Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Hot Rods in Advertising

Here's a couple of examples of the use of Hot Rods in advertising. For the '57 Chevrolet ad you can see an overheated hot rod in the background (click on pictures to see them better). Hot rods were a common sight throughout the '50's. This photo creates the feeling of reliability. A new '57 Chevy was more reliable than a hot rod......well, of course it was.....and still is today...well, maybe!
The second picture is of Bill Haley and his Comets in a hot rod on the cover of their "Shake Rattle and Roll" record. How cool is that!

Hot Rods in the Comics

Here's a great example of Hot Rods in the comics. I read tons of these when I was younger and would dream of the day I would have a hot rod of my own. The one on the left is the most current, from Oct '71. This was the cover that inspired me to restore and build my own Super Modified. The one on the right is May '59. These are two from my collection of about 25. The awesome art work was done Jack Keller. His work created a feeling of excitement and adventure....great stuff!

Monday, April 27, 2009

My First Car

Here is the only known photograph taken of my first car, a 1949 Chevrolet 2-door coach. My dad had purchased it for $100. for my 16th birthday, had it all polished up and running like a Swiss watch. It was royal blue and it didn't take long for me to add wide whites, full moon disks, and a visor. I had tons of fun with this car and was immediately popular with the girls. Cars were and still are a chick magnet. I drove it summer and winter from 1960 and traded it in for my '57 Chev in 1964, when I got my first full time job. While owning this car I worked at a local grocery store making about 12 bucks a week. That paid for my gas, maintenance and dates. I dated my future wife Rosemary in high school while I still had this car, and I taught her how to drive in it! Once you learn 3 in the tree(are you old enough to remember what that means?) you can drive any standard or automatic.

Kam Motors Limited and #34

Here's another great Jalopy shot taken in turn 1 at the CLE back in the 50's. The recognizable cars are #88 Al Massaro and at the back was #34 driven by a couple of different guys. It was sponsored by Kam Motors Limited(long gone now) and mainly driven by Bill Chepil, and then by Canary Trevisan, the paint shop manager who was a great friend of my dad, as my dad John was the body shop manager at the time. On two occasions my dad did drive the car but rather would have stayed out of it! Kam Motors Limited was the Chevrolet, Oldsmobile and Cadillac dealership back then and right into the '80's. I was very lucky as a kid to hang out there whenever I wanted to. I tried to learn all I could from watching the guys in the body shop. The picture above was taken near the big bay doors shown in the brochure picture. Great times!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Intercity Drive-In

Hot rods and old cars were always synonymous with going to the drive-in theater. Fort William and Port Arthur was no exception. We had the Intercity Drive-In. It wasn't anywhere near what we call intercity now, but way up Oliver Road near where our new hospital is now. The theater and property were almost across Oliver Road from the then and present day Port Arthur golf and country club. The property was huge and held a couple of hundred cars, had a great concession, and a playground for the kids near the base of the massive screen. On many a Friday night you could meet your buddies and their girl friends there, and shoot the breeze probably more than watching the movies. This was a great place to see who was dating who, and how serious the relationship was by how steamed up the windows were. Some guys who had large trunks in their cars could even smuggle three or four extras in, or you could wait for the "car load one price" night, and pile eight or ten into the car. A great time was had by all. I can't remember how many times we drove off without unhooking the speaker, and handing it in at the office. Our drive-in ad as shown in the top left picture was taken from a September 6, 1953 newspaper, and at that time went many times with my parents. Our theater closed in the early 1980's, to make room for more important business and commerce in that area including our hospital. We sure do miss it. A number of cities in the US and Canada have resurrected a few so that the young people today can enjoy a bit of what we had. You haven't lived unless you've been to a Drive-In theater at least once. Check the menu. Does anyone know what a black cow was? Click on photos to enlarge.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Jalopies and Brills!

If you are wondering what the title means....we can explain. The jalopies on the back stretch are #60 Don Marsh, #19 Louis Tocheri, #31 Merv Dove, #54 Wally Prokosh, #47 Barry Kettering. The unknown is behind Tocheri, and the brill bus is behind the fence. The background of this picture is taken not only on the CLE race track back stretch, but on the corner of Northern Ave and Fort William road here in what is now called Thunder Bay, Ontario. At this point the Port Arthur and Fort William busses drop off passengers(it's called the loop), to transfer to each susequent city. Basically this is where Fort William and Port Arthur used to divide and each city had their own separate transit system(wierd or what!). Brill busses were electric busses that used a trolly system for power(like rail trollys) but drove on rubber tires just like gas powered busses....pretty unique. It was a bit of a problem though in winter months when freezing rain hung on the trolly lines. Too bad they didn't keep the system considering today's incredible fuel costs. Click on the picture!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


I just had to add one more photo of the Vicky for a laugh. Everything had to be yellow. This is Rosemary and I taken in 1987 at Sioux Falls, South Dakota. This was the first long distance trip we had taken and had traveled along with our friends Shelley and Joe Salerno, in their '34 Ford 2-door sedan. During a safety inspection there, they noticed a beautiful lime green paint blob that was embedded on my front axle. On closer inspection is was a frog that I hit somewhere along but it sure looked cool against the School Bus Yellow of the car. Rosie looks great but I look like a dork with those crazy shorts, yellow sunglasses and knobby knees.


This is one of my favourite photos of my dad and I in 1986 while working on my '33 Ford Victoria. Anytime I was in a bind for some inspiration or assistance, I could always count on my dad to show up at my garage. We would sit and contemplate what to do, and toss around ideas, especially when it came to body work or welding. He had taught me to weld years ago and how to do lead body work on my '32 Ford coupe. Leading was quite an art in itself. To this day at almost 90 years old, he is always interested in what's going on inside the garage. The picture on the right is how the Vicky turned out. It was sold to Ray Stevenson from Winnipeg in the fall of 1988 and I started my Little Deuce Coupe that winter. At this time I believe that the car belongs to a doctor in Calgary, as it had been spotted at a rod run there a couple of years ago.

The Garage

Here are some photos of 4 wheel stuff I shared with my sons when they were younger. The first one is my son Jay and I doing some work on my deuce around 1990. The next is Jay wishing he could race the kart(#67) and be like his big brother Darren back in 1981. Next is Darren with his push buggy #67 of course taken about 1976 and the last is of Darren, kart racing at the K-Mart parking lot in 1981. Many cars were built in our garage and many memories with my sons were shared there. Seven cars were restored, built or rebuilt not including the many that were started, partially finished and sold. Click on pictures.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Road Gents Car Club

Here's a fantastic picture of the Road Gents Car Club. I belonged to the NOTA but as long as I remember, there were no specific rivalries between them and us. I was and still am friends with a few guys from this picture.
They wore the ties so they could claim to be more sophisticated than were were(only kidding), but they all look great all dressed up, and the photo has withstood the test of time for nearly 50 years. Click on the picture to enlarge and scroll down to see who everyone was. Another Car Club of the time was the Lakehead Antique Car Club and to this day is the only surviving club from that era and before.

Northern Ontario Timing Association Jacket & Calling Card

Thanks to Brian Phillips, here's a few pictures of our car club jacket from the 1960's. There was a yellow nylon one and only two known variations of the grey jacket. Brian still owns them all. They held a contest to design a front logo(the wheel/tire) and I had won the contest and actually won my jacket as the prize....I have no idea where mine went to......It probably got covered in grease using it to lie on under a car. I believe there was a group photo taken way back when but I don't have a copy of it. Maybe someone could let me know if there is one around. Brian was a past president of the NOTA. The first picture is our calling card. This is a picture of one I still have. You would hand one out if you helped someone with an automotive or any other problem. It was like a courtesy card. We were hot rodders but we were also gentlemen. The NOTA was instrumental in starting the ball rolling for Riverview Raceways(our new race track after the CLE track closed to car racing) back in 1967 and was very proud to be a member. Click on pics to enlarge.

1965 NOTA's Rod Custom and Antique Show

Here's the program and a picture of my 1957 Chevy Belair 4-door hardtop taken at this particular show and seen on the entries roster. These were great times when our car club the Northern Ontario Timing Assoc. (NOTA) would get together and put on a car show at the Port Arthur arena. We even had the infamous Ed Roth's Outlaw one year(scroll way down to see Ed's picture with Rat Fink). Click on the pictures to see everything enlarged including the entries and the NOTA exectutive at the time. I can't believe that was 44 years ago........WOW!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Day at the Races Circa 1958 CLE

Here's a birds eye view of exactly what it looked like sitting in the huge grandstand at the Canadian Lakehead Exhibition racetrack in 1958(Photos donated by Dave Corbett). A typical rainy day and the jalopies are tearing around drying up the track. Today exactly where the track was, is a huge golf dome and the Silver City movie theatre, but the property still belongs to the CLE. The smell of the exhaust, popping of the engines, hot dogs and popcorn are still on my mind, not to mention the marching band songs they played while waiting for the races to start. These were great memories! In the bottom right photo you can see the livestock barns for the fair. The Coliseum building in the top center of the same picture still exists today. Click on the pictures for a larger view.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

1914 Ford "T" Depot Hack

The first picture on the left is titled "Just and Idea 1981". Long before my basement was full of junk, I wrestled a stock model "T" chassis down there to save trips to the garage for measuring etc. A full winter was spent there in design and building. When the body was completed, it stayed down my basement until the chassis was done. The best decision made then was to use a small 231 ci Buick V6 engine, because the whole thing would fit into the same space as the original "T" engine did. The full "T" hood could then be used. That was about the time I met Ron Limbrick, as he was doing a '27 "T" coupe, and was also going to instal a buick V6 engine. This was actually the only real "showy" car that I had built. It was great fun to drive around town but not any real distance. When it was all done, a gemini that I am.....well! It had to be sold to build something else. Sure would have been nice to keep all the cars I did, but financially that wouldn't do. I miss it sometimes but as they say, "It's only a car, you have pictures, and go on to the next!" I did! It went to Bethesda, Maryland, to John Harrison in 1985. Its the only one of my cars that got lost into the oblivion. The car and new owner disappeared. Does anyony know where it is now??? Click on the pics for a larger view.

The Lakehead Stock Car Club 1953 & 1957

Here's a group of photos from the 1953 and 1957 Lakehead Stock Car Club official programs that were sold at the CLE back in those days. (Click on each one to get a larger image) The skull and crossbones car on the cover of the 1953 program is the actual body that I used for my vintage modified car seen in photos below. These give you a good idea of who was racing back then. My family was not too well off then, and a quarter allowance didn't go too far, so I would sell cokes for Percy Dacy, who operated most of the concessions. This would get me into the races for free and I would then sit at the highest spot in the grandstand, watch all the good stuff, and sell only a few cokes to the folks sitting around me . After the races I would return with my unsold cokes and Percy would say, "Hey Kid, you're sure a crappy salesman." Right, but I got into all the races for free!!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Great Old A & W drive-in

Here's a wonderful shot of one of the original A & W drive-ins here in Thunder Bay(very close to where I live). It was on the corner of James St. and Arthur St. exactly where the Metro(A & P) grocery store is now. The house and garage across the street in this picture is exactly the same today. The photo was taken in 1980. The music students from the high-schools around the area got together for a 50's tribute which was recorded and televised on cable 7 back then, and done right here at this famous drive-in before it closed. The cars are from left to right, Jerry McKenzie's green model "A" coupe, Art Lee's yellow '33 Ford coupe(which now belongs to Rick Stokaluk...seen in a prior picture), My red and black Hudson Terraplane, Gord Wall's black model "A" sedan, and in the front Dinger Bell's T-bucket. You can see the camera man on the left side of the picture, and all the students having a great time....what a great day!!

Hot Rod from Down Under

They build great hot rods in New Zealand too. Friends(mates as they would say down there), Glen and Issy Keen are building this very cool model "A" coupe hot rod, done in the old style sitting high on a '32 Ford Chassis, with a chopped top, split wishbone suspension and a Flathead Ford engine. A beautiful job. That's their vintage original model "A" coupe right behind the hot rod. Our January is their summer and our July is their winter. How's is coming now Glen??

Bonneville, the birthplace of the Hot Rod

This has been another dream of mine and a trip one of these years. Here's a photo of my friend Ron Limbrick. He has had the privilege of being in Bonneville for speed week a few times now as an official and even had a chance to ride towards that mirage mountain that looks like it doesn't touch the ground.....what an opportunity Ron. Anyway that's him in the drivers seat and the free ride that he got.....what was the speed again Ron? Oh any bigger sun glasses?....only kidding Ron. I guess you need the largest ones you can get standing on that sooo white bright salt in 90+ degree weather.