Bill Whetstone's 1960 Ford
1960 Ford Starliner restyled by the Alexander Brothers for Bill Whetstone of Detroit, Michigan known as the Adonis. The first time Bill saw the brand new 1960 Ford Starliner was on a holiday in mid-October, 1959. Shortly thereafter he spotted a brand new Starliner on a trailer. He followed the car down to Scott Murphy Ford where the car was unloaded. Bill was 20 years at the time, and ordered a brand new Starliner the same day. He ordered a red car with red interior, 3-speed transmission, whitewalls and large hubcaps. After 6 weeks of anxious waiting, Bill's brand new Ford was delivered December 7, 1959.
When he got the car, Bill asked the salesman how long he had to drive it before he could take it on a long trip. The salesman advised Bill to break it in, and put 1,000 miles on it before taking it on a trip. A few days later Bill had put 1,000 miles on the car and he and his friend Red took off for California. They arrived in California on New Year's Eve. The main goal of the trip was to have a custom white pleated Naugahyde interior stitched up for the car. Bill originally wanted a Eddie Martinez interior in the car, but he couldn't afford the $300 Eddie was asking, so he went down to Tijuana, Mexico and got a $125 interior instead. Early February, on a Saturday morning, Bill and his friend Red took off for Mexico. They arrived in Tijuana before daybreak, and went to the shop that was known as the best upholstery shop in Tijuana. At the time there were about 30 shops in Tijuana doing custom upholstery, but this was the one with the best reputation. Bill had made a sketch showing how he wanted the interior to look. The sketch showed a design incorporating 4 pleats in the headliner, and a fully pleated dash. The car was done before night fell, and around 10.30 the same night Bill and Red crossed the border with the car. The following week Bill and Red stopped by Ed Roth's shop. At the time Ed was selling the Outlaw. He wanted $2,500 for the Outlaw and asked Bill if he wanted to trade the Starliner even for it. Bill was tempted to make the trade, but since he couldn't afford a tow car to get the Outlaw back home, he had to pass the deal. Bill and Red left California later the same month.
In early April 1960, after saving up some money, Bill took the Starliner to the Alexander Brothers shop. At the time he wanted a mild custom, so he had Mike and Larry Alexander lead the hood, shave the door handles and install six 1959 Cadillac taillight lenses. The lenses were cut down and glued on to the stock taillghts. Three lenses were installed on each side. The lenses were cut down so they got progressively shorter from one side to the other. The car was done in primer, and lowered by C-ing the frame 4 inches in the rear and cutting the coils. Bill picked his car up after 2 weeks in the shop and drove it around until mid-July of that year.
Mid-July 1960, Bill decided to take the Starliner back to the Alexander Brothers so they could rework the front-end of the car. The bumper was removed and replaced by a rolled pan and a new grille opening was fabricated using round rod an sheet metal. The new front was molded in and fit with a grille made from chrome tubing and clear Plexiglas rods. Chrome tubing was used over the center grille, while Plexiglas rods were used over the headlights. The front fenders were tucked in 12 inches and the front wheel openings were slightly reworked. Because the Starliner was Bill's only source of transportation, he bought an ugly 1947 Hudson four-door that he could use as a driver while the Starliner was being worked on. After restyling the front end, Bill was so satisfied with the result that he decided to do the rear end as well. Bill, Mike and Larry made some sketches that they turned over to Harry Bradley. Harry made some new sketches on the car before Mike and Larry started working on the rear end. It was restyled to accept a matching Plexiglas grille. The rear fenders were molded in six inches from normal contour using round tubing around the large opening. The grille was installed over a special white checkered plastic screen. The taillights were handformed from plastic, and slanted to match the contour of the rear deck grille work. The rear bumper was also removed and replaced by a rolled pan. Each piece of the body was formed in metal; welded and shaped until they looked right. The rear fenders were molded to the body and the body lines rolled into graceful shapes with neatly tucked corners. Some of the stock factory trim was maintained, but used in a way that made it look custom. A pair of tunneled antennas were molded into the rear fender beside the quarter-window on the passenger side. Dual Appleton spotlights were installed at the base of the A-pillars. Bill had seen a car at a show in Toledo the year before that was painted in a Candy Wild Cherry. He loved the color, and told Mike and Larry that he wanted to have his car painted in the same color. The build was completed about a week before the 1961 Detroit Autorama. Bill was $500 shy of what he owned Mike and Larry, so he had to borrow money from his father in order to get the car out of the shop. He entered the car at the show and won "Best Custom". Sunday night while loading up the car, promoter Bob George asked Bill if he had any plans for the next weekend. Bill said no and Bob asked if he could use his car as featured car at a show he was promoting in Lansing. He offered Bill $300, so it was an easy decision for an young enthusiast who earned about $100 a week. Bill was given a spot right by the front entry. Bob also asked if he could bring five cars with him, giving him $50 a car. After the show, Bob asked Bill if he was up for another show in Grand Rapids the next weekend, same deal. Bill was thrilled, and told him sure. He drove the car back and forth in the snow, and after only three weeks he was able to pay back the money he had borrowed from his dad.
Bill showed the Adonis with Bob George as a featured car for the rest of the 1961 season. By then Bill met Bud 'the Kat' Anderson of AMT. They became friends and together they started to plan a new and reworked version of the Adonis. Redoing the car was necessary in order to stay competitive in the show circuit and being able to be a featured car. Bud and Bill took a 1960 Ford Starliner model down to the basement of Bud's house, and started working on some design changes. Bud asked Bill what he wanted to do for next year and Bill said that he wanted radiused wheel wells. They also pulled the front wheel well in in order to make it balance with the back. Further they removed the fins and added an asymmetrical single scoop in the hood. Bill walked out the next morning with the model in his hands. Mid-July he took the model and the Adonis to the Alexander Brothers and told them that he wanted to redo the car. His Hudson had stopped running, so he bought a 1948 Packard four-door he could use while the Adonis was at the Alexander Brothers shop. An offset and recessed airscoop was made in the hood; the rear fins were removed and the rear bodywork was reshaped to meet the rear body lines. The rear wheel wells were radiused and the car was repainted Candy Blue.
The second version of the Adonis was ready by mid September 1961. When it was done, Bob Larivee of Promotions Inc called Bill and asked if he could use the Adonis as a featured car on a show in Houston, Texas. Larivee offered him $300 and Bill told him that for $300 he could do Michigan, Ohio and Indiana with Bob George. Larivee asked Bill how much he wanted, and Bill replied $500 and all expenses paid. Larivee agreed, so Bill and a friend drove down for the show. The trip took abut 24 hours each way. After the show Bob asked Bill if he would do another show in New Orleans 2 weeks later. Bill agreed, but demanded a better motel. Larivee used the Adonis as a featured car for the whole 1962 season. During the show season with Larivee, the Adonis was shown next to Bill Cushenberry's 1940 Ford Coupe, The El Matador. The El Matador was painted red candy with black and gold fogging. Bill fell in love with the paint job, so when the season ended he asked Cushenberry if he could fly him over and have him paint the Adonis the same color. Cushenberry told him he would be happy to paint his car.
July 1962 Bill was back at the Alexander Brothers shop getting the car ready for the next season. He told Mike that he wanted to paint the Adonis like the El Matador and that he wanted Bill Cushenberry to do it. Mike told him that he had done everything on the car and that he really wanted to paint it as well. Bill was a little worried, as Mike had never done a fog job before. But Mike convinced Bill that he could do just as good as a fog job as Cushenberry. Bill left the Adonis with Mike and after several weeks he called Bill and told him the car was done. Bill was horrified when he saw his car. The car looked awful. The paint was candy red with straight black and straight gold stripes. Once again Bill told Mike that he wanted to fly in Bill Cushenberry and repaint the car. Mike told Bill that he knew what he had done wrong and he asked if he could get another try. Bill told Mike that he would be more comfortable having Cushenberry paint the car, but gave Mike another try since he had done everything else to the car and since he guaranteed not to make the same mistake again. 2 weeks later Mike called Bill and told him the car was ready. As Bill entered the shop, Mike asked him what he thought of the fresh paint job. Bill told him "Mike, I got to call Bill". Mike was shocked and asked him what he meant; Bill replied that he had to call Bill and tell him to come over and see how to really do a nice fog job! For this version, the front license plate bracket was removed and filled in and the taillights were replaced. As the exterior of the Adonis changed from season to season, Bill never did anything to the Tijuana interior. Bill showed the car with Bob Larivee as a featured car for the 1963 season as well.
After being a featured car for three seasons, Larivee told Bill that the 1963 season would be the last season he could use the Adonis as featured car. The last show was held in Washington, D.C. in April 1963. Bill could not attend the show himself, so he had his friend John drive it over. As it was the car's last show as a featured car, Bill told John that he wanted to get rid of it. He asked John to put it up for sale at the show. There was no response on the car during the show, but as John was loading up the car Sunday night a man stopped by and wondered what he wanted for the car. John told him the price Bill was asking, and the man decided to buy the car. Bill flew in the next day to sign the paperwork. When the deal was done, Bill gave the new owner the keys for the car and told him that he could drive it home. The new owner couldn't drive the 3-speed, so Bill had to drive the car to his house. The guy didn't have a garage for the car, so the Adonis was parked alongside the house. Bill parked the car, walked away and never saw it again. Bill had driven the car to every show he attended, so by then it had 53,000 miles on the odometer. Rumor has it that the car sat outside and weathered for years. One weekend, while the owner was out of town, his wife supposedly called one of the local wrecking yards, and had them come and pick the car up. By the time the owner came back into town the car was crushed.
After selling the Adonis, Bill went on to judge car shows for Bob Larivee. He judged car shows for 5 years, from 1963 to 1968 The last show he judged was the 1968 Detroit Autorama. Bill did not work on cars again until 1988. In 1999 Bill bought a well-preserved 1960 Ford Starliner that he wanted to use as base for a recreation of the Adonis. At the same time, John Schleicher of St. Paul was also starting to build an Adonis recreation. Rather than duplicate a copy, Bill teamed up with John and Mike and Larry Alexander, to help recreate the kustom. He gave the stock Starliner to his 14-year-old grandson Chris Herod. Chris has the original front license plate from the Adonis on his Starliner.
Car Craft September 1961
Car Craft January 1962
Cars January 1962
Car Craft February 1962
Custom Craft September 1962
Cars September 1962
Custom Craft November 1962
Trend Book 206 Custom Cars 1962 Annual
20 Top Customs
Customs Illustrated July 1963
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