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History What Ever Happened to..........?

Discussion in 'Traditional Customs' started by OG lil E, Apr 19, 2016.

  1. stanlow69
    Joined: Feb 21, 2010
    Posts: 3,496

    from red oak

    Scan0779.jpg Scan0780.jpg Scan0781.jpg
    I don`t remember seeing the feature from Classic and Custom posted on this thread, @sideswipe Is that newspaper reidue on the black carpet.
  2. John B
    Joined: Mar 9, 2001
    Posts: 1,281

    John B

  3. What Ever Happened To..........? number 144.

    1951 Mercury
    Owners: Henry and Gerry Ruszkowski Sr.
    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    Do you guys remember the days (not all that long ago) when you could buy a cheap old car and build a nice mild custom for not a lot of money? It seems like you could buy a good running project for around $1000, and with some elbow grease and a little bit more cabbage you could put together a custom to have a ball with and turn a lot of heads cruising around. I sure miss those days!
    This week's custom is one of those that didn't cost a fortune to build and gave the owners a lot of enjoyment. The Ruszkowskis put together their '51 Mercury and hit the road. The car was very mild but still different enough to catch attention. They attended many shows in the early 90s and put some serious miles on the Merc. Here is the first picture I found of the car. It was in the first KKOA book on page 134.

    Henry n Gerry Ruszkowski 51 Merc a KKOA 1 p.134.jpg

    The first time I saw it on video was at the 1992 Sled Scene East. It had been shaved of all chrome and had a '56 Chrysler grille in it. It was in ruddy brown primer and was seen in the video a number of times cruising around. The car never seemed to sit still.
    The car reappeared on video in 1993 at two different shows. It was at Sled Scene East (Gettysburg) as well as at the 1993 Spectacular in Springfield, Ohio. The car looked pretty much like it did in '92, with the exception of a primer color change. It looked to be a pink suede, not light like baby pink, and not real bright like hot pink. More like a bubble gum pink I suppose. It also had Moon discs on it that didn't spin with the tire--the hubcaps remained stationary as the wheel turned. There were a pair of Moon eyes painted on them and they stayed in one spot as the car prowled around.
    The Ruszkowskis went through the "How cool can you cruise" line at the Spectacular and Jerry Titus interviewed them. They had a "dummy" arm coming out from under the hood with a squirt gun in its hand that was hooked to some kind of tank filled with water. As they cruised by they could squirt water at people. Everyone seemed to enjoy it as it is usually hot at the Spectacular. They had a car load of people and they all seemed to be having a great time. As the car drove away you could see a strange little head in the back window that looked like it was made out of a coconut. It had a face carved in it with hair on top and red lights for eyes that lit up when the brakes were applied. It reminded me of something that Norm Grabowski would have come up with.
    The Ruszkowskis again made the trip to Gettysburg in 1994 for Sled Scene East. The car was on the video a number of times and had no changes that I could see. That made three years in a row they were there. Like I said, these folks drove lots of miles!
    The last show I saw them at was a Kustoms of America gathering called the Southern Leadsled Nationals in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee in 1995. This was not a video sighting, but something I found looking through my old KOA Styleline magazines. It was in the Jan/Feb 96 issue in two different places. The first picture I found of the car in was their show coverage of the Southern Leadsled Nationals on page 23. Again another black and white photo, but if you look closely you can see that it had some subtle scallops added behind the wheel wells. The Moon discs were gone and some flipper caps had taken their place.

    Henry n Gerry Ruszkowski 51 Merc c Jan-Feb 96 KOA Styleline p.23.jpg

    In the same issue the Ruszkowskis wrote in to the magazine and their letter was printed in the KOA " got 32 cents" column on page 5. The letter was a note with a thank you to the KOA for throwing a great show describing what a nice time they had there. It also had a picture of some damage done to their Mercury by a hit and run driver.

    Henry n Gerry Ruszkowski 51 Merc b Jan-Feb 96 KOA Styleline p.5.jpg

    I wasn't able to find any more information on the Ruszkowskis and their Merc, so I have no idea if the damage was ever fixed and how the car turned out. It may have been written about or shown in another issue of the Styleline, but my collection is far from complete and the later issues I have say nothing of their car.
    Since our own @40StudeDude was involved heavily with the KOA in those days and was doing a lot of writing and show coverage for them, maybe he can chime in with some more information on the Ruskowskis and their Merc. I know when it comes to customs Roger has a memory like a steel trap!
    Well, that's all for this week. I think finding any more information on this one may be the hardest we've had so far, but you custom faithful never cease to amaze me with what you find. I hope someone can find a nice color shot of this car because it's really nice looking in color. Let's see what turns up, ok?
    Until next time, keep cruisin'! E
  4. Nice post Jim! Thanks for scanning. This El Camino is one of my favorites! E

    That's funny John! You guys don't miss a thing! E
  5. Hey Jim (@stanlow69), I just noticed the article you scanned for the El Camino shows the owner as Chuck Sides. When we covered this truck way back at W.E.H.T. #36, I wrote that the owner was Howard Henry. Was Mr. Sides the owner after Mr. Henry or vice versa or ?
    @sideswipe you out there? Anyone else know? E
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2018
  6. John B
    Joined: Mar 9, 2001
    Posts: 1,281

    John B

    I under stood that it went from Howard to Chuck and back to Howard
  7. Ok, I understand, I think.........(lol)! E
  8. sideswipe
    Joined: Sep 27, 2012
    Posts: 162


    Howard built and drove it, sold it to Dad, he tore the oil pan off and sold back to Howard. Probably another story there. haha. We had the papers all over the orange bed cover. I didn't realize how dirty it looked inside. I'm embarrassed! ha. In the center of the tail gate there is a plate the read "Built by Howard Henry Customs". My Dad made and engraved that for him. His trophy shop was down the street from Howard's house were it was built. That thing was painted in lacquer as well. Thank you for posting this truck again. A lot of fond memories with her.
  9. Thanks @sideswipe! I get it now. Cool stories man, cool stories! E
  10. sideswipe
    Joined: Sep 27, 2012
    Posts: 162


    Since this El Camino came back up, funny story. A young man, early 20's had a nice shoebox but wanted to learn more about "how to" do things. He helped Howard lay out those scallops. They used 12 rolls of 1/4 inch tape. I know it seems excessive but once you look back at the paint job....the black is not pinstriped. It is taped and sprayed black lacquer. The paint job was redone when it went to California. It wasn't quite the same, close, but a little different. Howard had the eye for the look. All his cars were top quality. He lives in Cookeville TN now. I hadn't seen him in 30 years, I was walking through a car show two years ago and seen a little hot rod. It was layered in detail and had the look. An older gentlemen was nearby.
    I asked him if this was his?
    "Yes it is".
    Well you must be Howard Henry.
    "I am?!"
    I'm Chuck Sides, I was a little kid in Ohio......blah, blah blah...….True story.
  11. The_sooner_spy
    Joined: Nov 28, 2018
    Posts: 2


    This was Great read! Other than being sold in dallas in 89’-90 I’m not real sure about the truck but “the crazy okie” (my grandfather) is still crazy!! Still modifying anything he owns, still in Oklahoma in a small cow town. If anyone has any information on the sooner spy I would enjoy chatting with you. I hope to see that truck in person some day!
  12. stanlow69
    Joined: Feb 21, 2010
    Posts: 3,496

    from red oak

    Scan0778.jpg The California version and the Ohio version. Scan0779.jpg
  13. The_sooner_spy
    Joined: Nov 28, 2018
    Posts: 2


    A few I’ve found of the sooner spy

    Attached Files:

  14. Don't you just love it when you run into someone from the past and you just "click" with them? I know I do!
    Keep those stories comin' @sideswipe, they are a lot of fun to read! E

    Glad you found us! So happy to hear that your Grandpa is alive and well building cars and having a good time! On the '83 Spectacular video he seemed larger than life. The kind of guy that would be a hoot to hang around with! He reminds me of a family friend we had from Oklahoma (or "Okieland" as he called it). He too was a real character!
    Tell your Grandpa hello and maybe show him the feature we covered on his truck. He might get a real kick out of it.
    I would have liked to have seen the truck in person too. So many modifications all done on a unique choice of pickup. Who knows, it may come back around for sale one of these days and it can go home to your family. The kustom faithful around here always seem to dig up old customs when they come up for sale.
    We hope you stick around a while! Take care! E
  15. Great pics! Wow, that engine was detailed to the hilt! Love it! E
  16. Boy, the two versions were very close. I like them both. I hadn't noticed until Jim posted the last pictures of the El. Did it have frenched antennas on both sides? E
  17. straykatkustoms
    Joined: Oct 30, 2001
    Posts: 10,702


    Sorry Ed to high jack your thread. Welcome aboard to The Sooner Spy. I was wondering the other day about the truck. I hope you are able to find it. It was a kool ride..
  18. C'mon Mick, you're not interrupting at all (lol)! You know you're welcome to chime in anytime about anything! E
  19. I have a small update on our W.E.H.T. #141 from a few weeks back. I was surfing the 'net this evening and I came across this picture. It is definitely the Beard/Bennett '51 Chevy, but it had a few small changes since the American Rodder feature. "Maybe Baby" was lettered on the front fenders and some pinstriping was added. You'll also notice it has California license plates. It must have been owned on the west coast at one time and may still be out there.
    The picture was taken by Chip Chipman and is courtesy of Rikster's site. E

    Carroll Beard Jerry Bennett Jr. 51 Chevy ChipC.jpg
    Ron, drdave, chryslerfan55 and 7 others like this.
  20. waltonpartyofsix
    Joined: Nov 29, 2018
    Posts: 4


    chryslerfan55 and loudbang like this.
  21. waltonpartyofsix
    Joined: Nov 29, 2018
    Posts: 4


    Anyone heard any more on this truck owned by Dave Williams?
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2018
    loudbang likes this.
  22. waltonpartyofsix
    Joined: Nov 29, 2018
    Posts: 4


    Anyone heard any more on this truck since this article was written?
    chryslerfan55 likes this.
  23. waltonpartyofsix
    Joined: Nov 29, 2018
    Posts: 4


    Not the same Dave Williams....
    chryslerfan55 likes this.
  24. cowboy0507
    Joined: Nov 28, 2018
    Posts: 4


    great story about Cowboy and his truck! This is his wife. We are trying to locate this truck again . Please let us know if you might have a led for us. David Williams 580-564-7253
  25. cowboy0507
    Joined: Nov 28, 2018
    Posts: 4


  26. brokedownbiker
    Joined: Jun 7, 2016
    Posts: 334


    OG, I'm not so sure. Over in the "how many do you have" thread-

    post number 88 shows a car the same color with the same name on the fender listed as a '50 Olds in Alabama from a member named Loosewheel. Different grille but otherwise...?
  27. cowboy0507
    Joined: Nov 28, 2018
    Posts: 4


    Well this is the Sooner Spy from the southern hills of Oklahoma ‼️
    I with my friend
    Ron Pinkston Wichita Ks
    Who gave me
    the design and engineering metal art work

    (The judges were always “kind” to the
    Sooner Spy as it never once failed to bring home the award for Best Engineering
    In the Radical / Experimental Class )

    We went through 11 windshields Ron nailed it
    On number 1 1 ‼️
    I broke my share 2 or 3 each was $95 ‼️‼️
    Took 11‼️‼️
    Lot of $$$ then

    Hall of fame Dave Stuckey
    Wichita Ks hammered 156
    Louvers in the hood
    Blsck and White Upolstery in El Paso Tx
    Molded the interior by hand
    I stayed there until finished
    The 1st T V ever in a pickup
    The 1st loveseat ever in a pickup
    The undercarriage started with the frame
    Sitting on 4 five gallon buckets
    It started with white lacquer paint base
    Then came
    Gold pearl
    Blue pearl
    All layed flawlessly by Ron
    Then Ron artisticly touched his magic with pin stripping the entire frame
    Then I began hanging the shinning stuff
    On that frame‼️
    While Ron started on the sheet metal

    (My daughter Cynthia who at the time a supper teenager who drove a 1940 Chev 2door
    To school loaded with a small block
    with all electrics. And tilt
    Even the cowl vent electric
    Trunk up and down electric
    Nagahide interior
    Porsche krazy wild awesome green
    Yeah dad was soo proud of her
    The guy s just ate their heart out
    She separated every nut bolt and washer
    On a 4x8 sheet of wood for me.
    Everything. Chrome ‼️)
    Took her several days
    Soon the the frame was rolling

    Then back to help with Ron the master
    Under the cab I laid on my back sanding
    Then Ron gave it his articulate set of
    Then pinstripe them for me
    The above article has been written with
    Perfection ‼️

    At the Mags Nationals 1983
    Sponsor by
    Street Rodder
    Popular Cars
    EST 3k entries -+
    They gave the. TOP. 5. Awards

    The Sooner Spy was very fortunately to bring
    One the TOP 5 back to Oklahoma
    Thanks again for a “very” complemtary
    May God Bless You
    May He Show favor on your home
    Sooner Spy
    David Williams
  28. 54delray
    Joined: Dec 18, 2004
    Posts: 729

    from Fremont NE

    @brokedownbiker Nahhhh, I am sure those are 2 different cars. The "how many do you have" car is not a Chevy with an Olds grill. It is a 50 Olds. Different car from the 51 Chevy Lil E presented. How do they say, "Imitation is a form of flattery". Most likely the case here.
  29. cowboy0507
    Joined: Nov 28, 2018
    Posts: 4


    This the Sooner Spy:
    The wire wheels are 1956 Chrysler wires
  30. brokedownbiker
    Joined: Jun 7, 2016
    Posts: 334


    Yeah, the more I looked at it the more differences I found. The Olds looks like a work in progress, a good looking one too! But it sure is 'traveling down the same road' style-wise.

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