It’s hard to believe how many guys have had the same cars for a half-century or more. Some time ago Junior Nelson, of Tacoma, Washington, sent us a small assortment of photos taken in the Pacific Northwest back in the 1960s. We were particularly intrigued by a full-fendered Model A coupe we saw in these photos and it turns out that not only were they shots of Junior’s ’29, but he still owns the car today. He acquired the coupe in 1962 at the age of 17 and first ran it with a dual-carbed four-banger.
An extensive rebuild was completed by 1963 and included new paint, a smallblock Chevy V8, four-speed Hydro automatic, ’50 Merc rear, ’50 Pontiac taillights and chrome reverse rims with whitewalls.
Our favorite version of the coupe (top photo) was displayed at the Portland Roadster Show in ’66 or ’67. The aqua green Metalflake was sprayed by Junior’s long time friend Dick Page and the American Torq-Thrusts, fitted with Firestone Indy tires, gave a distinctive mid-’60s vibe. The car was given the name of “Green Onions” after the popular Booker T and the MGs song.
Junior and Dick Page tell a story of meeting Ed Roth at a Salem Oregon car show in ’64. They offered Roth a place to stay and they all hung out for the weekend. Junior had Roth airbrush a sweatshirt with his coupe emblazoned on the front. Not only does he still have the sweatshirt today, Junior states that it has never been washed and now after a little more than 50 years he feels that it has been fully “RatFinktized”!
Junior took the car apart in the ’80s during one of the gas crunch periods and had planned to install a Buick V6 when they were in vogue and V8s were considered to be going the way of the dinosaur. Those plans were eventually scrapped and the coupe remained on the back burner as other cars took priority. But there is again progress on the ‘ol ’29 and it has been fitted with a smallblock Ford V8. The American five-spokes from the ’66 version are still there and ’50 Pontiac taillights have been again fitted as they were in 1963. Junior has added a Deuce gas tank and frame horns to the Model A. This is something he has wanted to do since the ’60s when he first saw the trick on Russ Meeks’ “Lil’ Confusion” Model A sedan. In fact, Junior owned the sedan for a short period.
Mid-’60s Portland Roadster Shows
Contained in Junior’s batch of photos was an assortment of shots taken at indoor car shows in the Pacific Northwest in the mid-’60s. We have selected a few from the Portland Roadster Show to include here.
Typical of the frenetic ’60s car show scene were traveling feature cars such as the Munsters’ Drag-u-la. It was built by Richard Korkes under the auspicious of Barris Kustom and reportedly fashioned from a real coffin and utilized 289 Ford power, tombstone grille and Rader wheels. The Drag-u-la and the Munsters’ Koach were featured in a Munsters TV show episode that was filmed in part at Lions Drag Strip. The storyline revealed that Grandpa Munster built the Drag-u-la to win back the Munster Koach, which Herman had lost in a previous race.
Dick Knutson’s roadster has long been one of our favorite T-buckets. He built it while he lived in Eugene, Oregon, and it was included in the January 1968 Car Craft as one of the top ten rods of 1967. Knutson later moved to Southern California joined the Early Times and added a blower to the smallblock Chevy engine he had fitted to the steel-bodied 1915 Model T. I believe he later sold the car to long-time Salt Lake City, Utah, enthusiast Mickey Ellis.
Russ Meeks’ Nomad
What made Russ Meeks’ ’56 Nomad a standout was that it was sectioned four inches and we can’t imagine this was an easy task on the slab-sided wagon. Quad headlights, reworked wheel openings and the custom grille, hark back to the days of traditional customs. But the chrome Skylark wires mounting a full set of Goodyear Blue Streak Indy tires hint at the late ‘60s time frame. The print is marked March ’68. Portland-area resident Meeks did the metalwork himself.
“Seven Year Itch”
Al Rogers of Seattle, Washington, built this channeled ’29 roadster himself over a seven-year period, hence the name. A ’29 Model A roadster body was channeled over a Deuce frame and then fitted with a Dodge Red Ram Hemi, four Stromberg carbs, ’37 Ford tube axle and polished magnesium American five-spokes.
We enjoyed looking through Junior Nelsen’s ’60s snapshots and we hope you got a kick out of them as well. But what we’d really like to see is the “Green Onions” Model A coupe back on the road looking as much like its 1966 mag-wheeled and Metalflake self as possible. –Steve Coonan