Rodder’s Journal #84

For the subscriber cover of TRJ #84, we turn the spotlight on Norm Grabowski’s “Kookie Kar” in all its restored glory. In celebration of ’40 Ford’s 80th anniversary, we have Barry Lobeck’s flamed ’40 Ford coupe on the newsstand cover.

Inside, you’ll find the Panella Trucking Willys Gasser, a high school hot rod F-100 pickup and a whole lot more. Beyond the car features, we have our first-ever custom upholstery scrapbook that showcases perennial Texas trimmer Vernon McKean, a Missouri hot rodding retrospective with Bob Rothenberg, a tour of Mercury Charlie’s shop, and a colorful profile on surf artist Eddy Y. This issue spans the hot rod and custom car spectrum, and we’d like to think it’s a great escape from all that’s happening in the world today.

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The Kookie Kar | By Joey Ukrop

Norm Grabowski’s “Kookie Kar” is celebrated as the world’s first T-bucket. Originally built in the early 1950s, the Cadillac-powered ’22 Ford became a national star when it appeared on the hit T.V. Show “77 Sunset Strip” with “Kookie” Kookson behind the wheel. After hiding in an Ohio garage for half a century, the T has been restored to its most famous guise by the team at Roy Brizio Street Rods. We photographed it in Ross Myers’ 3 Dog garage, where it’s currently on display with his epic collection of historic hot rods and other significant machines. This article is loaded with history you cannot find anywhere else.

Fired Up | By Thom Taylor

The late Barry Lobeck was at the forefront of the “Ohio Look,” and this ’40 Ford started it all. Originally built in the early-’70s, the car has been well preserved, right down to its raked stance and flamed lacquer paint job. Jared Wike of Taylorsville, North Carolina, is the current caretaker of this unforgettable Forty.

The Long Haul | By Joey Ukrop

Trucking is Bob Panella’s business, and in the early-’60s he campaigned this ’41 Willys in California’s B/Gas Supercharged ranks. With its blown smallblock, magnesium Halibrands and candy red paint, the truck was as beautiful as it was fast. South City Rod & Custom were tasked with bringing it back to its 1965 form.

Vernon McKean: The Texas Trimmer | By Curt Iseli 

For our first-ever TRJ upholstery scrapbook, we take an in-depth look at the work of Vernon McKean. Based out of Austin, Texas, Vernon has spent the past seven decades perfecting the art of rolls, pleats and just about every other type of custom upholstery there is. In this article, we zero in on his process as well as the fascinating vehicles that he has trimmed through the years.  

Show Me More! | By Joey Ukrop

Bob Rothenberg has been involved with the St. Louis hot rod scene for more than 60 years. In “Show Me More,” we visit his shop in Labadie, Missouri, to check out his hot rod collection and dig through a lifetime of photos and memories. From street roadsters and Gassers to a long-lost Willys in a snowbank, this is an article you won’t want to miss.

High School Hot Rod | By Curt Iseli

Nineteen-year-old Dylan Hummel’s 1954 Ford F-100 blurs the line between hot rod and custom. The pearl white pickup was his high school project, and he built it in his Mentone, California, backyard with the help of his dad, Jake. Tim Sutton photographed the truck on location alongside Jake’s ’53 Ford two-door wagon.

Finding Paradise | By Joey Ukrop

Eddy Y is a lifestyle artist based in Hawaii, and he has an infectious enthusiasm for hot rods and surfing. In “Finding Paradise,” we share Eddy’s story of growing up in Japan and moving to Hawaii in the 1960s. The combination of his colorful storytelling pairs well with his detailed illustrations and paintings, some of which use wood as the canvas.  

Mercury Charlie’s | By Curt Iseli

When it comes to traditional custom Mercs, Mercury Charlie Runnels is one of the masters. In this issue’s Shop Tour, we head to Austin, Texas, to learn about his past and present projects as well as his cutting-edge Merc chassis that he is producing with Street Rod Engineering.

Bonus Foldout!

Featuring early custom history from the Jim Walker collection

Coker Tire