It's pretty cool to hear stories about young car guys drawing inspiration from famous rods and customs from the past. What gives this story an extra portion of cool is the fact that, although the owner of this knockout '60 Starliner is still too young to order a beer, his taste goes back almost 50 years.
Nineteen-year-old Chris Herod's mild custom was finished in 2003, but the car would never have been built had it not been for an earlier '60 Starliner custom, created for the early '60s show car circuit by the famous Alexander Brothers.
From 1960 to 1963, Adonis was a star on the indoor car show circuit. Owner Bill Whetstone drove his custom more than 50,000 miles during those three years; then, in 1963, he sold it and never saw it again. He never forgot it either. In 1999, Bill bought a well-preserved '60 to build into a replica of his famous custom. At the same time, John Schleicher from St. Paul was starting his own Adonis clone. Rather than duplicate a copy, Bill teamed up with John, and Mike and Larry Alexander, to help recreate Adonis. He gave his stock Starliner to his 14-year-old grandson. That grandson is Chris Herod and this is that car.
Bill encouraged Chris to design the car his own way, just as he had done. Chris already had an image in his head, one that had "the flavor of Adonis, but with my own taste," Chris says. "I wanted my car to look like a custom that the Alexander Brothers could have built, but with a few of the West Coast-style elements that I liked too, such as Bellflower exhaust tips and satin paint." Other influences can be seen in the side trim and taillights. In the tradition of many early '60s customs, most of the mechanical components were kept in close-to-stock condition. The suspension was mildly modified and the 292 Y-block engine hot rodded for more energy on the street.
Kevin Booth did a lot to apply Chris' ideas to the Starliner, finishing the project in time for the Detroit Autorama. The only down side was the fact that the owner still wasn't old enough to drive his custom.
That predicament has since been solved, and Chris has been making up for lost time by using the Starliner as his daily driver. He told us a lot of his peers don't understand why he would build and drive an old relic like the Starliner, or why he wouldn't update it with 20-inch rims, hydraulics, and bright paint. People who do "get it" include Chris' grandfather and his lifelong heroes, the Alexander Brothers. In fact, Mike Alexander told him his modifications were similar to what he and Larry might have done to the car.
Now that it's been finished for a while, Chris is thinking about tearing the car apart for a rebuild. The body modifications won't change much, he promises, but the interior might be redone in the Tijuana tuck 'n' roll style of the Adonis. And he's thinking about shooting some shiny paint after all-candy wild cherry maybe. Of course a rebuild would require finishing another car for use as daily transportation, and that hasn't happened yet.