Famous hot rod blazes into California

| 24 Oct 2012

A 1932 Ford McMullen Roadster that appeared in the Life of Riley, Lassie and in publicity shots with actor Nick Adams, before being bought by hot-rodding legend Tom McMullen, will be sold at Mecum’s 15-17 November Anaheim sale.

In McMullen’s hands, the car – billed as the ‘The world’s most iconic hot rod’ – was treated to a series of modifications that included a GMC 4-71 supercharged 301cu in small-block V8, a Halibrand quick-change rear axle, a parachute and had a pressurised Moon fuel tank bolted to the front.

The paint job came courtesy of Ed ‘Big Daddy’ Roth and it would later feature on the cover of Hot Rod Magazine in April 1963.

McMullen then switched to a 327cu in engine, racing on the street, the drag strip and on the lake bed of El Mirage, where he set the A/Street Roadster record of 167mph in ’64.

The car would go on to appear on several album covers, in advertisements, TV shows and movies plus on the front of Popular Hot Rodding and McMullen’s own title – Street Rodder.

After years of modifications that rendered it unrecognisable, Roy Brizio eventually restored the car back to its ’63 look.

Sharing almost the same pedigree is another magazine-featured machine, a 1936 Ford coupe that was bought by WW2 veteran Jack Calori as a towcar for his 1929 Ford Model A racer.

His friend Herb Reneau convinced him to modify the machine lowering it by three inches, he massaged the front end to accept a 1939 LaSalle front grille and ’41 Chevrolet headlights, added fender skirts, ’41 Hudson tail-lights plus ’41 Ford bumpers and finished it off with lustrous black paint.

It was traded for $1600-worth of credit towards a 1950 Mercury, and it then passed through a string of owners before being sold to its current keeper in ’02.

He commissioned its restoration to Roy Brizio and it went on to win the first-ever Early Custom Cars 1935-1948 Class and the Dean Bachelor Award at the 2005 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

Joining the rare hot rods will be cars such as (pictured in order) a highly original 1969 Chevrolet Corvette L88, a one-owner ’67 Corvette convertible 427cu in and another ’67 Corvette thought to be the only one of its type to exist in the colour combo.

Meanwhile, for fans of dragsters a 1997 Chevrolet Camaro Funny Car – the first to reach 315mph on the quarter mile NHRA Houston Raceway Park – will also cross the block.

Mecum doesn’t release estimates, but you can view the Auction’s full lot list here.