Growing up in the Midwest, I did not see many roadsters as a youngster. Forty coupes, sedans and some model A’s dominated our little town. Customs were bigger attractions than hot rods. The 55 Chevy was truly the most desirable car but out of reach for most of my friends. The Mercury’s were always the best cruising machines and girl magnets. Chopped ones were rare but some did exists. Mandy Holder from Springfield, IL had a Barris built 51 convertible that was the most beautiful car I had every seen. He passed on early and the car was stolen and never seen again.
It wasn’t until the early 60’s that I saw my first real hiboy roadster from California. I was attending the NHRA Nationals in Indy and my buddies and I were bar hopping. We were cruising in my 59 Corvette and saw this beautiful black flamed hiboy parked on the sidewalk in front of the bar. We quickly turned around and gave it the once over. I did not know it until later but it was Tom McMullen’s roadster. I have been a fan forever. The car is now owned by Jorge and has been fully restored to it’s original glory. Several clones have been built and the new editor of Streetscene owns one of them. Tom drives it everywhere.
In the early 70’s I was at Columbus attending the Nationals and saw the best hiboy I had ever seen. Barry Lobeck had just completed his dark red roadster and the crowds formed around the car all day. I took many pictures. In those days I had to change rolls to take all the photos I wanted. I went home dreaming, purchased an original chassis and started the build. I drug that car to about 3 different places as I was moving with GM. I finally sold it in NH to fellow from Maryland who still has it.
Barry called me when I lived in Chicago and offered me the car for $25K which was about $10K more than I could come up with. Steve Coonan of Rodder’s Journal fame purchased the car and drove it for many years. Steve sold it to Bob Bauder, another Deuce lover and he in turn sold it to Bruce Meyer who is the present owner. The car was built by Barry and Bill Metz in Springfield, OH. Barry had the eye to capture the hot rod look and stance. He went on to become a successful builder in the street rod business. While the look has changed to the prewar bias tire era, Barry’s will always be my favorite.
Here are some photos of some of my first encounters with Hiboy roadsters…
A 1964 photo of Tom and Rose tuning the roadster. This was the cover shot for PHR. Note blower.
Roadster at the Petersen for the 75th.
Fully restored glory of a very famous hiboy. Brizio restored to perfection and Jorge is the current keeper.
Otis built a clone that competed for the AMBR in the 80’s. The car is still around and in the LA area after spending a while on the East coast. Highly detailed roadster.
In 1978 I traveled from Atlanta to Columbus to the NSRA Nationals. I had just had my first back surgery so my friends hauled me in the back of a station wagon so I could lie down. Thanks Creepers Car Club. This was one of the first cars I saw when we arrived at the hotel. Barry had built a car that would linger in my mind to this day.
Barry started the “Ohio Look” with the big dirt track tires and the “Harpo Hair”.
Barry also inspired many to louver the gas tank. He sells these today. Signature Lobeck.
The engine had full length headers as shorty’s were not available. Note the hump in the engine mount for the steering. I duplicted this feature in my copy.
Barry later built a clone that was featured on the cover of Street Rodder. I think he bought this car back and sold it again.
Dick started the LA Roadsters in 1957 and built this Australian Phaeton step by step in the Rod and Custom magazine. I have every page and copied many ideas on my phaeton. Phaetons are no longer popular but I still like them a lot. Frank Brown and Gary have beauties.
Today’s Brizio built hiboy is state of the art with quality parts and craftsmanship. This is Bubba’s roadster built for him. I would need this in my garage for a couple of years to make sure I liked it.