As always, I was keeping my eyes open for vintage machinery as I cruised down High Street a couple weeks back, and this incredibly orange object down a side street caught my attention from blocks away. So, I headed over to investigate and found something you don't often see parked on a city street, not even in Alameda...
Yes, an absolutely perfect '39 Chevy Master Deluxe hot rod with the full treatment, including great big blower sticking through the hood.
I've been to lots of car shows and, frankly, this kind of car bores me in that setting. Sure, the craftsmanship is incredible and they look great, but it's a car show thing. However, seeing something like this parked on the street is another story altogether.
Having grown up in Alameda really helped when the owner came out to see why some freak with an unmarked cop car just jammed on his brakes, jumped out, and started shooting photos of his pride and joy. I grew up a couple blocks from this street, went to grade school with the guy's kids, and even delivered his newspapers when I was a Chronicle paperboy god-knows-how-many years ago. So, once I'd established my Alameda pedigree, he was quite friendly, opening the hood and telling me the story of his car (old-time Alamedans are suspicious of outsiders; had I been from off the island he'd probably have sicced the Dobies on me).
Say, that doesn't look like the usual small-block Chevy, does it? Why, no, I believe that's a big-block Chevy!
As a matter of fact, this is a blown 502 that the owner claims churns out a dyno-verified 900 horsepower. He further states that it has really good pickup when you want to pass someone on the freeway, although there's sort of a traction problem if you give it much throttle at, well, any speed. Yeah, 900 horsepower in a 3,300-pound vehicle might do that.
When I asked him if he'd ever taken it to the dragstrip, he just looked at me funny: "I'm not putting a rollcage in this car." Ah, well.
This car normally lives at the legendary Rogers Trucking warehouse on the Alameda waterfront; those of you who know the East Bay probably know what a jaw-dropping car-geek candy store that place is (the car does get a fair amount of weekend driving duty, but doesn't normally live on the street; the owner says it's just as well, because the orange paint is so loud it keeps the neighborhood awake at night). This car has won the big prize in its class in at least one of the big Good Guys shows over in Pleasanton, and it's been in all the usual magazines, so I imagine some of youse out there are familiar with it.
The East Bay has quite a few old-time car clubs that never died, including the Danville Dukes.
I'm just glad that it's not another Model A. And that it parks on the street at least occasionally.