Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Cooper's '52 Chevy Fleetline....

Here's a great post of Joe(in full mustache) and Patti Cooper taken with their beautiful '52 Chevy Fleetline taken at the George Jeffries car show, submitted by their son Ryan. I have known Joey for many years as proof from two photos below titled "Ray Charles Texaco" and "Summer of 1958"(scroll way down to see). Joe has been a great mechanic for many years, starting with his apprenticeship with Ray Charles Texaco back in the mid '60's and sharing the car hobby with his family all these years. Hey Joe...make sure you drive it this year...never mind how cold it is or how busy you are...and you probably have a heater anyway. The Cooper's car was also featured in Canadian Classics magazine a few years back. Thanks again Ryan for sending the picture of your dad and mom....Dave

Friday, May 29, 2009


Another favorite photo from our family collection showing my Dad John on the left, and Albert Bahlieda(his future best man) taken at Chippewa Park near Fort William(now Thunder Bay) Ontario. Taken in 1939, they were just goofing around and had seen this "Slow" sign to pose with. Note the cool little '30 Model "A" Ford pickup in the background(wish I had it now). They both entered the services together, and also spent some time in England in the mid 1940's, after my Dad was married, and I was born. Later on Albert ran a service station on the corner or May and Cummings for many years, across from the present day Superior Bowling alley. There are no buildings at the service station site at the present time. Click on pic to enlarge.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Canadian Lakehead Exhibition

Here's another aerial view of the Canadian Lakehead Exhibition track taken in 1958 during the fair. The fair when I was a kid was incredibly large for two small cities like Fort William and Port Arthur(Thunder Bay now). They had a ton of thrill rides and the typical side shows. Top name entertainment was brought in including daredevil drivers, and they gave a brand new car away every single day, but the highlight of our fair was the stock car races.
This picture shows part of the midway and the bridge across the river going to more and more rides and side shows. You can make out the streets surrounding the fairgrounds, the one across the bottom being May street. As mentioned in the other photo(scroll way down) is that the right half of the grandstand would be right in the middle of the Silver City Movie Theater today, and the center of the track oval is now the enclosed golf dome. The far left of the photo would be the present day Intercity Mall. Click picture to enlarge.

Hold'er Clyde she's headin' for the Rhubarb....

Another of the stock car jockeys doing wondrous things with a '33 or '34 Ford Coupe. Clyde Ditmars drove at the CLE track for many years and later became a Texaco service station owner in Kakabeka Falls near Fort William(now Thunder Bay) Ontario. The first photo shows him right up on 2 wheels and apparently didn't go over. The second photo looks like it was taken a second or two before the first, and the last photo shows Clyde mixing it up with #60 Don Marsh, and #47 Barry Kettering in the #4 turn. Sorry, these are a bit fuzzy. Click on to enlarge

Monday, May 25, 2009

1939 ...Erskine to Duluth

Here's a wonderful photo of my Dad and his buds on a trip to Duluth, Minnesota in 1939, just before he entered the Canadian Army, and only 2 years before he was married. I don't know everyone but will do my best with the spelling of the guys I do know. My dad John is top left. Top right is Orsie Bodnarchuk, and bottom center is Albert Bahlieda, who ended up being my Dad's best man. They were proudly displaying The "Fort William, Canada" bumper sticker on his Erskine(yes...that is a car manufacturer's name). You can also plainly see the 1939 license plate from Ontario. Fort William, as stated before is now called Thunder Bay, after the amalgamation of the two cities of Port Arthur and Fort William.

We Destroyed Mopars too...

Yes, we killed Dodge Chargers too. In 1975 after a few years hiatus, We tried Racing in the V8 Hobby division at Riverview Raceways. I
have stuck to my GM roots and not attempted the Mopar stuff but we had a chance to get a pretty nice '66 Dodge Charger fastback 2-door HT and did our thing with a 383 CI powered Chrysler product. It sure worked at Daytona but not for us at Riverview. Within 7 race days I fried the engine and it was just too expensive to get back into it. That ended my racing career until restoring the Vintage Modified many years later, but not without having a ton of fun with some great guys. Rear ends(sorry, fuzzy photo) left to right are George Tergie, Brian Hearn, Myself, Freddy White(my wife's brother) and Kenny Sutton(George's brother-in-law). We always sported the #67 whenever anything with 4 wheels was raced. I'm sorry to say Mopar fans, that we really destroyed a very nice Charger. The car was sold and the new owner sported the same number for another year, then the car disappeared. Thanks to all, including our sponsors then for some great memories. Photo top left is what a new '66 Charger looked like! ....and of course every race car had to be yellow!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

"Give Volkswagen an Applause"

Mostly everyone I know has owned a Volkswagen Bug at some time in their life, and I was no exception(orange with scallops on the left). I owned a '64 Beetle from about 1971 to 1974, as a second car of course. I actually drove mine

to work for one winter and went through about 25 windshield scrapers.. for the inside, not the outside as their very dangerous "gasoline powered" heater never worked properly. VW's are a great choice for a hot rod project now considering the lack of

good vintage tin, the fact that they are pretty cool looking and of course better gas mileage. Many Volks Rods are powered by V8 engines but many still use the trusty air cooled engine that came stock in all VW's. The picture on the top left is the one I owned back in the early '70's and the other photos are some of the examples of what hot rodders (rat rodders if you are so inclined) have done with them in the last few years. Some guys build a completely new chassis and extend the front axle to enhance handling characteristics. They use an early Ford style(I-beam or tube) front axle...the same ones as Henry used in his early cars, and the same ones that guys use for their regular hot rod projects. There is also a ton of aftermarket stuff out there. They are still fairly plentiful too, and many are for sale on E-Bay or other sell sites. Volkswagens make VERY COOL hot rods and I like them so much that I made a couple of models of them(last picture bottom right). Be sure to click on the pictures to enlarge....

Monday, May 18, 2009

1955 - Time for another Jalopy!

Here's a wild photo of #98
Jim Walker, brother of
friend Bob Walker. The
car says it is owned by the
Marsonet Brothers on
Victoria Avenue here in
Fort William(now Thunder Bay),
Ontario. That rub rail is about 16"
high and if you hit this at speed,
you are bound to rip something
off your car. The building on the
right is the present day Exhibition Coliseum, and where Jim is trying to rip up the
rub rail and about a hundred feet of fence is now a paved parking lot. This is a little
tribute to Jim. "They paved paradise and put up a parking lot!"....thank you Joanie Mitchell

Dave's Picks - "Top 15 Movie & TV cars"

Here is my top 15 list of Film and Television's most influential cars. You may not agree but we all have our opinions...right!
#15 - Starsky's Gran Torino - 1976 Ford Gran Torino from Starsky and Hutch.
#14 - Christine from the movie "Christine" - '58 Plymouth Fury.
#13 - Monkeymobile from the Monkees TV Series - 1966 Pontiac GTO - Dean Jeffries design
and custom work by George Barris.
#12 - Doc Brown's DeLorean from "Back to the Future" - '81 DeLorean DMC12.
#11 - Munster Koach, Munster's TV series - 3 Model T bodies by George Barris in 21 days.
#10 - Bullitt's Mustang from "Bullitt" - '68 Mustang GT390 Fastback.
#9 - Ecto 1 from "Ghostbusters" - '59 Cadillac Miller/Meteor.
#8 - Herbie the Love Bug - 1963 Model 117 VW Beetle.
#7 - Greased Lightning from "Grease" - '48 Ford Deluxe Convertible.
#6 - General Lee from "Duke's of Hazzard" - '69 Dodge Charger.
#5 - James Bond's Aston Martin DB5.
#4 - The California Kid from "The California Kid" - 1933 Ford 3-window coupe driven by
Martin Sheen in the movie.
#3 - The Batmobile from the original Batman - Barris built custom '54 Lincoln Futura.
#2 - Bob Falfa's black '55 Chevy custom 2-door sedan from "American Graffiti" driven by
Harrison Ford. The same car was also featured in "Two Lane Blacktop".
FIRST PLACE is John Milner's Deuce Coupe from my favorite movie of all time
"American Graffiti" - a custom 1932 Ford 5-window coupe. (Who in the hot rod world
could ask for anyting more!!)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Ray Charles Texaco #57

Here's another photo of Joey Cooper on the right and myself on the left.....graduating from push mobiles to the real thing(See the picture way down "Summer of 1958"). We had just painted and lettered our friend Charlie Miller's '57 Chevy Hobby Stock to be ready for racing the first year at Riverview Raceways here in Thunder Bay(formerly Fort William), Ontario. The picture was taken in front of "Ray-Charles Texaco"(what a cleaver name!). Co-proprietors were (Ray)mond Joseph DeFoy and Charlie(Charles) Miller. "Ray Charles Texaco" was located at 906 Victoria Ave., the present site of Knight Optical. This picture was taken in the early summer of 1967 about one month before my own car was ready to race. Charlie took on the number and later colors of Barry Kettering's car....the famous Red/White #57. Barry's unique racing career and untimely death while driving his sprint car in 1976 in the United States will always be remembered by racing enthusiasts all over the Midwest but mostly here in Thunder Bay. Charlie is still doing great and we meet with mutual friends about once a month for lunch....oh yes, and still no mustache on Joey yet!....we need a mustache photo.

"Miss Hurst Golden Shifter"

Here's a shot of Linda Vaughn and yours truly at 'Back to the 50's" in St. Paul... oh... about 13 years ago. This woman was always a great sport, always willing to have her photo taken with anyone, and was the epitome of women modeling with cars in the late 1960's. Remember the Hurst Hairy Olds? Are you too young? They even made a 1:25th scale model of the car and of Linda(photo above)....try to find one today!...You have one, don't you Steve?
She still tours to this day, well into her late 60's and still looking pretty good so I've heard. I look like a gorf with the too tall front ball cap and the over sized sun glasses. If you want to see a little Youtube tribute of Miss Hurst, click here

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Our First Motorhome!

Here's a couple of shot's of a '55 Chevrolet Sedan Delivery. The photo on the left is the one I owned in the late '60's and the right photo is how it would have appeared in a magazine or brochure ad. Some guys call it a 2-door station wagon. The station wagon however, looked exactly the same but had windows all the way down to the back.
It was in pretty bad shape since it was used by an east end grocery store called Workers Co-op for about 13 years before I bought it for 50 bucks. My dad and I did all the body work where he taught auto body & welding in the '60's, and Mr. Trevisan, the painter at Kam Motors did the Corvette Yellow paint job. It ended up having a 301ci chevy V8(a 283 bored out to the limit) with a 3 in the tree transmission.
It was mainly built to tow our stock car to and from Riverview Raceways, but ended up as our motor home of sorts. We camped in its tight quarters for a couple of years before we bought our first trailer. My wife wouldn't sleep in it at first, because it was all black inside and she thought it might feel the same as sleeping in a coffin. to the Canadian Tire store to buy a couple of packages of those big flower power daisies. We stuck them all over the inside and she sewed up some flowery curtains(I hated those damn things) to create an inside feminine environment and I relented. At least you couldn't see the daisy stuff from the outside....I added some Superior Mags later and a couple of chrome reverse rims. We sure had a ton of fun with this car until I sold it to my friend Larry. In later years my son Darren also owned a '57 Chevy Sedan Delivery. Click photos to enlarge

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Building Model Cars...

Here's a mildly fuzzy photo taken in the fall of 2006 at the local model railroad show. We got invited a number of times to display our models as a contrast to the model rail stuff...and received rave reviews. This photo saddens me however, as Kevin Rouse on the left had passed away from kidney complications the following winter after this photo was taken. We build scale model cars during the winter months when the 1:1 scale hobby slows down. Steve Miller(middle) and Kevin together had displayed their(mainly 1:25th scale) cars for a number of years and had invited me to join them a couple of years before that. Kevin was a great guy and his flair was building mainly drag racing models. He also built and loved his Mopar vehicles in full size too. We sure miss you Kev!
I had built a number of models of this scale through the years(mainly circle track dirt cars and hot rods), but Steve was the one that really got me going again. I credit him and his talents as an extreme model builder and old car enthusiast for getting me back into the hobby. Steve's incredible patience and his hand-rubbed mirror-like paint jobs have won him accolades at modeling shows in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.
Steve was also instrumental(no pun intended) in getting me back playing my keyboards as you can see by the photo(scroll way down) of our jam band. We all know that Hot Rodding goes hand in hand with good Rock and Roll music!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Hot Rodding is Dead....NOT!

With grateful thanks and permission from Eric Darby for allowing me to post his incredible Youtube film on my website. This will explain what it's all about! Thanks again Eric....
click here

1949 Old cars and Brill Busses in Fort William

If you scroll down to "Our old cruisin' strip", you will see a coloured photo there taken in 1962 showing Victoria and Syndicate Ave.(the two main streets in Fort William). The Fort William downtown core was pretty much destroyed by the city by building Victoriaville Mall, as explained there, closing off the two busiest streets. Here are a few more photos taken in 1949 showing the brill buses when they first took over from the rail trolleys which ended the same year. The top left would be right inside the most eastern end of Victoriaville. The bottom left is the actual corner of Syndicate and Victoria Avenues near the original Chapples Ltd.(grain exchange building), where the dropped courtyard in Victoriaville is today. The top right photo is further down towards the most eastern end of Victoria Avenue. The top left and right photos show an English Thames panel truck(Beacon's Bread and Cakes), a new '49 Studebaker(the cars you couldn't tell the front from the back), and a number of Fords, Chrysler and GM vehicles. The hustle and bustle of our downtown is long gone with most buildings for rent or lease. The rare sight of any vehicles down there are the ones crossing Victoria Avenue at May Street. Again...I could say much more! Click on photos.

More Stock Cars at the CLE

Here's another group of Stock Car Jockeys from the 1950's, and you can vividly see the Canadian Lakehead Exhibition Coliseum building and the huge wooden entrance gate to the pit area. If you live in Thunder Bay, you can go and see this building, right across from the Golf Dome. Where the stock cars are is part of the parking lot for all the exhibition outbuildings today. #24 is unknown, but the Massaro brothers, Al(#88), Tony(#87), as well as Don Marsh(#10)...Pappy Fowler also drove #10 but I believe this is Don....were all very well known in this area. The logo on the right was used for many years during the club's reign here, and was on every program and every stock jockey's jacket at that time. I love these vintage photos showing the fun and excitement of Stock Car Racing, and also how we destroyed all those 30's and 40's Fords & Chevy's. Click on pictures.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

"Sally and Tim" in a Hot Rod

My grand-daughter reminded
me after looking at my old grade 1
reader "Fun with Dick and Jane",
that the character "Sally", Jane's
sister owned a hot rod too, and
used it to take her bear "Tim" for
a cruise. OK...are you all old
enough to remember this? Well,
I promised her that I would add
this to my Blog Site....Wonderful
art work for that era!

"Unsafe at any Speed"

In a recent conversation with my friend Steve, a memory surfaced about the only convertible I have ever owned, not counting my go-kart. I purchased this(top left) '64 Corvair rag top(the car Ralph Nader killed and called it "Unsafe at any speed") from a bartender at the now defunct and demolished Marina Inn(Marriaggi Hotel) near the now Marina Park here in Thunder Bay. I purchased it in the spring of 1975 for $400. and sold it in the fall for exactly the same price. It was a super fun driver, but the sucker leaked oil at the rate of 1 quart per 100 miles. I was told by a friend and Corvair mechanic at the time to get rid of it, as the repair cost for the engine main would be more than the car was worth and that Corvairs were very prone to this problem. A lot of guys must have put up with this problem as you still see them at car shows, and driving around. I can say, however, that I did own a "convertible" and a "Corvair" once!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Joie Chitwood's Thrill Show promoting the '50 Ford then the '56 Chevrolet

Here's a poster showing Joie Chitwoods Daredevil show driving 1950 Fords and also a great promotional video link for the 1956 Chevrolet done with Joie Chitwood's Thrill Show. Various automotive manufacturers would use these thrill shows to promote their products. This is great stuff from my favourite era! BE SURE TO CLICK HERE TO SEE THE '56 CHEVY PROMO FILM....enjoy -

Saturday, May 2, 2009

New 1955 and 1956 Pontiacs

Awe more regarding Pontiacs. Here's what '55 and '56 Pontiacs looked like before we destroyed them.....refer below for the story! And now.....GM wants to end the Pontiac era forever I don't get it!....take me back!!

Destroying Pontiacs

Yes, we always blamed the jalopy jockeys for destroying all those 32-34 Fords, but in the late '60's we destroyed many 50's Chevys and Pontiacs. One of the ways to win hobby stock races in the 60's was to find an old car that had more cubic inches than the other. The rules were that you had to run a 6 cylinder engine. '55 and '56 Pontiacs had 261 cubic in engines factory stock and Chevrolets of the same years had 235 cubic inches. Another little trick was to add solid lifters that were factory stock in '49 and '50 Chevrolets....which would also give you another little edge. Consequently, when my first car was built, it had to be a Pontiac, and I also had a set of solid lifters on my dad's work bench from my first car, the '49 Chevy. In the first year(1967) we destroyed 2 '56 Pontiacs both 2-door cars and in 1968 with a fresh engine our team did fantastic, with quite a few wins in the early part of the season and were actually leading in points with almost 200 cars racing. Ending up 3rd overall in points for 1968 one more old Pontiac bit the dust when I got T-boned only 3 races before the end of the season. This last car we did was in incredible condition and actually drove it home before we started ripping it apart and adding a roll cage etc.
The first picture was taken in 1968 with myself in the drivers seat with my pit crew, welders and builders, George Tergie and Clay Macgowan leaning on the fender. I have been life long friends with these great guys who helped me a ton on these cars. We sure had great fun in those days. We were all only married about a year with our wives up in the grandstand at Riverview Raceways cheering us on. The second picture is of yours truly after the first race I ever raced in 1967. The b&w picture proves that were did collect the checkered flag occasionally and the last one was taking our car to the first race of 1968. Another super guy Dave Lovis who was also on our pit crew went on to try racing himself later on. These really weren't considered jalopies in 1967, but inspired as we were by those great guys that raced at the CLE locally back in the '50's, I knew we had to try it ourselves.....It was very exciting!! Click pics to enlarge