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History The Sam Conrad roadster history

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by loudbang, Oct 11, 2020.

  1. loudbang
    Joined: Jul 23, 2013
    Posts: 30,454

    loudbang
    Member

    A bit shorter than my usual stories but fun non the less. :)
    All photos and captions from here:http://customrodder.forumactif.org/t447p175-1928-29-ford-hot-rod

    1.jpg
    Never be afraid to ask questions, folks. You never know where the answers will lead.
    On the opening Menu page in our Sept. '14 issue of Hot Rod, we ran a photo of the Beach Boys, circa 1963, posed around a hot roadster in front of the Capitol Records building. We didn't know anything about the car and asked for help in the photo's caption. Boy, did we get it.

    We heard from Sam Conrad, who owned the car when the photo was taken, and from Dick Scritchfield, a friend of Sam's who was among several fellow L.A. Roadster club members who helped him build the car. We published those letters and others in the Nov. '14 issue, but realized that his car deserved a closer look. Turns out Sam's roadster appeared in a half-dozen different stories in HRM in 1963 and '64, but for some reason never got a feature article. That didn't happen until another of Sam's L.A. Roadster club buddies, LeRoi "Tex" Smith, wrote about it for Popular Hot Rodding —after writing all of the articles about the car in HRM.

    (this photo has been posted several times on HAMB :))
    2.jpg



    Sam was one of the L.A. Roadsters' original members. He joined the club in 1957 "right out of high school," he says. "The guys were great, and hot rodding gave me camaraderie and friendships that I really enjoyed." In those days he owned a basket-case '32, "but I gave up on that when I bought the 1929 Ford Model A highboy in 1959."

    4.jpg

    He found it sitting in a garage, a dormant project car that had been parked for a dozen years. It took some sorting out, but he turned it into a sharp hot rod, with a 296-inch, 3⁄8x3⁄8 flathead sitting in front of a mahogany firewall fashioned by Carlos Smith, Tex Smith's father. Sam drove the roadster like this for two years, but as the flathead grew tired, Sam started looking for a more potent mill.

    5.jpg

    He found one: a 483-inch Olds mated to a B&M automatic, originally built by Hugh Tucker for his A/Street roadster. Putting that much motor into the car was going to require other changes, so Sam tore the car down to rebuild it from the ground up. Tex, recognizing the car as good story fodder for HRM, got out his camera and documented some of the major steps.

    6.jpg

    In "Boxing the Rails" (HRM Mar. '63), there's Sam with Carlos Smith, reinforcing the car's '32 frame with boxing plates and new crossmembers.

    3.jpg

    The May '63 HRM showed how you could build "Custom Radius Rods for Under $15." A month later, the car got a set of "Wild Outdoor Headers" made from bent tubing, rolled sheetmetal, and a flange kit from C-T Automotive. In "Hang 'Em Handy" in the Nov. '63 HRM, Sam's car was among several shot by Tex to illustrate various ways to mount a license plate to the front of a hot rod. (Other notable rods that appeared in that story included Norm Grabowski's T-bucket, Scritch's Deuce, and the Dick Flint roadster, at that point owned by Duane Kofoed.)

    7.jpg

    The last how-to Tex wrote about the car for HRM was "Bolt-In Bars" in June '64, showing how a roadster could be fitted with a rollbar that bolts in for the strip and then unbolts for the street.


    #154 has @Dean Lowe looking collectors)
    8 dean lowe collector 154.jpg

    If there's a common thread running through these stories, it's their low-buck, everyman nature. Sam's car was not a mega-dollar show car, but a good-looking, well-built hot rod HRM readers could aspire to build.

    9.jpg

    Then again, thanks to his club pals, Sam got help building the car from some of rodding's guiding lights. And in those days, he enjoyed opportunities that don't exist anymore. For example, for a time he and Scritch lived across the street from Phil Weiand's shop. They got to know the guys there and were able to borrow the keys to work in the machine shop after hours. In a similar vein, Scritch's relationship with a local auto dealer (he was a claims adjuster for the SoCal AAA) allowed him access to that dealer's paint booth when he and Sam painted—and repainted—the roadster.

    10.jpg

    It's ironic that, while coverage of Sam's car started with HRM, the most comprehensive stories written about the roadster appeared in rival Popular Hot Rodding. Scritchfield showed much of the car's assembly in the June '63 "Building a Street Roadster," and Tex, who had become a freelancer, wrote a full feature called "Strategy for a Street Roadster" in the Nov. '65 issue.

    11.jpg

    It's clear that Sam loved his car, and loved running with the L.A. Roadsters. But by 1968, Sam's career and the demands of raising a family altered his priorities, and he sold the car to Bob Gorby, who would remain its caretaker for the next 44 years.
    And really, Sam still loves his car. He was eager to help us with this story, generously digging into his albums, scanning old photos, chasing down magazines where his car appeared, and reliving those days when a bunch of like-minded guys helped each other build what would become iconic and much-loved hot rods.


    That's all Folks hope you enjoy it as much as I did. :)
     
  2. rustydusty
    Joined: Apr 19, 2010
    Posts: 1,710

    rustydusty
    Member

    Great car, awesome pics with the Beach Boys!
     
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  3. brady1929
    Joined: Sep 30, 2006
    Posts: 8,363

    brady1929
    Member

    Beautiful roadster.
     
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  4. wicarnut
    Joined: Oct 29, 2009
    Posts: 4,199

    wicarnut
    Member

    Thanks ! Kool !
     
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  5. Deuce Daddy Don
    Joined: Apr 27, 2008
    Posts: 4,970

    Deuce Daddy Don
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    YEP 'OL SAM came into the LAR club with card #13 (Lucky?).------Don
     
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  6. swifty
    Joined: Dec 25, 2005
    Posts: 1,702

    swifty
    Member

    Us 3 Aussies were staying with Scritch in '66 on our Hot Rodders Tour of America and Sam had fitted a set of magnesium Halibrands on his roadster. Still remember Scritch saying that Sam would be sorry as he would be spending all his time polishing them. We didn't understand as we knew noting about magnesium Halibrands!!
    Note the rego on Sam's car is JFS-003. Duane Kofoed had 001, Scritch had 002 and Sam had 003. Scritch gave Eddie (of Aussie Custom Rodder ) the old BUR-140 plate off his roadster and it's here in Oz now.
     
  7. swifty
    Joined: Dec 25, 2005
    Posts: 1,702

    swifty
    Member

    Thanks for that story @loudbang as we spent time with all those guys when we were there in '66 and Tex Smith ended up living here in Castlemaine, Australia so we talked to Tex a lot at various local events.
    I can remember we were amazed at the monster Olds engine that was in Sam's roadster as we never got Oldsmobiles here in Oz after 1948.
     
  8. Roothawg
    Joined: Mar 14, 2001
    Posts: 20,173

    Roothawg
    Member

    I love this version.
    [​IMG]
     
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  9. modelAsteve
    Joined: Jan 9, 2009
    Posts: 353

    modelAsteve
    Member

    I was involved with the group and the engine swap in 1963. Was best friends of Duane Kofoed. I lived with a group of guys from Massachusetts and we helped do the engine swap from Hugh Tucker's street roadster. I believe that is me riding "shotgun" in the picture above on the Roadster Tour.. Was a great time in my life. I believe all are still with us except for Duane. Don't know what was in the magazine articles; but, I can go on and on with more info.
     
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  10. Roothawg
    Joined: Mar 14, 2001
    Posts: 20,173

    Roothawg
    Member

    Steve, any idea what color was on the version I posted above?
     
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  11. patsurf
    Joined: Jan 18, 2018
    Posts: 401

    patsurf

    well,start right now going 'on and on'...nice story1
     
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  12. primed34
    Joined: Feb 3, 2007
    Posts: 1,100

    primed34
    Member

    The car was for sale a few years ago at the Frog Follies. It now has a small block Chevrolet or did then.
     
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  13. I have been obsessed with this car since I was 12. My dad had pictures of it he took sometime in 1965 when he lived in LA. Wish I could find them now.
     
  14. modelAsteve
    Joined: Jan 9, 2009
    Posts: 353

    modelAsteve
    Member

    Sorry- no idea/ Was dark blue when I was involved with it.
     
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  15. Roothawg
    Joined: Mar 14, 2001
    Posts: 20,173

    Roothawg
    Member

    Thanks anyway.
     
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  16. Nice write up and connecting the dots.....thanks !
     
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  17. bchctybob
    Joined: Sep 18, 2011
    Posts: 2,479

    bchctybob
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Thanks for posting this LB. The dark blue was '63 Buick Diplomat blue, don't know about the lighter version.
    Sam had friends in my neighborhood near LAX so as a kid I saw it regularly and never failed to ride my bike over to wherever he stopped to just sit and stare at it. The dark metallic blue, the white interior, all the chrome, slicks, and that big Olds sounded mean! It left an indelible mark in my hot rod psyche.
    I told myself that my last complete build would be a clone/tribute to the beautiful blue roadster that impressed me so much as a kid. After collecting parts for years, it's well underway. It's not a perfect recreation but most all of the major identifying features will be the same. I was never a fan of the wood firewall and wheel wells.
    All of the major fabrication is done and the frame is back from the sandblaster, it's time for body and paint. If I could find a painter, it would jump ahead considerably as I'm painfully slow at body and paint work. All the chrome work is done including the headers. The Olds engine is assembled to the short block stage. The B&M hydro is under the workbench. I have an upholsterer in mind to recreate the interior. Medical issues put it on hold for a year but I'm back to making progress, slowly, but still progress. A lifetime dream slowly coming true.
    Carburetion fit-up, firewall mods and header construction......
    IMG_2109.JPG Dashboard mostly done. I got the correct white Covico steering wheel and column drop.
    IMG_2027.JPG
    Halibrands and slicks, I have the matching fronts.
    IMG_2028.JPG
     
  18. Dago 88
    Joined: Mar 4, 2006
    Posts: 1,930

    Dago 88
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    That's great @bchctybob , looking good . I have always been fascinated by that car also, particularly the Olds motor, would love to have heard that beast. :) Good luck with the build.
     
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  19. BrerHair
    Joined: Jan 30, 2007
    Posts: 4,490

    BrerHair
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    This place never ceases to amaze, the HAMB membership is rich! Thanks for this @loudbang
     
  20. Are there any current pictures of the car? Are it’s whereabouts known? Is it still with the same guy that’s had it for 44 years?
     
  21. bchctybob
    Joined: Sep 18, 2011
    Posts: 2,479

    bchctybob
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I’m guessing that it still lives with the guy back East, Bob Gorby (sp?). I wonder if it still looks the same or if it got “updated”. Anyone live near him? Know him?


    Sent from my iPad using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
     
  22. lumpy 63
    Joined: Aug 2, 2010
    Posts: 1,309

    lumpy 63
    Member

    I have always loved this car! Bob it looks you are making great progress on yours:D. Loudbang, isn't there a story on Sam exploding the big Olds on the starting line at Lions and totally pissing off the track officials because it took a big chunk out of the starting Line?
     
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  23. loudbang
    Joined: Jul 23, 2013
    Posts: 30,454

    loudbang
    Member


    Haven't heard that one but it sounds like a pisser :)
     
  24. Buddy of mine just found these and posted them on Instagram. Thought they should be here. Never seen these shots before. 4816E581-F47E-4744-8804-2215AF854471.jpeg 380BB420-4866-4C29-9543-5C4AB1791E6A.jpeg A5D118D7-76F9-4262-8F6C-4BE0AE847429.jpeg
     
  25. BrerHair
    Joined: Jan 30, 2007
    Posts: 4,490

    BrerHair
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Jason, all 3 photos are in post#1
     
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  26. stupid phone. It takes forever to load pics.
     
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  27. cabriolethiboy
    Joined: Jun 16, 2002
    Posts: 870

    cabriolethiboy
    Member

    Bob sold the car about maybe 5-6 maybe more years ago. Time goes pretty fast. I saw it at the Indy indoor car show. I did not recognize the car. It looked good but was different. It lacked all of the identifying features that made it different. No outside headers, it had a hood, SB Chevy. I still liked it though. Don't know where it went. Bob used to post on here once in a while, haven't seen him post in a long while.
     
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