Our Com­pany Cars Were Pretty Great

Hot Rod - - Contents - Dave Wal­lace

When the com­pany truck wasn’t haul­ing mag­a­zines, pho­to­graphic equip­ment, or speed parts around Los An­ge­les in the 1950s, our first rolling bill­board flew the HOT ROD and Car Craft flags na­tion­wide at races and shows. Robert E. Petersen’s ac­qui­si­tion of the 1949 or 1950 Ford panel ac­tu­ally pre­dated the en­tity Petersen Pub­lish­ing Com­pany. When these pho­tos were shot by staff pho­tog­ra­phers Bob D’Olivo in soggy Great Bend, Kansas (1955 NHRA Na­tion­als), and Eric Rick­man in San Gabriel, Cal­i­for­nia (1956 NHRA West Coast Re­gional Cham­pi­onships), the Hol­ly­wood firm that “Pete” and ex-part­ner Robert Lind­say founded in late1947 to launch HRM was still called Trend, Inc.

The red-on-white scheme is thought to be the sec­ond cus­tom job sprayed by Ge­orge Bar­ris and striped by Dean Jef­fries. This to­tal re­paint—along with con­sid­er­able panel beat­ing and Bondo—be­came nec­es­sary af­ter Rick­man rolled the truck onto its pas­sen­ger side com­ing down Cal­i­for­nia’s no­to­ri­ous Grapevine. He and Bud Coons were tow­ing NHRA’s travel trailer to the Na­tional Road­ster Show.

“Coon­sey’s got a girl­friend along with us,” Rick re­called in the cap­tion ac­com­pa­ny­ing a photo of the over­turned panel (July 2008 HRM). “She flies up into the rearview mir­ror and cuts her ear. She’s bleed­ing like a stuck pig, and Coon­sey’s pinned down un­der­neath her, with blood drip­ping onto him. It was a mess and a half.”

Nev­er­the­less, Rick­man hitch­hiked to a gas sta­tion, hired a tow rig to right the truck, re­placed one bent wheel with their spare, reat­tached the trailer—which had re­mained up­right—and con­tin­ued north to Oak­land, ar­riv­ing in time to set up NHRA’s show booth.

Bob D’Olivo and Eric Rick­man/Petersen Pub­lish­ing Co. Ar­chive

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