Greg Gillis' 1931 Ford
1931 Ford Model A Coupe originally owned and built by Greg Gillis. It was built as a drag car in the early 1960s, and Greg stripped off the fenders, chopped the top 4 inches and installed a powerful 303 CID Oldsmobile V8 that was hooked to a 1937 Buick 3-speed transmission. Greg ran the coupe at Niagara Dragway until 1963 when it was sold to Bill Leslie of Buffalo, New York for $400.
With good help from his brother Don Leslie and pal Dick Sepal, Bill transformed the coupe into an award winning show car. Bill and his team boxed and smoothened the frame., and the brake lines and wiring harness were hidden inside the frame. The body was channeled over the frame and the door and trunk handles were shaved. A custom-built one-of-a-kind nose with floating chrome grille tubes was installed up front. A chrome nerf bar was sculpted into the rear, and a handmade taillight, illuminated by a dozen interior bulbs, ran the full width of the car. The upholstery was stitched by Jay's Auto Trim in white button-tufted Naugahyde and featured bucket seats with a radio speaker mounted between them. The steering wheel and chromed column were taken from a Thunderbird, and the dashboard was from a 1933 Ford. The dashboard featured two custom-made chrome panels fit with Stewart-Warner instruments and a Town and Country push radio. Dual electric antennas were frenched in to the body for the radio. A plexiglass roof insert was installed. Due to the plexiglass roof insert, Bill named his rod the Starlite Coupe. A 1957 Buick Starlite Blue Metallic lacquer was supplied by the legendary Ron Gerstner. Once completed, Bill entered the Starlite at the 1964 Buffalo Autorama, where it won the "Best of Show" award. After showing the coupe at the 1964 Rochester Auto Review, it was rolled into storage where it remained untouched for the next 25 years. In the 1980s, Bill moved to San Diego. He brought the coupe with him, and kept it in storage for another 20 years.
Mike and David Kottke lived in Leslie's La Jolla neighborhood. Growing up they would walk past the Leslie home and see the old coupe. After many years the teenagers convinced Bill to part with the coupe, an yet again it was moved into storage. August 2011, The Starlite Coupe was advertised for sale by Autosport Designs Inc - Lotus Motorcars of Long Island on Hemmings. The car was located inHuntington Station, New York, and the seller was asking $77,500 for the old show-rod-survivor. The old coupe was advertised for sale along with original Autorama photographs, flyers, judging forms, vintage build photos, parts receipts and a handwritten spiral-bound journal with all of the specifications for the car.
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