Issue #56 The Rodder’s Journal features the beautiful, gold 1950 Ford sedan of TRJ Senior Contributing Writer, Pat Ganahl on the subscriber cover, and Dave Mehelich’s survivor ’34 Ford roadster on the newsstand cover.
The mild custom shoebox is the perfect balance of subtle bodywork, eye-catching metallic gold paint, and a killer pavement-scraping stance. It was previously owned and customized first by Joe Eddy and later by Pat’s son, Bill, before Pat took ownership. He finished what Bill and the others had begun, and the results are stunning. The feature, penned by Ganahl and titled simply, “Rod & Custom,” splits its focus between the shoebox and Pat’s Cadillac-powered Deuce highboy roadster. Drawing inspiration from the classic Joe Nitti highboy and others of the era, he has crafted one of the nicest classic hot rod profiles we’ve seen in some time. We had the opportunity to photograph the pair on the road headed north from Pat’s home in So-Cal to South San Francisco, where we completed the shoot in our studio.
The newsstand cover features Dave Mehelich’s survivor ’34 Ford roadster. The bright red hot rod has an interesting history that we tracked back to the late-’60s, though its construction and style belies a slightly earlier build date. Originating in Southern California, it bounced around the western half of the country, first to several owners in Texas and then finally to Dave Mehelich’s shop in Wenatchee, Washington. What’s particularly interesting is that the roadster wears the same paint, upholstery, top, and much of the same chrome that it has worn for the last five decades. Dave modified things a little here and there to get the car looking the way he wanted, but retained every bit of its original character in the process. It’s not only a great example of a very early-’60s hot rod style, but it’s one of the coolest survivors we’ve had in our studio in recent memory.
East Coast Gasser
In the mid-’60s, New York native Jim Oddy took the Supercharged Gas class by storm with his AA/GS 1948 Austin. Taking all comers from both sides of the country, Oddy’s days winning races and claiming titles with his Hemi-powered import were important landmarks in a career that spanned several decades of successful racing and engine building. Now the same car that put him on the national map has been restored by another New York native, John “Trouble” Cassiol. After building and then crashing an A40 Dorset of his own, John set out to find the remains of the Oddy Gasser based on a tip that it still existed somewhere on the East Coast. He located the ex-Gasser in very rough condition, and began his restoration of the car to its 1968 configuration. We photographed the car in and around John’s hometown of Buffalo, New York. We have presented the photos alongside historic images of the car, illustrating just how remarkably accurate the restoration is.
Behind the Rope
Pat Ganahl delves into his personal photo archives to uncover original Barris photography, giving us an intimate look into the Barris Kustom shop during the peak of its popularity. In addition to the rare snapshots taken of the Barris-brothers hard at work, these photos also depict the team of craftsmen that the shop came to be known for—that and the truly collaborative nature of customizing during that historic era. Pat also interviewed some of the well-known names like Junior Conway, Bill Hines, and Dick Jackson—guys who fondly recall being a part of the Atlantic Boulevard shop scene in the ’50s.
For quite some time we’ve wanted to do a profile on the late Pete Sukalac’s photography. Written from the personal perspective of Albert Drake, one of TRJ’s avid contributors, this story is not only told with a discerning eye, but also from the context of a colleague and longtime friend. Drake supplied some of the original photography, and we’ve also tapped the collection of Greg Sharp as well as fellow Washington hot rodder, John Gunsaulis, for some of Sukalac’s most memorable work. Many hot rodders can recall the photojournalistic work of Pete Sukalac chronicled throughout some of the popular hot rod and customizing magazines of the time, such as Auto Mechanics, and Rod & Custom. It’s reasonable to say that he had a knack for capturing the individuality of those indoor car shows, drag races, and front-page worthy builds of the Pacific Northwest.
The Time Has Finally Come
Consummate hot rod collector, John Mumford, recently began on the construction of this low-flying T-roadster. Its conception began with some of the best-known names in the business, including the likes of top fuel drag racer Kelly Brown and master metalman, Steve Davis. After three decades of work-in-progress on this track-style Model T, Mumford decided to take on this project and has primed it for completion. It is now in the capable hands of Roy Brizio for the final touches.
We first took a look at Post’s books in TRJ #45, detailing how he grew his publishing catalog from a series of mimeographed essays on customizing to what are considered some of the earliest and most highly respected custom “how-to” books from the late-’40s and early-’50s. Later this year, we will be re-printing the elusive and highly sought-after series of books by publisher Dan Post. The complete collection of graphic custom publications will be reproduced, including all of the books shown above. The story features outtakes from each of the books, highlighting photographs and illustrations of some of the most iconic creations of the early custom.
It’s impossible to have a conversation about ’60s customs without eventually turning to ’63-’65 Buick Rivieras. All three years were blessed with the same gracefully angular, Bill Mitchell-penned body lines, but the ’65 is arguably the best of the bunch. Those impeccable lines were not lost on hot rodder and former Hop Up publisher, Mark Morton, and when a solid, clean, one-owner original came up for sale, he knew just what to do with it. In the feature, Pat Ganahl takes a look at GM’s design team and the evolution that led to the iconic Rivs of the ’60s, from Harley Earl’s reign to the years after when Mitchell took the helm. Examining that history makes it even easier to understand how these cars came to be known as the quintessential “factory custom.” Morty’s treatment of—and reverence for—that design, is apparent in the minimal bodywork and subtle hue he chose for his Riv, which is appropriately set down over a set of ubiquitous Skylark wire wheels and thin whitewall tires.