Tweedy Pie

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The Kookie T, The Tweedy Pie, and The Excaliber. Three iconic Southern California hot rods photographed at the Disneyland Car Club Day and Autocade Show September 5th 1959. Ed Roth's Excaliber, later known as The Outlaw, made its debut at the show. Photo from The Cliff Riehl Photo Collection.
Another photo of Bob's T-bucket taken at the Disneyland Car Club Day and Autocade, September 5th, 1959.
Photo taken at the 1960 LA Roadster Show at the Hollywood Bowl while Bob Johnston owned it. Photo by George Barris
The Tweedy Pie as it sat in 2010.

Tweedy Pie is a 1923 Ford Model T Roadster originally owned and built by Orange County Ignitors member James Robert Johnston aka Bob Johnston of Anaheim, California between 1954 and 1956. Bob widened the body of the car 3 inches, before he channeled it over bobbed 1932 Ford frame rails.[2] The wheelbase on the altered deuce frame was reduced to 84 inches.[3] Bob was a instrument mechanic at one of the local airplane factories, so according to Ed Roth who later bought the car from Bob, the car was fit with "the best gauges known to man".[4] The gas tank on the car was from a 1941 Willys. Once the bodywork was done, the car was painted in a one off mix, copied from a Union 76 oil called Royal Triton Purple. The car was painted with more then 40 coats of lacquer using a vacuum cleaner. Bob's nephew Dick Johnston painted the car in Bob's garage in Bellflower, were he lived before he moved to Anaheim. Dick also did a lot of the metal work on the car.[2] Bob's roadster was upholstered by Lee Garofolo of Lee's Golden Needle in Garden Grove, California.[5] In 1958, a couple of years after the car was finished, Bob had Ed Roth pinstripe the car.[2]

Car That Ate My Brain 2: Episode 1 Tweedy Pie History. Car That Ate My Brain 2 follows filmmaker, hot rod historian and builder Piero De Luca of Mad Fabricators in his quest to build a replica of the car known as "Tweedy Pie" a 1923 Model T Ford roadster made famous by Ed "Big Daddy" Roth. Revell and Roth turned the car into a famous model kit and influenced many selling over 11 million units to date. In this series, we tag along with Piero and his friends and see the clone come to life over a 2-year span. In the first episode of Car That Ate My Brain 2 Piero De Luca gives you a history lesson about the famed Tweedy Pie as he sits down with Eric Johnston, the stepson of original builder Bob Johnston.

September 5th, 1959 the Tweedy Pie won the "Best Roadster" award at the first and last Disneyland Car Club Day and Autocade. Later the same year it was also featured on the cover of Rodding and Re-styling December 1959.[6] Photos from theDisneyland Car Club Day and Autocade shows that Bob by then had swapped the flathead in the Tweedy Pie for a 1957 Chevrolet Corvette engine with a single four-barrel carb. Wanting to keep the car up to date and fresh for the next show season Bob decided that it was time to upgrade the car. In order to show the Tweedy Pie at different shows, Bob had to belong to a club. He was not member of any club, and decided to make up his own club called the Orange County Ignitors in order to show off his creation. While Bob owned the car he was contacted by the producers behind the 77 Sunset Strip TV series. Before they decided to use Norm Grabowski's Lightning Bug, they wanted to use the "Tweedy Pie". The contract was sewed up, but Bob backed out at the last minute because he did not want anyone else to drive his beloved car.[2]

In 1962 Bob sold the Tweedy Pie to Ed "Big Daddy" Roth.[2] As the royalties from the Outlaw model started to roll in on Ed's account, and the Ed Roth business was picking up, Ed spent more time at meetings and car shows, and less time in the garage building his show rods. He had met Bob Johnston while going to car shows with the Little Jewel and the Outlaw, and really liked his little T-bucket.[4] Ed made Bob a deal he couldn't refuse, and the Tweedy Pie swapped hands for $1150.00 USD. Bob's stepson Eric W. Johnston remembers that Ed handed Bob a certified check on Revell's account. According to the book "Hot Rods by Ed "Big Daddy" Roth" the car sold for $1500.00 USD, but this is wrong according to Eric. Before selling the car to Ed, the engine was fit with a polished Offenhauser manifold that sported six Stromberg 97's. While building the linkage for the carburetors, Bob destroyed a set of axles, due to the weak point of the rear axles. Afraid of destroying more axles, Bob built the the setup so it only had about half throttle. Bob also chromed the rear end center housing on the car before he sold the car. Bob decided not to chrome the axle tubes as he was afraid of embrittlement.[2] The first thing Ed did to the car was to fit it with dual headlights and a set of chromed reversed wheels with Baby Moons.[4] Ed has also been credited for the rear nerf-bars, but according to Bob's stepson, Bob fit the car with nerf-bars in the rear before selling it to Ed Roth as part of his periodic updates on the car. The new build was introduced to the world in Rod & Custom March 1962. Revell Models produced a 1:25th scale model kit of the car, which sold 3.5 million copies in its first year and has totaled over 11 million to date.[6]

Ed Roth sold the Tweedy Pie to Chris Lovoy after owning it for a couple of years. Chris made his own modifications to the car, adding rear fenders and other things to the car.[4] The car was later sold to Larry Tarantolo of Custer Park, Illinois, who restored it back to the way it sat when Ed Roth owned it.[3]

August 14th, 2010 the "Tweedy Pie" was offered for sale at the Mecum Monterey auction.[6] Despite a high bid of $200,000, the reserve on the car wasn't met, and the car didn't sell.[7]

Magazine Features

Rodding and Re-styling December 1959
Rodding and Re-styling March 1960
Rod & Custom March 1962
Rod & Custom October 1962



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