Posts Tagged ‘hotrod


Drag-n in the 50s

Sunday, Sunday, Sundaaaay!

Pulling into New England Dragway on this beautiful Sunday morning, my eyes are drawn to the cars just leaving the starting line with their cloud of burning rubber smoke being swept away by the slight breeze towards the spectators. I say to myself, “This is going to be a good day”. Walking through the staging lanes we see a few slingshot dragsters that are in line to run in the Nostalgia class which only allowed Flathead V8’s, in-line four and six cylinder engines pre 1969. Slingshot dragsters have such a Nostalgic vibe, their high compression and thumping cam help squeeze all the potential horsepower out of the injected engine. There isn’t much to a slingshot dragster the chassis with steering, the hopped up engine which emits scorching exhaust fumes through headers into the driver’s face, usually a glide transmission or in some cases a four speed manual then the rearend. The driver sits directly behind the engine, which leaves him nowhere else to sit but actually straddling the rearend’s center section. One of the safety features for the driver is the custom half inch steel plate that is formed and welded on the pumpkin between the driver’s legs just in case he grenades the rearend.


Approaching the starting line is an A/A slingshot named King & Marshall. The power from the blown injected Hemi can be felt in the ground and in my body. The driver is wearing a vintage gas mask and scalloped 3/4 helmet which completes the nostalgic look. The pilot launched the vintage dragster from the waterbox doing his burnout to warm the tires for traction, the entire crowd is in awe of the intense power of the vintage rail. When the driver is ready to launch the dragster you can feel the adrenaline rushing from the driver into you. Yellow, yellow yellow…GREEN the rear tires stand up from the acceleration and the dragster blasts down the track. The track is only allowing 1/8 mile runs today because of the weather and the King ran a low 4 second pass and in the high 140mph range!


The Gassers rumble in after the front engine dragsters finish their runs with an awesome array of vehicles from blown Willys coupes to Nailhead Henry J’s and 1940 Fords with small block Chevys all of which are running in the six to eight second range. A couple of cars that really stand out are the Paciello and sons Anglia and their Henry J that have been running strong all day.


The car show always has a nice variety of hotrods and customs from New England. One car that really stands out to me is a 1933-34 Ford that looks to be built back in the day. The Ford really shows its New England roots with the motorcycle style fenders, heavy channel and non-chopped roof. The car is chromed head to toe expecially the interior. The interior is wrapped in white diamond pleated vinyl and the headliner is held in place with custom chrome braces across the roof completing its 60’s style showrod look.



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