Tom Pollard '29 A Roadster
One of our original Young Guns was 22-year-old Tom Pollard, whose '29 A was the August '54 cover car. Straight as a laser and beautifully detailed, Pollard's roadster had many well designed features, such as the filled '40 dash with SW gauges spread the length of the cockpit, frenched door hinges, and a chopped swing-out T windshield. Originally red, the car was later finished in lime metallic with rust-colored flames at the Barris shop, and cycle fenders were added.
Buddy Alcorn '50 Merc
One of the favorite and finest Merc customs from the early days was Buddy Alcorn's beautiful purple '50, featuring a just-right chop, full fadeaway fenders, frenched headlights, and side trim borrowed from a '55 Chevy and a '55 Dodge. Back then, the Alcorn Merc, originally started at Valley Custom, was featured in Car Craft magazine. R&C showed the car in the June '01 issue to report that collector Kurt McCormick had recently purchased it.
Dick Flint '29 A Roadster
The Hot Rod Magazine cover from 1952, featuring Dick Flint's '29 roadster stopped at a crosswalk as a pretty schoolgirl walks by, is one of the most imitated photos in rodding. The car, built by Valley Custom, ran a rodded Merc flathead built by Vic Edelbrock and, in true hot rod form, ran at the dry lakes as well as on the streets of Southern California. The flattie was later replaced with a Corvette 283. Joe Sievers built a well-known clone of Flint's early rod a few years ago.
John D'Agostino '57 Chrysler
Many of John D'Agostino's customs were considered for our list, since all of them have helped establish the style of high-end custom cars going into the 21st century. This style moves away from pure '50s traditional customs, and from '60s embellishment. The emphasis is on enhancing the lines of the car to make them more elegant. We finally chose D'Agostino's '57 Chrysler Imperial Royale, designed by Steve Stanford, Joe Aiello, and John himself. The car debuted in Oakland in 1987.
"Sniper" '54 Plymouth Savoy
We had a mountain of great Troy Trepanier creations to choose from. We selected Sniper, the Savoy with the 488ci Viper engine, because it epitomizes what has become a Troy trademark: a phenomenal custom rod built from typically neglected raw material. The totally custom chassis, sculpted interior, reimagined body lines, and dare-to-be-different theme make this car great. Like all of Troy's cars, Sniper was built to drive, which is what owner George Poteet did.
Ken "Posies" Fenical created this scratch-built woodie in the tradition of the great European coach builders, with styling cues coming from the Hispano-Suiza Xenia streamliners of the '30s, as well as some Thom Taylor artwork. The car was entirely custom crafted at Posies Rods & Customs over the course of six years and is like nothing we've seen before. We especially like the three-door body and the spindle-mount wheel covers.
Pete Chapouris "California Kid" '34 Coupe
Another rod that has been flattered by much imitation is Pete Chapouris' chopped '34 coupe. It first showed up, unfendered and unflamed, in R&C in 1973. Later that year it appeared on R&C's famous barnyard "Are Coupes For Chickens?" cover, finished in the familiar style. It got its nickname after its prominent role in the movie of the same name, starring Martin Sheen. The California Kid is now the property of Jerry Slover, the owner of Pete & Jake's.
Jim Jacobs '34 Coupe
The other rod on our famous "Are Coupes For Chickens?" cover in November 1973, parked near Chapouris' "California Kid," was Jim Jacob's fenderless three-window. We tested both coupes inside the magazine. Jake's ride, distinguished by its modified '37 Ford truck grille, Hugger Orange Kelseys, and Buick nailhead, rode on '34 rails, C'd, Z'd, and boxed. The four-link front suspension setup, a frequent choice today, was relatively new for the period.
Louis Bettancourt '49 Merc
In addition to Hirohata, Sam Barris, and others, Louis Bettancourt defined classic lead sled styling with his '49 Merc. Chopped, dropped, and massaged by Gil and Al Ayala and painted at Barris Kustoms, the car featured '49 Caddy trim, frenched headlights, '53 Poncho bumpers with Kaiser bumper guards, and '53 Stude wheel covers on the outside, plus white tuck 'n' roll with maroon mohair on the inside. Louis ending up selling the car, which was changed around and later stolen.