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!

Bill Cahill

Bill Cahill and Morgan-style 3-wheel car he built in 1990
Bill Cahill & a Morgan-style 3-wheel car he built in 1990

Sad to hear that my old buddy Bill Cahill passed away this week at 95.  Cahill was president of the Road Angels club when I joined in July 1951. At 26, he was the oldest member & a good leader for a bunch of guys who needed guidance.

I mention Cahill quite a bit in Reflections in a Spinner Hubcap and he bought a copy a month ago. One article in particular, "Bill Cahill and the Scoopen Skirt," highlights his penchant for generating lots of enterprising ideas.

I talked to him last week and he was just as sharp as ever. He sounded like a 60 year old (young, in other words!)

When he was in his eighties he drove a Russian Ural motorcycle (with sidecar) the full length of Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica.

He was a character and I'll miss talking with him.

Here's an excerpt from "Bill Cahill and the Scoopen Skirt." It talks about his idea for marketing a longer fender skirt for cars around 1954.

His method (for marketing the skirts) was simple: he wrote to advertisers in the custom car magazines who he thought would be interested. Only one replied: Bonzer Industries. Bill recently recalled: “If you look in the back of some of those old magazines you’ll see ads for Bonzer. It was a big deal place that did a lot of work with Continental kits.” After an exchange of letters, Bill got an airplane ticket from Bonzer and an invitation to show them the skirt. “I thought, my god, my fortune’s made!”

Because Bill was working two jobs he had to fly to Los Angeles on a Saturday. “I wrapped the skirt in butcher paper and lugged it on the plane — it was almost four feet long!” The plane landed and Bill took a cab to the offices of Bonzer Industries. “It was Saturday and the place was closed, so I sat there in the waiting room. I saw a guy on the phone, a silk suit wheeler-dealer type, who made me wait while he talked with several people on the phone. Finally he called me into his office and said let’s see what you’ve got, so I showed him the skirt. Oh boy, he was really excited about it. He said, we’re going to do some real business with this.