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History MILESTONE CUSTOM CARS: Bob Hirohata '51 Mercury

Discussion in 'Traditional Customs' started by Rikster, Aug 28, 2005.

  1. olpaul
    Joined: Aug 22, 2009
    Posts: 242

    olpaul
    Member

    Being Japanese American, I always wondered if Bob and his folks were interned during WWII, like all people of Japanese ancestry. His parents owned parking lot(s) in downtown L.A. He must had spent some of his childhood in places like Manzanar.
     
  2. My plates are 7 digit and they are not commercial .I know im not Rik but I thought I would help to answer your question since I run the plates on my car.I searched for 7 digit plates.
     
  3. BICKFORD
    Joined: Nov 18, 2003
    Posts: 906

    BICKFORD
    BANNED
    from CA

    Ok. So i try to do as much reaseach as possable before i post or ask questions on here. There was 7 digit plates in 1941. Im not sure if there was some before that. i have 1941 plates with 7 digits. Dick Carters 1941 ford built by the Barris shop was done in 1948. I had plates wiTH 7 digits from 1941. Im a big custom car lover from the late 30s to about 1954. after 1954 i kinda lost intrest do to the over customizing.So i know a lot cause i studied all the little mags and any photos on riks site. so there were a lot of 7 digit plates. So dont take this like im trying to be a dick. Im just really into these custom cars
     
  4. 296ardun
    Joined: Feb 11, 2009
    Posts: 4,608

    296ardun
    Member

    Very likely they were, my recollection is that all Japanese-Americans were interned except those who lived on Hawaii -- they apparently needed them to grow food...

    (I won't comment on the politics of the internment, because politics does not belong on this site, but noteworthy is that many Anglo and Hispanic friends of interned Japanese-American hot rodders (there were many), took care of their cars, tools, etc. until they were allowed to return to their homes -- Vic Edelbrock, Don Blair, etc...ethnicity did not matter to them -- just that you were a hot rodder).
     
  5. BICKFORD
    Joined: Nov 18, 2003
    Posts: 906

    BICKFORD
    BANNED
    from CA


    Its crazy you brought that up. the last 2 days ive been working where the help a lot of them. The building are crazy! It was very interesting to here the story of these camps. right now its a juvie camp.
     
  6. rattlesnakehoey
    Joined: Jun 4, 2008
    Posts: 131

    rattlesnakehoey
    Member
    from Australia

    Great thread Rik (as usual), a much appreciated insight into the legendary Hirohata Merc. In 'Mercland' I struggle to recall any post Hirohata Mercs that stayed true to that 'early style'. what are your thoughts Rik?
     
  7. A true rolling piece of history!
     
  8. BICKFORD
    Joined: Nov 18, 2003
    Posts: 906

    BICKFORD
    BANNED
    from CA

    HISTORY LESSON TIME!!

    Just bring this back up incase someone might have missed it.
     
  9. BICKFORD
    Joined: Nov 18, 2003
    Posts: 906

    BICKFORD
    BANNED
    from CA

    History lesson time !!!!
     
  10. Tom-A
    Joined: May 31, 2012
    Posts: 1

    Tom-A
    Member
    from USA

    IIRC from the Rod & Custom articles (could that really be 20 years ago-wow) Jim McNeil did all of his own work on the car from day 1.

    It was pretty involved. He pulled the Caddy motor, which had some problem I can't remember when he bought it, milled the block and heads, (a little too much, as he had to go looking for a pair when the restoration started,) and what actually took the car off the road was a collapsed oil filter. That's actually why it sat in the garage for decades, because Jim just didn't have the time to pull the motor out again for many years. Barring that, it might have seen regular use in one guy's hands for a half century.

    R&C readers actually got frustrated with the years it took to get the car freshened. Mr. McNeil was under considerable pressure to just farm the work out and get it to some major shows and into all the magazines, already. He resisted, did the work the way he wanted to and to a very high standard, made the changes only he knew it really needed from cherishing and driving it daily, and finished it on his own terms.

    Think of how many undeserving people shopping for a used car walked past this one-of-a-kind greatest custom Mercury in history- and didn't buy it- before he came along. The car deserved him as much as he deserved it. Just look how they've paid each other back: The car is perfectly restored to original, and preserved for everyone, and Jim not only got to travel to Europe with it, among people who know customs, he's nearly as famous and well regarded as the car. They've been together over 50 years now, and are forever linked.

    Way to go, Jim.
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2012
  11. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 9,617

    Rusty O'Toole
    Member

    If you had that car in LA in 1952 you would have been a stuck up rich kid too ha ha ha.

    It figures, to buy that car and have it customized cost at least as much as a brand new Cadillac.
     
    Dangerousdan likes this.
  12. Sweet & Low
    Joined: Feb 13, 2014
    Posts: 300

    Sweet & Low
    Member

    Back in the 70's and even earlier the Hirohata Merc seemed to have just dropped out of site, no one that was in the Kustom field even back in the early Paso Robles days could find a clue where it was hidden, back in the 80's, me and 2 other guy's went with Joe Balion to find this treasure at Jim's house, I did a write up about the adventure in the West Coast Customs magazine as well as the Kustom Kemps of America's magazine, if I can find a copy of the article and or the pics we took I will post them on the H.A.M.B, that was a very cool day and memory.
     
    kidcampbell71 likes this.
  13. Rand Man
    Joined: Aug 23, 2004
    Posts: 4,557

    Rand Man
    Member

    This is a great thread that deserves a second look. I wish I could see the missing photos. I think someone posted a trick to get them back?
     
  14. Tenney
    Joined: Jan 14, 2010
    Posts: 10

    Tenney
    Member

  15. Bob Hirohata had a parking lot in downtown L.A. He may have been killed there. Some kids in the "OWLS" car club in Tujunga Ca. stole the car and brought it to our high school "Verdugo Hills High School" and rode around the school they got caught and the car was returned to the Pasadena car lot where Jim Mc Neil bought it later.
     
    Cyclone Kevin likes this.
  16. Jim Bouchard
    Joined: Mar 2, 2011
    Posts: 850

    Jim Bouchard
    Member

    Bob was murdered in his parents house driveway
     
    Cyclone Kevin and Sprout like this.
  17. Cyclone Kevin
    Joined: Apr 15, 2002
    Posts: 4,177

    Cyclone Kevin
    Alliance Vendor

    In TC????? Just wondering????
     
  18. Jim Bouchard
    Joined: Mar 2, 2011
    Posts: 850

    Jim Bouchard
    Member

    Kevin, I don’t know if it was in Temple City.
    I’ve known the story for years but I don’t know where his folks lived. Didn’t Bob live in TC?

    I grabbed these quotes off the internet.


    11C657BF-51B2-4AED-8A30-C983E487F93E.jpeg E7940147-028A-4897-8B6B-04131CACFBFE.jpeg 1BF7A429-1160-4AE2-B81F-545ADC023EA0.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2022
    Cyclone Kevin likes this.
  19. Cyclone Kevin
    Joined: Apr 15, 2002
    Posts: 4,177

    Cyclone Kevin
    Alliance Vendor

    Bob’s family still lives in the same house in TC. I’m just curious if it occurred here, in TC. We generally don’t see something of this nature in this city, but recently a rapper did do something ill natured on “New Years Day 22” which was pretty alarming considering they had only been in the rental 3-4 months…..
    I just really don’t know where to obtain facts pertaining to the information regarding this cold case situation????
     
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  20. Jim Bouchard
    Joined: Mar 2, 2011
    Posts: 850

    Jim Bouchard
    Member

    Kevin, again, just a couple of minutes on the internet I found this. Part of a much bigger article about the car, but this says TC.
    Off the internet, so I’m not sure how accurate the statement is.

    D829EB67-73F8-4077-A6E9-3CBE74B47CBA.jpeg

    And this from the HAMB….

    B1783F5B-23C5-40EE-810B-79F634C861F2.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2022
    Cyclone Kevin likes this.
  21. AChopped1950ford
    Joined: Sep 5, 2018
    Posts: 221

    AChopped1950ford
    Member

  22. Cyclone Kevin
    Joined: Apr 15, 2002
    Posts: 4,177

    Cyclone Kevin
    Alliance Vendor

    C37AB65C-3356-469C-9766-5445D2C1BC9D.jpeg DEE5BF91-ECC9-4498-BF91-EC2E7DB394D7.jpeg Good to see this car here in So-Cal. Glad that it was at the GNRS.
     
  23. Mr. Mac
    Joined: May 16, 2005
    Posts: 1,956

    Mr. Mac
    Member

    Great story but what I can't find out is who paid all that money for the car. So who's the new owner?
     
  24. arkiehotrods
    Joined: Mar 9, 2006
    Posts: 6,808

    arkiehotrods
    Member

    Hamtown Al and hrm2k like this.
  25. hrm2k
    Joined: Oct 2, 2007
    Posts: 4,254

    hrm2k
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

  26. Fascinating story. I never knew about the murder. Very, very sad.
     
    hrm2k and Hamtown Al like this.

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