Old Cars-Page 1
Update April 2017!! Looks like almost 10 years since an update to this old site! What happened is that I got a newer Camcorder and started using it at the car shows instead of my digital SLR. And with that I started uploading my visits to the local car show to You Tube. So, if you have an interest to do so, visit me on You Tube at "Bannerbob33". Thanks for viewing.
Update March 08' 2008 is off to an early start for the auto enthusiasts with the Portland Auto Show at the Expo center this last weekend. With gasoline being over $3 a gallon and the cost of parking, I decided to take advantage of the Portland Metro system. Walk 2 blocks from my house to Mcadam Boulevard and take the "35" bus directly to the Convention Center for $.85 cents round trip anywhere. After the auto show it was the "MAX" direct to one of Portland's best restaurants for an early dinner. All of Portland is serviced by some 1,000 buses and the new streetcar which makes a complete loop around Portland. Also there is a Trolley that connects east and west Portland.
Update October 07' So I went to another of the local car shows here in Oregon in late September 07'. This one was in the small parking lot of a Bistro in 'Gresham, a town a little east of Portland. There was a mix of about everything one would expect to see at a small event. As usually, my attention was drawn to cars I have previously owned. The first one of interest was a 55' Chevy 4-door that was shortened into a 2-door using the rear doors as the front doors! Very tricky! But why my interest in a 55'? Because a 56' was my very first new car to buy and own! I bought the cheapest one available and it was $1,560 dollars out the door, licence and tax; radio and heater! now I find that the 55' and 56' Chevies are the most prized cars in the neo-classic market!
The next car to get my attention was a 28' Chevy sedan. It was actually my very first car to own. I had traded my classmate Kenny Gunn (Alhambra 49') my Whizzer bike for it.
I do remember the interesting thing about the Chevy VS. Ford is that the Chevy had the gas tank in the rear where it had to be fed uphill to the engine via a vacuum tank, while the Fords were all gravity fed with the tank sitting in the drivers lap so to speak. The reason I got the car so cheaply was that it would not keep running because of a vacuum leak in the pumping system. Once I found the vacuum leak in the fuel line and kept the gasoline filling the small holding tank (about 1 quart of gasoline), the car ran fine. Mine was completely original and not modified as this one is, but none the less, interesting and I probably sold it for around $25 or traded it for something.
The next one brings back fond memories to me as it was the "old reliable" car I used for many years. In my case it was a 41' Chevy truck my father used in his plumbing business and I think this one is a 46' but identical: The next one to catch my eye was a 78' Pontiac Firebird. The one I owned was even rarer than this one. Mine was a convertible with a Hurst 4 speed transmission and a tachometer on the hood. I got so many tickets in a one months time frame that I dumped it; but what a hot rod! I bought it for $3,000 and sold it for $3,500 and was happy with the profit. Stupid: It was a limited edition and would be worth around $100,000 now! And it sure looks good now! After all of the above there is always something to be said about the 32" Ford roadster. I drove one for many years throughout my college days, and there will always be one in any car show, and painted black. And then there is always the usual bunch of hot rods. And then there is the usual bunch of trucks to be seen, and I have had a bunch of them myself. Take a close look at the engine in the last picture. And then there is the usual bunch of older cars (antiques today) that have been modified to all new upgrades Then there is the group that likes to take any older car and put a great big engine in it!! Look at these monsters: And then there is the typical guy who wants to just make something clean and colorful: . And then there is the new group of young persons who just want to make a statement about their car. They take a new car and just clean it up with a "engine cleanliness". One thing is for sure: There will always be plenty of car enthusiasts in every part of the U.S. to keep the sport alive and well.
The original site:
My love affair with anything that had a gasoline motor in it started at a very early age. At age 12 I got a beat up "Motoscoot" from my uncle Billy Winkler who was buying and selling war surplus items, and got it running. I rode it through the open halls of Central grammar school until I was chased out. You just couldn't get away with antics like that in today's world. Next came model airplanes, and then eventually motorcycles. I always had a motorcycle throughout high school. One motorcycle was a 1936 Indian with a 1946 Bonneville Chief engine upped to 90cu. in. It was fast and the fact that I got it from the mother of a kid who had been killed on it didn't even faze me because I was invincible! (or so I thought). I got my first speeding ticket for 85 in a school zone; it didn't seem like I was going that fast, but that borrowed Triumph fooled me! My cousin Cliff bell gave me his 1931 Harley 45 after he was discharged from the Navy. I think I sold it for $50! Easy come-Easy go! But aside from motorcycles, airplanes and boats, cars always dominated the scene. This website is a collection of all of the car pictures I have taken in my life.
I was raised in Alhambra California and Southern California has always been the hot bed of racing. A local Alhambian, Sam Hanks was the 1957 winner at Indy. Almost all of the suppliers of Hot Rod equipment were located in SoCal. Earl Evans who specialized in aluminum Ford cylinder heads was right down the road in El Monte. Mickey Thompson graduated 1 year ahead of me at Alhambra high. Hot rods were everywhere. So that is a brief background of this site. One thing I must mention: someone gave me a Brownie camera when I was around 6 years old, and I have never gone anywhere ever since without carrying a camera.
My 36' Ford coupe wasn't my first car, but it was the most reliable, and I still think the 36' is the best looking pre-war Ford. My first car was a 28' Chevy sedan, very different from the 36', but I got a good deal on it having traded a Whizzer bike for it. Previously I had traded some fishing reels for the Whizzer bike. A side note here: I rode one of my Whizzers to the top of Mt. Wilson and then raced all the way downhill sans any gloves, helmets, etc. If you know what a Whizzer bike was then you can grasp the excitement. These pictures from a trip to Mozumdar's Temple in Crestline.
One of my favorite trips was to the dry lakes at El Mirage to watch the Rods making speed runs. One kid in Alhambra was involved in model airplanes at the same time that I was. His name was Bill Phy and he went on to set some speed records. Norm Morgan and Bill Phy used to modify the O&R model engines to a rotary valve before O&R thought of it. The Stanford brothers worked for the Post Advocate and were active in setting records at SCTA. They had a hopped up Ford 60Hp set up in their basement for show. These pics from back then sure bring back memories!
My first Hot Rod was a 29' Model A that I traded my Indian MC straight across for. This A had a Thomas dual manifold which I kept for later use after I sold it. I had several Model A roadsters but all with the original 4 cylinder engines. But I had been bitten pretty badly by the HR bug and bought a 32' Ford roadster. Prior to this time I had concreted in the rear of our yard behind the garage in order to have a place to work. I don't recall asking permission to do so, but with the help of Vic Yorba, we poured and set the slab in one day. My first job was to build an engine for the 32'. I found and bought an Alaskan block which was said to be much stronger than a normal block, and it was the starting point. I had one of the old mechanics at P&W Auto Parts bore it out to 2 5/16th diameter (P&W: oldest parts in Alhambra; Pray and Wait). Classmate George Garrold worked at the local Ford/Mercury dealer and got me a 49' Merc crankshaft for $49 (not a misprint). I drove to L.A. and bought a set of JANS pistons and rings, and a Potvin RV (3/8ths) camshaft. I now had the essentials to put the engine together. I also had bought some adjustable cam followers and assembled the rest of the engine on the grass in my backyard. I drove down to El Monte and bought a set of Aluminum cylinder heads from Earl Evans and somewhere picked up a Wieland dual manifold. I had the flywheel turned down at the Blair Brothers shop in Pasadena. Jim Kurten in Alhambra made me a special ignition system from a Lincoln V12 engine. A pair of Stromberg 98's finished the engine. I installed the engine in my backyard and made a trip to Doug's Muffler Shop for a set of headers with dual pipes. I was now in business and proceeded to run in many drag strips. The car consistently turned over 90mph in the 1/4 mile just as it had been driven to the track. Some times I would remove the head lights and fan belt thinking that would give a little more HP. When running at Pomona I could stop at Brackett Airport and get some 130 Octane Av gas. On one such drag day at the old Saugus 6S airport strip, I broke a U-joint and had to have my father pull me all the way back to Alhambra. He did this by using a 6' piece of cast iron sewer pipe with a tow chain between me and our old 41' Chevy truck. What a way to travel! I drove the 32' all through college but finally had to sell it because of the cost of traffic tickets I was getting. Back then there was no sharing of citation information between cities, so if you got your 3rd one in Pasadena, you didn't race anymore in Pasadena, and so on until you ran out of towns. But there were lots of places to street race in every nearby town, that is until you got your 3rd ticket in that town. La Puente, Rose Bowl, 5th Avenue in La Puente, etc., just hang out at a drive-in and get challenged. 5th Avenue on Wednesday nights was a special. Cars would be lined up on both sides of the road as spectators and cars would block each end of the section used. Then the drags would begin. When the cops came everyone just split across the open fields. But when in one month I had to pay about $50 in fines, I gave up the street racing bit. I still sometimes wake up in a dream and wonder where my 32' is, and I drool whenever I see one.
Soon after completing the 32' I started on a Model A project. Throughout high school I had been buying and parting out Model A's. I never went to a dance or prom in high school. There were more important things to do. Most I got just for the asking, but for a nice one I might pay as much as $15. I would disassemble each car and store the parts in the backyard. I had a complete junk yard of Model A parts in our backyard. The bodies mostly went to the junk pile, or to where the Aerojet plant was and to use it for target practice (easy come-easy go). I hate to think of all of those precious bodies that I junked out. All I wanted was the engines and running gear. There was little demand for body parts as there were so many Model A's made and available.
A fellow came over to see me one day about parts for a Model A. It seems as though his 29' Phaeton had rolled out of his driveway and busted up the front end. Somehow or another the word had gotten out that I had a lot of Model A parts. Never just to ask for a price, I always wanted to trade for something. This fellow would not consider selling the Phaeton (which I really wanted), but did say he had a new engine he had bought, but it would not run smoothly. He had taken it to several mechanics none of which could solve the roughness. This stirred my imagination, and I traded him a complete front end for the engine. I immediately saw something unique about the engine as it had a special oiling system consisting of four "sprayers" externally aimed at each rod bearing, and some chromed parts here and there. I made a good guess that this engine had been modified with a special cam.
Going on that basis I bought a Winfield "Red Head" cylinder head (10 to 1 compression) and using the Thomas dual manifold obtained earlier, assembled the engine. I bought a Wico magneto, again from Blair Brothers in Pasadena, and also had them turn down the otherwise heavy flywheel to 20 pounds. I also bought a set of beautiful short exhaust stacks (see pictures). I had a very nice spare 31' body and had a friend from PCC (Mike Suman) chop the top (that is another story in itself). When I put the car together and ran the engine, it sounded incredibly strong.
Jimmy Gormley was an old friend since kindergarten days. His grandparents lived around the corner from my grandparents and as little kids we used to play in the dirt around his grandfather's house with little cars. As we grew up we still played with cars, big ones. Once his grandfather took us on a Sunday trip through the Anaheim Hills in his Marmon sedan. That car was very fancy and had cigar lighters in the rear seat area. As we grew up, we both got into the hot rod thing, and we eventually served our obligatory 8 years in the California National Guard during the Korean conflict (never declared a war). My father towed me all the way from Alhambra to Santa Ana for the first official drag race site using the now called "John Wayne airport" runways. (When I landed there on my first solo cross-country, it was Orange County airport and then became "Santa Ana" until being renamed again). Again he towed me using the old 41' and the "sewer pipe" tow bar. As I look back on it, I can't believe I did that. No freeways then, but me back in the Model A working the steering wheel and brakes, and him towing me that distance from Alhambra to Newport Beach, but that is the way we did it. Didn't seem unusual to me then, but wow! to do it that way today?
The Model A, sans any electrical components, won me a first place at the first Santa Ana drags first time out. There were even motorcycles competing against cars! Just using old components (including the tires and brakes) I turned a remarkable 76mph in the 1/4 mile. Back then there was no ET, just who ever got to the finish line first won. I got there first only to be passed in the trap by faster cars. I never started in 1st gear because it would spin the tires starting in 2nd; then a speed shift to high without letting up on the accelerator, spinning tires all the way! The following are some of the pictures of the car. I eventually sold the engine to some fool who wanted to put it into a boat! (Note in one picture there is a 36' roadster that I bought for $100! That was a lot of money back then!
I eventually sold the 32' and tried the custom car thing. All of my buddies were into customizing cars one way of another, but it never got to me the way that drag racing did. Here are some pictures of some of the cars we had then and some of the Hot Rod magazines I have kept. I drove my 32' through all of my college years ending up with a daily drive from Alhambra to UCLA. But when the tickets got too far into my budget, I sold the engine to a frat brother and with a stock engine installed, parted with the car that had given me so much fun.
I replaced the 32' with a 49' Buick convertible and never got another ticket for racing. The model car is in front of a picture of my Buick taken at Van Nuys airport (B17 in background). The original color was green but Bob Malone and I repainted it yellow the same as the model.
While working at the Clayton Manufacturing Company I met one of the workers who owned a Model T. I went to the Santa Anita race track to take pictures of the event which turned into a parade. It is very rare to see many of the oldest cars on the road anymore.
By now in the middle 50's the days of flagrant street racing was about over. The increased pressure from the police to stop the acts, the increased cost of fines, the increased population reducing available race areas, the demise of many drive-in restaurants where races were initiated, and the increased availability of legitimate drag strips all led to a great reduction in street racing. The drive-in restaurants found that their huge parking areas were worth more than the 5 cent coffee was bringing in, and the cities started amassing citation results. Drive-in restaurants exist today in name only. Today, in 2007, street racing still exists in a limited form and usually we hear of a death as a result, but is a very small instance.
In SoCal, the Santa Ana drag strip was the first of the organized strips, but many followed in a short time. Pomona became the premier strip as the years went on and the others became housing tracts. Saugus 6S ranch was good, and there were more. The days of drag racing were replaced, as upon cue, by other automobile events. Along came the Triumph TR2 (and then the TR3) and sports car racing and meets were in vogue replacing street racing. Legal drag racing has continued on to where one must be pretty well fixed financially to participate; it is a separate sport of wealthy owners. No more Mr. Average Guy with his street rod! Along with the sports car enthusiasm came the local car shows, some just local events with maybe 20 to 30 cars. This one was in Glendale and I drove over with Lee McMurray and his new TR3 probably in 56'. The last picture has a control tower in the background, so where that was, I don't know except that I used to go to the sports car races at Santa Barbara.
In 1956 I bought my first new car, a Chevy. The price out the door was $1560, licence and tax, radio and heater. The same model by Ford was precisely the same price, the difference being the Chevy came with turn signals but no oil filter while the Ford came with an oil filter but no turn signals. In either case the turn signals or the filter was a $16 extra charge. In 1958 I got married and traded the 56' in on a 58' Nomad Wagon.
My college chum Jim Collins had purchased a new Triumph TR2 and we took some nice trips in it. I thought I was having as much fun as I did earlier with the Hot Rods. On one trip we found a car that had been rolled over the cliff on the backside into Big Bear.
I was convinced that I had to get a sports car for myself and settled for a somewhat clean 52' MGTD for $800. After a trip following Collins up the San Gabriel mountains I saw that the only way the MG could keep up with the TR was going downhill. The MG could handle curves faster and it was a lot of fun to drive, but the lack of power made it uneventful to drive, the TR's really had what it took.
I had 3 TR3's all told. The first one cost $800. I bought the 2nd one to do a complete restoration and it had two tops, one soft and one hard. Both cars had the usual tonneau covers. The 3rd one was bought new upon my recommendation by my boss at Minneapolis-Honeywell, Ray Hartle. I told him that I would buy the car from him when he decided to sell it. I had quit that job and was surprised to get a call from him later on asking me if I still wanted it. The price was $1200 and the car had only been driven back and forth to work. It still had the protective plastic over the door covers. This model was a TR3B. It had a larger engine than the previous models and had synchromesh on the 1st gear which the older ones didn't. All told, a very nice sports car. When Triumph changed the body style with the TR4 I think they made a mistake, and I lost all interest in future TR's.
Jumping ahead to the Meadowlark days when I usually had at least 8 cars all of the time of various vintages, I drove my 1929 Model A to Knott's Berry Farm for a really big car show. I had traded my Cessna 170 (sans engine and avionics) for the truck at the Pomona monthly gala car show and parts swap meet.
These really beautiful classics appeared at the Concourse D'Elegance at Irvine campus, Newport Beach. Most of the cars shown at Knott's were daily drivers, where the Newport cars were towed to the show.
When I moved to Portland last of 1990, I was totally shocked one day to stumble across a B17 sitting over a gas station. A very interesting story: the owner of the station after the war had soloed in a Piper Cub and got the idea of buying a surplus bomber and using it as an attraction at his gas station. Make the story short, he bought one, and was told that he had to have a co-pilot to take-off. He went to town and bought a manikin for a co-pilot. Upon taking off he had some gear trouble and came back to the airport and upon making his first landing in a multi-engine airplane, slid it into several other B17's apparently wrecking them all. The Air Force dispersing officer gave him another B17, a brand new one, and this time he had some friends fly from Portland and help him get the plane home. While stopping for gasoline over the following 50 years one could take a free tour of the airplane. Art Lacey died a few years ago and the plane is in a trust and being totally refurbished. Visit: .thebomber.com/ It is a natural site to host a car show.
The biggest auto swap meet in the Northwest occurs in the spring and is held at the Expo Center. It is not as big as the Pomona swap meet, but is large enough to challenge one's endurance to see the entire presentation. The classic cars are inside the large buildings while the swap meet is mostly outside.
Adjacent to the Expo center is Portland International Raceway (PIR). Starting in the summer, every Wednesday afternoon and on into the evening is a impromptu car meet and legal drag racing, hosted by one of the local "in-place" restaurants. It's a relaxed atmosphere with music and the sound of engines roaring and tires squealing. Also just across the river at Pearson Air Park (oldest airport in the U.S.) they have the same thing but with the addition of airplanes.
These were taken at a Les Schwab tire store in Lake Oswego. The 37' was very unique.
This site started with these pictures taken 7/15/2007 at Forest Grove Oregon. Not exactly a Concourse D'Elegance the same as one might find in Newport Beach, but still an interesting mixture. The pictures are unedited and shown in the sequence as they were taken.
It's pretty obvious and impressive that in every town, in every state, there are persons saving, restoring and showing the cars of the past. The days of Hot Roding may be past, but the memories linger on.
After posting this site I got to thinking about the trading I have done in my life. What brought it up was my trying to recall how many Model A's I had in total. Then I focused in on one that had slipped my mind; the one I traded a water heater for. So here is a snap shot of those days:
After publishing this site I got to thinking more about old cars; I was trying to come up with the number of Model A Fords I had over the years. Then I started recalling making trades for cars. Then it hit me just how many trades I had made in life.
In high school, like around the 10th grade I had a Cushman motor scooter, the kind that had a two-speed transmission. I thought that I had outgrown a scooter, so I parked it in front of our house on Palmetto Drive, Alhambra, with a 4-sale sign on it. It wasn't long before a guy dressed in an Army uniform came by and told me he had just been released from the Army Hospital in Pasadena and needed some transportation. He said he had bought an Indian motorcycle from Milne's in Pasadena, but it scared him enough that he would trade me straight across for my Cushman. He told me he had bought it from the mother of a kid who had been killed on it. I made a straight across trade for it.
I rode the Indian for a couple of years and was getting a little bored with it. I had having a Triumph in mind. One Sunday after a day of riding with the gang, I parked it in front of Leo's malt shop with a 4-sale sign on it. I was still inside drinking my malt when a guy came in and started talking about a trade. That day, on the spot, I traded straight across for a 30' Ford Roadster (no fenders but Thomas dual manifold and Stromberg carburetors).
I had some fishing reels and traded them to a high school chum for his Whizzer Bike, and then after getting bored with the Whizzer, traded it straight across for a high school acquaintance for his 28' Chevy sedan.
One of the fellows I worked with knew my father was a plumber. He asked me about the possibility of getting a used water heater. My dad had just replaced one and had kept the old one as it still worked. It was so old that I have never seen one like it now or before, but I swapped it to my co-worker for his father's Model A sedan; straight across. It was a completely original running auto; I didn't have to do anything to it.
I think that by then I was driving my 49' Buick convertible so the A wasn't anything more than a toy, so after a short time of driving it, I traded it to Jimmy Lewis, who was in the Navy at that time, for a new pair of Navy flying boots (approximate cost to him $8). Jimmy was flying at Rileys School as I was. Jimmy went on to become an airline captain.
I traded a pair of aircraft magnetos to an aircraft mechanic for a small precision lathe which I had thoughts of making parts, etc. I never did use it but somehow traded it straight across to a co-worker for his 57' DKW sedan. The DKW was the most innovative automobile I have ever driven.
While at Meadowlark I had a Cessna 170 airframe, sans avionics, instruments and engine. I had gone to the Pomona swap meet just for the entertainment but saw a guy selling a 29' Ford pickup. After talking to a guy for a while I found that he was interested in airplanes. I struck a deal and traded the Cessna for the Truck, straight-across.
When I went to sell the truck I had a call from a guy in Hesperia. He promised to pay cash ($4,000) for the truck if I delivered it. I did deliver it on my Dunebuggy trailer, and when there I saw that among other old cars, he had a beautiful original Honda sedan (1st. model with a motorcycle engine). He also had a completely 100% intact 1939/40 Dodge pickup. It had been sitting in the desert for many years and had lost all paint and upholstery, but it was 100% all there, and it ran! I wanted the Honda to tow behind my Motorhome and I wanted to get rid of a replica 29' Mercedes I had bought in a moment of haste (at the Pomona Swap Meet). So I put together a deal, I would tow the Dodge home on my trailer, and come back with the Mercedes, and drive back home in the Honda. So for my trailer and the Mercedes, I got a good restoration project in the Dodge and a good tow-behind auto for the Motorhome. When the Nerio's announced the closing of the airport, I sold both of the cars for $1,200 each. (side note: when I got back to Meadowlark I found the guys cat sitting on top of the engine of the truck and then came the kittens Gretchen Goubitz and Flower).
I was always happy with the trading deals.
While I was again at the Pomona swap meet I saw a snazzy little car: a Nash Metropolitan convertible. This car was in primo condition and had the California licence plate "METRO". One of my pilots, Danny Mateus, was working for a company called METRO and when he saw the car, he had to have it. He pestered me until I gave in and traded it for his 16' Boston Whaler (with a 70hp engine) straight across. I think I sold the boat for what I paid for the Metro.
More pictures of local cars can be seen at: Old Cars- Page 2
My other sites of mostly aviation related stories can be found by starting at my home page:
For some more interesting "Old Cars" sites, check out: hotrodrevival