Posts Tagged ‘1954

09
Jul
09

The Cheetah

One night while I was working on my Model A coupe at my friend Jon’s shop my phone rang. It was my friend Scott.  He told me that he knew of a car to write a story about and he happened to be on his way to the owner’s house. Jon and I quickly closed up the shop to go meet up with Scott. He told me briefly about the car on the way and a few minutes after we pulled up to an amazing red barnboard garage.

Stepping into the garage I feel as though i’ve stepped into a museum of car memorabilia. We are greeted by the very lively “museum” owner, Walter Zion, who’s garage we are at. The walls are covered with old metal signs and car pictures; and the display cases filled with die cast cars, suicide knobs, shift knobs and cool knickknacks. I am drawn to his black 1947 Mercury convertible. The interior is immaculate.  He tells me the car’s interior was replaced in the early 80’s by LeBaron Bonney a high end interior shop. Pictures of the interior of his Mercury had been used in LeBaron Bonney advertisements for years after.

 Just past the Mercury is a black 1934 Chevrolet Sedan street rod. In front of the Chevy is a pristine 1937 Ford Woody Wagon that is all original and untouched with very low miles on the odometer. The door wore an old goldleaf Glenfield Farm logo, a farm that was located in Middleboro, MA.

 After taking in all of the items that are hanging on the walls, ceiling and inside display cases, we step down into the rear garage where the 1950’s survivor sat in all its glory. The car started its life as a 1940 Ford Tudor sedan. In late 1952 the car started its transformation into the Cheetah. It was built by “Pick” Buron of Bridgewater, MA for the McNealon oil company. Walter showed us pictures of the car’s transformation that he received from Pick’s son; the date on the back was February 22, 1953. The pictures show the lead work that was done on the body in its bare state. The Ford was painted a tomato red when it was finished in 1953. The top had been cut off and was turned into a permanent convertible. The doors tops were sculpted to match the line of the front fenders. The trunk and the hood were welded and leaded shut. An opening to access the engine was cut and louvered. The rear of the car was nicely detailed with through “hull” exhaust, 1950 Pontiac taillights and a body contoured chrome nerf bar. The nose of the car was filled and had a custom air inlet opening with toothed grille. In 1964 Chet Andrews bought the car and the headlights were changed out for late 1950’s Lincoln stacked headlights–the craze at the time. The Cheetah originally had a Flathead with 2×2 intake on top, which was later in life swapped out for a Ford 289 with finned valve covers. The rest of the drivetrain remained stock. Red pleated vinyl covered the complete interior and wrapped over the top of the doors and seats. The red vinyl dash is complimented well by a polished gauge panel with vintage Stewart Warner gauges. The one off frameless windshield gives it a real old school open air feel. In 1988 the car was painted white, then painted black in the late 90’s. Still after all of these years the car has pretty much stayed in its 50’s state. This is a very good example of an old East Coast survivor. It really shows that these old cars need to be in the hands of someone that can appreciate the car and the hard work required to maintain it. I can’t wait to get another call from Scott  to go for a ride again.

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Matt Wood

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