Sunday, December 5, 2010

Some Local Boys' "Shoeboxes" ('49 - '51 Fords) from the 1960's

Up until now I've posted lots of photos of my own cars on this blog (and there are more to come) but very few of those belonging to friends and acquaintances back in the day. So, let's look at some '49 - '51 Fords (commonly known as "shoeboxes) that tooled around the streets of Queens back in the 1960s. These cars were plentiful and cheap so a very popular vehicle for guys with low budgets to customize and soup up.
(As usual, click on any photo to enlarge it.)

My memory is getting worse as I get older but, for some reason, I remember this guy's name was Paul. I met him at the White Castle on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn where we used to hang out .
Paul's '51 2-door hardtop (how rare is that?) was mildly customized and had the usual dechroming on the hood and deck. The center grille "peak" was removed and '50 Ford grille shell chrome surrounded what I think was an early 'Vette grille; '55 pontiac side trim was added to separate the black and mint green paint job.

In the rear, a continental kit, '59 Caddy tail light lenses, and fender skirts were added. After seeing my Mint Julep (see first post on this blog) Paul asked me to add some scalloping for him so we did mint green on the black and black on the mint green, naturally!

This '49 or '50 belonged to Billy Squire's brother, Sy, from Glendale. It featured a complete dechroming, tunneled headlights, and a DeSoto grille (a popular choice for these cars back then). I don't remember what was under the hood and I think this is the only photo I have of this car.

My friend Ken Szekretar, from Glendale, had quite a few nice cars during the '60s and this '51 was his second. Above is a scene from a typical Saturday when we would work on our cars in the front of my house in Richmond Hill.

Ken eventually dechromed the whole car, removed the outside door handles, and had louvers punched into the hood before rounding the corners over the grille opening. The grille was fabricated from '53 Chevy parts and the rear wheel openings radiused. Altering the front springs set the car on a rake. (Note my Mint Julep II parked behind Ken's Ford, down the block from the place where we worked in Glendale.)

While most of the photos on this blog are added from scanning original negatives, I couldn't find the one for the engine in Ken's '51; the scratches on the well-worn photo are evident. A near stock '56 Olds engine was shoehorned under the hood and mated to the ford three-speed trans. Note the external oil filter mounted on the firewall (to the left in photo) due to a lack of room under the car near the steering linkage. The electrical system was converted to 12 volts.

Ed Talerine of Richmond Hill owned this '51 2-door sedan. Featuring the usual dechroming and shaved doors, and a louvered hood with peak removed, Ed added '50 Ford grille mouldings surrounding another DeSoto Grille. Wheel covers were spun aluminum, another popular choice in the '60s.

In the rear, Ed took the chrome trim off the sides by the tail lights and placed it on top of the quarter panels, frenching in a set of '55 Ford tail lights.

This '49 convertible belonged to our paperboy, Bill Baggellar (?); while he was still in high school he worked on this car (just like I did, but I didn't have a paper route) a couple of blocks from my house . Once again, the usual dechroming and tunneled headlights are seen.
Obviously, a work in progress. (At the upper left,
in front of his car, my '55 Chevy convert can be seen.)

Bill replaced the 239 cubic-inch Ford engine with a Merc 255 c.i. flathead for a little more power (another easy and popular swap).

More cars to follow...


Friday, December 3, 2010

The Rest Of Ken's Cool Cars ('58 Impala)

One of the guys in a local gas station loved my red '55 Chevy convertible and offered to trade me his '58 Impala so I took him up on his offer. I started by dechroming the hood and deck and repainting the car (white again) with the center of the side moulding deep red. (Click on any photo to enlarge.)


I made up red plexiglas tail light lenses in the rear and added shims under the rear coil springs to put the car on a slight rake. It had a 348 cubic-inch engine with a four-barrel carb and dual exhausts when I got it, and automatic transmission.

I removed the lower center section of the front bumper and replaced the grille with a single chrome bar to continue that "slim" look in front. The parking/directional lenses were replaced with frosted white plexiglas.

I believe I only had this car from mid 1964 to early 1965 but I can't remember who I sold it to. It was replaced with a green '55 Chevy two-door sedan (see future blog entry). Hey! Check out the 1964 NY "World's Fair" license plate in the photo below.

I don't exactly remember all that I did to the engine; I do remember driving into Brooklyn to pick up an engine block from someone, that I installed in this car, and I believe that was a 409 block. I remember the heads had been reworked; I think it had oversized valves and larger ports.


The Rest Of Ken's Cool Cars ('55 Chevy Convert)

After the Mint Julep (my first car/see the first post on this blog) I had traded or bought several cars to simply drive or fix up to sell, including a '54 Ford and a '56 Olds. The first one I came across that I really wanted to keep for a while was this '55 Chevy BelAir convertible, previously owned by the minister of a local church. It was red and white with a 265 cubic-inch engine and powerglide transmission; a really sweet car. I owned this from about the spring of 1963 until mid 1964 when I traded it for a '58 Chevy Impala (see future blog entry).

(Click on any photo to enlarge.)

I nosed and decked it, removed the short vertical pieces of chrome on the rear quarter panels, the small "V8" emblems under the tail lights, and all of the vertical chrome bars in the grille except the center one. (The dark vertical lines on the door in the photo below are the shadows of utility wires above the driveway.)

I heated and molded new tail-light lenses from red plexiglas to replace the original tail & back-up lenses, and had it painted Garnet Mist, a red GM color. I moved the rear license plate from the trunk lid to the bumper and occasionally drove with some fancy Oldsmobile wheel covers.

I added dual exhausts with scavenger pipes out the rear, a Duntov 3/4 race cam with solid lifters to the engine, and an SW tach on the dash, leaving everything else stock.

Although it was no speed demon, it did manage to take a first place trophy at Islip's 1/8 mile drag strip in A K/S (Automatic "K" Stock class).