"Building hot rods is nothing new to me," Bill Herb will tell you. "I was born into a family of gearheads." One glance at this mostly owner-built '33 roadster is convincing evidence that Bill, while not an old-timer yet, has been in this hobby for a while. Like most hot rodders, he builds each of his cars differently-different body styles, different drivetrains, different themes, you name it. Of all the things that make this '33 different from earlier projects, two are especially significant. One is that the car wasn't sold before it was done. Apparently Bill has a reputation for selling his cars before finishing them. "Someone wants them more than I do and dollars will change hands." His friend, Buzz Bruce, bet him that the same thing would happen with this roadster. It didn't.
Bill's biggest challenge was making the roadster look like an old-time hot rod without building a cookie-cutter car, which brings us to the second notable difference about the '33-the fact that Bill got a lot of help from his now 12-year-old daughter Mikayla. Part of working with a partner is reaching agreements and that's exactly what they did. Bill's original plans were basic. "Flat black paint. Indian blanket seats. Run the wheels off it." Mikayla had a better idea: paint it. They both liked green, but father was thinking British Racing and daughter was thinking M&M. Mikayla got her way on the rumble seat idea, however. "It was fun listening to her wish list," Bill said. "It was like she's been building cars for a long time, and knew what she wanted."
It took six years to collect the new and old parts needed for the roadster. Bill built a jig for the custom frame. He boxed the 'rails, pushed the front crossmember an inch and a half forward (and raised it an inch), C-notched the rear, fabricated the X-member and rear crossmember, and added new suspension mounts where needed. The engine is a crate Chevy 350 with three deuces, backed by a Turbo 350.
The 'glass body is from a company he'd rather not mention and wouldn't elaborate other than to say that "most of the modifications were just to get it usable." It was a lot of work, but he succeeded. The top was owner-built by laying fiberglass over a homebuilt mold, then trimmed and shaped to the right look, and covered with cloth by Terry Watson. "I told Terry I didn't care how he did it as long as the top looked real when he finished."
Through it all, Mikayla pitched in with ideas and labor, such as painting the frame and doing some welding. Sadly, Buzz Bruce passed away at the same time the car was being finished, and never had the pleasure of losing his bet. Not only was the roadster not sold, it's staying in the Herb family, so Bill, his wife Nancy, and Mikayla can have fun. Of course, in a few years, Mikayla will be getting her driver's license. When that day comes, the roadster we're calling "father's keeper" might become "daughter's driver."