Saturday, December 3, 2011

Woody's Cars, Through The Years

I became really interested in custom cars and hot rods by
1958, the year I bought my first Custom Cars magazine.
Around that time, I started seeing a particular car that
caught my attention as I walked down 129th Street,
in my neighborhood of Richmond Hill (borough of Queens,
New York). It was a '49 Mercury coupe, always parked in
front of the same house. Every time I saw it, however, it
had new and different modifications done to it but I never
saw anyone working on it.

One day, I finally lucked out and met the guy who
was customizing the car: Paul Wood.
It seems he was in the Navy but married to a girl
(Carol) who lived in the nearby house with her parents.
He only worked on the car while he was home on leave
and, because I was still in high school,
I kept missing him... until that day. 

We eventually became close friends and Woody
(as he was called) helped me with some projects
on my own car after he got out of the Navy
and lived with Carol in the area.
Back in the 1950s, I had created a photo album
featuring pictures of many of my friends cars so Woody
gave me some of his old photos seen now on this blog.

(Click on any photo to enlarge it.)

Woody's first car was a '41 Chevy coupe which he mildly
customized with a partial dechroming, adding fender
skirts and a two tone black and red paint job.
The engine was a modified 6-cylinder.
(Original photo from Woody's personal collection.)

Next came a '50 Chevy convertible
which was basically stock.
(Original photo from Woody's personal collection;
photo restored by Ken.)

The '49 Merc Woody owned when I met him is seen
here outside a motel in New Jersey, while
Woody and Carol were on their honeymoon.
Although no other photos of the car exist – and
some modifications can't be seen here – the
car had extensive work done to it.
The headlights were tunneled, hood and deck
were shaved, the outside door handles were
removed and replaced by electric solenoids,
cruiser skirts were installed, and the car lowered.
The most impressive thing was that the coupe
was made into a hardtop by removing the
vertical posts on the doors and in front of the
rear side windows, and new glass cut to fit. 

A '51 Cadillac engine and 4-speed automatic transmission
were installed in place of the old flathead Merc.
The Caddy mill ran with trips or dual-quads at various times.
(Original photo from Woody's personal collection.)

Woody's next project involved this '53 Ford convertible.
(Original photo from Woody's personal collection.)

The headlights were tunneled, scoops were moulded
into the rear quarter panels, skirts were added,
and the usual dechroming performed and doors shaved.
The rear fenders were extended and flanked the
Continental kit in the rear. A Carson top was
installed and the hood had louvers punched into it.
(Original photo from Woody's personal collection.)

Back in the day, Woody had no garage and often
worked on the car in the street; this was shot on
116th Street, just north of Liberty Avenue,
in Richmond Hill, around 1961.
Mutual friend Sal Consiglio (standing) and Woody.
(Photo © Ken Bausert.)

A 1955 Buick engine was installed (sorry, but no photo).
The hood was pancaked and Woody revamped the
front end by added canted quad headlights flowing
into a new grille cavity over a rolled front splash pan.
(Photo © Ken Bausert.)

After I got married, Woody and I lost contact with each
other for about 10 or 15 years before getting back in
touch again. By that time, he and Carol were living
in Farmingville, (Suffolk County, Long Island) and
Woody was still building cars in his shop at their home.
The '33 Ford Pick-up (above) was his
"every day run-around" vehicle.
(Photo © Ken Bausert.)

The channeled body featured full-fenders.
(Photo © Ken Bausert.)

Under the hood was a 350 Chevy with a B+M air-induction
mini-blower, and a 350 Turbo-Hydramatic transmission.
(Photo © Ken Bausert.)

(Photo © Ken Bausert.)

Woody's show-car was this beautiful chopped
and channelled '32 Ford 3-window coupe.
As with all of his cars, Woody performed all
his own body, interior, and mechanical modifications;
all cars seen here were original steel
production models – not fiberglass reproductions!

(Photo © Ken Bausert.)

(Photo © Ken Bausert.)

The engine was a Chevy 383 cubic-inch stroker
with a B+M 671 Blower at one point;
transmission was a beefed-up 350 Turbo-Hydro.
(Photo © Ken Bausert.)

(Photo © Ken Bausert.)

The idea behind Woody's '39 Ford coupe was
to build a one-of-a-kind car that was also dependable
enough to take on a road trip and fairly easy
to repair, if necessary, during the trip.

Woody started by taking a 1979 Chevy Monte Carlo
chassis and drive train. He then grafted the
center section of the Ford chassis to the
front and rear sections of the Monte Carlo chassis.
The top was chopped two inches and extended
six inches to provide more room in the back seat area.
(Photo © Ken Bausert.) 

Note the louvered hood and frenched headlight treatment.
(Photo © Ken Bausert.) 

The custom grille was fabricated by Woody's son, Michael,
using 3/8-inch stainless steel
(Photo © Ken Bausert.) 

Once again, Woody created a hardtop out of a coupe
by removing the door and rear window pillars;
custom-made skirts were added.
(Photo © Ken Bausert.) 

The radio antenna was mounted in a recessed cavity by the rear deck.
(Photo © Ken Bausert.) 

Ever-popular '59 Caddy tail-light lenses were
tunnelled into the rear fenders. Of course,
all fender seams were filled and front and rear pans rolled.
Note the notches in the rear pan for the dual exhausts. 
(Photo © Ken Bausert.) 

By utilizing the stock Monte Carlo 350 engine and driveline,
Woody was assured that parts to service the car
would be easy to obtain if needed during a road trip.
Likewise, the standard driveline and running gear,
including power-disc brakes, provided fine handling
and stopping power, while also being easy
to service with readily-available parts.
(Photo © Ken Bausert.) 

(Photo © Ken Bausert.) 

Perhaps the only impractical aspect of the car
was its extremely low ground clearance;
not a problem on the highway but
certainly a concern on steep driveways.
(Photo © Ken Bausert.) 

Before retiring to Florida in the late 1990s,
Woody sold the '33 pick-up and the '32 coupe.
The '39 coupe was driven for a while in Florida
before Woody built a customized golf cart to replace it
and the '39 was sold.
(Photo © Ken Bausert.) 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Billy Squires (2/27/41 - 3/27/97) Memorial

I have been trying to reconnect with some old friends over the past 10 to 20 years and, with the internet making the job so much easier, I've succeeded in many cases. However, one of the people I had been looking for, for a long time, was William H. Squires–known to everyone as Billy Squires–from Glendale, Queens. I always remember him as being a really great guy, very personable, always fun to be around, and always willing to help you when you needed it, especially when it came to cars–our common passion.

After all the years of searching for Billy, hoping to reconnect and relive some of the good times we had, I finally learned he had died. I usually don't make a habit of creating memorials to people on my blog, but I'm making an exception this time around. Maybe this tribute will serve as some kind of closure and keep Billy's memory alive a little longer.

I don't know how I acquired this photo
(from about 1961) but it was probably given
to me by one of the guys in the photo.
Left to right: Billy and his '34 Ford coupe;
Eugene "Gene" Ormandy; and Mike Conlon,
with his '53 Ford.
The '34 coupe was powered by a '53 Olds
engine with four carbs;
the '53 Ford had a '59 Buick engine.

(Click on any photo to enlarge it.)

The first time I remember seeing Billy, I was getting out of Richmond Hill High School one afternoon around 1960 and he was driving his '34 Ford coupe down 114th Street, stopping to pick up a girl who was also attending my school. Billy was a couple years older than us and already had his senior driver's license by that time. Of course, I admired his car and eventually found out from some other friends who he was. Some time later– probably through Phil and Andy Turano–I met Billy and we all became close friends.

Billy stopped by my house in Richmond Hill one day,
in late 1963, driving this '55 Chevy two-door sedan.
(My red '54 Ford with a white racing stripe
is parked in front of it.)

In the 1960s, Billy had quite a few cars;
this early '60s photo of his '54 Merc was from
my friend Ken Szekretar. The car was
purchased as a wreck from a junk yard
and in the process of being rebuilt by Billy.

This color photo from my personal collection
shows the in-process paint job;
the car was lowered all around,
had traction bars, and 14-inch wheels
with '57 Plymouth wheel covers.

The 312 cubic inch engine had a Ford Interceptor
cam, three carbs, and dual exhausts.

Billy's dark green '55 Chevy, from May, 1964;
it is described in detail in my June 23, 2011
blog entry regarding '55-'57 Chevy's.
(This may have been the same '55 Chevy as in
the 1963 photo, shown in a finished state.)

These June, 1965, photos show Billy's '34 Ford
Roadster during its construction. The body was
channeled 11 inches and the frame "Z'd".

The engine was a '53 Olds, bored out to 324 cubes,
had a roller tappet cam, and six carbs.
The transmission was a '37 Caddy and
the rear end was from a '64 Ford.

When Ro and I got married in 1965,
Billy was in our wedding party.
(Guys: me, with Ro; next to me, Tony Nocerino;
Billy Squires; Andy Turano; Ken Szekretar.)

Billy is at far right in the above photo.

After getting married in '65, I moved to Elmont but still worked a regular job in Forest Hills, Queens, and a part time job in Richmond Hill. This had me back in the old neighborhood quite a bit so I kept in touch with many old friends. By 1973, we had two children and moved further east; I got a job closer to home and gave up the part-time job in Queens. As a result, I didn't have the time to get back to the old neighborhood much and slowly drifted apart from many friends–including Billy.

After posting the photos of '55-'57 Chevy's (including Billy's) in an earlier blog entry, I got a message from Carol Froreno, the daughter of one of my cousins, in North Carolina. It seems she and husband Steve had been enjoying my Nostalgic blogs for some time. She wrote to tell me that Steve was originally from Glendale and had once bought a motorcycle from Billy. They gave me the names of some other folks who were from Glendale and knew Billy quite well.

Tommy and Mickey Dillworth, and Mickey's sister, Terry, told me that Billy had gotten heavily into airplanes and moved to Florida. He even owned an airfield in Rockledge, Florida, and had been married and divorced. Sadly, I also learned that he had passed away in 1997. They also sent me some photos of Billy from the early years in Glendale as well as the later years in Florida (many thanks, guys!).

At Vinny Littman's house, late 1960s:
Mickey Dillworth with cigarette (left);
Mickey's sister, Terry (center);
and Vinny's girlfriend, Gayle.
Billy is at far right, behind the bar.
(Photo courtesy of Tommy & Mickey Dillworth.)

Billy and then-wife, Marcia, at the Dillworth's
home, in the 1980s.
(Photo courtesy of the Dillworths.)

Billy, with Tommy Dillworth, at
Tommy's house in Mastic, Long Island,
in the 1980s.
(Photo courtesy of the Dillworths.)

Billy moved to Florida and owned the
Rockledge Airpark, (also known as
Shawnee Airpark, or Rockledge Flypark),
located near the east coast, about
50 miles east/southeast of Orlando.
(Maps downloaded off the internet.)

The formal address of the airpark
–and that of Billy, while alive–
is/was 500 Barnes B'lvd. (Cty Rd. 502).

The entrance to the airpark is through
Flypark Drive.

Billy, talking with a woman in a car at the airpark,
late 1980s/early 1990s (?)
(Photo courtesy of the Dillworths.)

Billy, with some of the planes at his airpark
in the background.
(Photo courtesy of the Dillworths.)

According to FAA listings of registered aircraft
in Rockledge, Billy was the owner and pilot of a
1959 Piper PA-25, similar to the one above.
(Photo downloaded from an online site.)

Also according to the FAA, Billy owned and
piloted a 1963 Cessna 172E, similar to the one above.
(Photo downloaded from an online site.)

A friend of ours, John Rensing, currently living
in Rockledge, drove over to the airpark
recently and took a few photos
of the way the place looks in 2011.

Some of the buildings on the airpark property
that Billy used to own.

One of the current businesses operating out of
the airpark grounds; Aero Adventure builds
aircraft kits that people can buy
and assemble at home.

If anyone would like to post corrections about information contained within this blog, offer feedback, or contribute additional data and stories relating to Billy, I look forward to hearing from you. –Ken

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Jake's Fabulous Fords

Back in the 1990s, I worked as a shop foreman
for a Jaguar dealer in Hempstead, NY.
At the time, the owner (Jake)
had a couple of old Fords that he stored
in one of the buildings on premises.
Although they were in pretty good running
condition, he decided one day to restore them
in preparation of driving them on special occasions
or possibly selling them.
I was the lucky guy who got to oversee the work
and drive them from time to time.
Naturally, I found a nearby park one day and
took some photos for posterity.
Very little for me to comment on here; just look
and enjoy some classic Americana from Detroit.
(Click on images to enlarge a bit.)

This was a 1941 Ford convertible painted a dark blue,
probably an original Ford color.

The car was factory stock with the exception of the
white Carson Top (covering the rear/side quarter windows
and having a small glass to see behind while driving).

The '41 engine was a 221 cubic-inch flathead V8
rated at 90 horsepower.

The three-speed manual transmission gear shift
was on the column.

Jake's other fabulous Ford was this '49 convertible,
also painted a dark blue close to the original color.

Sorry I didn't get a photo of the engine but it was
similar to the 1941 engine,
a flathead V8, but increased to 239 cubic-inches,
and rated at 100 horsepower.