Long Beach Renegades
Several Car Clubs of the 1950s were called the Renegades. The most known of these clubs was the Renegades Car Club of Long Beach, California. The Renegades were organized and a very active club in the 1950s. In 1958 the Long Beach Renegades won the first annual Car Craft Car Club of the Year award, at the time the gang was probably the most known and respected car club in Southern California.
The Renegades in the 1940s
The Renegades were first organized in 1941 by five young men who desired something more from an automobile than mere transportation. It was the consensus of opinion of these five that a car club should be directed toward the improvement of the safety, beauty, and performance of their machines. As with any small group who has a different perspective, these boys were labeled by others, Renegades. These young knights literally tore a page from the Book of the King Arthur to form their Round Table of Renegade Knights. Not too many months after the organization of the Renegades, they were disbanded by a call for help from “Uncle Sam.”
The Renegades Reforms in the 1950s
After the troubled war years passed, three of the original five members once again banded together and reformed the club. In 1957 the Renegades were headed by Zeno Stephens, who was also the President of the Associated Car Clubs of Long Beach. The Renegades Car Club of Long Beach was incorporated as a California non-profit organization, February 5, 1958.
In 1958 the members had a meeting every Sunday night in a garage at Long Beach off of Studebaker & Wardlow Rd,. Prospective members would be invited. As a prospective member you had to fill out an application, you had to be introduced to the club, and your car had to be "inspected". After the members had checked out your car, the prospective would be sent away, while the members would vote about if they wanted him in the club. As a member you would get an aluminum plaque to hang on your car, a jacket with the car club name emblazoned on the back, and a membership card. According to member Gerald Twamley the Renegades were headhunting people with nice cars on car shows that they wanted to join the club. According to Ron Guidry, you didn't have to live in Long Beach in order to become a Renegades member, you basically just had to have 3 body changes done to your car. So most of the guys would french the headlights and taillights, and shave the door handles in order to become a prospect. By doing that your car would have been considered a mild custom, something that would have gotten you into the club if you got enough votes by the other members. After that was a semi-custom, and upon that they would change the grille, etc. By chopping, sectioning and channeling your car, you went into the full custom class.
The Renegades worked close with the Long Beach Police, wanting the public to accept them in order to promote good relations with the community, showing that them that they were into have nice cars instead of racing them on the streets. In order to maintain your membership in the club, you had to constantly keep your car in an excellent shape, both safety-wise and appearance wise. The Renegades were also the first members of The Associated Car Clubs of Long Beach. An association formed by Officer Meyer, a motorcycle cop of Long Beach. Meyer formed the association in order to form a group that united all of the car clubs of Long Beach. When he started the association he came to the Renegades and told them that he needed them to join first to help bring other clubs in, since they would follow their lead. As Meyer predicted, all of the good car clubs of Long Beach followed the Renegades and joined the association.
In 1958, the Renegades entered three cars at the National Roadster Show in Oakland. Out of the four cars, they won three "Rhodas" for best of class. The winners were president Ed Cousins with his 1932 Ford Pickup in the Rod Pickups class, secretary Duane Steck with the Moonglow in the Full Custom Sedan class and Saint Vasques with his 1950 Chevrolet in the Full Custom Convertible class.
In 1956 the Renegades started a show at Bellflower High School called Long Beach Renegades Car Club Renecade. The show took place two times, before it seems to have evolved into the Renegades Rod & Custom Motorama that was held in the Long Beach Municipal Auditorium in 1958.
The Renegades held car shows and poker runs in order to generate money for local charities. In 1957 they started to plan their annual Renegades Rod & Custom Motorama, which was to be held at the Long Beach Municipial Auditorium in 1958. The space was small, so they had to limit the car entries, something that made the participation very exclusive. It was Ed Cousins' idea to put on the show. In 1959 65 cars were exhibited, and about ten thousand spectators showed up for the show. The second show was held in 1959, and the third and last show was held in 1960.
In 1959 the Renegades won the first annual Car Craft Car Club of the Year, 1958 Award. The club was chosen from hundreds of entries. The article states that their qualifications for wearing the best car club crown are many, but among their many activities are all of the time, money and service the club has donated to many Southern California charity organizations. An example was their donation which furnished four needy families in their locality with dinners and gifts during Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons. 
In 1959 the 27 members of the club participated at 28 shows during 1958, winning 162 trophies. Among these were 8 Sweepstakes Awards, 13 Club Participation Trophies, and 84 First Place or Best in Class awards. According to Harold Johnson the club members went over future car shows they could attend at their Sunday night meetings. If a cool show was coming up they would all meet at the Clock Drive-In and caravan to the show.
The End of the Club As We Know It
The Renegades car club was set up as a non-profit organization. With the money they earned off the shows, they bought a property in Signal Hills for a club house where they could work on their cars. This lead to the government claiming that the club wasn't non-profit, and the club had to pay a lot of money in taxes. They paid the taxes, and split up the rest so that everybody would get a few bucks. This was also the end of the club. Because of the problem with the IRS, the planned 1961 Renegades Rod & Custom Motorama was cancelled.
Ed Cousins - President in 1958
Harold Johnson - President in 1960
Zeno Stephens - President in 1957
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Hot Rod Hotline
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Car Craft February 1959
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 Trend Book 207 Custom Cars 2009 Annual
- ↑ Oakland Tribune, Tuesday, Fab. 25, 1958
- ↑ John Denich
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Hot Rod Hotline - A little more History about the RENEGADES OF LONG BEACH By: Harold Johnson Club President 1960
- ↑ World of Car Craft
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