In the late forties, a maturing trend in America was modifying 1930s roadsters – largely by removing the fenders, tuning the simple, but trusty, V8 and matching a drive train to cope with the power. No publication had a greater influence covering this movement than Hot Rod Magazine which began printing in January of 1948.
Hot Rod followed the then outlandish trend of rodding and the Southern California Timing Association’s (SCTA) move to change public opinion. SCTA set up governed speed racing and the Motorama, a show setup by Robert Peterson to showcase the fastest rods in the association.
For the most part, the racing was a straight line affair, with events being held at El Mirage dry lake in California and Utah’s Bonneville salt flats. Top speed trails were the highlight of the weekends, where amateurs and professions could test anything from 200 mph streamliners to production based hot rods.
In 1949, the Pierson Brothers reached 153 mph at the very first Bonneville event. Their severely chopped Ford coupe broke the record for both the Roadster and Coupe class. Afterwards, the Pierson Coupe graced the cover of Hot Rod Magazine, being the fastest road car in America. Such success motivated Alex Xydias of the So Cal Speed shop to make his own coupe.
The So-Cal Coupe
After the second world war, Alex Xydias setup the So-Cal Speed Shop to manufacture and race his own products. One of the first cars his team would create is the So-Cal Coupe, based off a 1934 Ford. Both the Pierson Brother’s and So-Cal Coupes were able to achieve a low profile by canting the windscreen at an extreme angle to meet the Russetta Timing Associations minimum height of seven inches.
The only parts of the car which remained as original were the frame, front axle, steering rack and hood. Good for 153 mph at Bonneville in 1951, the Coupe was first fitted with the GMC Six engine . By 1953, the standard Mercury Flathead V8 was installed with a GMC roots supercharger attached directly to the crankshaft. This setup achieved the record run of 172 mph in SCTA’s Class C at Bonneville. Shortly afterward the car was featured on the cover of Hot Rod Magazine.
In between the SCTA events, So-Cal removed the supercharger to race the coupe in NHRA drag racing. After successfully running in two distinct forms of racing, the coupe was dubbed ‘the Dual-Purpose Racecar’ by Hot Rod Magazine.
Sources & Further Reading
Gross, Ken. ‘Pierson Brothers’ Coupe’. Road & Track, Vol 49. 1997
Baskerville, Gary. ‘Rise and Fall of Hot Rodding’. Hot Rod Magazine
Martin, Dick. ‘Alex Xydias And The So-Cal Speed Shop’. Rod & Custom Magazine