The subscriber cover of The Rodder’s Journal issue #53 features the Eddie Miller Lakester now owned by Don Ferguson. The newsstand cover features Tom Venezia’s bright orange ’41 Willys.
Eddie Miller Lakester
The Ferguson family has long been associated with land speed racing both on the Dry Lakes at El Mirage and the Salt Flats at Bonneville. Their enthusiasm spans three generations with Don Sr., Jr. and III, who is now President of the SCTA. Don Sr. was always acquiring old racing cars, engines and parts. One of the more important cars that he would purchase in the mid-70s was the Eddie Miller Lakester. Don Ferguson Jr. and a crew of skilled craftsman completed the full restoration of its 1952 guise in time for the Pebble Beach Concours D’Elegance in 2010. Don brought the car to our San Francisco based studio for a week or so last summer while Jim Miller sent more vintage photography than we knew what to do with. Jim, is the son of the Lakester’s original builder, Eddie Miller and we felt it only fitting that he write the accompanying article.
Born Too Late
It just so happened that a trip to the East Coast to create material for this issue was necessary. We were able to pack three car features from three different states in to a two-week thrash. We became aware of Tom’s ’41 Willys after the 2009 Jalopyrama where it was on display on the main floor. The Dayton, Maryland based Willys was built as a tribute to the Gasser’s that Tom didn’t get to experience in his youth. It features the pre-requisite 6-71 blown, 4-port injected, 392 Chrysler Hemi in the engine bay, chromed tube axle, 15×4 and 15×10 aluminum wheels and diamond pleat interior. Tom is no checkbook hot rodder either and although he did enlist the help of Fast Times Rods for the chassis work and The Hot Rod Garage for final bodywork he had his hands in the project from day one. We shot the coupe at The Baltimore Museum of Industry against the cityscape of downtown Baltimore.
After our stay in Baltimore, Maryland we traveled north to the small town of Rochester located in the South West of Massachusetts to shoot Keith Goettlich’s ’37 Chevrolet coupe. What we found interesting about Keith’s car was that he had taken what many would automatically configure as a hot rod or racecar and turned into a traditional late ’40s, early ‘50s custom. The coupe was chopped 3 inches, nosed, decked, shaved and given a taildragging stance. Wide whitewall tires peek beneath the Foxcraft skirts and tuck slightly under the front fender. Cadillac Sombrero wheelcovers are the crowning touch the wheel/tire combo. The car was mainly built in Keith three car garage by himself and a few good friends. A ’64 Buick nailhead is nestled into the engine bay while ’70 Mercedes Dark Red 2-stage paint covers the body.
Rodder’s Journal issue #53 also contains a pair of black Texas-based Deuce roadsters. One is a white-walled steel wheel equipped late ’50s style owned by Steve Ernst and built by Brian Bass. The other is a mag-wheeled, hoodless roadster owned by Floyd Williams and built by Dave Lane of Fastlane Rod Shop in Iowa. They are both powered by smallblock Chevy motors; each has three pedals, quickchange rearends, and dropped I-beam axles among other similarities. Also in common, each of these roadsters strictly adheres to its chosen theme and era. But it’s the difference of those styles that make these Deuce hi-boys drastically different. This article compares and contrasts the aesthetics of each roadster while showing them on location in Austin, Texas.
If you were able to attend the last Grand National Roadster Show in Pomona, California, then you got to experience the “Customs: Then and Now exhibit”, an epic collection of historical custom cars including some that hadn’t seen the light of day in decades. We spent two, almost full, nights photographing the collection for this article. The array of customs in that room was beyond impressive. Included in this feature is Snooky Janich’s ’41 Ford business coupe, Doug Rice’s ’39 Ford coupe, Wally Welch’s ’50 Merc, and Forrest Cutler’s ’59 Impala among many others.
From the Outside Looking In
You are familiar with acclaimed hot rod writer and Rodder’s Journal contributor, Spence Murray, and it this issue you’ll hear his story straight from Spence, himself. He tells tales of his hot rodding and customizing youth and days working for Rod & Custom and Hop Up. He also give a rare behind-the-scenes insight to his well-known feature, “6000 Miles in a Custom” that he wrote for the September ’52 Hop Up. Spence’s personal history is impressive and impactful to the sport/hobby and we’re pleased and proud that TRJ has played a part in his story.