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When there were far fewer people around, far fewer laws and regulations, when the legal speed limit was 75 mph, when gas was cheap, when driving was a pleasure, if you owned a hot machine you could point the grill down an empty road and go!

Hanna's Ford Roadster


Until I came across this photo, I'd completely forgotten about this roadster; even now I remember it only dimly. It’s a 1930-31 Ford roadster, a model seldom rodded, with a ‘32 grill, which fit easily. The absence of a headlight bar is unusual, as are the whitewall tires, which were expensive. The engine is a Flathead V-8, and I assume it's big because the car is running in B class. The photo was taken at the Scappoose drag strip in 1952 or, more likely, 1953. The car did not set any records so far as I can remember. It was not in any of the early car shows. It was never in a magazine. Any yet, with its metallic blue paint job, it could have been shown.

The guy behind the wheel is Danny Hanna, who was in the Road Angels, the club to which I belonged. He may have owned the car. A few years later Hanna opened a car wash in Portland. He soon had several. Then he began manufacturing all the parts needed to set up a car wash, and he opened car washes under his own name or for other people all over the world. By the 1980s Hanna Car Wash Company owned three Lear jets. By the 1990s things happened and the company went under.
Copyright 2008, Albert Drake and Flat Out Press.


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Al Drake's A-V8


In February 21, 1951 I bought my first car, a '29 Ford roadster with a '36 Ford V-8 engine and transmission. I had had my eye on the car for weeks; it was parked on the sidewalk across the street from the Oregon Theater, where I worked. Before work I'd often walk over and look at the car, and while there was much I didn't know about cars I could recognize a few things. It was full-fendered, with wells in the front fenders for spare tires. It had a 1939 Ford dash, genuine red leather interior, with rolls and pleats on the seat, dual pipes and a chopped top. It had solid side panels (good) which had been opened up with three tapered, half-round pieces on each side (bad) to let the engine chrome heat out. The chrome grill seemed to be a combination of Chrysler and Packard pieces. Someone had added metal to the lower edges of the front and rear fenders, behind the tires, so that the fenders resembled 1933-34 Ford fenders. The title indicated that the car originated in California. Years later I realized that the work had been done circa 1935-36, which was when a guy would want his Model A fenders to look like later Ford fenders.

Of course I got rid of the front fenders, grill, hood and dashboard as soon as I could. I wanted to get rid of the General Jumbo wheels too (they're worth big bucks today). I would now have left the car the way it was, but I wanted my hot rod to look like the car I'd seen in magazines. I had ideas but my father had the knowledge and ability to carry out my ideas. I bought a perfect 1932 Ford grill and shell, and a used '32 radiator. My father took the dashboard from a 1940 Ford and fitted it to the Model A.

My father traded a bulldozer blade for a 1937 Ford coupe with a worn-out 1949 Ford engine. We completely rebuilt that engine: bored .040, new rod, main and cam bearings, reground valves with Johnson adjustable tappets, new 10" clutch and pressure plate, the works! I bought a new Edmunds dual intake manifold for $37.50, which was half the price of the complete car. Plating was cheap and I had quite a few things chromed, including the oil filter, generator, cut out, etc. The engine was red, with chrome acorn nuts, water hoses and air cleaners and it looked lovely and ran great
A local sheet metal shop made the pieces below the body (my father's idea) and a nice three-piece hood. We had the car running by mid-June, 1951 and painted it red in the driveway. It was nicely finished, with paint and upholstery, and was much nicer than many of the hot rods on the street. I'm still amazed that we got the car finished in five months. I don't know where we got the money: I earned 50 cents an hour at the theater, and my father took home only $50 a week from the service station.
Copyright 2008, Albert Drake and Flat Out Press.


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Eddie Duhon’s ‘39 Ford


I saw Eddie Duhon’s 1939 Ford four door convertible at one of the first legal drag races in Eugene, Oregon in the summer of 1951. It had black paint, with areas of gray primer, and the top was loose and flapped in the wind. It probably did not have hub caps. The back bumper was missing, and the car had to be pushed in reverse. The grill was missing, as was the hood, and that big flathead was revealed to the world. It had Evans heads and triple manifold, even a magneto--serious stuff in the early 'Fifties. I was terribly excited to be at a real drag race, and much that happened is still vivid in my mind nearly 60 years later. I remember that the car was pushed backward by another car, and the engine caught, roared to life; smoke rose from the engine and Eddie Duhon, looking like a dashing film star with wavy hair and a thin black mustache, revved it, put it in gear and drove to the line. There was that flapping canvas top, engine noise, and as the flag was dropped there was the sound of spinning tires and smoke as the big car left the line and quickly covered the quarter. That year Duhon took first place in the sedan class.

I next saw the '39 a few months later, in March, 1952, when the Ramblers, Duhon's club, and the Road Angels, my club, put on a car show to promote the newly-formed Columbia Timing Association (CTA). Duhon amazed everyone when he drove in a totally rebuilt '39. In a few months he'd built a new engine, had Cliff White build a new padded top and a red and white rolled and pleated interior, painted the car black, did a lot of chrome plating, put on new bumpers and a Packard grill. It was no surprise when the car won the Sweepstakes trophy. What is surprising is that the car was never in another car show nor in a magazine.

In 1958 Duhon was driving to California and the '39 was involved in a serious accident; the entire front end was demolished and there was frame damage. For the next 35 years the car sat. Much of that time it was owned by Ray Foster, and we can thank him for saving the car. But the guy who really saved it was Sam Parker, who had known Duhon in the 1950s and had helped him put an Olds engine in the car in 1958. Sam had tried to buy the car for years, and, on the chance that he might someday get it, had bought things that would be needed to restore it, things like a Packard grill, a 1950 Ford Crestliner steering wheel, yards of old style canvas for the top, etc. Sam, and his son, Bryan, did a ground. up restoration, taking pains to make the car identical to the way it had appeared in 1952. When it was done, Eddie Duhon came to Oregon to look at the car he had not seen for nearly 40 years and he gave the job his approval.
Copyright 2008, Albert Drake and Flat Out Press.
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