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!
The Dukes club of Portland wins the prize for the most beautiful plaque. It is a reproduction of a Ford flathead cylinder head, scaled down to about a quarter as large as the actual head. Like a racing head it's finned. It's also more substantial than most plaques, being over 1" thick (and 10 1/4" wide and 5 1/2" high).
The design of the head led to some problems. A member tapped and threaded the area for spark plugs, and added actual spark plugs. A couple other members followed suit. Then one guy added red wires to his spark plugs.
The club, like all clubs, wanted the plaques to be uniform, but at first changes were accepted, even encouraged. I have a copy of the club minutes of April 14, 1954, when "Freddie Krecklow moved that it does not make any difference whether the sparkplug holes are tapped or not. Motion carried." But when members began adding plug wires the club tried to get the plaques back to their original condition.
The Dukes did not evolve from the Mobileers, but it got some of the earlier club's members. Don Krueger had been a Mobileer, and he became a leading member of the Dukes. Krueger told me: "We met in the meeting room at the north end of Montavilla Park, which was convenient because most of the members were from the Montavilla area. The meeting room had cooking utensils, silverware, dishes, every-thing. We didn't eat there but we could.
"I think we met there once a month, but if something was coming up, like the Portland Roadster Show we might have another meeting, twice a month. Sometimes we met at different members' homes. Lots of times. We met at Steve Weber's house, at 128th and East Burnside. And at Jimmy Davis' house at 150th and Prescott--that's when he had that 1956 corvette.
"We had our club banquets in different places. One year we had it at Top O Scott golf course. We had music and all that. We also had them at Amato's Supper Club on Broadway, and one year in the banquet room at East Side Bowling."
Excerpted from Jacket & Plaque: Portland Rod & Custom Clubs of the 'Fifties
Copyright 2008, Albert Drake and Flat Out Press.
Jacket & Plaque: Portland Rod & Custom Clubs of the 'Fifties is now available!
Car clubs were a phenomenon of the 1950s. They were rare in the 40s, and had mostly disappeared by the 60s, but during the 50s car clubs were a source of inspiration, camaraderie, and participation in the emerging hot rod culture. When Drake began to track down the clubs he remembered only a handful from Portland in the 50s. To date he has located over 150 clubs around Oregon, all from the Fifties, and assuming very club had at least 10 members, that means there were perhaps 1300 active hot rodders on the streets.
Jacket & Plaque is an extensive survey of the clubs in the Northwest. From the early stirrings of the pre-War Oregon Roadster Club, to the Asphalt Monsters, Mobileers and Leadfoots of the late 40s, to the explosion of hot rod clubs in the 50s, this book gives a good idea of what hot rodding was like during the "good old days."
In addition to the clubs, the book has chapters on the birth of the Northwest Timing Association, Multnomah Hot Rod Council, and other interesting trivia about the burgeoning hot rod culture.
With over 350 illustrations and black and white photos of dash plaques, jacket patches, hot rodders and memorabilia this book represents a lifetime of research.
Read an excerpt from Jacket & Plaque.
272 pages, perfect-bound (December 2008)
Throttlers Press; ISBN: 0-936892-22-6; Signed copy...$
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Albert Drake will be selling and signing books at the 53rd Annual Portland Roadster Show at the Oregon Convention Center. March 6, 2009 - March 8, 2009.
Drop by and say hello!
Drop by and say hello!