9 custom hot rods that will set Monterey aflame
The late Blackie Gejeian owned and built several America’s Most Beautiful Roadster (AMBR) winners and was a constant presence at central and southern California hot rod meets. Blackie absolutely loved custom cars and delighted in talking with their builders. Well into his 80s, he spent much of his summers visiting shows and cruising around on his scooter admiring all the customs. He’d even invite his favorites to attend his own show in his home town of Fresno.
Blackie passed away in 2016 at the age of 90, and these cars—just part of his vast collection—are now up for sale at Monterey Car Week 2019, courtesy of auction house Mecum. Mecum’s celebration of Blackie’s collection is especially fitting, since the Concours d’Elegance will pay tribute to historic hot rod cover cars as one of this year’s special classes.
1927 Ford “Dick Williams Roadster”
Mecum, Lot 63
A prime example of an early AMBR winner that highlights its hot-rodding DNA, the Dick Williams roadster was a land speed racer before it entered the show circuit and took the AMBR trophy in 1953. It features many of the go-fast tricks that it used when running flat-out on the salt, including a race-prepped Ford flathead V-8 with aluminum heads and four Strombergs. Blackie believed that this was the first show car to use a tubular frame.
1929 Ford “The Emperor”
Mecum, Lot 64
“The Emperor” was built by Kirk Krikorian, starting before he was old enough to drive. The ’29 Model A roadster body was channeled onto a ’31 Model A frame and a powerful Cadillac V-8 dropped in to power the lightweight sled on the drag strip. Blackie convinced Krikorian to build the car as a show rod and enlisted the help of George Barris to transform its looks. The result was a lot less money spent on broken race parts and a spot on the July 1960 cover of Hot Rod magazine.
1923 Ford “The Candy Man”
Mecum, Lot 65
Beginning its life as an Instant T kit by Andy Brizio, this Model T pickup marked the first use of a Corvette independent rear in any of Brizio’s builds. The car left Brizio’s San-Francisco-area shop and drove to Memphis, where it entered shows and was featured in multiple magazines. After numerous updates along the way, the pickup eventually morphed into its final form in 1977, which was known as “The Candy Man.” Blackie bought it in 2004 and has maintained it in its 1977 iteration ever since.
1927 Ford “T Plus 2”
Mecum, Lot 66
This roadster pickup was already a show-winner when George Barris got his hands on it in 1964. His wild restyling gave the car a sloping grille shell that incorporated vertical Cibie headlights. The car was on the April 1965 cover of Rod & Custom and went to win the AMBR award in 1966. Aside from a transmission and rear axle swap it remains in its 1966 show-winning condition.
1927 Ford “California Star”
Mecum, Lot 67
Street cars have mimicked the look of race cars since cars started racing. This fantastically styled roadster took the Track-T mentality and applied it to the fastest open-wheeled cars of the ’80s, winning the 1984 AMBR title in the process. The striking red rod wears an aluminum body shaped by master metalworker Ron Covell and has a transverse-mounted turbocharged Chevrolet V-6 just behind the driver.
1923 Ford “Mod Rod”
Mecum, Lot 68
Mike Haas melded a T-bucket to the tunneled rear window of a C3 Corvette Stingray to create the “Mod Rod.” Twin Holley carbs on a tunnel ram feed the Chevy 350 V-8. It features custom airbrushed graphics, including an alien landscape on the rear deck and a tree on a grassy hill that looks like it could be one of the Cypress trees on Monterey’s peninsula.
1929 Ford Phaeton “Ala Tub”
Mecum, Lot 69
In 1958 and 1959, “Ala Cart”—a custom Ford pickup built in cooperation between Gejeian, Richard Peters, and George Barris—won the title of America’s Most Beautiful Roadster. Designed by Steve Stanford, this Phaeton uses many of the pickup’s signature styling cues—most notably the grille. It’s powered by a Ford 302 V-8 and equipped with a five-speed manual transmission.
1917 Ford T-bucket
Mecum, Lot 70
Built in 1972 by Dan Woods, this hot rod was one of the first that Blackie ever saw that used a Jaguar independent rear suspension. Powering the T is a Buick V-8, and based on the exhaust port layout it looks to be either a 300- or 340-cubic-inch variety as opposed to the later 350 and taller-deck 400-430-455. British car fans will recognize it as the Rover V-8.
1911 Ford Phaeton
Mecum, Lot 73
Want a wild T-bucket but need room for four? This 1911 Model T Touring has all of the glitz and chrome of a ’70s hot rod with some ’80s style in the engine bay. Its wire wheels show off four-wheel disc brakes that counteract a Ford V-6 pirated from a Mustang and topped with billet aluminum trim.