Neil Sidders' Outlaw

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An early construction photo of Neil's roadster. Photo courtesy of Neil Sidders.
Neil's roadster at the 1975 Memphis Street Rod Nationals. Photo courtesy of Neil Sidders.
Neil's Outlaw bodied roadster at the 1976 World of Wheels show. Neil won a first place trophy at the show with the car. Elvis Presley was doing a show the same weekend at the same facility, so after the car show closed Elvis had a private visit at the car show. Photo courtesy of Neil Sidders.
Photo courtesy of Neil Sidders.
A later version of Neil's roadster featuring regular tires in the rear and another air-filter. Photo courtesy of Neil Sidders.
Photo courtesy of Neil Sidders.
Photo courtesy of Neil Sidders.
During the winter of 1977 Neil fit the roadster with a nose similar to the nose on the original Outlaw. During the restyling a more radical headers were installed along with a set of wire wheels and radial tires. Photo courtesy of Neil Sidders.
Photo courtesy of Neil Sidders.
Photo courtesy of Neil Sidders.
Neil's roadster as it appeared right before he sold it in 1998. Photo courtesy of Neil Sidders.
Neil's roadster as it appeared in February 2012, when Scott Gray bought it from George Wilkinson. Photo courtesy of Scott Gray.
Photo courtesy of Scott Gray.
Photo courtesy of Scott Gray.
Photo courtesy of Scott Gray.
Photo courtesy of Scott Gray.

Neil Sidders' Outlaw is an Outlaw bodied roadster owned and built by Neil Sidders of West Monroe, Louisiana. When Ed "Big Daddy" Roth built his first fiberglass show rod , The Outlaw, in the late 1950s he made a four-piece female mold that he could use to build and sell additional bodies to customers. Ed advertised the Outlaw bodies for sale in a couple of magazine, but according to himself, only two extra bodies were ever made. Ed Fuller on the other hand, who worked for Roth at the time, once estimated that they built and sold between 12 and 15 Outlaw bodies in total. In 1972 one of these bodies ended up with Neil Sidders, as Neil, who was attending high school at the time, bought an old Altered Class drag car from Herbie Munholland. When Neil bought the car, he was told that it was originally built and raced in Northern California. It was then sold to a racer in Shreveport, Louisiana, who raced it out of the Shreve Automotive engine shop. The Altered was said to have a blown Oldsmobile engine at one time, and the car was called "The Orange Peeler". The old race car swapped hands several times before it ended up with Herbie. Neil also believes the local Gambino brothers owned it before Herbie. When Neil bought the old drag car, the chassis was junk so he threw it away and kept the body to build a street rod. The body, which was pretty broken up by then, was found tossed up in a shed. Neil originally wanted to restore the car so he could race it, but trashed that idea pretty fast.[1]


The build was completed in 1973, and the first version of Neil's roadster featured a cut-down 1932 Ford Commercial radiator shell, a pair of 1958 Chevrolet taillight housings fit with 1959 Cadillac taillights, and a paint job similar to the one Larry Watson applied on Ed Roth's Outlaw. A good friend, Steve Powell, took Neil under his wing and showed him how to paint. Steve helped Neil paint the car, and Neil remembers going to the paint supply store buying the primer, white paint, candy blue paint, clear, tape, sand paper, masking paper and 5 gallons of lacquer thinner for a total of about $45.00. Neil upholstered the car himself, having a shop make up the buttons. The windshield was made from a 7/8" diameter steel bar that he machined a groove in for the glass before he bent it around a forming die. Neil never made any attempts to clone the original Outlaw, but he did his best to remain the spirit of Roth's car. He built the roadster on a pair of 1924 Ford TT truck frame rails. Power came from a 1956 Chevrolet 265 CID V8 that he hooked to an aluminum Powerglide transmission from 1963. Neil, who was working for Eyre Engine Service, an engine rebuild shop, after school, had to modify the block to accept a block mount starter as the Powerglide had no provision for a bell housing mount starter. The engine was then bored 1/8" before Neil installed 283 pistons, balanced the engine and hopped it up featuring three Stromberg carburetors from the later WW series units used on Chrysler products. The first version of the car rolled on chromed reversed wheels with slicks in the rear. The chromed reverse wheels were a birthday gift from Steve Eyre, the owner of the engine rebuild shop where he worked. Total build cost was around $1,000. In 1976 Neil won a first place trophy with the roadster at the World of Wheels car show. He drove it to the Tulsa Nationals the same year.[1]


During the winter of 1977 Neil upgraded the roadster, and he fit it with a nose similar to the nose on the original Outlaw. During the restyling more radical headers were installed along with a set of wire wheels and radial tires. In 1978 Neil trailered this version of the roadster up to Gloversville, New York for the Norsemens Fathers Day Rod Run and Campout. The car was pictured in Street Rodder Magazine a couple of times in those years.[1]


In 1998 Neil needed money to rebuild the engine for a Biplane he was building, so he sold the roadster to Allen Wilkinson of Downsville, Louisiana. When Allen got the roadster, it had been in storage since 1979, and it was not drivable. Unfortunately, the 265 engine Neil had built for it in the early 1970s was full of water froze up, and as it was not salvageable, Allen replaced it with a rebuilt 350 Chevrolet small block engine. The brakes were shot and needed work, and the motorcycle insets in the headers were rusted shut. When Neil first built the roadster, he had welded studs to the rear axle flanges. Allen decided to replace the axle flanges, and he cnc machined the faces and bolt pattern to accept press fit studs. Around 2005, while working on it mechanically, Allen had to move, and as he didn't have room for it, he took the roadster to his father's place. Allen's father, George Wilkinson, started doing some of the bodywork on the car while it was at his place.[2] In February 2012 Scott Gray of Jonesboro, Louisiana bought the roadster from Allen's father. Scott was working with George's wife at the airport in Ruston, Louisiana, and as she got tired of walking around the roadster in their carport, she talked her husband into selling it. Scott is currently trying to get the roadster running again, and he wants to get it all together before he starts to redo it.[3]


References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Neil Sidders
  2. Allen Wilkinson
  3. Scott Gray



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