First Love — Roadsters

Born and raised in the Midwest really doesn’t keep you from loving the open cars. In my youth, my father told me that open cars were not a good car for the winters. He said the tops rot out and tear easily. I didn’t discuss with him my buying a 59 Corvette, as it had both tops, which solved the problem. The Corvette wasn’t a roadster so I still had to develop a taste for the real roadsters. I used to see them race around some of the local tracks but very seldom seen one in the high school parking lot or even cruising the local drive-ins. I fell in love later on when I saw Tom McMullen’s black hiboy parked on the sidewalk in Indy. He was in the bar doing his thing and my buddies and I were outside drooling over the beautiful Hot Rod. We all shot pictures with our Brownie cameras. We later saw it running down the drag strip the next day. That car set the wheels turning in my mind and the search began.

Deuce roadsters were really not available in our area. We all knew of a transplant from LA that had a work-in-process Deuce but he was older and not all the eager to have us hanging around his garage. He worked at Caterpillar and my father knew of him. My dad found him at work and ask if we could come over and take a look at his roaster. My Dad was his big boss so he agreed and there it was — a Deuce roadster in excellent shape with a chromed flathead engine, dropped axle and a quick change rear end. My dad was impressed with his work and we all became friends during his stay in Decatur. He moved back to LA a year later and took the roadster with him with not much accomplished. I began collecting parts when I could find them and soon had acquired the “correct” parts for the build. College took all the time and money I had so the parts were sold, but the dream stayed with me until I finally located a body in Mendota that was used for the Brown fiberglass bodies. It was rough, but cheap, so I purchased it and hauled in home in my truck. I told this story previously but it’s Roadster week and needs told again.

The trends changed from the forties through the present day but the old pre-war look will always be popular with some. Most were a little rough due to budgets and lack of skills, others were absolutely outstanding but both were a lot of fun for those who built them. Most of us sold the roadster to build another and another. Sometime in the late nineties the value of the early built cars went out of sight and that trend continues today for the right roadster. Kirk White started the search, Bruce Meyer continued and SO-CAL restored a lot of them for customers with deep pockets. I am a big fan of all those cars. Granted they don’t go down the road like today’s modern builds do, but they were not supposed to. Correct restorations are appreciated by most old timers.

We will look back at a few today, plus some newer builds to keep the audience interested.

As Ricky Nelson sang — “If all I had to play was memories I would rather drive a truck.” Life goes on, styles change, technology advances and we are blessed with some amazing new roadsters. Come to the LARS and see for yourself. There will be something for everyone — I promise you!

Stay Tooned!


Stay Tooned!


Click on photos for a larger image


Here is the roadster in Indy when we saw it drive down the track. Rose is driving.


Roy restored the McMullen roadster to perfection and it sold for some big bucks. He has built more roadsters than anyone. One of the nicest guys in the business and gives back a ton.

When Lynn owned my first roadster that ended up with gaye

My first Deuce roadster purchased in 1971 in IL.


Chicago newspaper from 1948 stuffed in the doors for insulation.


The original Bob McGee roadster on display at the LARS. Hot Rod’s cover car October 1948


Morrison roadster at Pebble Beach was looking great.


Doane’s Deuce was a winner from day one and still is. Bruce drives it regularly. The car was a Hot Rod when Doane purchased it in 1944 for $500.


The Ray Brown roadster was also well known in the 40’s. He was employed by the famous Eddie Meyer.


Joe Nitti had the quality built roadster and it was fast.


The famous Lobeck roadster of the 70’s is now owned by Bruce Meyers and has a total new look. Barry didn’t approve of this change.


A poor photo I shot at Columbus when the car was debuted with a huge success.


I was in Boston at the time and started my Lobeck clone.


Bruce also has the Double Nickel in his stable. I love this car and watched it being built.

Lynn Boyd Chassis

In the late 80’s I was hooked on Boyd’s chassis and had him build me one.


Jerry purchased the project from me and built an AMBR contender for Oakland in 1992. I had to move to San Francisco for a new job.


Boyd built several of this style Deuce with Wescott bodies. I still like these cars a lot.


Boyd built Jamie this beauty and later painted it black.


I was living up in the Bay Area when Boyd built this one. I moved from a Deuce to a 33 after riding in this one. Wescott body also.


Ryan and Rick teamed up to build one of the show stoppers of the 2014-15  roadster season. I am in love with beauty!


Gary at Cornhuskers has built his share of Deuce roadsters also.


My long time friend, Tom, has a real nice Deuce with a Hemi!


Pete started the traditional look again and has been successful in his SO-CAL Speed Shop business.


 SO-CAL started another trend with their complete kits and a quick builds which makes a super driver that was a big hit with the PRC crowds.

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The Wisconsin group ready for the road trip but stopped for some Cheeseburgers. Dale, do you own this Hardee’s? — $1.32

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