The Counts of the Cobblestone have been active in the South Dakota rodding scene for more than half a century. When Jim Neuzil of Rapid City first spotted Don Wickman’s chopped, Chevy-powered Model A coupe in 1958, he knew it was the club for him. Don helped found the Counts’ six months prior.
It’s always exciting to get old photos in the mail. While we were wrapping up another issue of The Rodder’s Journal, we received a package containing a flash drive with a handful of excellent shots from longtime South Dakota hot rodder Jim Neuzil.
Jim, 75, is a charter member of the Counts of the Cobblestone car club. The Rapid City-based club was established in 1957 and has held meetings every Tuesday for the past 58 years. We first got in touch with Jim while working on Scrapbook and shared the evolution of his mild custom ’51 Chevy the “Jewel” in the “Rise of the Rapid Shifters” chapter.
For more than half a century, Jim has documented the club’s activities and he’s now in charge of their seasonal newsletter. Back in the Counts’ formative years, he made sure to take photos of fellow members’ hot rods and customs both on the street and at car shows.
We hope you enjoy these historic images as much as we did. They serve as a great reminder that hot rodding was a national phenomenon that flourished in places far away from both the east and west coasts.
Dave Schleuning’s ’47 Ford convertible was given the standard mild custom treatment for the time with frenched headlights, shaved handles, spotlights and lakes pipes. Jim Neuzil’s 1951 Chevy is visible in the background.
Early club president Bob Swift’s machine was known as the “Flat-Top A” for obvious reasons. Jim says the ‘30 started life as a coupe and likely had a hot flathead underneath the hood when he took this photo in 1962.
Jim remembers Billy Jo Bush came from a well-to-do family, hence his nearly new ’57 Ford Fairlane. The Skyliner was treated to a mild lowering, tri-bar hubcaps and accessory spotlights complete with mirrors.
The late Carl Satterlee’s ’15 T was arguably the wildest car to hit the streets in the history of Rapid City. Carl worked at a chrome shop, which explains the extensive plating from the banjo rear to the suicide front end. The radical T remained in this form for decades, and allegedly still looks the same today. Anyone know where it is?
According to Jim, there were far more customs running around Rapid City compared to hot rods. That didn’t stop Carl Kurtz from building his heavily raked, flathead-powered ’29 A in 1958.
A young Jack Slawik built this smallblock Chevy-powered Deuce sedan while after graduating high school in 1957. He later moved to the Pacific Northwest and started Northwest Race Cars where he fabricated funny car chassis for Ed McCulloch, Twig Zeigler and many others.
Don Herman is seen here cruising his lowered ’51 Ford Victoria behind the local shopping mall in the early ’60s. Note the lakes plugs and hand-painted “Star Dust” moniker.
As a tribute to the Count’s late president Chuck Johnson, the club decided to rebuild his ’34 Ford pickup in 1969 and enter it into their 10th Annual Rod and Custom Exhibition. Dubbed “Charlie Brown,” the truck was chopped, channeled and treated to a candy red paint job with “stained glass” accents throughout. Power came from a warmed-over 283 Chevy and the bed was crafted from walnut. Not surprisingly, “Charlie Brown” was an award winner at nearly every show it was entered in.
Jim Neuzil bought his ’51 Chevy business coupe in 1956 and started customizing it soon after. He worked at a grocery store near the Angel Brothers Body Shop, so he’d drop the car off to be customized on during his shift. Here the car is seen in its final version with canted-quads and custom tube grille. The attractive side trim was originally designed for a ’56 Studebaker President.
This clean ’29 A roadster pickup was owned by Bobby Shanks in ’60 and ran a bored Mercury flathead complete with Edelbrock heads, an Isky cam and a pair of Strombergs. The truck was originally hot rodded in the 1940s.
Joe Tennyson’s ’54 Chevy pickup was mostly stock when Jim photographed it at a Counts car show in 1960. Some of the subtle modifications included a louvered hood, Olds Fiesta hubcaps and a pair of chrome air cleaners.
It’s only fitting to close with a shot of Neuzil hitting the road in the “Jewel” in 1960. He’s still active in the rodding world today, traveling to “every event within a 200 mile radius” of his hometown of Rapid City.