We get a lot of cool photos mailed and emailed to us throughout the year. We always enjoy seeing what people are building in their garages, and we love checking out recently unearthed images from hot rodding’s past. If they haven’t been widely seen before, the photos often find a place in the magazine or one of our book projects. But on occasion we like to share them here in our newsletter and in the TRJ Happenings section of our website.
Back when we were working on Scrapbook, we were intrigued by a ’37 Chevy custom that turned up in photos taken by Steve Box (Scrapbook Chapter 21). While trying to identify the car we wound up talking to Lawrence Fears, whose uncle, Lawrence Brocchini, owned the Chevy at one time. Lawrence was able to fill us in on some of the details of his uncle’s hot rodding exploits, and he later sent us these snapshots.
As the story goes, Brocchini and his friend Leroy Semas were both members of the Sacramento, California-based Capitol Auto Club–better known as the Thunderbolts. Brocchini had a ‘31 Model A roadster that he raced at Bonneville. It had 59AB flathead with three-twos, Deuce rails and grille shell, a dropped axle, and a Hallock-style windshield and three-piece hood for the street.
Leroy owned the ’37 Chevy, which was customized by Harry Westergard. It was lowered and skirted with a Packard grille, molded headlight buckets and fenders, solid hood sides, and a host of other trademark Westergard custom touches. Early in 1950 it was winning awards, taking Best Custom Car honors at the first Sacramento Autorama, but by August it was hitched to Brocchini’s roadster and headed for Bonneville.
By the mid-’50s, Brocchini converted his Model A from a dedicated racer to a finely detailed street roadster. The flathead made way for a nicely equipped Olds with a Hydro. He added a set of ’32 fenders to go with the filled grille shell, and dressed up the steel wheels with polished caps and whitewalls. Sometime in the ‘50s he also bought Leroy’s Chevy custom. He owned the ’37 until around 1958, and we’ve heard that it still exists and is somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. The fate of the roadster is unknown, but perhaps we’ll be able to piece that story together as more scrapbook photos emerge.
If you’ve got some neat shots in your collection that you’d be interested in sharing with us, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And be sure to visit www.roddersjournal.com to check out other historic scrapbook photos and stories from the bygone days of hot rodding around the world.