After 40-some-odd years of silence, one of the most selfless and unparalleled acts of generosity ever witnessed in Roddingdom shall finally be acknowledged. How appropriate such revelation is brought to you by Rod & Custom magazine.
Bud Bryan today with his current hot rod project. Photo by Jay Storer.
I think back those 40 years to the fateful summer day when a pair of editor types, myself and the "Old Dad", Gray Baskerville, hopped into a black highboy roadster and made tracks for the local Golden Arches.
Then, tasty snack concluded, said editors headed back to the Petersen editorial offices via Sunset Boulevard, hot rod and occupants stopped to await a red light. That light, however, didn't change from red to green quite soon enough; a blatantly careless "knucklehead" turned from operating a 2-ton International "travel all" to sightseeing, unceremoniously clobbering us from behind in the process.
Apparently failing to see the pair of 1939 teardrops go full red at the light, he throttled right up my Fred Sanderson–installed twice pipes. The two of us survived the ear-shattering noise, but the R&C highboy did not! (Note for the future...next time use larger, brighter brake lights, and hang three of them on there.) As for this time around, the issue was closed. One beautiful highboy was instantly rendered inanimate...critical fluids now seeped out several openings. It was a total!
Bud Bryan’s 1929 roadster is now lovingly owned by Julian "Jules" Alvarez. It was part of
A sad turn of events really because a second drive to the Nationals was planned. Now, that first such cruise was an absolute hoot. Happening a year earlier, it was fast-paced and not lacking some real over-the-road excitement. I'll set the scene for you...Jim Jacobs in his "Niekamp Roadster", drove hard to stay in the lead. Then came Ron Weeks in the "Highland Plating Special" Track T (Mullin's "Pop-Top" trailer in tow), and yours truly in the R&C highboy. How's that for a time-warp threesome of traditional hot rodding? All Flathead Ford-powered.
But now, the R&C highboy no longer able to chase those white lines across the fruited plain, sat awaiting its new fate.
One year had passed since that crushing accident—it was now 1973. I stood chatting with some friendly participants amid the vastness of the Street Rod Nationals Swap Meet in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Now listen up...that unparalleled act of generosity I mentioned is about to take form. "You want to donate what, sir?" The two dudes involved in this conversation were both greatly distracted by the searing midday "sooner" sun. "What's that you said about a donation?" Then, pointing, he follows with, "Over there, on top of my Chevy!" Sure as shootin', there it was. A complete (sans fenders and peripheral components for highboys) 1928 roadster body strapped atop a 1955 Chevy sedan.
A quick once-over ensued. Honestly I hadn't seen anything that sano in "original"-as-used condition since prowling around Gene Scott's old Garvey Boulevard boneyard (invited, naturally) back in Los Angeles. Some remnants of a factory pinstripe had even weathered the test of time. I was in shock.
"So here you go" the swapper continued. "I brought it along to show you!" He brought it along—the story being, if I didn't want the body, he'd simply peddle it to somebody else at the swap meet, right where we stood. That part of his story I believed. It would go fast at any price.
Tom Medley was egging on the whole thing, naturally, saying simply, "You gotta go for it, man!" and I did. Still bewildered by this man's generosity, I managed to mutter an OK. Besides, what a story this would make. Shipping the thing to sunny SoCal could be worked out later. Little did any of the R&C staff realize, good old R&C would soon get stiffed!
So now it can be revealed...our car-guy kindly turned philanthropist, was and is, none other than Dave Kinnman of Kinnman's Kustom Kars, in Alexandria, Indiana. Kinnman reports his operation is small, but he does everything himself. He still drives his 1929 highboy, which is powered by an aluminum Buick mill.
Kinnman does not seek fame or notoriety from all this. His big enjoyment in life is occasionally talking to Tom Medley and the man who now owns the R&C highboy, and, who actually accomplished the rebuild using Kinnman's "donated" body, Julian "Jules" Alvarez of Santa Ana, California.
Alvarez and Kinnman had an opportunity recently to get together and take the old R&C highboy for a run...probably for purposes of comparison, and what could be more fitting? So, I asked Kinnman over the phone, "Well, what do you think, Dave?" He simply replied, "I like them both!" That says it all.
One last thing...thanks Dave for your kindness. Thanks Jules for the terrific rebuild. And thanks Rod & Custom magazine for this space. Somehow, it rights an old wrong.