Thursday, November 9, 2017

The Legend of Alley Oop

One of my friends from the 1960s was Frank Gesualdo but,
because he was a big burly-looking guy, everybody called him Alley Oop
(after the comic strip character of the same name).
He lived on 125th Street, near Idlewild Airport
(today JFK International) and was totally into cars. Although
I've featured a couple of his friends' cars back in my June 23, 2011 post,
I've never gotten around to showcasing Frankie's cars
(all of which, by the way, are named "Alley Oop").

The only photos I have of Alley Oop I ("the first")
were given to me by Frankie around 1962 and show his
'54 Olds with slight body modifications and a De Soto grille.
Under the hood, the engine was bored out to 4-inches, with
two quads feeding the fuel, mated to a Caddy La Salle gearbox.

Alley Oop II was a 1951 Olds bubble coupe
with trips and an automatic;
unfortunately, I never got photos of that car.

A 1958 'Vette became Alley Oop III;
when Frankie bought it, it had only slight body modifications
but was destined to become one of the meanest cars around.

(Note my primed '50 Merc, the "Mint Julep II," in the background.)

Extensive bodywork included dechroming,
rolled front and rear pans, a big hood scoop and
a bolt-on tow-bar (for trips to Westhampton Drag Strip).

 The engine was a 283 cubic-incher, bored out to 297;
it used dual quads, a dual-point centrifugal advance distributor,
and an Isky track grind cam, running through a
four-speed trans and a 4.88 posi rear.
This combination netted Frankie over twenty trophies at the strip,
some of those runs captured on 8 mm movie film
currently in my archives.

The 'Vette was eventually sold but that engine was
swapped into Alley Oop IV, a '55 Chevy 2-door hardtop.

Next in this family tree was Alley Oop V,
a '61 Chevy hardtop with a functional hood scoop,
partial dechroming, and a rolled & pleated blue & white interior.

The engine was a 348 cubic-incher with three carbs,
an Isky cam and solid lifters, and a Mallory ignition.
(If the engine photo looks a little strange, it's because
it's a double exposure with a bulletin board in my old bedroom;
don't ask me how that happened.)

I eventually married and moved to Elmont, Long Island,
and soon discovered that Frankie had married and
moved to the same neighborhood.
At that time, he owned a black '65 Chevy Impala.

It was pretty much stock-bodied, with a
327 c.i., 300 h.p. engine and a 4-speed trans.

Within ten years, I moved to East Meadow and
somehow lost touch with Alley Oop over that time.

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