GENE

My First Ride: Land Speed Racer to Roadster Cruiser

We posed the question to our readers “Why did you buy your first project/street car?” because we want to showcase the stories that helped shaped the enthusiasts. Gene M.’s first car was not your ordinary daily driver, it was a land speed racer! Here is Gene’s story as he submitted to us about how he came about buying his first street rod.

My first race car was a land speed racer – a lakester suitable only for the salt, Bonneville. We had to tow it 1,700 miles, Houston to Wendover, once a year with a crew of 4+ people. It was a beautiful car and I drove it to 270+ mph, but failed to set a record.

After five years of that, I sold the lakester, and began searching for a street rod. I leaned towards the traditional deuce highboy roadster — I sat in many, but none fit. The floorboards were always to close to the rest of me.

I flew out to Tucson to meet with Bonner, a colleague. Driving me from the airport he asked, “What are you going to do now that you’ve sold the lakester?”

“I’m looking for a street rod that I can drive without a crew and a 1700-mile tow,” I replied.

“What are you looking for?”

“I’m looking at a lot of Ford roadsters, but they don’t fit. What I buy has to fit.”

“There is a ’32 roadster here in Tucson that has just been completed and is for sale. Want to look?”

“Sure.”  Bonner turned left and we went to Mic’s garage.

There, sitting out front, was a beautiful deuce highboy roadster. It had a flathead motor with Sharp heads, a Thickston hi-rise manifold, and two Stromberg 97 carburetors. I was impressed that the heads were not the more common Offy or Edlebrock, and I’d never heard of Thickston. Bonner assured me that Thickston was a well-known brand back in the day. V-8 quick-change center section.

It was a car that a hot-rodder could have built in 1950 using parts available at that time. Only the steel body and frame rails are aftermarket, plus the 12-volt lights.

I went inside to ask if I could “try it on” for size. Mic wasn’t there, but they said yes.

IT FIT!

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