1955

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Norm Grabowski's 1922 Ford Model T-Bucket of Sunland, California. The Lightning Bug iteration of Norm's Model T was completed in 1955. It hit the scene like an atom bomb in the mid-1950s, and it started a T-Bucket craze that spread across the nation like wildfire.
This version of Paul Sylva's 1927 Ford Model T Roadster was flamed and pinstriped by Von Dutch in 1955.
Bill Peterson's 1932 Ford Roadster of Portland, Oregon. The roadster was built by Bill and Dee Wescot in 1955. Once completed, the roadster won the 1956 Portland Roadster Show, becoming the first Sweepstakes Winner of the show.
Bruce Olson's 1932 Ford 5-Window Coupe of Beach, North Dakota. The first version of Bruce's coupe was completed in 1955. In 1962 Bruce and his family moved to Fremont, California, bringing the coupe along. Bruce kept on to the car until he passed away in 1990, continuously upgrading the look of the car a little.
Ted Sitterley's 1932 Ford 3-Window Coupe of Tucson, Arizona. Ted paid $50 for the coupe in 1955. It featured gray primer, Indian blanket upholstery, and a 304-inch flathead engine that Ted and his brother built with help from Little Wolf Machine Shop.
Bill Smith's 1934 Ford Roadster Custom of Alameda, California. Bill was a member of the Shamrocks of Alameda car club, and he set out to build the roadster in 1955. Built from a retired Tudor Sedan, Bill modified the body by cutting off the roof and moving it down to form the trunk. He completed the build the same year, showing it at the 1956 National Roadster Show.
Ron Maxwell's 1934 Ford 5-Window Coupe of Salt Lake City, Utah. The build was started in 1954, when Ron was 15 years old. The first iteration of the coupe was completed in 1955. Ron's coupe ran under flathead and later Cadillac power, competing in B/Altered at strips around Utah.
Tommy Sanders' 1939 Ford 4-door Phaeton - The Red Bird
Garret Walther's 1940 Ford Coupe of Stockton, California. The coupe was Garret's first car. He bought it in 1955. Installed a huge 1952 Chrysler FirePower Hemi-engine and went racing.
John Sak's Second 1941 Ford Convertible was restyled in Syracuse, New York in 1955.
Jack Telnack's 1941 Mercury Convertible of Detroit, Michigan. The build was started in 1954 and completed in 1955. After the build was completed, Jay moved to California, attending the Art Center Design School. He sold the car in California in the latter part of the 1950s. Jay went on to become head designer at Ford Motor Company where he is credited for the Taurus and the Sable.
This version of Frank Livingston's 1949 Chevrolet Fleetline made its public debut at the 1955 National Roadster Show in Oakland.
George Contaoi's 1949 Oldsmobile fastback of San Bernardino, California. George was a member of the San Bernardino Krankers, and the Olds was restyled in 1955.
Ted Leventhal's 1950 Chevrolet Convertible of Oakland, California was restyled by Emory Robinson's Custom Shop in 1955. Painted in a green iridescent lacquer by Mel Pinoli's Body and Paint Shop, Ted's Chevrolet is known as the first car ever to receive a Candy paint job.
Norman Brown's 1951 Chevrolet Fleetline of Bickleton, Washington. The build was started in 1952 and completed in 1955. In 1965 Norman sold the car to Bob MIkkelsen. Bob still owned it in 2017.
Larry Ernst's 1952 Ford Convertible of Toledo, Ohio. Restyled by Clarkaiser Custom Shop, the first version of the car, named "Pharaoh's Pacer", was completed in 1955. Larry was a Roman Catholic priest who later became a monsignor. Owning a radical and famous custom car put him at some odds with senior members of the church, so he showed the car under the fake name Grant Macklin.
Herb Conway's 1954 Mercury of Lynwood, California. Herb bought the Merc in December of 1954. He had Kinch's Body Shop paint it, before Earl Harman and Dean Jeffries pinstriped it.
Merlin Windham's 1955 Buick. Built in 1955, Merlin's Buick was dubbed the Dragon Wagon.
A Norwalk Coachmen club shot taken in 1955. Keith Christensen was the first President and a founding member of the club. In 2016 Keith told Sondre Kvipt of Kustomrama that the club started in the living room of his folks home in Norwalk late in 1952; "Our club had its beginning in my folk's living room in Norwalk." Norwalk is southeast of Los Angeles, approximately 22 miles. "It was an area of farms and dairies, which of course have faded due to rural buildup. This is why you will see many names of the two dominate nationalities, Dutch and Portuguese, as owners of many hot rods and low riders." Photo from The Keith Christensen Collection.
The Shifters of Pontiac auto club was founded in 1955. The club is one of seven clubs that made up the Michigan Hot Rod Association. Photo courtesy of Bill Bryan.
The Strokers of Saginaw is a car club from Saginaw, Michighan. Established in 1955, the club was one of the NHRA charter clubs. The club was still active in 2020, celebrating its 65th anniversary as a club. Photo courtesy of Jonathan Russell.
A Strokers of Saginaw group photo taken at an indoor car show. Photo from The Strokers of Saginaw Collection.


<-- 1954 - 1950s - 1956 -->


1955 was a quite a year. In 1954 Chevrolet introduced its brand new V8 engine for its 1955 Chevrolet. In May, legendary racer Bill Vukovich was killed at the Indy 500, later on, September 30, 1955, James Dean was killed in a car crash.


1955 was the year Norm Grabowski began building The Lightning Bug, and it was also the year the first Portland Roadster Show was held.


Hot Rods Built or Completed in 1955

Norm Grabowski's 1922 Ford Model T Bucket - "The Lightning Bug"/"The Kookie T"
Bill Peterson's 1932 Ford Roadster
Bruce Olson's 1932 Ford 5-Window Coupe
Ted Sitterley's 1932 Ford 3-Window Coupe
Ron Maxwell's 1934 Ford 5-Window Coupe
Garret Walther's 1940 Ford Coupe


Streamliners built or Completed in 1955

Ed Pardue's Streamliner - The Apache


Custom Cars Restyled or Completed In 1955

Bill Smith's 1934 Ford Roadster Custom
Donald J. Hyland's 1939 Ford Coupe
Tommy Sanders' 1939 Ford 4-door Phaeton - The Red Bird
Frank Monteleone's 1941 Ford
John Sak's Second 1941 Ford Convertible
Jack Telnack's 1941 Mercury Convertible
Frank Livingston's 1949 Chevrolet Fleetline
George Contaoi's 1949 Oldsmobile Fastback
Ted Leventhal's 1950 Chevrolet Convertible
Tad Hirai's 1950 Ford Coupe - The Del Mar
Buddy Alcorn's 1950 Mercury
Norman Brown's 1951 Chevrolet Fleetline
Tony "Poncho" Rizzio's 1951 Chevrolet - Earth Angel
Larry Ernst's 1952 Ford Convertible - Pharaoh's Pacer
Herb Conway's 1954 Mercury
Merlin Windham's 1955 Buick
Bob Palmer's 1955 Ford Thunderbird - The Golden Bird


Custom Car and Hot Rod Clubs Founded in 1955

Avenue Angels of East Rocakway
Shifters of Pontiac
Strokers of Saginaw


Car Shows Held in 1955

February:
Hartford Autorama




 

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