The last couple of weeks we’ve been looking at show cars, or as the cool folks say Kustom Rods. We can trace them back to Harley Earl working at his dad’s body shop that built custom bodies in Los Angeles way before he was tapped to go to Detroit and start General Motor’s design department. After WWII the movement really took off especially in California where lots of vehicles got chopped tops and lost of lead filler giving us the name Lead Sleds.
By the early ‘50’s car shows in tinsel town were all the rage and Detroit under Earl’s eye jumped on the bandwagon. Our first shot for today shows one of those creations at the Petersen produced Motorama at the Pan Pacific Auditorium (JMC_3131). We see a birds-eye view of the front section of the Buick XP-300 on it’s pedestalled estalar wowed the thousands of folks who attended the show including yours truly.
This week on our rounds scrounging new goodies to show you we ran across A General Motors produced brochure on the experimental Buick XP-3-3-3. This car wowed the thousands of folks who attended the show including yours truly.
This week on our rounds scrounging new goodies to show you we ran across A General Motors produced brochure on the experimental Buick XP-300 that was debuted in 1951. Some of the interesting features of this ride resting on a 116″ wheelbased are a one-off 3.25″ x 3.25″ 216″ OHV V8 that put out jaw-dropping for the day 335 hp. And let’s not forget the side by side brake shoes that ran in al-fin drums that were the predecessor to those finned drums you find on most cool rods these days.
Earlier this year ((June 22 to be exact) Dave Bennett of the Road Runners showed up at El Mirage with his hew toy, a Henry J (Kaiser-Frazer) that was also sold through Sears and Roebuck as the Allstate. Dave had shown up at the May meet but didn’t get a chance to run as mother nature decided to grace El Mirage with to much wend. This time he got to run his Class D Classic Gas Coupe ran through the lights at a speed of 94.972 mph.
We used Dave’s car as a setup for our next image that we found digging in our own stash. Originally unveiled at Petersen’s Motorama in September 1952, the Darin on this brochure was built on a Henry J chassis (JMC_5233). It was later shown at the ’53 New York Auto Show where Kaiser announced that the car would be available in the Autumn get a chance to run as mother nature decided to grace El Mirage with to much wend. This time he got to run his Class D Classic Gas Coupe ran through the lights at a speed of 94.972 mph.
We used Dave’s car as a setup for our next image that we found digging in our own stash. Originally unveiled at Petersen’s Motorama in September 1952, the Darin on this brochure was built on a Henry J chassis (JMC_5233). It was later shoer sho of that year but due to Kaiser merging with Willys-Overland in March of ’53 the cars didn’t make it to the showrooms until January 1954.
A little back story is in order. Designer Howard “Dutch” Darin built the first “Darin” on his own dime. After finalizing the design a full-sized prototype was constructed using a fiberglass laid up by Bill Tritt of Glaspar fame. When it was finished Darin asked Henry Kaiser to come over and have a look at it in his Santa Monica shop. After initially throwing a hissy-fit, Kaiser decided on the spot that his company should produce the futuristic looking car. One of the out there features of the Darin design were doors that slid into the front fenders. Less than 450 of the cars were ever built and we can date this brochure to around late ’53. The car on this brochure is probably the first prototype as it doesn’t have turn signals on it.
Next up we see a drawing of the then new DeSoto Fire Dome V-8 Sportsman out of a 1953 sales catalog (JMC_5see a drawing of the then n235). Under the hood was an 8-cylinder 90 degree V Hemi engine that put out 160 hp at 4400 rpm. It’s hard to miss the smiling grill with its teeth that are on almost every old school custom car built these days, especially ’49 Merc’s. If you look real close the top, side and tail design, it looks a lot like a ‘53 Chevy.
For our next act here is a grouping of a few GNRS shots that you haven’t seen yet courtesy of Omaha’s Doug Rasmussen (JMC_5237) that we just returned to him. Keep an eye out for them in the Photo Of The Day section.
There were quite a few Post WWII Speed Shops proprietor’s in West Los Angeles. Names like Karl Orr and Louie Senter are usually remembered by most. One that is almost always overlooked but shouldn’t be was Louie Shell. We’ve included a shot of his V-8 powered Model A Roadster that was dated March 23, 1944 (MTH_121). Note the big and littles, the chopped and slanted back windshield and the solid hood sides that make this one cool looking ride. It’s from the collection of our departed pal Dave “Monk” Thormin.
When we unearthing our above brochures a couple of old Motor Sports World weekly newspapers were in the mix. They were published by Robert Barsky who was hooked up with Pete Petersen for the first few issues of Hot Rod before he left. Paging through them we ran across a column written by Lewie Shell that gives us some added insight to our buddy, the Monk (JMC_5236). This story is from Volume 1, number 11 from August 31, 1951. It doesn’t take one long to figure out that these speed contests took place from stop light to stop light on the city streets that no S.C.T.A. club member will admit to thanks to Wally Parks.
We just had to show you this channeled Deuce that Monk is constructing around 1946 (MTH_106). Love the pose of him grabbing the shift lever. Dave would end up selling the car to his buddy Jack McGrath.
Last weekend I stopped off at Terry Baldwin’s place for some fun (we went to the races at Ventura Speedway went to the races at Ventura Speedwapeedway) and also some bench racing. Sunday afternoon, when it was time to leave one of the goodies that came with me, was a mixed box of old slides (around 70 taken back in the mid-‘70’s). Let’s have a look at a few, shall we?
First up is a shot taken at Irwindale in April ‘74 at the Antique Nationals (TBC_106). We see Pete Chaporis’ ’34 chop top three window Ford coupe before it became super famous.
We just happen to have a shot of the car with a 34-year-old actor by the name of Martin Sheen sitting on the running board during the filming of the 1974 television movie, The California Kid that made the car famous (JMC_5237).
Terry’s next shot was taken at the Antique Nationals also in ‘74 and shows Jim Travis’ famous So-Cal dry lakes coupe moonlighting as a drag car. Jim had fitted the ride with slicks so he could do some smoke making when he roared down the quarter mile. It was shot in color but so badly faded that it was best to convert it to black and white.
Here’s an engine bay shot of the above car after Toom Cobbs and Buddy Fox put their 258″ blown flattie into Alex Xydias’ then newly acquired ’34 coupe and took it to Bonneville in 1953 (MBB_372). They ran it in Class C Competition Coupe and Sedan. The came home with first in class with a speed of 173.07 mph and set a class record of 172.749 mph. Note the top hadn’t received it’s second and even lower chop yet.
Here’s another Terry shot taken at another Antique Nationals, this time in August 1976 (TBC_091). As you can see the slide has lost most of its color due to the cyan layer in the film fading away to nothing do to improper washing and fixing at the processing lab. The car’s owner here isn’t known but it’s the old Mel Leighton sprint car from ’40s.
Our next shot shows the car above in a shot taken 30 years previously on good old black and white film. Back in 1946 S.C.T.A. Treasurer Mel Leighton, on the right, owned this slick looking Champ Car. Before the war, besides lakes racing, Mel also raced and crashed more than once in his drives on circle tracks. Because of this, he was the one who initiated the S.C.T.A. Hospital Fund that still going strong 75 years later. Thanks, Mel for worrying about your fellow racers. The car was photographed at Herman Giles’ Gas Station in Los Angeles.
Last up for today is another of Terry’s A.N. shots from ‘74 (TBC_114). As unusual we have no clue as to the Midget’s owner in ‘74 but a little digging revealed that the car’s earlier owner was one Joe Zottarelli hence the Z in the front nerf bar. Joe can be traced back to Legion Ascot in the ’30s as a car owner and driver. His driver in ’32 was none other than Louis Tomei. In ’33 he had two cars, one he drove himself and the other was shoed by Tomei and Frank Wearne. In ’34 Wearne and Ray Pixley drive for Joe and in ’35 Clarence Langlo was his wheel man. It’s last known whereabouts was in Carl Schmid’s Collection.