What happed to Bud's roadster after that devastating crash? And, what motivated Bud to sell his famous A-bone after beaucoup blood, sweat, and tears spent building it? After all, he had a cherry body that was given to him by that nameless benefactor in Detroit. "There were several guys who wanted to buy my roadster," said Bud. "It was lying in my garage, and I convinced myself to sell it. When I sold the car, the body went with it. I decided that I was going to turn my attention to the Buick, the future family sedan. The destruction of my roadster is what did it-that's what pushed me over the edge."
"I was just getting started with my business when I met Bud," said Jerry Kugel. "I was still doing general car repair. Bud would come to my shop, and he had followed several of my projects in R&C before there was a Kugel Komponents.
"Bud was the catalyst for a lot of us in the street rod parts business. Hot rods have been around forever, but the street rod movement was just getting started. Street rods were built for the street, not for El Mirage or Bonneville. Then, Bud just dropped out. He was out of the picture-off the radar screen. He was doing his thing other than cars. I lost track of him for a long time."
Devastating news shook the Sunset Boulevard R&C offices like a 7.0 on the Richter Scale. The magazine as everyone knew it was no more. The staff was to stay together, merging Rod & Custom with Hot Rod magazine.
"Everyone tried to present a positive face to the readers, but it was distressing news nevertheless," said Bud. "After R&C was cancelled, we all stayed to ride it out, except Jake.
"I began working for the Book Division of Petersen Publishing, Hot Rod magazine Street Rod Quarterly, and Hot Rod Industry News. Then, they brought back R&C. Tom and I returned, and Gray Baskerville replaced Jacobs."
After the second cancellation in May 1974, read into Bud's comment what you will: "I'd been to Disneyland twice."
With his A-V8 roadster badly mangled, a marriage that would soon end, and his desk cleared for the last time, Bud left the public eye.
Ironically, on that last cover was the very roadster body (in the background) that was given to Bud in Detroit. It was sitting on the back of a pickup.
Once Jake and Tom were able to contact Bud by phone, three lost decades were dissolved, as though they never existed. In Jake's case, the timing was perfect for the two to reunite, since an event that Jake attends each year was coming up shortly-Mark Morton's River City Reliability Run.
Interestingly, this was to be the first time (ever) that Mark's event was to begin and end in Central California, instead of ending in Riverside. The travel distance was halfway for both Bud and Jake. Jake drove his fenderless '34 sedan and Bud a transportation car.
"Through Jake, an invitation was extended to me to attend Mark's run that concluded at Harris Ranch (off Interstate 5 in Central California) in 2006," explained Bud. "Mark had provided sack lunches for everyone, and he had one for me, as well. I will never forget that.
"That was the first time I laid eyes on Jake in more than 30 years, and we started looking at the cars. I kept thinking, this is a very important part of me.
"Some of the guys remembered me and embraced me warmly. I can reach out and shake the hands of these men, even though I'm not apart of it anymore. I gotta have a car. A week later, I called Gary Mussman at Cornhusker Chassis to get the ball rolling."
The Turning Point
What Bud has been doing these many years matters not to this story, except they've melted away memories best forgotten but rekindled the ones that started Bud's juices flowing in the first place-all revolving around street rods.
The important thing is "Highboy" Bryan, as Gray Baskerville called him, has resurfaced. In the process, Bud has begun building a '29 highboy, just like his old one. Frankly, Bud's roadster is the smelling salts that revived him.
"I realized, once again," stated Bud, "that the true enjoyment of a project like this is resurrecting some old bits and pieces that will actually work again. I'm having fun again."
Bud attended the Grand National Roadster Show recently, stopping at the Hop Up booth where he purchased the magazine. Bud asked "Morty" (who was manning the booth) to autograph his publication. Mark wrote: "Bud you have inspired us all for years. Mark Morton." "That really stuck with me," said Bud. "It meant a lot."
Young Mark and his dad had built a '27 Chevy coupe with a 283 Chevy in 1967, never thinking their home project was R&C caliber. "I didn't know Bud then, but I followed his articles when he was building his Buick," said Mark. "After my dad and I finished the Chevy, and hours after I sold it, the guy that bought it pulled into a shop to buy a tape deck. Bud Bryan drove up, saw my car, and pulled in to look it over. Bud made a deal with the new owner to cover my old Chevy and it got into Rod & Custom."
It takes an exceptional journalist to energize one's readers, no matter the publication. Bud did that. When he was approached, he was friendly and down to earth, as were his printed words. Specifically, Bud motivated rodders across the country to fill up their tanks, throw in the suitcase, and split.
For those of us who were there, a whole bunch of time has zipped by when Bud banged out his last piece on the Underwood. We're either full-blown seniors now or about to join the club.
We're not ready for the walker yet; we're still building street rods like Jake, going to car shows like Andy Brizio, running Bonneville like Jerry Kugel, and campaigning go-karts like Tom Medley. Although we've aged, we're still kids (with a few gray ones and a jowl or two) playing with our toys.
You might say Bud is that kid in a toy store. He works at Sacramento Vintage Ford in the wiring shop. "I make up early Ford and street rod wiring looms. Great fun," he said.
On a Personal Note
Greg Sharp has helped countless writers with historical information and priceless photographs he's collected over the years. When I called Greg to see if he had any photos of Bud, he was preparing to travel to the NHRA National Hot Rod Reunion in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Even though he was pressed for time, Greg responded with 18 photos, including hand-written notes on each one. "I want to do right by Bud," stated Greg. You certainly did, my friend. Thank you for contributing so much to Bud's story.