Friday, May 25, 2018

The Mothers® 1959 Sedan Delivery


The star of the Mothers® Polishes booth at the 2017 SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) show in Las Vegas was the company’s famed 1959 Chevrolet Sedan Delivery. Originally a telephone company vehicle equipped with a 235-cubic inch 135-horsepower Hi-Thrift 6-cylinder engine and a three-speed column-shifted transmission, the sedan delivery has been a part of the Holloway family since 1984.


In 1999, Mothers® employee Gary Turnau built it into a “restomod” powered by 350-cubic inch small block Chevrolet engine with Edelbrock electronic fuel injection. Using the original frame fitted with Air Ride suspension the bright red rod was featured in Hot Rod magazine.

In the years since its initial build the Mothers® signature vehicle received many updates and powerplants, but its most recent update came in 2014 in the Rad Rides by Troy shop.  The bright red beauty received a new modified Art Morrison Enterprises chassis with Corvette C6 independent front suspension and a new 378 cubic inch intercooled and supercharged Ligenfelter aluminum LS3 engine with aluminum cylinder heads that develops 670 horsepower. 

The car features brushed nickel-plated trim throughout and one-off Billet Specialties wheels that are 18 inches in diameter by 9 inches wide in front with massive 19-inch by 12-inch wide wheels in back.
The interior is dark brown leather with suede inserts and matching tweed carpet and Rad Rides built a rear seat for the car, a feature that the original Sedan Delivery did not offer. One thing that didn’t need a makeover in 2014 was the eight-year old BASF Glasurit paint as it had of course been protected by Mothers® polishes and waxes.

Check out the full product line of car care products at
all photos by the author

Monday, May 21, 2018

Plymouth Air Radial truck at SEMA 2017


The Covercraft booth at the 2017 SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) show in Las Vegas featured the Plymouth Air Radial truck built as a promotional tool by Colorado Auto Parts, a U-Pick yard near Denver.

The Plymouth division of the Chrysler Corporation had a commercial division that built and sold commercial body cars as well as half-ton pickup trucks known as the PT105 from 1937 until production halted in 1941, as the trucks were never very high-volume sellers.

The owners of Colorado Auto Parts owned this particular pickup for over 30 years but it wasn’t until they also obtained a Cessna C195 airplane for scrap that this concept came together. The crew removed the cab and bed, chopped the top and built a custom tube frame chassis to cradle the 505-pound 575-cubic inch Jacobs Aircraft Engine Company R-755-A2 7-cylinder radial engine.  


The biggest problem for the build was how to transmit the steel cylinders with twin-plug aluminum-alloy cylinder head engine’s 300 horsepower. The crew attached a toothed 3-inch wide rubber drive belt to the engine’s propeller shaft and used the belt to turn a pulley attached to the V-drive (as used in boats) mounted ahead of the engine. The V-drive’s output shaft is connected to a GM Turbo 400 automatic transmission which transmits the power and torque to the Franklin quick change rear end.

Colorado Auto Parts intended to race the truck at the Bonneville Salt Flats but learned that the Southern California Timing Association did not have a class for radial engines and that the SCAT didn’t consider the truck’s roll cage as safe, but still allowed the crew to drive the truck to run it alongside the course. Unfortunately the radial engine smokes a lot and overheats after about ten minutes, so this truck is not for commuting, just for show and exhibitions, and has been featured in Hot Rod and Autoweek magazines and on Jay Leno’s Garage.

Shown alongside the Plymouth Air Radial truck was a hot-rodded version of a Clark CK20 aircraft tug from the same era as the truck and engine. The original tug was powered by a 122-cubic inch 4-cylinder Continental flathead engine which allowed the tug to pull up to 20,000 pounds.

Covercraft Industries in business since 1965 offers a full line of automotive covers – from car covers, seat covers, dash pads, sunscreens, front ends bras, and floor mats for cars trucks, boats. Covercraft says they provide “protection for whatever you drive.” You can reach them on the internet at

all photos by the author




Friday, May 18, 2018

 The "A-Steam"
by Jimmy Built
at SEMA 2017


On display at exhibit space provided by the Chemical Guys, a car detailing supply company was this “steam punk” six-wheeled creation built ironically enough by a high-tech industry executive, Jim Belosic co-founder of CEO of Shortstack, who calls his hobby shop “Jimmy Built.”

The powerplant is a twin-cylinder vertical marine engine with each cylinder having a 3-inch bore and 3-inch stroke which develops seven horsepower and 300 foot/pounds of torque.  The car is equipped with a 3-1/2 gallon boiler with 21-gallon reserve tank heated by a 250,000 BTU propane burner.

As the basis of his "A-Steam" Belosic used a set of lengthened 1928 Ford Model A frame rails and axles with the rear axle modified to use chain drive and assorted parts (such as lights gauges and the whistle) purchased off the internet auction site EBay Motors.  The car which has a claimed 15-mile range and a top speed of 22 miles per hour debuted at Reno’s “Hot August Nights” in early August 2017.

Photos by the author

Monday, May 14, 2018

The original monster truck- Bigfoot 
at SEMA 2017


The Hedman Hedders booth at the 2017 SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) show in Las Vegas featured a blast from the past- the original “Bigfoot®” monster truck to celebrate the company’s nearly 40-year relationship with Bigfoot®.



Bob Chandler who ran a speed shop,  Midwest Four Wheel Drive in Hazelwood Missouri, was nicknamed “Bigfoot” by one of his shop employees due to his heavy-right-foot driving style, and as this 1974 Ford F-250 truck was being built as a showpiece for the shop, the truck itself was christened “Bigfoot®.”
The car-crushing truck which features military axles complete with four-wheel steering, 48-inch tall tires, and a supercharged 460 cubic inch Ford big block V8 engine made its first show appearance in 1979.

To date there have been a total of 22 Bigfoot® monster trucks built, including a battery-powered truck and a truck built with 10-foot tires. Bigfoot® has been named one of the “Top 5 Marketing Vehicles of All Time,” and its worldwide notoriety led to the creation of an entire “Monster Truck” industry.

Hedman Hedders began as a one-man shop in 1954 as Bob Hedman sold exhaust tubes to fellow racers for use on the dry lakes of the Mojave Desert. In the years since, the Hedman Performance Group has incorporated computer technology to ensure that its products offer the best performance improvement possible for street, race and off-road vehicles. Hedman Hedders has been part of the monster truck phenomenon since its start back in the mid-70’s, and every Bigfoot® truck has been Hedman equipped.

Photos by the author

Thursday, May 10, 2018

A pair of “Gassers” at SEMA 2017

Everyone seems to like “Old School” supercharged “Gasser” style builds with nose-high stance over a chromed straight front axle. There were two examples at the 2017 SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) show which were at opposite ends of the scale regarding build quality.

This 1961 Chevrolet Corvette “Gasser” in the FITech Fuel Injection booth was immaculate with beautiful paint and chromed roll bar.


This Pontiac parked outside the Las Vegas Convention Center in the Silver Lot was the exact opposite of the Corvette. Powered by a supercharged engine fitted with a Holley EFI system, it was shown unfinished without wiring, trim, roll bar, or even an interior. On the automotive market’s biggest stage, this car couldn’t have impressed many people.


All photos by the author    

Monday, May 7, 2018

Jerome Rodela wins
his second Vukovich Classic 
16 years later!

On Saturday night May 5, The Bay Cities Racing Association midgets joined the BCRA vintage midget division, the NCMA Sprints, Madera’s own CSS/360 Super Modifieds class, the Legends of Kearney Bowl, the USAC Western US Pavement Midgets, and the Legends of the Pacific series for the 28th annual Vukovich Classic at the 1/3-mile asphalt Madera Speedway.  

Jerome Rodela set the pace in time trials as he toured the oval in his Trench Shoring sponsored Toyota powered midget in 13.873 seconds to edge Scott Pierovich in Del Morris’ Esslinger powered #17K whose best lap was 13.941 seconds. Mark Maliepaard was third quick at 13.980 seconds with youngster Jesse Love III fourth in the #5 Van Dyne Engineering machine, and Chad Nichols five-time Vukovich champion, wound up fifth after a costly bobble on his second timed lap.

David Goodwill made his inaugural 2018 BCRA appearance and qualified sixth, followed by Frankie Guerrini III in Bob Rosen’s familiar #4 with defending series champion Maria Cofer in eighth place in the Arata Racing #88. Nine-time BCRA champion Floyd Alvis made his first 2018 appearance in his green #18 midget and qualified ninth and JR Williams rounded out the Vukovich Classic qualifiers.

In the evening’s first heat race, Chad Nichols started on the pole position and shot into the lead trailed by Rodela who made a nifty inside move underneath Guerrini to claim second place. Before the first lap was completed, Floyd Alvis felt a vibration in the drivetrain of his midget and pulled into the infield. On lap 4, Maliepaard took the inside line through turn three to claim third place from Guerrini, and then the running order remained unchanged to the checkered flag. The finishing order was Nichols, Rodela, Maliepaard and Guerrini.      

As the field for the second heat roared into the first turn, Goodwill edged ahead of Cofer as Pierovich and Love ran side by side before Scott pulled ahead to claim third place. Lap after lap, Pierovich looked to the high side of Cofer as the pair entered turn one, but he just couldn’t make the move stick for the second position.  As the field raced through turns three and four on the final lap, Pierovich got around Cofer on the high side to claim second behind Goodwill, with Love fourth and Williams in fifth place.

After the heats races were completed, Western US Midget racer Cody Jessop became BCRA’s newest member and 2015 USAC Western HPD Midget Champion’s #00 midget was slotted to start at the tail of 30-lap feature. Welcome Cody and thank you!

After the re-draw for the feature lineup, Frankie Guerrini and Maria Cofer shared the front row with Nichols and Goodwill in row two, Pierovich and Maliepaard made up row three and fast qualifier Jerome Rodela started on the outside of the fourth row. As the field accelerated out of turn four for the initial green flag start, the Rosen #4 experienced engine problems and did not come up to speed. With the inside row starters bottled up behind Guerrini, Maria Cofer streaked into the lead trailed by Goodwill, Rodela and Maliepaard.  Both Guerrini and Alvis coasted their cars into the infield off the back straightway as the field completed lap one.  

On the sixth lap as the field raced down the back straightaway, the engine in Cofer’s #88 suddenly blew up in a cloud of smoke and oil. Chaos reigned as the trailing drivers looked for an opening but Nichols and Pierovich both became involved, with #17N sustaining some front fascia damage but was able to continue, while Scott made contact with another car with his front nerf bar and spun to stop backwards in turn three as the red flag was displayed.

After the Madera Safety Crew cleaned up the spilt oil, the remaining car pushed off and the race resumed with Rodela in the lead ahead of Goodwill, Maliepaard, Nichols, Pierovich and Love.

On lap eight as JR Williams also retired his red and gold #74 machine to the infield, Jesse Love moved the blue Van Dyne #5 past Pierovich into fifth place, then on lap 10, Scott coasted the #17K into the infield with engine problems. On lap 12, Love moved around Nichols for fourth place, as Chad battled apparent handling problems with Shanonian Esslinger.
By lap 18, Jerome Rodela had built up a five-car length cushion over second place Maliepaard who in turn held a seven-car length lead over third place Goodwill. Love trailed David’s #3g by five car lengths with Nichols ten car lengths behind Jesse.  In the closing laps, Love closed to within three car lengths of Goodwill, but was not close enough to make a move for position.

At the end of thirty exciting laps, Jerome Rodela claimed his second Vukovich Classic championship, sixteen years after his first Vukovich win in 2002. Mark Maliepaard finished 3-1/2 seconds behind with a well-deserved second place after a spirited drive, trailed by David Goodwill, Jesse Love and Chad Nichols, with all the finishers on the lead lap. Among the non-finishers, Scott Pierovich finished sixth, JR Williams seventh, with Maria Cofer eighth, Cody Jessop ninth, Frankie Guerrini tenth and Floyd Alvis in eleventh.

Looking ahead on the schedule, the next race for the BCRA midgets will be on May 26th at the Stockton dirt track as part of the $5000 to win “360 Sprint Car Open” then on the weekend of June 8 and 9 the BCRA midgets will stay on the dirt and make back-to back appearances at Ocean Speedway on Friday night the eighth followed by Petaluma Speedway on Saturday night the ninth along with the King of The West sprint car series.        

Monday, April 30, 2018

Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg history on display

At the downsized automobile display at the Blackhawk Museum which now only includes a single floor of classic automobiles, the author found two artifacts of the once-mighty Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg triumvirate.

Errett Loban (EL) Cord took over as the General Manager of the failing Auburn Automobile Company of Connersville Indiana and worked at no salary with the understanding that he could acquire controlling interest if he was successful. By lowering prices and re-painting the cars, Cord quickly turned around the company’s fortunes and used Auburn as the cornerstone of his Cord Corporation which by 1929 owned 150 companies that included Lycoming Engines, Checker Cab, Columbia Axle, Stinson aircraft, and Duesenberg.

The first item of interest on display at the Blackhawk Museum is this Duesenberg Straight Eight model J engine. This 420-cubic inch engine built by Lycoming in Williamsport Pennsylvania uses dual overhead camshafts to operate four valves per cylinder which developed a remarkable for its time 265 horsepower. Transmitting its power through a three-speed transmission, a Model J Duesenberg could hit 95 miles per hour (MPH) in second gear with a top speed of nearly 120 MPH.

This engine built in 1929 was originally fitted to chassis #2175 which has been lost through the years, although part of that short wheelbase chassis’ original disappearing top body built by the Walter Murphy Company of Pasadena California was used in rebuilding Duesenberg #2154.

The other fascinating Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg artifact at the Blackhawk Museum is this 1935 Auburn 851 supercharged “boat tail” Speedster. Powered by a 280-cubic inch Lycoming straight eight aluminum head engine fitted with Bohnalite aluminum pistons and a Schwitzer-Cummins centrifugal supercharger that turned at six times the crankshaft speed, the engine developed 150 horsepower.

That was enough power to allow David Abbott “Ab” Jenkins to set 77 worlds records at the Bonneville Salt Flats over a 24-hour period. The records witnessed by the Contest Board of the American Automobile Association included a mile at 67.0306 MPH from a standing start and 100.77 MPH for one mile with a flying start.
The latter run earned the Auburn Speedster the title of “the world’s fastest stock car” and every production 851 Speedster carried a dash plaque (Auburn part number is G5437) signed by Jenkins that certified that the Speedster had been driven over 100 MPH before shipment. It’s doubtful that Jenkins drove each car but there is no question that a supercharged Auburn Speedster could easily attain over 100 MPH.

This particular Speedster is equipped with a three-speed transmission single-plate clutch and two-speed Columbia rear end, which allowed the driver to switch between the in-city and open road axle ratio using a selector on the steering wheel hub.  


While this car designed by Gordon Buehrig was striking and with its “boat tail” design and chrome exhaust pipes was probably was the dream of many young men in 1935, the factory had to actually force some Auburn dealers to put a Speedster on display on their showroom floor.  The car had no virtually no room for luggage and with the top in place, getting in or out of the Speedster was all but impossible.  There were an estimated 500 Speedsters built in 1935 and 1936, but years later many Speedster replicas of varying build quality have been built.

Alas, the Cord Corporation itself collapsed in late 1937 - EL Cord sold out before the holding company entered bankruptcy and its various assets were sold off by the bankruptcy court.   Auburn renamed American Central fabricated parts for Jeeps and B-25 bombers during World War II and Lycoming remains in business today. 

After selling out, EL Cord moved to Beverly Hills where he had previously built Cordhaven, a ten-acre estate with a $2 million home that enclosed 32,000 square feet, had 62 rooms - 16 bedrooms and 22 bathrooms. EL made several more fortunes in radio, television and real estate before he died in 1974 but only after Cordhaven was demolished in 1963 and developed into twelve separate parcels.  His grandson Chris Cord was the 1987 IMSA (International Motor Sports Association) sports car champion.  
All color photos by the author