Gene "Clean Gene" Sadoian's 1934 Ford
- 1 The Sadoian Family Bus and First Hot Rod
- 2 Blackie's Hosses
- 3 Custom Interior by Mrs. Sadoian
- 4 The 1952 Oakland Roadster Show
- 5 The 1953 Oakland Roadster Show - First Place in the New Sedan Class
- 6 Drag Racing
- 7 Fire Engine Red Paint, Copper Plated Wheels, Olds Power and Magazine Ink
- 8 Back to Black
- 9 Long Beach and Georgia
- 10 Cut, Chromed, and Welded Wheels
- 11 Traded for a Falcon
- 12 Bernie Angelone
- 13 Where is it Now?
- 14 Magazine Features and Appearances
- 15 References
The Sadoian Family Bus and First Hot Rod
"My father brought me home from the hospital in his just purchased 1934 4 door sedan," Gene told Kustomrama in December of 2020. "He purchased it in Fowler, California, just 10 miles from our home in Fresno, California. The car cost $640, a lot of money at the time. It was our family car until 1949 when he purchased a Lincoln Cosmopolitan, giving me the 34 to fix up." At age 14 Gene was able to have a driver's license, but no garage, so he had to remove their backyard fence to park the car in the dirt. "My father gave me the tool bag that came with the car, and piece by piece I removed all fenders, running boards, hood, bumpers, spare tire to build a Hot Rod."
Gene drove the car to school starting in 1950 to show it off. "A senior named Tom Riccardo had a green, fenderless 34-4 door, but his was chopped 6", coolest car at school. Babe Obradovich had a black fenderless 32 3 window, aluminum heads, cam, two 97 Stromberg's. He was the fastest car in school until my best friend, Richard Shirinian, built a channeled fenderless 29 Ford roadster with a 59A block. Richard was Blackie Gejeian's cousin and his father owned a truck garage named United Automotive Works. Richard introduced me to Blackie (and Blackie's now-famous roadster) at age 14 in 1948. This influenced our becoming Hot Rodder's with Blackie being our leader."
Custom Interior by Mrs. Sadoian
Gene's mother sewed up quilted door panels in Naugahyde chartreuse for the car. Gene's father had purchased chromed accessory wheels when the car was new, these were dressed up with beauty rings. "The next stage of the continuing build was to copy Blackie's roadster (black paint, chrome) and other ideas observed from my attendance at the Grand National Show in Oakland, California." Gene had read about the show in Hot Rod Magazine, and his father took him to the show in 1951, when he was 15 years old.
"In my senior year at age 16, I received permission from my principal to attend the 10 days Oakland show. Richard Peters rode with me, I had no funds, Richard had the money! As a 16-year-old, I wrote up an entry blank highlighting, interior, chrome dash, window frames, 41 Olds bumpers, etc. I was listed in the program as a competitor for the first Concourse De Elegance award, along with Joe Bailon! When we saw Joe's Custom Chevy, he had more money in his dashboard than I had in my whole car. Joe won the award, history named his car "Miss Elegance."
The 1953 Oakland Roadster Show - First Place in the New Sedan Class
Gene re-entered the car at the 1953 Oakland Roadster Show. This iteration was stripped for bumpers. "I also had a three-piece metal hood made in Fresno at New England Sheet Metal, first one they ever did. I cut out the grill to put the radiator cap under the hood. My father took me and my hood to LA for louvers. Art Ingles at Kurtis Kraft charged fifteen cents each for 92 louvers. Bob Martin, California Chrome had to chrome top of hood half at a time to fit in the tanks. The entire hood was chromed, only the louvers were polished. I won first place in the new sedan class."
Richard Peters convinced Gene about installing a 296 Mercury engine in the car, "for drag racing." They ran it a few times, "but I took it out, too radical for the street. We actually snapped an axle, thank god I had safety hubs. Richard then put it in Blackies roadster, he raced it at Half Moon Bay."
Fire Engine Red Paint, Copper Plated Wheels, Olds Power and Magazine Ink
After the 1953 Oakland Roadster Show, Gene installed a 1950 Oldsmobile V-8 in the car, along with a 4 pot Horne manifold, Stromberg 97 carburetors, an Isky 3/4 track grid cam, Offenhauser rocker covers, and a Mallory MagSpark ignition. An Offenhauser adapter hooked the engine up with a 1939 Ford gear box. "I painted the car American La France fire engine red, "Tommy the Greek" famous "double walked stripes" ($25) on sides, scallops on headlamps and my chrome fresh air vent, white vinyl top, side shifter, White 38 Ford steering wheel, copper-plated 16" Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels with spinners." This iteration was also dressed up with nerf bar bumpers. The front bumper, like Blackie's roadster, ran Gene's initial "S", while the rear ran a license plate. After Gene had redone the car, it was featured in Rod & Custom February 1955 and Car Craft March 1956. Eric Rickman did the story for Car Craft, and according to Gene, Rickman told him in 1953 that the car had to be red to get in a magazine. "That is why I painted it, it worked." According to the story, "Eugene Sadoian's immaculately detailed '34 Ford sedan actually cannot be appreciated without seeing it in its full colored attire." Rickman described Gene's copper plated Kelsey-Hayes wheels a "climatical touch." According to the Rod & Custom story, the wheels were copper plated, buffed by hand, and sealed in clear lacquer to preserve their luster. Other modifications at the time included teardrop 1938 Ford taillights in the rear fenders, and a dropped "Dago" axle that gave it a slight forward rake.
Back to Black
"In 1956 I repainted my 34 back to black with Candy gold-red scallops." The scallops were painted by "Screwy Looie" in Fresno. The original rubber running boards were stripped off, and the metal was painted to match the scallops. Gene's mother did also redo the interior in black Naugahyde. According to a featured story Steve Scott did on the car for 1001 Custom and Rode Idea, it featured pleats literally everywhere. One unique innovation on Gene's 34, and also his TR 3, was the brass plated license plate. "I polished the letters, masked them, painted rest black with clear over brass. North Hollywood PD thought it was cool on my 34. An LAPD motorcycle officer did not think so!. My ID allowed me to park in the LAPD high rise to check records. An officer coming off duty behind my TR 3, threatened to cite me if he ever saw me again. My excuse usually was, "this is a new experimental plate by DMV to check its stability". The car show viewers sure liked them."
Long Beach and Georgia
Gene moved to Long Beach, California in June of 1956 to do graduate work. He brought his 34. His roommates in Long Beach were Joe Regalado, and Ron Price. "I worked at the 10 pump circle gas station I was able to fill gas and service Bill Stroppe race vehicles and trucks. Even his Mexican road race vehicles. I returned to Fresno to enroll in the new graduate program in June 1957, however, I was drafted into the Army the day before school started. Gene took the '34 to Fort Gordon, Georgia while assigned to the MP training base near Augusta, Georgia. "The car caused a commotion at the local drive inns, one having a two-story glass-enclosed upper room. A radio station announcer broadcasting from above. I always put my radio on, they would say: "here comes that thing A majig". I also made an exhibition run at the new dragstrip in Aiken, South Carolina. I learned the hard way, no shut-off area, I ended up in a peach orchid."
Cut, Chromed, and Welded Wheels
Late 1960 or early 61 Gene had his father's wheels cut, chromed, and welded. The rear wheels were reversed by Roy Vachon at Appliance Plating. "I was having lunch at a Chinese restaurant when I saw a chrome shop next door. Since my copper spokes were no longer shiny, I asked Roy if he could plate my father's original accessory wheels. He asked me to bring them in, which I did the next day. He said he could do it if they were cut apart, chromed, and rewelded. He did a great job, one of the first types ever in LA. I was no longer showing my 34, a daily driver, including Georgia and back. Blackie talked me into putting it in the NHRA Winternationals in LA. He was friends with Dick Day, editor of Rod & Custom, and show producer. Dick got me in, and I won first place. My wheels were the hit of the show. George Barris featured my front wheel in his publication two months later in April 1962."" According to Gene,"Mickey Thompson sat on the floor for 10 minutes staring at my wheels at the show. He then bought out Rader, and started making his own wheels."
Traded for a Falcon
Gene drove the '34 until 1964. "When my TR3 lost a clutch, I had it towed to a Van Nuys car dealer for repairs. I drove my 34 to the dealer the next day. There was a Ford dealership next to my repair one. One of the salespeople came over to admire my 34. He then brought over the owner to admire the 34." What Gene didn't know at the time, was that the owner was Johnny Parson, the Indy car driver. "He offered to buy it, I said I needed a pickup, I made an even trade for a used 1960 Ford Falcon pick up." Gene intended to carry his new mini bike to his downtown job at the Federal building. "We had to park twenty-five minutes away at a spot called "Goat Hill", and then arrive and depart using up shoe leather. The first day I brought the bike to the limited parking space, I was denied entrance even though I parked in front of a vehicle parked in our one designated space. I then talked my sister into giving up the 57 T-Bird which then became my primary car."
Gene lost track of his first car until he met a friend of Dale Vaznaian, Scott Dapron at the SEMA Showin 1988. "We started talking cars since Scott had over 200 muscle cars somewhere in Arizona." Scott was a buyer for Jay Leno, and he remembered working on Gene's 34 for an owner in Palo Verdes, California named Bernie Angelone. "Bernie was a Ford Parts distributor for the western region. Bernie was letting his 16-year-old daughter drive the 34. Scott said she really was rough with it so Bernie sold it." Bernie recalled trading the '34 for a 1971 Ford pickup to Bob Estes Lincoln circa 1971. "The dealer charged him about $3200."
Where is it Now?
Around 2000, Greg Sharp called Gene regarding the disappearance of the '34, wanting to know If Gene was going to find it and restore it since that was a trend during that period. "I told him no, I did not want to go backward. I was looking to restore my 57 Bird, 71 Pantera, and my 73 Mustang. I ended up doing most, but only the Pantera became a winning show car, thanks to Blackies Persuasion," Gene told Sondre Kvipt of Kustomrama in March of 2021.
Curious about what happened to the old Sadoian Family Bus and Hot Rod the Kustomrama staff would love to know if the car is still around. Please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any information to share about Gene's old '34.
Magazine Features and Appearances
Rod & Custom February 1955
Car Craft March 1956
Spotlite Book 527 Custom Car Wheels & Lowering
Model Car Science October 1963
Popular Customs Spring 1962
Popular Hot Rodding July 1962
Popular Customs Summer 1963
1001 Custom and Rode Ideas Summer 1967
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