Sunday, October 25, 2009

Go West for rust-free hot rod relics


Car guys and gals looking to score some vintage pre-war steel know about the legends of the West. Go West, take a walk out into the desert sand and start looking for abandoned cars. Classic cars will be everywhere and all will be rust-free, of course. Alabama hot rodder, Hal Lee, tested the legend and his luck by trying to find a 1927 Model 'T' coupe in the desert.

‘The Mercury Kid’ rat rod
Treasure hunt
Some guys might hop on a airplane, not Hal. He traveled 2,500 miles round trip, pulling a trailer, with the hopes he didn’t return empty-handed. Hal rode the border between New Mexico and Colorado on part of his quest. Along the way he met a hot rodder named Louis. A thirty-something character who had a bead on most of the vintage steel within 500 miles of his home. Louis' garage housed, 'The Mercury Kid', his rat rod project. A friend of a friend told Hal of a ’27 T that could be bought. That friend, once removed, required a finder’s fee. The '27 treasure that Hal sought was almost within reach. Hal had one last obstacle prior to receiving his road-trip reward. He had to dig the Model ‘T’ out of the desert sand before he could load the weathered shell onto his trailer. Hal used the long drive home to develop ideas for his Model 'T'. “It will be a chopped and channeled, low-slung street rod,” said Hal. “With the top of the roof 43-inches from the ground.”

1929 Model ‘A’
Western rod projects
Hal saw hundreds of potential project cars and met some unusual characters on his great adventure West. Hal took all of these great photos and was willing to share them. So, I'm not going to give away all of Hal's secret connections and locations. He found old mine cars and met a sculptor (the ponytailed guy in the photo with a 1929 Model A) while combing the backroads of northern New Mexico.


Junkyards, Western-style
Hal ventured into a junkyard in New Mexico which had a complete 1958 Cadillac Eldorado for sale. The mountains of chrome garnishing Cadillac's finest from 1958 made the $8,500 asking price seem reasonable. Inside a hangar-style garage sat two 1955 Ford Fairlanes, not for sale. The desert climate helped preserved these decades old, steel-bodied vehicles from the ravages of rust.


Do you have an cool vehicle or junkyard story you would like to share with us? Send them here.





1955 Ford Crown Victoria

1955 Ford Fairlane

1953 Chevrolet

1958 Cadillac Eldorado

1958 Cadillac Eldorado





1959 Ford Thunderbird