We first came across Jim Holmes’ ’33 coupe in the Roy Brizio Street Rods booth at the Grand National Roadster Show earlier this year and immediately knew we had to find out more. The sectioned, channeled, but unchopped five-window had the appearance of an old hot rod, and indeed that turned out to be the case when we were told the history of the car. Not only was it first built in the late ’50s, but Jim actually rode in it when he was in high school, and never forgot the experience!
It was just after his high school graduation in 1957 that Bob Schneider bought the coupe, though it was somewhat of a project as it was disassembled. He put the chassis back together with its early Ford suspension and drivetrain, and added a 283 Chevy small-block. With the help of Dee Wescott, the body was sectioned below the lower door hinges, and the fenders and running boards attached in their stock location. The grille and hood were sectioned to match the body. According to Jim, “Interestingly, Dee was in the early stages of his fiberglass body business, and most of the coupe’s body and fenders were used to make molds for future Wescott’s panels.” With the coupe sectioned, the modified areas were primed though the untouched areas were still the stock black color, and the car was driven on the streets of Portland, Oregon, for several years until it was torn apart again and stored in a warehouse. Almost 40 years later, Wescott learned that the coupe was available and began to reassemble it. He wasn’t able to finish the car but did get most of the assembly completed.
Jim told us, “I first entered the picture in 1960, after Bob sold the coupe to his brother, and rode in it one evening. As a teenager, I thought it was the most fantastic thing I had ever seen, but couldn’t afford it. I have since learned that the car went through several owners afterward, and was a common sight in the Portland area.” One of the coolest things about now owning the coupe has apparently been the opportunity to meet and visit with all the people who remember the car from Portland, including the original builder, Bob Schneider. After that influential teenage ride Jim “thought of the car on occasion, wondering what might have happened to it. I had heard rumors several years ago that it was owned by a collector, that it was in storage and not for sale. The Portland-based automotive writer, Al Drake, informed me that it was back in Dee’s hands, and once I knew where it was, I couldn’t let it get away again!’
Unfortunately, it took until after Dee Wescott’s death before Jim was able to purchase the ’33 from the Wescott family, but almost 50 years after riding in the old Ford and wishing he could buy it, the coupe was finally his. After a further two years at Roy Brizio Street Rods, it turns out when we saw the car at the Grand National Roadster Show it had just been finished, and barely had a couple of hundred miles under its belt. However, it was built to be a driver, as all Roy Brizio builds are, and Jim plans to use it frequently. This time around though, it’ll be cruising the streets of Northern California, not Portland, Oregon.