Bill's ashes were scattered on the salt. Bill Edwards was a hard man to get close to. Dad and I were lucky he called us friends.
     
  12. nitro29
    Joined: May 26, 2005
    Posts: 66

    nitro29
    Member

    In Albert Drake's Book "HOT RODDER! From Lakes to Street" there is a article on"Big Bill Edwards"
     
  13. Deezer5150
    Joined: Mar 20, 2011
    Posts: 11

    Deezer5150
    Member
    from Socal

    Dean,
    I have to say that that is a fantastic story. Thank you so much for sharing it. I don't want to sound like I'm gushing but I can't tell you how much I appreciate you taking the time to share it with all of us. I assume that the 4-71 setup was the same one Bill ran in his 1940 Ford Coupe and later the F-100. How long was it in your family? Do you happen to know it's whereabouts these days?
    Thanks again,
    Darin
     
  14. Atwater Mike
    Joined: May 31, 2002
    Posts: 9,820

    Atwater Mike
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Bill Edwards also designed and installed a blower on Clark Gable's '55 T Bird.
    I read somewhere that the speedo in his F100 was recalibrated and reprinted at a speedometer shop in L.A.

    Hank Silva, (early No. Cal. Hemi guru) had his '40 Ford speedo reprinted in Kilometers per hour (160) Bill's speedo shop sent the face out somewhere and had it repainted (or printed) I had the '40 for a brief time and sold it to my bud. If that speedo was hand painted, it was perfect!
     
  15. Deezer5150
    Joined: Mar 20, 2011
    Posts: 11

    Deezer5150
    Member
    from Socal

    That's good to know about the speedo. We've compared it to the factory one out of my '55 F-100 and his looks factory with the exception of topping out at 140 mph.
     
  16. The 4-71 we bought from Bill was a brand new set up for an SBC. He had prepped the blower and machined the drive for the Falcon project, but shelved it when he fell in love with turbos. I sold it to a guy in La Habra in the early 70's who ran it on a T bucket. Don't know where it went from there. I was not the same one from the Cad engines.
     
    James Lutz likes this.
  17. Deezer5150
    Joined: Mar 20, 2011
    Posts: 11

    Deezer5150
    Member
    from Socal

    Dean,
    Again I thank you. Might you have any idea where the cad engines and the 4-71 ended up?
    Regards, Darin
     

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