The Phil Alloy Photo Collection
Toledo, Ohio is a long way, 2000 miles in distance and even farther in mind set, from the beaches, streets and attitudes of sunny California. Hardly the place to expect cutting edge custom cars and hot rods. But for one glorious weekend in the spring of 1965 Toledo, Ohio became the center of the custom car universe.
The Civic Auditorium was a World War I-era building located on the seedy fringe of Toledo’s downtown. By the mid-sixties the Civic Auditorium was well past its prime. In the Auditorium’s glory days Elvis Presley, at the dawn of his career, rocked the rafters. Heavyweight boxing champ Joe Louis drove down from his home in Detroit and KO’d a ‘bum of the month’ to the delight of his Glass City fans. Even pro wrestling prima donna Gorgeous George preened and strutted as he headlined a 1948 bout. But that was then and now it was 1965.
"I had just turned 16. My immigrant grandfather owned a used auto parts yard on Toledo’s east side he started during the depths America’s Great Depression. By now it was a family business, my father managed the place and I worked there summers and weekends. Many local hot rodders frequently stopped in to buy parts for their cars. Toledo’s custom king Harry Markiecki was a regular and frequently purchased parts for the body shop he ran."
"Despite not having a driver’s license at the time, I was big car enthusiast, always at the corner store buying the latest issues of Hot Rod Magazine, Car Craft and Rod & Custom. Flipping through the pages it was always a thrill to see the latest customs from the fabled West Coast builders. But this time it was different. Somehow the West Coast was coming to Toledo. The cars built by the customizers I read about in the national magazines; the cars I had built from AMT and Revell plastic model kits, the cars from Big Daddy Roth, the Alexanders, Gene Winfield, Starbird, Cushenberry, Dean Jeffries, even Toledo’s Harry Markiecki with his nationally famous ’16 bucket T ‘The Trojan’ were here in Toledo. At the Civic Auditorium! All these cars and more. I mean, Toledo Ohio wasn’t exactly known as a center for custom cars so to see this parade of legendary cars all under one roof was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Fortunately, I had my camera with me. Take a step back through lens of my camera…..back to 1965."
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