Ben Callahan II
Knob Noster, Missouri
1949 Mercury Convertible
This is Ben Callahan II with his 1949 Merc convertible in August 1955. At the time his father was working in Greenland for nine months of the year, and in March 1955, on his way home to Whittier, California, he stopped in Detroit, scouring used car lots until he found this black convertible, paying $400 for it. With a set of U.S. Royal wide whites installed, he headed for Missouri where he bought a farm, then headed home to California.
Back in Whittier, with U-Haul trailers on the Merc and the family 1951 Ford convertible, they headed for Missouri. Ben drove the Merc all the way, a big deal for a 16-year-old, taking old Route 66. Once settled in their new home, the Merc was treated to 1949 Lincoln taillights and was decked. This was later “done right” at the Ford dealership in Buffalo, Missouri, for $15. Now 74 years old, and owner of his bodyshop for 45 years, Ben still likes the Mercs, though all that's left of this one is the grille, hanging on the wall in his shop!
Los Alamitos, California
1932 Ford coupe
Following high school graduation in 1950, and a detour to Korea, Bob Claytor and his friends became actively involved with SoCal's car culture, forming various car clubs. Bob's club was the Arabs, affiliated with Russetta Timing Association, under whose jurisdiction they raced at El Mirage dry lake.
They heard about a body and frame behind a shack in Victorville, so they drove out with a trailer and dragged their prize home, a 1932 Ford five-window. The car sat in Bob's garage for a few years until a new job with the L.A. City Fire Department freed up some time and he could start on it. With parts from local wrecking yards, and dancing with the CHP and DMV, he registered the car, which has been a hot rod now for 55 years! The rearend is a 9-inch Ford that came from an East Wilmington junkyard for $25, still running the original 3.54 gears, spun by a 327 Chevy. With Fiat steering and MG bucket seats, it's seen some improvements over the years (it now runs a TH350 trans for instance) but is essentially the same car Bob was driving a half century ago!
Bob also sent us the picture of his prized plaque and trophy along with that of his coupe. Honoring his participation in the very first SCTA Bonneville Speed trials in 1949, he's a member of 1949's Bonneville Association, which regrettably has very few members left.
1932 Ford Roadster
Back in 1990 we featured Jim Heiser's 1950 Mercury, which he still owns, though much of the paint is now long gone! His latest passion is this 1932 roadster. At 11 years of age in 1952 he bought How To Build Hot Rods magazine, containing Flathead-powered 1932s and a story on Bonneville. The idea and desire to build a channeled 1932 has never left, so when he bought the remains of a long-ago channeled 1932 roadster in 1994, he started putting it back together as it might have been had he built it in 1952. Rebuilt by Rob Montgomery, the engine in Heiser's roadster has new Edelbrock heads, Fenton headers, a 1952 Rochester four-barrel, 1939 trans, and 1948 rearend with Columbia overdrive.
Since 2002 he has put 41,000 miles on it, but in 2011 he realized a lifelong dream and drove it to Bonneville Salt Flats. Good friend, Billy Rohn, accompanied Heiser in his 1932 pickup, both running Flatheads. They covered 6,500 miles in 30 days, visiting friends, museums, and car shows along the way. They also made new friends, like Skot and Terry Ingram, who were racing their Flathead-powered 1932 coupe at Bonneville. What a road trip!
Mail vintage photos of you and your hot rod, along with detailed info to: Rod & Custom Magazine, Attn: Kev Elliott/Yesterday's Young Guns, 1733 Alton Pkwy., Ste. 100, Irvine, CA 92606. Send recent photos of your current ride to Kev Elliott/Readers' Rods at the same address. Send digital images (500 KB or larger) to email@example.com We cannot return submitted material. Please include your phone number.