Although it is true that we have already featured this supporting member of the AHRF as our Member of the Month once before, it would be impossible for us not to acknowledge our friend and hot rod pioneer, Alex Xydias, on his 100th Birthday … and, after all, if we’re going to nominate someone twice for this, why not have Alex be the person to break that barrier!
Yes, we couldn’t be more proud or more pleased to be featuring Alex as our AHRF Member of the Month, and we continue to be over the moon to have been able to help celebrate his 100-year milestone. It was not only an honor to be part of the proceedings on his actual birthdate (March 22) but also to be a part of what turned into a Birthday week! To kick things off, fellow AHRF supporting member and a great champion of all things hot rodding, Bruce Meyer, hosted a wonderful gathering on Alex’s birthday that brought together friends and admirers of Alex’s from near and far. Fellow hot rod pioneers Ed Iskenderian (100), Ed Pink (90), Don Prudhomme (80), and ”Gentleman Joe” Schubeck were in attendance and took to the dais to share their thoughts and memories, bringing hot rod history alive for all in attendance. Bruce Meyer not only acted as an emcee but shared some wonderful memories of his own regarding the restoration of Alex’s So-Cal Speed Shop bellytank and the subsequent conversation that he inspired between Alex and the late Pete Chapouris that caused the So-Cal brand to be relaunched back in the 1990s. A hugely important moment during the early days of the traditional hot rod revival and one that still brings a tear to Alex when he thinks back on what it was like to see his iconic brand relaunched to a whole new generation. All in all, it was a nice reminder of the decades-long (and in one case, centuries-long!) friendships that Alex continues to enjoy and what it looks like to do life right. Yes, Alex might be one of our most celebrated hot rod pioneers, but he’s also one of the finest human beings we can ever remember meeting. His generosity, thoughtfulness , and loyalty are to be admired every bit as much as his accomplishments on the dry lakes, Bonneville, early drag racing, filmmaking , and his impact on the publishing and aftermarket performance parts industries. It seems an understatement to say it’s been a “life well-lived,” and getting to join in to salute our friend and hero was the least we could do.
To close out Alex’s big week, we decided that an appropriate salute might be to simply show Alex just how active and enthusiastic the traditional hot rod community is, first-hand. And what better way than to do a good old-fashioned neighborhood hot rod drive-by!
We invited a few friends to get their hot rods out for the day and surprise Alex by cruising over to his home in Burbank, and little did we know how this would take off. With some huge assistance from AHRF Member Lou Stands, a plan was put in place to meet in the morning at Hollywood Hot Rods, and it was then that we realized how many folks were as intothis idea as we were. Lou designed and distributed a wonderful invitation to our community of hot rod friends that was a tasteful take-off on a So-Cal Speed Shop Hot Rod Magazine cover, and Troy Ladd was kind enough to open up his shop for the morning hang while also providing parking for a few dozen hot rods. Thank you Lou and Troy for setting all of this off on such a great note!
Many thanks to Tony Thacker, who created this compilation of our drive-by in honor of Alex Xydias’ 100th Birthday!
We headed over to Alex’s in a big pack of snarling hot rods and are happy to say that he was surprised and touched by what he saw. We secured the use of a SoCal-red ’65 Mustang convertible and took Alex up the hill on his street so he could meet and greet with everyone. We’re not sure who was more excited, we just know that it was miles of smiles all the way around. Alex had no problem hopping out of the car and spending time walking the rows of cars, inspecting each one , and talking with their owners. It was a truly special thing to witness. To hear him casually mention to one owner, ”I like those tail lights you’re running. I had the same ones on our shop truck when we first went to Bonneville in ’49.” Again, wonderful stuff to hear said from someone who lived it.
PHOTOS, COURTESY OF ED JUSTICE JR.:
It was a perfect finish to a fun-filled birthday week. We want to thank Bruce Meyer for hosting the definitive birthday party on Alex’s actual Birthday (click here to check out Autoweek’s feature & read all about it), for assembling such a great group of Alex’s friends, for including us , and for his continued support and enthusiasm for keeping the hot rod flame burning. Oh, and for presenting Alex with the coolest birthday cake!
We also want to thank Lou Stands and Troy Ladd for all of their work and attention to detail in helping to make the cruise-by idea a reality. It made for a super fun day with great cars and great friends.
But, mostly, we want to thank Alex for being such a constant source of inspiration. It is his fever-pitch level of curiosity that we have to believe is somewhat responsible for making it to the 100-year mark, and this is something that our work at the AHRF has introduced us to time and again with similarly aged hot rod pioneers. Yes, it is always a thrill for us to get to sit and capture the stories and experiences of anyone like Alex, but it is the life lessons that stick with us and are most valuable at the end of the day. Guys like Alex are certainly rare and very special, but that doesn’t mean that the secrets they hold can’t be shared and learned from. That should be as much the goal as learning about early hot rodding, and we’re just glad that there is someone like Alex who is willing to share what he has learned about living such a good life. Call it a speed secret if you like, or call it our great luck for having had the opportunity to cross paths with him. Either way, we thank Alex for all he has done and continues to do, and we wish him the happiest and best of times during his 100th year!