Don Moyer III has a passion for old iron that started in his earliest years. His hot rods reflect his dedication to the way things used to be done, especially in the case of this '31 Ford roadster. Don has a personal connection to the old-time Model A that goes way back. After we heard the story of the Lazy 8, we wanted him to tell it to you, too.
Birth of an Early Rod
The first Lazy 8, a '32 coupe, was built around 1948 in East Cleveland, Ohio, by the Sullivan brothers, Jack, Paul, and Jim. Paul, the middle brother, owned the coupe. The body was in bad condition and Paul wanted a roadster, so the brothers cut off the roof. A couple of years later, they bought a '31 Model A roadster for $50. They now had a real roadster body! The '32 chassis was retained and Z'd in the rear. The front suspension was modified with a spring behind the axle.
When Paul went into the Air Force in 1953, Jim, the youngest brother, took ownership of the Lazy 8. A year later, Jim had the windshield modified and a new top made. In 1956, he painted the car. That same year he replaced the flathead with a brand new 265cid crate engine and added Zephyr gears, a three-deuce intake, zoomie exhaust, Stewart Warner gauges, and a bomber seat-and started drag racing the Lazy 8.
During the week he would cruise, and on some weekends he would remove the cycle fenders, install slicks, and flat-tow the Lazy 8 to the track. The roadster raced mostly at Akron's Derby Downs, and occasionally at Howland Drag Strip and Erie (Pennsylvania) In the years 1956 to 1958, the car ran high 12's at around 105 mph.
In the mid-60s, Jim and his wife, Marie, moved to California. By now, the roadster was being stored at his oldest brother Jack's house.
From Strip to Street to Show
In 1967, my father, Don Moyer Jr., was looking for an A roadster to restore as an antique. One of his friends had a boss who had an old '31 that wasn't doing anything except collecting cobwebs. The car was in race form, but the radiator, starter, exhaust, and interior were missing. It had a square rollbar, a push bar in the back, and a towbar made out of wishbones in the front. The boss was Jack Sullivan and the roadster was the Lazy 8.
Don Jr. struck a deal with Jack and spent the winter of '67-'68 returning the roadster to street condition. He installed the lights, radiator, starter, and a set of J.C. Whitney hot rod fenders, and gave it a quickie paint job. The interior was finished with white vinyl over cardboard and stock door panels, with a VW seat to replace the bomber seat.
Don Jr. was president of the Penn-Ohio Model A club, and more into antiques than hot rods. In the early 70's, he wanted something more with the times, and rebuilt the '31 as a show rod for the Cleveland Auto-Rama. He disassembled the car, but could not remove the body from the frame because of the square rollbar. He then stripped years of paint off of the body and frame. My first memory of the Lazy 8 was getting stripper on myself. It burned and I cried. I was four years old. My dad yelled and sent me to the house.
Don Jr. painted the Model A dark green, in his garage. He spent a lot of money on chrome for the car, which was the trend at the time, and switched the trunk to a rumble seat so my sister and I could ride. My mom's cousin, Zion Sally, was the head painter at Central Cadillac and airbrushed bike tanks as a side job. This was around 1971 and murals were in, so my dad had Zion do up the Lazy 8. Zion spent more than 75 hours painting murals and fading stripes, the most shocking of which was a topless female vampire on the rumble lid. When my friends came over I would take them into the garage to show them the mural.
This car was bigger than life to me.. I still remember riding around in that rumble seat with my sister, listening to Beach Boys music. The antique cars that my dad restored were cool, but I was always drawn to the Lazy 8. When the car won Second Overall at the '73 Cleveland Auto-Rama, the trophy was taller than I was. My favorite memory of the Lazy 8 was when my dad and uncle put the zoomie exhaust back on the car. It was sunset when they started the engine, and I could see flames shooting out of the exhaust.
All Good Things...
In 1975, my father sold the car. He had his reasons. He complained of people always touching the car, and it being hard to keep clean, and he was always worried about people hitting the car from behind as they screeched to a stop while looking at the vampire. Mostly, he didn't want his son following in his footsteps, becoming a motorhead, and killing myself in the car.
The guy who bought the car was tall, so the first thing he did was remove the square rollbar. Once he did that, the unboxed Deuce frame must have really moved around, and paint started chipping. After he sold the car in 1979, the history gets foggy. One story involves a nasty divorce and an ex-wife who parked the Lazy 8 outside and invited the ex-husband's friends over for a free pick-a-part session.