! Senoritas y Senores ~ Vaya con Dios Siempre !

The California Hot Rod ~ Survival of the Fittest on the Desert Dry Lakes 1945-2010

“It didn’t make any difference to me whether I thought the airplane would go faster than sound. I was assigned as a test pilot on it, and it was my duty to fly it…”

~ Chuck Yeager

“Some dang fool gave me a roadster when I was 14 and ruined my whole cotton-pickin’ life”, begins Dick Kraft on his entry into the world of California Hot Rods. “Then, I had a ‘29 Model A with Kelseys and a Winfield head that I paid for by working on the family ranches. I wasn’t getting anywhere [with the four-banger] so I bought a ‘32 roadster with side mounts and 18-inch wheels for $200. In high school, we had a car club called the Plutocrats. Every Saturday night, we would street race to hold [onto] our number-one status.” Street racing was (and is), is a part of Hot Rod History. The Legends of the Sport didn’t become heroes by collecting stamps – as kids they were racers…”   ~ Dick Kraft

Dick Kraft fires his '27 T Modified ~ El Mirage Dry Lake 1948

Although The Birth of California Hot Rodding pre-dates WWII, on the Dry Lakes & on the Streets of California ~ The War actually accelerated the growth of the Sport. With the Further Development of the Ford Flathead V-8 engine – The U.S. Army ran ’em in their Tanks and the larger displacement Lincolns and Packard engines ended up in America’s PT-Boats and Fighter Planes. All sorts of bits from the California Aircraft Industry ended up in Hot Rods after the War, including the Pilots. Indeed the ‘Belly Tank’ Dry Lakes first ‘StreamLiners’ were fabricated from the auxiliary fuel tanks used by WWII Fighter planes like the Lockheed P-38, One BadAss California Hot Rod in its Own Right, but that’s Another Story…

55th Air Group Ground Crew with 150 Gallon Drop Tanks at Nuthampstead, England ~ 16 November 1943

After 5 years of Hell-Bent Survival of the Fittest on Land, Sea & Air, California Boys had to find a way to Quench the Need for Speed, and California Hot Rodders took to the Air & Land in the Dry Desert Air in the Pursuit of Performance ~

The 1st 'Belly Tank' Lakester built by Bill Burke 1946 ~ Lots of WWII Surplus Gear All 'Round

California HotRodder Don Montgomery, 1948 ~ sporting a pair of WWII-style Bausch & Lomb Air Force issue shades, the 1st 'Ray-Bans'

And Indeed 65 Years Later, The Survival of the Fittest California Dry Lakes Hot Rods reached what Most Aficionados would consider the Pinnacle of Automotive High Style ~ The Hallowed Ground of the Pebble Beach Concours D’Elegance, 2010. The Iconic California Dry Lakes Roadsters And ‘Belly Tankers’ have since been restored to the Nth Degree… Far More Refined & Coveted in their Appearance than the All-Business Originals. However what Really Shines Through the Gloss, Pomp & Circumstance, The Caviar & the Champagne of the Greens of Pebble Beach is This. The California HotRodders, after enduring Years of Toil, War, Death & Destruction, came home to California to Create a Culture that was celebrated Then & Today for the Pursuit of Engineering, Design & Performance Excellence in the Thin Air Desert Dry Lakes of California ~

So-Cal Speed Shop '32 Deuce Roadster ~ Santa Ana Drags, 1950 & on the Streets of L.A., 2010

The So-Cal Speed Shop Team makes the Cover, 1950., & The So-Cal Speed Shop 'Belly-Tanker' today, Pebble Beach Concours D'Elegance 2010

The Evans Equipt '27 T-Bucket Modified Roadster ~ El Mirage 1950 & Pebble Beach Concours D'Elegance 2010

BadAss California HotRod 59AB Maxed-Out Merc Flatheads ~ State of the Art in 1950

Perhaps the Greatest Honour that can be bestowed on these California HotRods today is after years of racing, knuckle-busting, scraped together with bits leftover from Woe-Begotten World-War II Surplus by Men toiling in the California Desert Dust, Heat & Cold in the Pursuit of nothing more than Every Last Bit of Speed…Years of Neglect & Idleness, and finally these Rolling Works of Art take their place beside the Bugattis, Ferraris, Mercedes & Duesenbergs of the Classic Automotive Stratosphere, representing their Time & Place as California Art ~

The Shadoff Special/CT StreamLiner ~ World Speed Record Holder, Bonneville 1953 & Pebble Beach Concours D'Elegance 2010



Special Thanks to Jalopy Journal.com /H.A.M.B. , Kustomrama.com, and Jimmy Bs 1925 Chev’s photostream on http://www.flickr.com for photos in the post ~


5 responses

  1. Brynn

    Could you provide me with the source of the WWII image with the drop tank?

    September 27, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    • Hi Brynn,
      Try doing a Google image search for ‘P-38 Drop Tank’, I recall that’s how I found that during research…

      Buena Suerte ~ Federico

      September 27, 2010 at 4:52 pm

      • Brynn

        Found it thanks. I thought I had turned over every rock looking for such an image.

        September 28, 2010 at 6:05 pm

  2. G;day, Nice post but a few corrections. The roadster that you call “The Evans Equipt ’27 T-Bucket Modified Roadster ~ El Mirage 1950 & Pebble Beach Concours D’Elegance 2010” Those cars are different vehicles, the vintage pic is in fact the Ray Brown roadster at El Mirage. That is Ray Brown and Alex Xydias working on the car. The yellow Modified Roadster is actually Fred Carrillo’s car. Brown built his roadster in ’47-’48 and Carrillo built his in 1951.

    The image captioned “BadAss California HotRod 59AB Maxed-Out Merc Flatheads ~ State of the Art in 1950” Only the engine on the left is a flathead which was run from ’51-’53, the engine in the Blue Khougaz roadster is a Chrysler Hemi which was run in the mid to late 50s.

    The caption “The Shadoff Special/CT StreamLiner ~ World Speed Record Holder, Bonneville 1953 & Pebble Beach Concours D’Elegance 2010”
    Again these are two entirely different vehicles. The vintage shots are of the Shadoff Special and the new pics are of Chet Herbert’s Beast.

    All those new photos were taken by me at Pebble Beach this year. I don’t mind if you use them but in future please ask beforehand as I like to know where my photos are being used.


    December 10, 2010 at 3:37 am

    • Got it Jimmy ~ Yes I was aware of the Shadoff/Beast and have been meaning to fix it…thanks for the comments I will make those corrections and also thanks for getting in touch..i will add a credit for your photos. Cheers ~ Federico

      December 10, 2010 at 6:14 pm

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