Early days of the Chelsea Cruise

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V-8 Woodie
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Here's a neat line up in the Kings Road, this would have been the June or July '75 Chelsea cruise.

In the foreground is Mike Halls' freshly painted 1957 Ford Fairlane with Brian Surey's flamed '55 Chevy Bel Air behind and a silver Metal Flaked 1951 Ford Victoria at the rear. These guys were the 'trend setters' in the American car scene in London in the 1970's.

 

GreaseMonkey (not verified)

Some of this is coming back to me now.....so V-8 Woodie had a '47 Woodie, I have a photo of that too somewhere, so is that Alex from Wandsworth? You maybe later had a Model A? And yes the Al I was referring to previously would have been Alan Gould, with the yellow/purple Superbird. In fact one (naughty) night after the traffic got too much around Chelsea there was bit of an impromptu burn-out amongst a few down around Trinity Road which didn't last long without attracting some flashing blue lights, one of Al's mates had a particularly tough Dodge Charger.  That '51 Ford Coupe with white 'flake paintjob was a well-known favourite in the early days, but didn't that one go up in flames and was written off later? The flamed orange '55 I also have photos of somewhere, I will try to find where all the old photos are, there are probably a lot more forgotten cars in there.

A confession here too, if anyone still has old copies of Custom Car magazine, there was a small (thankfully) photo of my arse-cheeks sticking out of the side of Larry's '69 Firebird convertible as we mooned the punters outside the Rose & Crown pub on Lower Sloane Street!

Happy Days

Chris M.

V-8 Woodie
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GreaseMonkey wrote:

Some of this is coming back to me now.....so V-8 Woodie had a '47 Woodie, I have a photo of that too somewhere, so is that Alex from Wandsworth? You maybe later had a Model A? And yes the Al I was referring to previously would have been Alan Gould, with the yellow/purple Superbird. In fact one (naughty) night after the traffic got too much around Chelsea there was bit of an impromptu burn-out amongst a few down around Trinity Road which didn't last long without attracting some flashing blue lights, one of Al's mates had a particularly tough Dodge Charger.  That '51 Ford Coupe with white 'flake paintjob was a well-known favourite in the early days, but didn't that one go up in flames and was written off later? The flamed orange '55 I also have photos of somewhere, I will try to find where all the old photos are, there are probably a lot more forgotten cars in there.

A confession here too, if anyone still has old copies of Custom Car magazine, there was a small (thankfully) photo of my arse-cheeks sticking out of the side of Larry's '69 Firebird convertible as we mooned the punters outside the Rose & Crown pub on Lower Sloane Street!

Happy Days

Chris M.

Well spotted Chris, Yes this is Alex with the 1947 Ford Woodie which I still have and you are correct, I did later own a 1930 Model A Coup' with a 351 Cleveland motor, sold in the 1980s- that's one car that  I really do miss, it's now cruising the streets in Tokyo!

The Dodge Charger you refer to, could have been one of two that were around in Wandsworth at that time, one belonged to a guy who went by the name of 'Wit', the other I think, belonged to a guy called Alan who lived in Battersea.

As you mentioned, after leaving the Chelsea cruise, Trinity Road soon became a haven for some impromptu late night street racing, the road was long, wide and straight with a convenient set of traffic lights situated at the 'start line', the perfect drag strip and with a decent run- off area too!!

From memory I think the Metal Flaked '51 Ford Victoria mentioned was a creation of Richard Parke's down at the Rodding Scene in Chichester, this was Geoff Jago's Company. Sadly the rare Ford wasn't on the scene very long before it went up in flames- due to an ageing wiring loom fault.

There were certainly some neat cars around at that time, amusingly, even some of the major manufacturers couldn't ignore the huge popularity that was taking hold in the 'custom car scene', some eventually creating custom six wheeled Range Rovers or Jaguars to market their tyres and wheels etc! Weird and wonderful times!

If anyone out there has some stories to tell about the Chelsea Cruise, or better still, some photos, why not post them up and share them with us!

Here's my RHD '47 Woodie, photo taken in Wandsworth 1975, that's my buddy Mike Halls making sure that I don't swipe my neighbour's MG 1100!

 

 

James Elliott
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Can I just congratulate you chaps on this thread. I have absolutely nothing to add except my applause: lovely, fascinating stuff. Is there a book on this (specifically the early years)? If not you and a few others should do one.

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GreaseMonkey (not verified)

Thanks James, you're probably right, if I can dig out my old photos, and V-8 Woodie does the same, and we both trawl our memories for other contacts, we could could probably collaborate on that, there are a lot of stories to come out of that era.

Chris M.

V-8 Woodie
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James Elliott wrote:

Can I just congratulate you chaps on this thread. I have absolutely nothing to add except my applause: lovely, fascinating stuff. Is there a book on this (specifically the early years)? If not you and a few others should do one.

Thanks James, your applause is much appreciated!

GBt
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Nar dont think I'll bovver m8*(reminder, cancel long term Sub reorder Classic American and Walking Weekly)

V-8 Woodie
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This subject has always been a favourite topic of mine, I grew up on a diet of custom cars and hot rods, inspired by American hot rod magazines since my school days, then a visit to the '65 Drag Festival where I finally got the chance to see real American horsepower in action, immaculate vehicles with chrome plated engines, metal flake and candy apple paint jobs with vibrant colourful decals, all this coupled with the cool aura of the American team owners, it was enough to seal my fate for ever.

It was in the early '70s that a small but dedicated group of us decided we would use Chelsea as a regular cruising venue to show off our vehicles, In May 1975 the first 'official' Chelsea Cruise took place, the monthly cruise soon became the Uk's largest un sponsored motoring event. With no official organizers and often monthly gridlock of custom cars throughout Chelsea the situation would soon develop into an on going nightmare for the police and local authorities. Eventually Chelsea's elite would demand action to try and get the event banned, however there was no legislation available to stop innocent 'motorists' from driving their outrageous vehicles up and down a public road. The Chelsea Cruise would soon become so popular that it was actually listed as a 'must see' in the London Tourist Board guide, amazingly the event was also listed in the Japanese Airlines guide to London.

To date, there has not been book written on the early days of the Chelsea Cruise, however, I promised myself and others that one day I would love to share my photos, stories and memories of the cars and their owners in what was a crazy motoring period. Looking back, we were probably the pioneers in what became the custom car explosion, so perhaps there is a story to be told here!

 Chelsea cruise 1977. Spectators would often line both sides of the entire length of the Kings Road,

Police hold back the crowds as a Pontiac Trans Am rumbles past.

Fun in a '58 Chevrolet, the spectators were treated to a chrome plated carnival every month.

Entrepreneur Matt Matheou, pictured on the left, played a big part in the 1970s custom car scene, he opened the very first

Cruisin' shop in London's Kings Road. Parked outside is Matt's superb 1932 Ford 3 window coupe and Mike Halls -

shows off his freshly imported 1955 Chevrolet 2 door sedan.

This early Mustang was a regular sight in the Kings Road in the 1970s, with 'fuzzy felt' tiger skin covering the whole car it was sure to get noticed. Love those rare JA Pearce racing wheels, very 1960s!

RM Auctions
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GBt wrote:

Nar dont think I'll bovver m8*(reminder, cancel long term Sub reorder Classic American and Walking Weekly)

I think James was talking to Woody and GM, so don't worry yourself too much!

GreaseMonkey (not verified)

Hey V-8 Woodie !

I found a few more old photos from the drags in the seventies, should we start a new thread on that?

Whaddya think?

Chris M.