Ed Biggs

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Ed Biggs of Davenport, Iowa was born 12.15.1941. He began working with his dad in a garage belonging to a master mechanic named Ed Schmidt in 1945. Ed was an aircraft mechanic and became Ed's master around September 1945. In the summer of 1946 Ed and his dad opened up their own shop called "Biggs Automotive Service". In those years they raced a local stock car circuit several times a week. After a trip to California in the summer of 1947 Ed was hooked on midget race cars and hot rods. Ed began doing race type engines in the shop. By 1948 he started to sell engine parts, Hot Rod Magazines and speed equipment. Around 1949 Ed began a scrap yard as well, buying all the junkers he could, selling a lot of used parts, engines and so on. The scrapyard did also provide the shop with a lot of rebuildable parts. Around 1949 Ed did also start working on his first hot rod, a 1947 Mercury club coupe. He began to deal in early hot rods and pickups, and bought all he could. During that time he installed a lot of Cadillac, Buick and Chrysler Hemi engines in all kinds of cars. Many for customers and some for his own pleasure. Many cars were sold after the engine swap, as Ed would sell the car at any time someone would let him make a buck.[1]


In 1951 Ed decided to build a GMC 6 for racing. He considered an Oldsmobile Rocket, but thought they were heavy weights, and wanted something different. He built the engine following the guidelines of Frank McGurk. A 270 ci engine was taken to 302 ci. He installed 13 to 1 full race pistons and a wild Isky e4 camshaft. The engine was put in a stock car, and Ed won the 1951 and 1952 track championships with Kenny Spaeth at the wheel. In 1953 Ed and his dad stopped racing stocks at the shop. By then they were doing lots of race parts, and was a supplier and dealer for several west coast companies. Ed took the GMC 6 and installed it in a 1938 Chevrolet two-door sedan. Ed finished his apprenticeship with Ed Schmidt in September 1953. About the same time he finished a fully customized 1950 Ford Convertible and a chopped and Z'ed 1942 Ford Business Coupe. Both these cars were sold when they were finished. Ed did also build several 1932 - 1934 Ford Coupes. He actually built so mano these that they became his trademark type rod. At age 14 Ed got a learners driving permit. He did drive somewhat regular before this but for special reasons and restricted places. He had a horse to care for, and could drive under Iowa law at any age for farm animal care. In 1956 Ed became a member of the Rock Island Piston Pushers. The following year, he updated the GMC 6 engine in his 1938 Chevrolet to a new 302 block that he took to 330 ci. He wanted to put a 12 port head on the engine as well, but he was never able to find one he could afford. With its 350 hp the car was according to Biggs a street sleeper and a terror, and it would lunch a transmission if it was launched off the line.[1]


In the summer of 1957 Ed went to California to visit a girlfriend. After school let out for the summer, Ed worked a week before he loaded his tools in the 1951 Chevrolet and headed West. Broke and without a drivers permit, Ed worked his way to the coast and back again. During his stay in California, Ed worked for Frank McGurk whom he knew by phone contact and after he had built the Chevrolet engine following Mcgurk's guidelines. Ed returned to Davenport again the weekend before school started the same summer.


In California he also met Lou Senter. Lou was a mentor for custom painter Joe Andersen, and through Lou, Ed met Joe Andersen. Ed bought a 1959 Chevrolet El Camino that he had Joe Andersen panel paint. At the time Ed was a member of the Davenport Idlers car club. In 1958 a large number of the members in the Rock Island Piston Pushers left the club to get on with their lives. Some graduated school, some took jobs in another area, some got married and more. Not being able to find new members willing to be involved with the club, there were not enough members left to pay the rent on the club building they had. To solve the problem, Ed rented a building in Davenport, and started a new club with some friends. After hosting a few beach parties with cook outs and popular music to dance to it didn't take long time before Ed and his friends had potential prospects fighting to get into the Idlers. By doing this, the new club attracted a lot of different guys, and not all members were as dedicated hot rodders as the guys in the Rock Island Piston Pushers. But the club had a club drag and a stock car. The club lasted a few years, and was gone by 1963 for the same reason as the Pusher.[1]


In September of 1959 Ed joined the USAF. In July 1960 he was stationed at the Ramstein Air Base near the town of Ramstein in Germany. Shortly after arriving in Germany, Ed shipped the El Camino over as well. For the next 3 years he traveled a lot, and used the car as transportation when he could. Early in 1962 tragedy struck, as the El Camino was totaled when hit by a drunk iIalian in a Fiat. The car was parked on a oneway street in Weisbaden when the Fiat hit a car on the left side of the street. He then got turned and hit Ed's car head on in the left door post dash area. As Ed was not able to have the car fixed up in Europe, he sold the remains to a friend that was returning to the US. Ed was stationed in Germany until 1963. After Ed got out of the service, he built his last trademark 1932 Ford 5-Window Coupe. In 1969 Ed sold the coupe so he could by a house in Davenport. He ran the garage until 1970 when a disagreement with his father ended the situation. He did continue some open wheel racing until 1990, but just for fun.[1]


Ed Biggs' Cars

Ed Biggs' 1932 Ford 5-Window Coupe
Ed Biggs' 1938 Chevrolet Two-Door Sedan
Ed Biggs' 1942 Ford Business Coupe
Ed Biggs' 1947 Mercury Club Coupe
Ed Biggs' 1950 Ford Convertible
Ed Biggs' 1951 Chevrolet Be Air
Ed Biggs' 1959 Chevrolet El Camino


References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Ed Biggs


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